Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – Season 1

When Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. first came out, I was first in line to watch. It was Marvel. It was Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Who wouldn’t want to watch? So I tuned in the first week. And the second week. And the third week. And somewhere after that, I lost interest. It quite literally took me more than a year to come back to it. And that took poking and prodding from a friend, with the promise that “it gets better.”

The problem with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D when it began is that there didn’t seem to be a clear game plan. Marvel is known for thinking years ahead, planting seeds and easter eggs now with the promise of pay off later. But when the show began, the plan was unclear. What was it really about? Were the agents out to “bag and tag” those with mutant powers? Were they going to track down a secret organization bent on furthering the abilities of mankind? There was no clear plot path and no running subplot to connect the episodes. Thus, the show felt disjointed, like it was looking for its path and hadn’t found it yet.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D therefore fell by the wayside. I didn’t purposely set out to stop watching the show. I just… stopped. Many shows expertly leave you with a cliffhanger at the end of an episode, leaving you with questions that will only be answered by tuning in next week. The only cliffhanger Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D left us with at the beginning of season 1 was the question about the survival of Agent Coulson and the perpetual references to Tahiti. But so little was revealed at the start of the season, even that started to take a back seat.

I stuck with the season, with the promise that the show would find its stride and that it would get better. It was a well made show. Few flaws in the making of it. But nothing particularly remarkable. Everyone had a little bit of a back story, but the only one who slightly piqued my interest was Agent May (Ming Na-Wen). I felt I could live without Ward (Brett Dalton), Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Fitz (Iain de Caestecker). But somewhere around episode 14 “T.A.H.I.T.I.” the show began to get more interesting, as we found the source of Coulson’s revival, and the source was also used to rescue Skye (Chloe Bennett). And then episode 17 “Turn, Turn, Turn” hit. The events that had unfolded in Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier were tied into the show. And suddenly the show had a direction! We weren’t aimlessly finding mutants, seeking a Clairvoyant, or seeking out Caterpillar. It was about fighting against Hydra, and it was about rebuilding after the fight was over. The betrayal by a main character was an unexpected but fabulous twist the show greatly needed to revitalize interest in the characters. No more good-two-shoes allowed us to see the contrast between the good and evil, and allowed us to finally truly root for a side and feel the emotions of the characters associated with the struggle.

So Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D took a year and a half to complete. It first felt like a chore to watch, with only the promise of better episodes coming. But the latter half of season 1 made it worth it. I stand with the others who say it’s worth sticking with, to wait for it to catch its stride.

Season 2 has carried on with the pace set in the second half of season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The battle with Hydra has continued and further tie-ins with Agent Carter and even Thor reveal that Marvel has once again figured out how to maintain the integrity of their universe. Season 2 has brought us the entrance of the Inhumans. What can be next for the second half of season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D?

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