Why I’m Sticking With S.H.I.E.L.D.
Every year, I anxiously await the arrival of the fall TV season. This year, I promised myself that I would give any new show I’m interested in at least three watches before permanently deciding whether to set my DVR season pass or not (except for Hostages … that was a trainwreck from the start). And at the top of my list was Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The show just had so much going for it. But I was underwhelmed by the first episode, and the second wasn’t much better. Salvation came in the form of the third episode, giving me some hope that they’d make good on the show.
During the first episode, Agent Coulson brought his team together and took on a wannabe hero that was under the influence nefarious forces. It was a mythology dump to make your head spin (and you can read my whole review here). And the second episode had the team flying to South America, commandeering an alien weapon from the World War II era, and engaging in a mid-air, loss of pressure fight with Peruvian army operatives that double crossed them. That’s a lot stuffed into one episode, and it was kinda clunkily executed.
As much as I love Marvel properties, I was ready to give it up.
And then last week’s episode 3 came. Titled “The Asset”, Coulson’s team was tasked with figuring out how an invisible foe took out a S.H.I.E.L.D. transport and kidnapped the high raking scientist that was on board. Once they figured out who did it, they all employed their unique skills to create a plan for a rescue.
It was smart. It was sharp. It was intriguing. And as opposed to the prior episodes, you couldn’t figure out the entire plot after the first five minutes. There were a lot of suspenseful near-deaths. They planted a seed for future conflict. But most importantly, the team finally started to feel like an actual team. The characters started to show their depth. No longer was each person a cardboard cutout with a skill; now they were beaten up as children, don’t have families, and have fears that they are trying to face.
Grant Ward, who previously came off as just the mandatory muscle, showed vulnerability as well as an innate need to protect others. Leo Fitz and Gemma Simmons were consumed with saving someone who had played a pivotal role in their lives. Melinda May had to make the decision to put herself back in the line of fire. And Skye had to let her guard down just a bit and learn to follow.
This week’s Episode 4 continues down this path, both reaching into Agent Coulson’s past and showing the espionage chops on the team. We learned that Agent Coulson was previously a really tough character who was quick to say “I told you so.” Now, after his death and mysterious return from “Tahiti”, he is much more compassionate. So the question lingers: what happened (or what did S.H.I.E.L.D. do) to Coulson? Plus, if you ever thought that the missions of the week may get stale, the rogue spy with an implanted robotic eye being coerced to do nefarious things should put you at ease.
None of these things are really that deep, however, they start to build a connection between the viewers and the characters. And that connection is what keeps viewers coming back week after week. It pushes viewers to stream episodes at home and tweet about it online. That connection is what keeps shows on the air.
So now we all have a reason to watch other than impressive special effects and tongue in cheek movie references. The show has its own legs. And for the first time since before the premiere, I’m excited about what is to come.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs every Tuesday at 8 PM on ABC.
Are you hooked on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Or did you not fall for the hype?
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