Its been almost two months since I last did a review for this show. Some of you might have wondered why. I mean, I was covering the show on a weekly basis with every new episode for nine weeks straight and then I didn’t cover the mid-season finale, which was a rather explosive moment for the series, on several different levels. Those of you who follow me on social media knew well how I felt about that episode though. Sadly, my feelings have hardly changed with the show’s return and the recent two episodes. Thing is, for me the mid-season finale was very boring, with the follow-up episode being extremely disappointing and this week’s episode being barely decent.
The mid-season finale brought back Mike Peterson, who we last saw in the series premiere. It was an episode with a personal twist for him and the ending made me really frustrated. The mid-season premiere made me cringe all throughout. And this week’s episode, while it had some good moments and was overall better than the previous two episodes, still did not make a dent in my growing dislike of the show. At this point, I’m just about going through the motions. I went from tuning in for the show weekly to catching up on the two recent episodes this weekend late at night the day before and yesterday. I just can’t get all that excited any more.
Note: This review contains spoilers about the resurrection of Phil Coulson and other important moments, particularly Skye’s mysterious parents.
Last week I talked about how uneven Agents of SHIELD was in terms of story quality, and I mentioned that the show flip-flopped with good and bad storylines every other week with almost a regularity to it. Still, it is very early days yet for the show, we are barely two months into it in fact, and so I can sort of accept such unevenness since a lot of shows struggle at this point in their development. The creators have to work from scratch, have to spread themselves around and hit on the magical story that will truly resonate with viewers and keep bringing them back in droves every week.
I’ve said again and again that this show is a very promising one and that it needs to take chances and be truly bold. It has a solid premise, it just needs to work on its execution, which is where it is most lacking for now. This week’s episode does some really interesting things and best of all it finally gives a reason for why Agent Melinda May gave up field-work and took a desk-job. At the same time, we also get an indirect Thor: The Dark World tie-in, which is just in keeping with last week’s episode which was much more of a tie-in than this one. However, the show still continued its “villain of the week” pattern and that was most disappointing, more so since there was a distinct lack of any story elements related to the previous episodes.
Agents of SHIELD is a show that often tests my patience. One episode will be good, another not so much. And this flip flop continues in a loop every two weeks. There’s almost a regularity to it. It is one of the most uneven shows that I’ve watched, which is saying something since I’m quite a fan of Joss Whedon’s other shows and the ones I’ve seen have all been excellent, losing steam only about the time that they hit their final seasons. The show is extremely promising, but it just doesn’t capture the imagination as well as it should be.
Last week’s episode was kind of a bore. It lacked all the excitement and character drama of the episode the week before. But this week’s episode somehow turns it around. It is better than last week’s episode, primarily because it makes a strong effort to tie-in to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. And there is some interesting character development as well, with regards to Agent Ward, one character on the show who desperately needs that kind of development.
Given the news that Marvel released last week (read here), it seems that Agents of SHIELD isn’t the only show that the comics powerhouse and its owner Disney are developing on the road to creating a live-action connected universe that can rival their cinematic universe and even work alongside it. In light of that, I suppose it makes sense that one or two characters in the show that I thought would turn into regulars and become characters I recognise didn’t turn out that way. So that takes some of the sting out of my disappointment with the show. But that disappointment remains nonetheless.
This week’s episode did some interesting things, changing the status quo on a micro level for the team and giving us some interesting new pairings between the various characters, but as it turns out, they made quite a few questionable missteps and where I’d thought that last week’s FitzSimmons centric episode marked a new phase for the show, this week’s outing pretty much disabuses me of the notion, and I’m starting to think that the show is going to be stuck where it is right now in terms of the narrative and its approach to its characters.
There’s a lot that has been happening in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD since its launch six weeks ago. Some promising characters have come and gone, leaving me disappointed with the direction that the show has been going in. Some of the characterisation for the main cast has always been a major issue, as has been the lack of a clear meta-story. All the same, the show has offered some interesting things to keep viewer, such as myself, hooked.
