Recently, Inq and I have re-watched all the seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D as a refresher before diving into the seventh, final season for the first time (we aren’t the “get it as soon as it’s out types, so we took our time). By now, I must have watched some of the seasons four or five times already, and I’m sure it’s not the last of it. Even though it’s not perfect, out of all the superhero shows I’ve watched, this is probably my most favorite (followed closely by Gotham), and there are so many reasons to love it!
The cast of characters
I’d dare to say, there’s a character for everyone to love… or hate. All of them have distinct personalities, complex motivations, and their loyalties are often challenged when their friends do things they disagree with. The character dynamic of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is great, and the show makes sure those relations are consistent and develop according to what had already happened. If like me, you’re annoyed when a character doesn’t remember their friend lied to them three episodes ago (like in some shows I discussed some time to me), this show will have you pleasantly surprised, often following the “forgive but not forget” rule.
I think it’s a good sign, if I can’t pick a firm favorite character, and even though some of them annoy me more often than not, I simply love to hate them.
More than a straightforward plot
Often seasons offer parallel plot lines that connect at the end of the season… or continue in the background to return unexpectedly a few seasons later, entwined with another storyline. This creates a bit of life-like feeling, because the problems don’t go away just because the season has ended: cause-and-effect at its best, and rarely seen in tv-shows where issues seem to return only when there’s need for an extra drama. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D problems don’t disappear. Even if the characters can’t deal with a problem at the moment, it’s still there, often interfering with what they’re doing. This complexity gives the seasons a feeling of a well-thought out and planned series rather than a rushed attempt to drum up the drama and make yet another season after the success of the previous one.
Death is not permanent… until it is
Given that one of the main characters had died on the big screen before the show had even started, returning from the dead is a bit of a motif of the series. Following the longtime comic book tradition where both heroes and villains return from the dead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does a magnificent job of finding ways to bring those loved and hated characters back for another season… or just an episode. Alternate dimensions, virtual realities, alien resurrection technologies, parasitic aliens, life-model decoys (androids), time travel—you name it! Of course, all is consistent within the show’s reality, so some characters will stay dead if there’s no way to keep them alive, meaning that those resurrections aren’t always easy cop outs, but they serve as an extra excitement when you realize that the character you thought dead and mourned, appears back on screen to become part of the story yet again or a villain makes an unexpected come back to pester the team again… often because of something they did.
Even though Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D addresses some serious issues that are quite contemporary, like accepting otherness and change or the threats of a life that might be a little too connected, it doesn’t try to be “darker than life”. With many shows taking a turn toward gritty, brutal, and dark, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is a refreshing wind of positivity. There’s humor and hope, and there are trust and friendship. Even if things get serious or difficult, and it’s clear that there will be some death at the end, you can hope for somewhat of a happy ending that is not going to leave you shattered and in need of a therapy. In the world that seems to challenge our ability to hope for a brighter future, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D offer that glimmer of “the good always prevails” we sometimes desperately need.
And, what’s more, it doesn’t take itself entirely serious all the time, which brings me to the next point.
All the geeky goodness
In many ways, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are an homage to geek culture. There are many references to contemporary pop-culture or to 1980s classics, and even though the show isn’t a tongue-in-cheek comedy, it doesn’t shy away from making fun of itself. The characters don’t break the fourth wall in a way Deadpool does, but they act like humans steeped in decades of pop-culture would, often commenting on the events or cliches the way a real human would… if they found themselves in a science fiction-like situation. Because in the end, after all the movies and books we consume, who wouldn’t make a comment about not splitting up when exploring a creepy house in the middle of the woods?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is not, by any means, a perfect show. Sometimes the pacing seems off, the story drops the ball, or the characters really insist on doing stupid things for what seems like the sake of the plot’s progress, the show never falls below a certain level of quality, and picks up after every slump. Full of interesting concepts, storyline, and fun twist, it’s a promise of great entertainment and inspiration to me, so you can bet I’m going to watch it again. And again.
What about you? Are you a fan? Or maybe this kind of show is not for you? Share your thoughts!