Of all life’s big questions – who am I, why am I here, what do I believe in – undoubtedly the one I’ve spent the most time wondering is which super power I would have if I could pick one. Maybe that’s why I’ve stuck around as the guy enjoying the MCU while everyone else got bored and left, only to occasionally pop in just to see if I’m OK. This stuff is important to me, probably too important. And it’s because I care so much that I started watching Agents of SHIELD, though it’s not the only reason I keep watching. That’s because this year saw the show flirt with being truly good, before ultimately settling with being highly entertaining.
That might sound like what a praised the last half of the first season Agents of SHIELD for, but it’s different this time. Those episodes worked because something exciting happened in Captain America: The Winter Solider and we got to see the effects of that play out on TV. With that gone, I was afraid the show would revert back to being as difficult to sit through as it had been before, and for the first few episodes of this season, it kind of looked that way.
It picked up some time after Hydra’s attempt to destroy SHIELD was thwarted, with Coulson directing the new, underground version of the organization toward defeating Hyrda and figuring out the mystery of the alien stuff inside him and Skye. The team added some new members in Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird from the comics) and Lance Hunter (snarky British guy who was annoying at first, then really fun) and spent the early days going on missions and running away before the US government could catch them. It was OK. And then Inhumans started showing up.
Inhumans are people who posses inside them the potential to have super powers as long as they are exposed to magical alien gas. They are a result of aliens interfering in human development a long time ago and it can be argued that every Marvel super hero is technically inhuman. But in practical terms, they are a sub-group in the comic who are due to come to prominence in the MCU, especially since they can’t use mutants. That they debuted on this TV show is a big deal.
Agents of SHIELD is always better when there are more super powers on display, so having inhumans automatically makes the show better. But they also gave the show something to worry about that is important to the MCU without being tied directly to it. While playing off Winter Soldier made the show fun last year, this year Age of Ultron barely made a dent on the show. And that was OK because the show had its own story to tell.
At the center of that story was Skye, the character that needed the most work following season one. Fortunately, the writers put that work in, building Skye up into an agent who could hold her own in the field before revealing that she was really Daisy Johnson, a.k.a. Quake, and giving her sweet vibration powers. More than the cool power scenes though, the show also made Skye a surprisingly tragic figure by linking her “birth” as an inhuman with the death of a member of the team and introducing tons of family drama in the form of her long lost parents. Speaking of which, Skye’s dad is played by Kyle Maclachlan, who is the best thing to happen to this show (sorry, Patton Oswalt).
While the first MCU show, Agents of SHIELD has yet to reach the highs of its siblings Agent Carter and Daredevil (which reminds me, I should write something about Daredevil). But I always looked forward to it on Tuesday nights this year, which was a nice change of pace. I’m excited to see where it goes from here, and happy that ABC decided not to break up the ensemble by doing that ill-advised spin-off. Everything has started to click, the best thing to do is leave it alone.