Retrospect: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Tremors and Turbo ride again.

You know Ward's the bad guy. Cause he's leaning.

In which we welcome Damian to his Killer Moose writing debut so that Hanna is sometimes talking to a real person.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is back this week!

Spoilers for Everything. Seasons One and Two and the first half of Season Three are all fair game.

Hanna: My relationship with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes back and forth. I’m not entirely enchanted, but can’t deny that they occasionally make me super happy. So. I enjoy the show. Mostly. I had a hard time with the first season (not uncommon), including after the Hydra reveal (uncommon in my experience). I wasn’t onboard until “Nothing Personal” (episode 20), when Skye has to get away from Ward because she knows he’s a traitor. After that I enjoyed it more.

Damian: I also thought the first two thirds of season one were pretty flawed. It’s been a little while since I watched it, but I remember wondering what the point was if they were going to be an episodic series. I don’t have a lot of specific criticisms, because it wasn’t that memorable. Skye and Ward — who the show had the most affection for in the beginning — were pretty standard tv leads. Ward had the square jaw and spiky hair and you could make him into a sad puppet –

Hanna: Like in Angel?

Damian: Yup. And Skye was a sort of Whedon-style special girl, except she was uninteresting. Then we hit the two-thirds point and it felt like the writers knew they were in trouble. They made Ward Hydra and much more dynamic. It gave us an overarching conflict and plot and we got Garret as our villain. It still wasn’t perfect, but it was better. It was encouraging because you could see that they recognized problems and tried to solve them.

Hanna: I found season two more solid: due in large part to pulling away from focusing on Coulson. I do object to killing Agent Triplet, and while I felt the Inhuman half of the season two finale came on a little fast, I liked the Bobby/Agent 33/Ward plot.

Damian: Season two is very good, especially coming off of season one. Skye is more interesting. Cal is great. The worst thing is — and you say this — that Skye and Coulson can’t be in a room together.

Hanna: I hate every time they try to get them to be deep and interesting. The father/daughter dynamic does not play.

Damian: Coulson is the least interesting part of the show. But basically, the show became consistently surprising in season two. The beginning of the first season was predictable and the end deliberately surprising and now they built up a good rhythm. Scenes like Skye back-shooting Ward and Skye’s FPS gunfight while rescuing Lincoln set a new standard for the show.

Hanna: Agreed. Let’s get into the current season. We’ve seen some interesting character growth as well as some depressing stagnation of characters. I really miss Cal. Daisy/Skye’s father was probably my favorite person to watch on the show — what with his particular brand of crazy. I like it when we get specific kinds of crazy, rather than just a whacky or evil shorthand. I did not like Skye in season one, but I love Daisy. She hasn’t gone “agent” the way Ward was or May is, and she’s got a believable transformation.

Damian: And her hair is less ridiculous. I’m finding I don’t like May. She’s tough, she does the right thing, she’s superficially awesome, but there’s not much there. I like what they’ve done with Ward and Daisy. Many shows would have made Ward redeemable, bet there’s never the possibility of his being forgiven here. Simmons is becoming less interesting over time — though she is great in her episode on the alien planet. The show seems to have painted her into some uninteresting corners. She doesn’t get to make a lot decisions.

Hanna: I also feel like they don’t know what to do with May, which is sad. And it seems like we’re taking her to a darker place, when frankly, she started out pretty far along the unhappy path. Not terribly interesting, and already falling prey to a sort of “but-how-can-we-make-her-life-WORSE” syndrome that’s doomed to come up against a “we’ve-tortured-this-character-so-much-that-the-audience-is-numb-to-her-pain” problem.

I’m going to run through some other character thoughts real quick: I’m on board with the many faces of Ward. I was least interested in reborn-Hydra-minion, but I’m all about Undead-Evil-Inhuman Ward. Subtle though it is, taking Mack into a leadership role while he’s dealing with serious alien paranoia has been fun to watch. Letting Bobby and Hunter actually have feelings is nice. I hope they don’t tank that. Don’t know where I fall on Simmons badass survivalist refit. That’s a ‘remain to be seen’ for me.

