Mar­vel’s Agents Of SHIELD

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Out of work spy? Need a job? Send your CVs to Agent Coul­son…

As sea­son two kicks off, Mar­vel’s Agents Of SHIELD may not yet be the small screen Avengers most view­ers were ex­pect­ing, but it’s also a long way from the cheesy A- Team meets Torch­wood low- rent thrills that typ­i­fied many of the ear­lier episodes.

The show had to rein­vent it­self fol­low­ing the fall- out from The Win­ter Sol­dier, and the new sea­son opens with a rump SHIELD try­ing to re­build it­self in se­cret. It’s a dy­namic that’s brought out the best in the show and its char­ac­ters, es­pe­cially Coul­son, whose smug­ness has been leav­ened by a whiff of des­per­a­tion.

The cen­tral team now feels like a much more en­gag­ing, in­trigu­ing and be­liev­able bunch of char­ac­ters, even though they’re all in a darker place. Fitz’s break­down has re­sulted in a bravura per­for­mance from Iain de Caestecker; Ward is far more in­ter­est­ing now he’s gone all Han­ni­bal Lecter; and Skye isn’t just the “sassy hacker” any more.

It’s good to see Trip mov­ing more cen­tre stage and new­bie tech­ni­cian MacKen­zie adding to the mul­ti­cul­tural mix ( the show was a bit white and mid­dle class to be­gin with) but they could both do with meatier sto­ry­lines. In­stead, another new­bie, Hunter, is grab­bing all the air­time as “generic cheeky chap­pie Brit” whose job of­fer from Coul­son ap­pears purely based on his win­ning grin. Jury’s out there.

With bad­dies like Crusher Creed ( the Ab­sorb­ing Man) and Don­nie Gill ( evil Ice­man) pro­vid­ing the kind of eye pop­ping su­per­pow­ered threat too of­ten miss­ing from sea­son one, some great ac­tion se­quences and plots that twist and turn like an en­tire sea­son of The X- Files in the space of 45 min­utes, the show seems to have found a new con­fi­dence.

But Agents of SHIELD re­mains too over­loaded with arc-plot­tery for its own good. Does it re­ally need so many an­tag­o­nists? Each el­e­ment would ben­e­fit from more depth if it weren’t fight­ing for at­ten­tion with all the oth­ers. A promis­ing sea­son start, though. Let’s hope the au­di­ence re­builds as SHIELD does. Dave Golder

Fitz re­fuses to follow the crowd. He looks where he wants to look.

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