Why S.H.I.E.L.D. Is This Season's Biggest Disappointment
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. | Photo Credits: Justin Lubin/ABC
I'm going to get right to the point: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not good.
Five episodes in, and I'm ready to quit -- and I don't quit anything. I'm still watching Grey's Anatomy, Project Runway and yes, even the boys vs. girls season of America's Next Top Model, but S.H.I.E.L.D. is pushing my limits.
Last week's episode was a small step in the right direction, finally introducing the show's Big Bad, Centipede. But I'm finding it hard to muster up anything beyond apathy towards this evil. Why should I care whether or not Coulson's team can save the world from Centipede when they haven't given me a single reason to care about the people doing the saving? Here are seven ways that S.H.I.E.L.D. went wrong:
1. Stock characters Each of the heroes of S.H.I.E.L.D. are recycled archetypes from yesteryear. And while Joss Whedon made a name for himself subverting clichés, S.H.I.E.L.D. just re-creates them. Skye (Chloe Bennet) is an obnoxious simulacrum of a "quirky" techgirl, and Ward (Brett Dalton) is so generic he's better fit for a CBS procedural. Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), who was poised to be my favorite, is sadly only a caricature of what TV often confuses for a Strong Female Character (read: kicks ass but lacks other dimension). And I still haven't worked up the motivation to decipher which one is Fitz and which is Simmons. All I know is that both have my pining for the nerdy charm and ease of Whedon's previous winning nerd characters Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hanigan) and Topher Brink (Fran Kranz).
2. A leader not-so-shrouded in mystery Then, of course, there's Coulson (Clark Gregg) who — thanks to some over obvious "hints" — we know is some sort of Life Model Decoy, clone, etc. The ham-handed way the Coulson mystery has been handled by S.H.I.E.L.D. shows how little faith the series has in its audience, repeatedly saying something is wrong instead of giving actual evidence, as though viewers would be unable to connect the dots. By doing this, S.H.I.E.L.D. diluted a potential key aspect of the show's mythology and instead created an empty mystery, a static protagonist and undermined any reason I might have to keep watching, since the eventual reveal is almost guaranteed to be anticlimactic.
3. Scooby who? Then there's the question of why these individuals? Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) posed the same question to Coulson in the pilot and, much like her, we're still waiting for an answer. But maybe there isn't one. It wouldn't be out of step with the series to have created its own motley crew based on nothing more than recognizing the success of Buffy's Scooby gang and the crewmembers of Firefly's Serenity, since S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to so much enjoy re-creating tropes without adding any of its own inspired twists.
4. Only semi-super For a world filled with superheroes, S.H.I.E.L.D. is largely devoid of the larger-than-life flash and fun of the Marvel Universe. While I understand there are restrictions based on Marvel's future film and franchise plans, along with the show's budget, I really doubt S.H.I.E.L.D. couldn't do better than a guy who makes fire from his hands (named Scorch, of all things).