After a nearly three-month break, Marvel TV and ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return tonight, replacing its sister show Agent Carter. There were a few shakeups when last we saw Coulson and his gang of misfit agents so let’s review.
Most notably, Coulson crushed Ward’s chest with his robotic hand, killing him quite brutally. Unfortunately, the alien persona that had previously inhabited Daniels, Simmons’s star-crossed lover, switched bodies and inhabited Ward. Zombie-Ward, making it through the portal between the alien world and Earth at the last second, will likely become the team’s new enemy, looking cost-effectively like their old enemy. One wonders how this “new” enemy will integrate into the plot since the team is also dealing with the escaped Inhuman Lash and Gideon Malick‘s plans for Hydra to use the Inhumans as an army.
Alien possession, zombies, robotic hands, Hydra, all promising things in a show about agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it’s missing a couple things. And, unfortunately, the missing ingredients are critical. For reasons I can only imagine are related to the expense of using Marvel properties, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. barely has any Marvel characters who originally appeared in Marvel comics in it. True, Skye turned into Daisy Johnson (Quake) eventually and the audience was treated to a great performance from Kyle Maclachlan as Mr. Hyde, but aside from them there aren’t too many others.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s portrayals of Deathlok were so different from the character from the comics that the writers may as well have used a different name for the character altogether. Dr. Hall was just a tease. And, no one being referred to as an Inhuman on the show has yet appeared as anyone recognizable as an Inhuman from the comics, except for Lash. The character most similar to his original from the comics is probably Alphonso ‘Mac’ MacKenzie, a character who first appeared in comics in the late ’80s.
Agent Coulson as played by Clark Gregg is always good to have around even if he’s not originally from the comics, but since his metamorphosis into hard-nosed Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. started, the character’s been losing his friendly neighbour-type charm that makes him unique. Agent May as played by Ming-Na Wen continues to be a pro for the show’s watchability, but I fear that her well-choreographed ass kicking will only take Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so far.
The same could be said for Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird) played by Adrianne Palicki, another one of the few characters on the show that originally appeared in the comics. Let’s hope that Palicki’s Mockingbird stays fresh since she will apparently be starring in an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spin-off show, Marvel’s Most Wanted–sounds like a Muppets movie.
The general absence of characters who originally appeared in Marvel comics is one of the critical missing ingredients. The other missing ingredient seems to be a systematic plan by the writers for how the show
will proceed. Like its sister show, Agent Carter, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suffers from having too many active plot lines that rarely pay off. Although this formula can work well for other shows–The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones–it doesn’t seem to work well for superhero/group of heroes shows. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cries out for an interesting main character and would do well to adopt the one villain per season framework that has been so successful for Marvel’s Netflix series.
That being said, I remain skeptical but optimistic and will review each of the last four episodes of this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., hoping that the team finds its way and that the body of Ward is vaporized.