Agents Of shield
Marvel’s last bastion of network TV
What a shame that as Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD concludes its best season yet, its future has never looked shakier. While Marvel’s big screen offerings go from strength to strength, on network TV the company’s pocket universe is on the verge of imploding. Agent Carter has been cancelled. Marvel’s Most Wanted stumbled at the pilot stage. Agents Of SHIELD itself will move from a 9pm to a 10pm slot on ABC for season four. It’s not looking good.
It’s mystifying why Agents Of SHIELD is struggling, especially with the likes of Civil War providing free publicity. Admittedly, three years back, the series got off to a unpromising start, disappointing those expecting a weekly Avengers, delivering instead a high-tech Scooby-Doo complete with Mystery Machine. Since then the show has improved exponentially, with the Inhuman-fuelled season three delivering, if not the Avengers every week, then perhaps the X-Men.
This is also the most consistent, innovative and surprising season so far, with a hell of a midseason gamechanger in which Grant Ward is reincarnated as Hydra’s god, Hive. Along the way Simmons becomes stranded on a near-deserted alien planet in the show’s bravest episode yet; Bobbi and Hunter leave SHIELD in a twisty-turny Cold War thriller that proves you don’t need to kill characters to give them an emotional exit; Hive kills people very unpleasantly; there are many excellently scripted moral arguments about how to deal with the Inhuman threat; and Fitz and Simmons whisper sweet quantum physics to each other in the most adorable geek romance ever.
Sadly, at times SHIELD still feels a little old school in an era of Netflix superhero shows. Visually, despite excellent effects, the show can be drab, with workmanlike design and direction. The constant quipping, while often very funny, occasionally feels like an excuse to avoid proper dialogue. But if you like impressive comic book action with lots of jawdropping twists, the occasional emotional kick in the guts and engaging central characters, SHIELD remains a satisfying watch. Dave Golder