Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs its only February episode and it’s meant to be a doozy. Does it succeed in its ambition?
Let’s bitch it out…I meant to comment on the slight upswing in quality over the last few episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D. but the timing didn’t work out. In short, the stakes on the show are starting to feel more real, the humour is less childish and the cast is beginning to come into their own. It’s taken some time for this to happen – a not uncommon occurrence for most shows in their first year, though obviously the level of scrutiny focused on this show has been quite a bit higher due to its pedigree. That doesn’t diminish the validity of the criticism, however, as S.H.I.E.L.D. has only really come together in the last two to three episodes. I’m cautiously optimistic in categorizing it as a semi-enjoyable show.
The caveat is “semi”. There are lots of good things to highlight ‘T.R.A.C.K.S’ for (its unconventional narrative structure; the action sequences involving Brett Dalton’s Ward and Ming-Na Wen’s May, and the inclusion of serial elements – finally! – such as J. August Richards’ reintroduction as Deathlok). Unfortunately there are still a number of components holding the series back. The roles of Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) remain underwhelming and underdeveloped and Coulson (Clark Gregg) oscillates too widely between the heart of the show and your best friend’s dad.
But in my eyes, the biggest issue that the show has is Skye (Chloe Bennet). She’s an 084 which means she’s destined to be magical. She’s the “outsider looking in” so she’s destined to rack up more screentime (plus in the immortal words of Love, Actually “she’s the hot one”). Problematically this also means that there is no way in hell that she will die. And that’s my big issue with this show: it wants us to be emotional about Quinn (David Conrad) shooting Skye (hence Simmons break-down and Ward’s SUV punching), but there’s no real danger. Moments later Skye is in a hyperbolic chamber which will keep her alive until next episode when a miraculous cure is found or she miraculously cures herself. There’s no drama or suspense in whether she lives or dies because the possibility of her dying is so unlikely. At least when the writers pulled this stunt with Simmons back in 1×06 ‘FZZT’ that seemed believable. Here, Skye’s injuries are little more than a flesh wound on the way to grander adventures.
For now the improvements on the show are definitely worth celebrating. If, however, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to move beyond its “okay” status, it needs to learn how to not just balance its disparate elements, but also how to surprise and emotionally engage us. And those elements aren’t quite there yet.
- Fitz (to Skye): “You’re the least supportive fake girlfriend I’ve ever had.”
- Coulson (to Ward, after he questions the Otherworldly involvement in the train’s disappearance): “I can’t deal with Asgard today”
- Fitz (after Simmons has been frozen): “Look at her little face – she’d be so embarrassed”
What’s your take on the show’s evolution? Are you happy with the recent episodes? Do you wish Skye’s life were really in danger? Did you enjoy the unconventional structure for this episode? Sound off below
Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes another long break and returns Tuesday, March 4 at 8pm EST on ABC