While some of the flaws of the previous episodes have carried on through this week’s episode, the show also went in a clearly different direction than I expected from watching the first few minutes. For the first time, the show really surprised me, and that has weight for me since it makes clear that the show isn’t afraid to take some challenges with viewer expectations. Although I wish that they went more full-out with a devil-may-care attitude. That would certainly help.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD returned this week with a brand new episode, where we get to meet a new threat to Coulson’s team, and also get to see some real tie-ins between the episodes as more of the world is revealed to viewers. Till now, the show has been heavily serialised, with the episodes having little to no tie-ins with each other and this created quite a bit of a disconnect with me since I wanted there to be a build-up early on, and the show wasn’t giving me what I wanted.
But, with this episode, things look to be changing in that regard, even as on other fronts the show continues to disappoint. Casting issues remain, the pacing is still a problem, and the acting is not quite there yet either. The show seems to be stuck in a honeymoon period where viewership is dependent on people wanting to tune in every week for a small handful of positives resulting out of the show’s spinoff nature from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So far the show has had a mixed reception. On one hand people are praising the entire concept, the setting, etc. On the other hand, people are quite frustrated with some of the characterisation and the casting and the story and whatever else. For me, so far the show has just failed to click in the same way that the first seasons of Leverage, Smallville, Arrow, Game of Thrones and many others over the years have clicked. There is something very integral that is missing in the show, and its really holding it back.
Largely, its a matter of tonal consistency since the previous three episodes have been all over the place in that regard. Each episode so far has focused on completely different things and as a result, the tone and attitude has also been different for each. The show’s writers and directors just need to get together and have a single unifying vision for the show that focuses on the strengths of everybody involved rather than do something haphazard like this week’s episode.
After the second episode of the show, I was pretty disappointed. The pilot had been fairly strong but things took a nosedive with the second episode. Glib dialogue, stereotypical characters, predictable plot, all backframed by the Marvel universe, with roots in the Marvel movies that have been around for a while now. All in all, it was important to keep in mind that the show was still in a very early phase and that kinks would need to be worked out over time as everyone gels together and the actors all get comfortable with their roles.
Which is why I was really looking forward to this episode and in a way why I think it was a better episode than its predecessor. Problems still remain, that is undeniable and somewhat alarming to a degree as well, but I think that the show is moving in the right direction after last week’s misstep.
Here we are. The show had its second episode this Tuesday (for American viewers that is), and compared to the rankings and ratings for the pilot, the second episode fell quite a bit short, according to rumours. I haven’t seen any numbers yet, mostly because I’m not really interested, so I don’t know if that’s how it is. But, it doesn’t really matter to me. What matters to me is whether or not this episode was good. And for me, it certainly wasn’t.
The first episode wasn’t without its flaws, but a lot could be excused because it was a pilot and thus it just needed to be good enough to hook me for a second episode. Which it did. Quite well actually. But the second episode just threw me for a loop. It was predictable, frustrating, and inconsistent with what has happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Kind of ironic considering that the show is a spin-off of the MCU.
Note: This post contains spoilers for this episode.
So it has finally happened. There were rumblings about it for a long, long time and then things finally began to click together earlier this year and peaked around San Diego Comic Con, when we started getting teasers and trailers for Marvel’s first live-action series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As someone who enjoyed The Avengers and is a big of fan of Joss Whedon’s Buffy, Angel and Firefly (and also Serenity, of course), this was really good news for me. I don’t know if Marvel has ever had a live-action series before (I seriously doubt they did), but this was clearly a big area where they were lacking when compared to DC, who’ve had several successful live-action series before, such as Smallville and the ongoing Arrow which is coming back soon for a second season.
Now, Marvel can finally lay claim to the big ticket and say that “year, we are doing it, and we are doing it good, and we are doing it no one has done before”. And I agree. The first episode of the brand-new show was fairly solid, and I think it had the right mix of everything to hook in a viewer and get them to come back for more next week.