It’s the final Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. before the new year which means that you’re either upset that the series is taking a break or this was the last chance for the show to convince you to stick around. Which side did you end up on?
Let’s bitch it out…If we’re being honest, it’s no stretch to say that ‘The Bridge’ is the best episode of the series to date. Whether that’s saying much likely varies greatly on how much you’ve enjoyed watching this crew of mostly bland characters jet around the globe. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the series is the worst show of the year (you’ll have to wait a few weeks to learn what that is), but it’s certainly been one of the bigger creative disappointments of the fall TV season.
It’s good, then, to see Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hit a high note before it takes a breather for the holidays. ‘The Bridge’ assembles the random elements from the last nine episodes that offered a glimmer of hope that the series could be more than an expensively produced children’s show. That means Coulson (Clark Gregg) giving Mike Petersen (a welcome J. August Richards) some sage advice on connecting with loved ones, May (Ming-Na Wen) dishing out the haterade on Skye (Chloe Bennett) and Ward (Brett Dalton) getting punched in the face and shot. While we don’t have the same kind of looming danger as ‘FZZT’, there is an implication that the stakes are becoming noticeably more serious now that Centipede has been revealed as far stronger and more cunning than our crew anticipated. Hell, there’s even a touch of mythology as a few old cases are attributed to Centipede’s misadventures in science (obviously the pilot and ‘Girl In The Flower Dress’, but also ‘Eye-Spy’).
What I’m less certain about is what this means for the series moving forward. The cliffhanger is certainly ambiguous enough to encourage viewers to come back when the series returns in January, but there’s every likelihood that this is all cleared up in the first episode or two. Let’s be clear: no one expects Coulson to be placed in any real danger. The (re)introduction of an omniscient leader in the Clairvoyant suggests there may be exciting twist in the future (a spy on the team perhaps?); for now, however, we have to be content with sexy Flower Chick, Raina (Ruth Negga) simply wishing she can meet him/her/it. So that’s hardly exciting. And I can’t imagine anyone is crying themselves to sleep wondering if Ward will live (if the writers are smart, they’ll use this golden opportunity to trim the herd a little and dump Dalton as one of the series’ weak links. Unfortunately that won’t happen).
So while developing the series’ mythology and upping the ante with cliffhanger endings is all well and good, there’s still no clear idea of what happens next for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Will this new found ability to mash up the series’ working elements yield a better, more consistent show or will it simply continue to exist as a globetrotting case of the week procedural? Just as Coulson will struggle to answer questions about his resurrection, ‘The Bridge’ struggles to make clear what kind of show Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is destined to become.
- Pro: The shipping container fight. The odds are not in our heroes favour and the likelihood of asses being kicked is high. The show needs this kind of adventure more frequently, otherwise it’s just Scooby Doo on a jet.
- Pro: Less FitzSimmons (Iain De Caestecker & Elizabeth Henstridge). The tech geeks fawning over Petersen’s muscles and suit demonstrates that the writers still don’t have a handle on these two. There’s a fine line between amusing and downright annoying and more often than not FitzSimmons fall on the latter side.
- Con: May and Ward drama. Not interested. It seemed interesting if only because we didn’t know it was there, but if these two are going to get all protective and confrontational with one other, then let’s just not go there, mmmkay?
- Pro: May tells off Skye. Seriously – how great is the scene when May tells Skye to get her shit together because they’re on a mission? Obviously we’re meant to think a) May is a hard-ass and b) May is Skye’s mom or some crap. Either way it sure feels good to see someone rip into the world’s most annoying hacker
- Con: More supersoldiers. I’ll admit that I like the idea of Centipede – an organization with money and connections to take S.H.I.E.L.D. on – but I hate the super soldier BS. The fact that we will likely see lots more of these guys in future episodes does nothing but make me groan. Unless we’re going to dive further into the “forced against their will” aspect of these soldiers, there’s nothing substantial to explore
- Con: Edison Po (Cullen Douglas). What this show needs are characters with more personality, not less. This guy is like toast: dry and boring. Here’s hoping Raina kills him, assumes the reins of the organization and tramples everyone in her lustful quest for power and floral print outfits
- Coulson (when Raina suggests she hasn’t had the pleasure): “Lucky for you”
And with that we’re nearly halfway through the season. Were you satisfied with the mid-season finale? Are you happy to see Centipede taking a more adversarial role? Worried about Coulson and Ward? Interested in more super soldiers? Hoping Skye takes a breather from her boring search for her parents? Comment away below
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns on Tuesday, January 7 at 8pm EST on ABC. I’ll confess that I don’t enjoy the show enough to write on it on a weekly basis, so I’ll likely drop this down to quick takes when something substantial happens.