To read part one, click here.
Before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D came out, Joss Whedon and Co. promised us a series that would be focused on Coulson’s team and S.H.I.E.L.D. as an organization, but would not use Marvel’s Blockbuster heroes as a crutch. 16 episodes in and the opposite has occurred with mediocre storylines, throwaway villains, an underdeveloped main cast, and the occasional mention of Iron Man. The crossover episodes with the Marvel cinematic universe have drawn in or kept in viewers who would have fled long ago, and sometimes even becoming the better episodes of the series as a whole, like it was with the “Yes Men” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” episodes.
The character development of the cast is quite sad. Agent Ward is one note and boring. Fitz and Simmons mostly play the roles of comic relief with a sprinkle of actual, full fledged characters (they had a great moment nearing the end of “FZZT,” and I wish there was more). Agent May is probably one of the only characters with the potential to be so much more, and I like Skye–unlike many others–but her character development has stalled a bit in the last few episodes. Agent Coulson (oh, lovable Coulson) has started to get a bit lukewarm as well. My personal breaking point with the series had been with “The Magical Place,” where advertisements had played up the revelation of what brought Coulson back, only to let us down with the most underwhelming explanation ever (that would later become far more interesting in “T.A.H.I.T.I.”).
Then comes Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where we find out that for 70 years, Hydra has infiltrated and has been secretly running S.H.I.E.L.D. This deeply affects two people in particular, Black Widow and Agent Coulson, who saw it as the opportunity to lessen the red in their ledger or just an organization doing good in the world. Both characters were willing to follow its orders blindly, which makes you wonder if that says more about how easily it was for Hydra to slip in when the information is compartmentalize and the only one with all of its parts is one man: Director Fury (a gloriously awesome man but still just one dude).
So exposing Hydra also meant the destruction of S.H.I.E.L.D. as an organization, which is where we start off in this week’s episode, “Providence.” Maria Hill has gone off to work for Stark Industries, Director Fury (or just Fury, since there is nothing to direct anymore) has burned his secret spy stash (and eye patch) to hunt down what’s left of Hydra, and Black Widow has gone off to create new aliases after having her life dumped onto the internet with the rest of S.H.I.E.l.D.
“Turn, Turn, Turn” is not just deemed the turning point of the show because of these revelations but also, I hope, the turning point of the show’s overall quality. Episode 17 was great and I hope that those steering the ship will build off it in future episodes. The crew can still be Agents of S.H.I.E.l.D. in spirit and what I predict is that they’re not only going have to deal with the betrayal of Agent Ward (who has finally gotten interesting), but also deal with the ramifications of the Hydra threat by hunting down Hydra agents. This is the most likely route they’ll be taking since it has been confirmed that Fury will be in the season finale and he’s also going Hydra hunting. Also, in the comics, Tony Stark is involved in the creation of the new S.H.I.E.L.D. with Maria Hill which could also explain her return to the series in an upcoming episode but will it also hint at newly formed S.H.I.E.L.D. in a foreseeable? And will Stark Industries play a role in that?
Time will tell and Episode 18 will be a major indicator on whether or not the show will seize the momentum and story opportunities given to it by Captain America: The Winter Solider.