Chloe Bennett in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” on ABC Television.
Marvel’s Agent’s of SHIELD Don’t Make Me Type All Those Periods, Goddamit is BACK! And you know what that means, don’t you? It means we all miss Marvel’s Agent Carter that much more!
Maybe that’s not fair. Actually, quick reversal: it’s TOTALLY fair. As much as Agents of SHIELD has improved by leaps and bounds in its second season, the show never had – and still doesn’t come close to – the kind of energy and style Hayley Atwell & Co. brought to our TV (and other devices) screens. But if you think it’s unfair, then look at other comic book-based shows, like Arrow and The Flash, most notably, and you can see that other creators have managed to replicate both the operatic melodrama and the snappy fun at the heart of most superhero comics. And while the storytelling has improved considerably, AOS still looks almost indistinguishable from a dozen other network TV crime-fighting procedurals. It’s all warehouses and hangars, labs and offices, flatly lit. And every inch of it looks like the same five square miles of southern California.
Oh, geez. We started off with the negativity and we didn’t quite mean to. Let’s regroup.
This was a competent and mostly efficient episode that dealt effectively with the fallout, on both a physical and emotional level, of the events of the season so far. Namely, Tripp’s death, Mack’s zombie escapade, and Skye’s metamorphosis into something … dun dun DUN! … Inhuman. Also: Coulson’s a badass who appears to have crippled HYDRA for the near future, which, considering they’ve been secretly in charge for seven decades, should have been treated as more significant a development. Everything moved along and we have no complaints about the plotting or the performances, although the pacing did seem a bit off at times, which is to be expected when you’re wrapping up storylines and setting up new ones all in the same episode. We mostly enjoyed the hour. But it never really got our motors running, the way other comic book shows manage to – and that’s always been a problem with this show. Even when they correct so many things that plagued it from the beginning, like a lackluster cast as well as a lack of direction, it still feels … limp.
We suppose the one exciting development that keeps us intrigued is the show’s long-overdue embrace of the fantastical. They’re hedging their bets with Skye at the moment, keeping her abilities subtle and doing nothing to change her appearance, but they really went whole hog on Raina. Or while hedgehog, to be more accurate. Ooof. This is a Disney-owned network television production in a digital HD age, people. Your makeup effects needs to look at least slightly better than a background player on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine in 1997. All that wait to see what was under the hood and when she finally reveals herself, she’s wearing a Party City mask.
We’re doing it again. Bitchy negativity. Okay, let’s try this:
This episode felt very Whedon-y to us, for various reasons, not the least of which is that every member of the cast is dealing with some dark feelings or bad attitude or terrible dilemma in some way, but also the way everyone came together at the end to sit around and talk about Tripp. It felt very “Buffy’s living room” or “Angel’s lobby” or “crew of the Serenity” in its dark camaraderie. We don’t know what that means for the show or whether it means anything at all, but it did jump out at us. Maybe it’s just a result of the cast finally settling in and feeling comfortable with each other, but it was a very welcome sight. More of that slightly cynical, foxhole buddies style of friendship, please. It makes us fall in love with the cast – and honestly, a year ago, we didn’t think that was even possible.
We don’t put grades in our reviews, but if we did, this would probably rate a solid B or B+ of a return. The show is still lacking on several fronts, but it’s trying its damnedest to course-correct, and we can put up with some of its deficiencies because it manages to keep us ever so slightly invested. It’s hardly appointment TV, and it’s not among the best of the adventure shows seen on the landscape this past year, but it’s solid and it’s getting better. That’s enough for now.