Agents Of SHIE LD

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Not quite the leader of the pack

Agents Of SHIELD stormed through a sec­ond sea­son so packed, in­ven­tive and dy­namic that it’s al­most as though it’s re­ceived a Chang­ing Rooms- style makeover since those wob­bly early days. Af­ter be­ing given a kick up the arse in its first year with the re­lease of The Win­ter Soldier, the show was on sure enough ground this sea­son that it didn’t re­quire a boost from Age Of Ultron – in­deed, the re­lease of the movie barely im­pacted on the plot. SHIELD


is do­ing mighty fine all by it­self, and long may it con­tinue.

How­ever, the show that started out as the lit­tle brother of Marvel’s big- screen ad­ven­tures is now suf­fer­ing from the ad­di­tion of Agent Carter and Dare­devil to its small- screen uni­verse: you could ar­gue that now it’s lit­tle more than a sec­ond cousin, over­shad­owed by its brighter, bolder re­la­tions.

Take the cast. Char­ac­ters that once bored us ( Ward, we’re look­ing at you) have earned a new lease of life, yes. But SHIELD’s en­tire ensem­ble withers when placed next to the beau­ti­ful­ly­rounded per­sona of Hay­ley Atwell’s Peggy Carter: she’s sim­ply in a dif­fer­ent league, a true leg­end along­side a bunch of fairy­tale sketches. And these char­ac­ters also suf­fer when com­pared to those in Net­flix’s Dare­devil; there will surely be Em­mys for those ac­tors ( Vin­cent D’Onofrio’s King­pin in par­tic­u­lar), but for the team in SHIELD? Nope.

The same goes for the ac­tion. Ob­vi­ously the shows are wildly dif­fer­ent in tone – think of SHIELD as a car­toon, Agent Carter as a lov­ing homage to pulp de­tec­tive tales and Dare­devil as Shake­speare. But con­sider the ca­sual way that Coul­son loses his hand yet seems to shrug it off, con­trasted with how we get to feel ev­ery scratch that lands on poor Matt Murdock’s bat­tered body. Nat­u­rally we’ll find our­selves drawn to the more dra­matic ver­sion, as­sum­ing it’s bet­ter in the same way that the Academy over­looks comedies when they award the Best Pic­ture Os­car.

Dare­devil and Agent Carter, then, are the pedi­gree pooches win­ning all the awards at Crufts, while SHIELD’s the daft fam­ily labrador who just wants to jump all over us and lick our face. On the plus side, how­ever, this doesn’t mean that we like labradors any less. Jayne Nel­son

bonus fea­tures

New Life: Ru­mours are still cir­cu­lat­ing that sea­son two new­bies Bobbi Morse, aka Mock­ing­bird ( Adri­anne Pal­icki), and Lance Hunter ( Nick Blood) might get their own SHIELD spin- off se­ries. This might not hap­pen any time soon, but ABC have hinted strongly that it could be a plan at some point in the fu­ture.

Friends Re­united: Both Nick Blood and Ruth Negga ( Raina) ap­peared in Chan­nel 4’ s Mis­fits.

It’s Wossername! A ma­jor char­ac­ter in SHIELD’s sec­ond year is played by Dichen Lach­man, who starred as Sierra in Joss Whe­don’s Doll­house. Her fel­low “doll”, En­ver Gjokaj, plays Daniel Sousa in Agent Carter.

Best Lines: May: my plane.” Coul­son: “Me too. Though, if you think about it, mostly ter­ri­ble stuff hap­pened on that thing.”

“I miss bal­ance will be re­stored a lit­tle next sea­son: no one wants an all- out farce or even for the show to reach the lighter heights of The Flash, but a to­tally bru­tal, un­re­lent­ing Arrow isn’t ex­actly the ideal ei­ther. Hope­fully more col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the shows – which has proved a prime source of amuse­ment and truly cracked the code for mak­ing crossovers work ( odd sched­ul­ing is­sues aside) – will pro­vide some joy to go with all of Arrow’s mop­ing.

Mean­while, the stunts and fights con­tinue to im­press, along­side the writ­ers’ will­ing­ness to play within the DC Uni­verse. They’ve been so suc­cess­ful that you be­gin to wish the cin­e­matic ver­sion could start tak­ing more of a cue from its small- screen com­pa­tri­ots, but for now it def­i­nitely feels like they’re ex­ist­ing in com­pletely dif­fer­ent time­lines. James White

bonus fea­tures

Trivia: Chalk up another per­son know­ing Barry Allen’s real iden­tity, as Felic­ity outs him to Mal­colm Mer­lyn ( John Bar­row­man) in the sea­son fi­nale.

It’s Wossisname! Matt Nable, play­ing Ra’s Al Ghul, cropped up as Boss Johns in the re­cent Rid­dick film.

Spoiler Alert! The fi­nale ap­pears to show Ray Palmer caught in an ex­plo­sion, but since he’s join­ing spin- off DC’s Le­gends Of To­mor­row, he’ll be okay.

Trivia: There’s a sneaky DC Easter Egg in Fer­ris Air, seen in “This Is Your Sword”, ref­er­enced as closed down when “one of their test pilots went miss­ing”.

tv re­views and opin­ion

He didn’t see that com­ing.

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