It has been a rocky road so far for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. At its inception the show was a groundbreaking experiment. It was a spin-off of the Marvel cinematic universe and it followed The Avengers, one of the most successful movies of all time. Brought to the small screen by the same director who helmed the blockbuster, Joss Whedon, a legendary television show creator in his own right. It seemed that project was unsinkable. Then the show premiered... It was met with a lukewarm reception by both fans and critics. The sets and plots were unimaginitive. The cast barely looked like trainees, much less world class spies. The most unforgivable error the show made for fans, was the glaring lack of superheroes for a show set in the Marvel universe. Skeptics wondered out loud, how the film side of Marvel can be clicking on all cylinders, while the TV side appeared inept.
It seemed that the creators were adding to the problems by stringing out sub-plots well beyond their expiration date. (Hello Skye's parents and Tahiti!) Then something marvelous happened. Captain America: The Winter Solider was released in the spring of 2014 and the events of that film sent ripples of change throughout the Marvel universe. It had been revealed that S.H.I.E.L.D. had been harboring the nefarious Hydra terrorist group within their own organization for decades. Fandom waited in anticipation to see how the fallout of the film would affect the TV show. What most didn't anticipate, was that it turned the show upside down in the best of ways. The TV and film worlds had collided.
The second season begins with a flashback to World War II, where we are treated to a return appearance by Hayley Atwell's Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos, from Captain America: The First Avenger. The first thing that comes to mind is how well the tone from that movie could be translated to episodic television, and suddenly the way that the upcoming Agent Carter show will fit into the Marvel landscape becomes clear. The Commandos recover an ancient, perhaps alien artifact, while raiding the last known Hydra cell. From this point we flash-forward to the modern incarnation of S.H.I.E.L.D. who are a group of highly trained fugitives, with a gift for espionage. Immediately we see that the team has become more cohesive and battle ready. This is evidenced by Skye's newfound gun-wielding confidence.
We are also quickly introduced to S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Izzy Harley, played by Lucy Lawless, who is no-nonsense and rugged. We find Coulson is settling into his new role of director of the organization. He spends much of his time in an office giving out field commands nowadays. What is note-worthy is he has changed his philosophy and is need of more help. He is willing to make more uneasy alliances and what that means for fans is that we should be getting more super-powered characters fighting along side the Agents.
A common complaint and disconnect for viewers pre-The Winter Solider, was that the big-screen S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives seem like highly-trained Navy SEALS, while the main operatives on the TV show looked like...chumps. Imagine any of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the elevator in The Winter Solider, going up against any Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast member, it would be a bloodbath. The showrunners are addressing this by adding more credible actors and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. This week we were introduced to Henry Simmons character, Mac and shortly we will get the live-action version of Mockingbird, to be played by Adrianne Palicki (G.I. Joe: Retaliation).
The former agent Grant Ward, is a prisoner of S.H.I.E.L.D., who will only speak with Skye. It seems the writers are set on using him as a Hannibal Lector type of figure, since he has knowledge of Hydra's inner-workings and bad guys. He gives Skye the scoop on Crusher Creel, aka the Absorbing Man, a meta-human that can change his body into whatever material he touches. (This character was first brought to life loosely by Nick Nolte in Hulk.) The Silence of the Lambs scenario that has been established does feel false and falls flat. Perhaps because Ward, played by Brett Dalton, simply doesn't seem to have the chops to make it feel authentic. In any case it seems that he has the key to Skye's secret, but we may have to wait through multiple episodes and a sappy doomed romance to get to it. Yawn...
Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) is back and her character seems to have had the most natural progression. She seems oddly human in the first episode back. Perhaps because they wanted to keep her backstory so mysterious, it seemed that Wen often played her as robotic and distant last season. Her role for the early part of this season is two-fold, to keep Coulson grounded from his still unspecified condition and to perform flying jump kicks in battle. So far she is nailing it and is a grounding force for the episode.
Fitz is a mess... He is brain damaged and trying to hold his thoughts together, it is clear that his character is headed somewhere fantastical. To reduce a brilliant mind to a moronic state seems unfair. He is someone that people should keep an eye on. It's hard to imagine the writers would put him through the ringer like this and not have a huge payoff.
The scenes with the Absorbing Man were definitely a highlight. Especially for comic fans, as there was a classic allusion to his trademark ball and chain. Incorporating moments like these instantaneously makes the the TV world feel a little bit closer to the Marvel cinematic universe. The closer the two worlds feel, the less scrutiny will be placed on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The show still has a lot to work on it's hands. However the season opener was indeed entertaining. Hopefully they don't hold the show's secrets too close to the vest anymore and trust in whatever storylines they have plotted out for Coulson, Skye and the gang. We need to settle those past issues so that the writers are forced to move on to some original and fresh ideas, which will push the show into new territory. While an improvement from last season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is pointed in the right direction, but still has a very long way to go.
So how did you feel about the premiere episode? Was it as good as Gotham? Where do you think the show is headed? Let us know on the comment boards!
Source: Point of Geeks