Damian: Mack is fine, I don’t have your affection for him. He’s a little too “good”. I like Bobby and Hunter. Lincoln needs to die. I’m exhausted with that vein of pretty person. He’s got the right hair, just the right amount of stubble. And he consistently makes uninteresting choices. Joey is much more fun to watch.

Hanna: Yeah. I’m not a Lincoln fan… Anyway, what have we appreciated (or not) so far this season? You can go first this time.

Damian: Ward was starting to overstay his welcome, so I like killing him. Coulson crushing Ward’s chest is the best Coulson moment to date. It was shocking and brutal and a memorable death — which Ward deserved. I was impressed with that.

Hanna: And we finally have a superhero team! Took us awhile, but yay! With the exception of Lincoln, I like them! We also have a new iteration of not-Ward to play with. These are things that please me. I’m tired of the “Fitz/Simmons-can’t-have-nice-things” issue. I don’t really care if they are together. I just want them to catch a break. But I love Fitz in the alien world. That made me happy.

New Hydra is… lackluster. I’m not sure who is shaping up to be our major villain going into the finale. We do have Lash, but we’ve sort of plumbed the ‘how much can this hurt’ by having May shoot him. Of course, now we have Evil-Ward too. I suppose I hope he’s our main antagonist going forward. Any predictions for the back half of the season?

Damian: I’m going to predict that — No. I hate this kind of thing. — I’m not doing predictions. I’m going to do ‘hopes’. I hope they don’t kill Joey and that he becomes a stronger character. I hope they cut the Lincoln/Daisy romance. I hope we get rid of Lash. He’s getting a bit tiresome. I hope they walk back the Fitz/Simmons thing, since it’s the least interesting romantic choice for them to make.

We have to lose someone. It’s too big a cast not to have some people on the chopping block. And I hope they kill off someone from the main cast. Not because I don’t like the main heroes — but because they seem they introduce expendable characters each season without touching the main cast. We’re in danger of it getting predictable. I mean, even when we lose Ward, we’re keeping the actor around. I wouldn’t mind if we lost May.

Hanna: I think we might get something like that. I sort of hope it’s Coulson. I doubt it’s a choice the show would make, but I think it would be cool to see Mack in charge. I suppose they don’t have to kill Coulson — but exiting him somehow would be neat.

Damian: Yeah, how cool would it have been if they’d exited Coulson with Rosilyn and they went off, got married, and had an actual life only to return occasionally?

Hanna: Ahh! That would have been awesome! I think we are going to be stuck with Lincoln until at least the season finale. But I think he may be chopping block material at the end. They’ve so far been hesitant to let anyone have a relationship — with the exception of “let’s get back together” relationships. And I don’t think Daisy/Lincoln is a compelling first “we’re actually putting them together” plot. Daisy is also going to be due for some emotional pain. We’ve wrapped up her unfortunate family affairs, and I’m glad she’s had a bit of a break (comparatively), but she’s in for something. Any fears for the show from you?

Damian: I don’t want to go cynical, and I have faith that they’ll keep doing well. But… I am always worried that they’ll kill Fitz. I think he’s the heart of the show and there’s no one to replace him. I hope they don’t double down on Lincoln. He’s not fun to watch and it would point them towards some of the very standard choices they made at the beginning of season one. Let me see… what’s the worst thing they could do? Umm… Literally bring Ward back. That would be foolish.

Hanna: That would be incredibly foolish. Now that I think about it, we didn’t talk about Fitz!

Damian: He would be a very easy character to condescend to. He’s geeky (for tv) but he’s probably the most heroic person on the team. While Coulson’s decisions tend to feel like conveniences of plot, Fitz’s are character driven. He consistently does interesting things for interesting reasons. Clearly, I’m biased. He’s my favorite character.

Hanna: Yeah. I hope nothing bad happens with Fitz. He’s pretty great. That’s a good note to end on. I think that’s enough to see where we’re coming from in our reviews. We’re both excited to get back to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which returns tomorrow night. We’ll be back with reviews for the show starting Thursday!