Judging by the ratings for its debut episode, I wasn’t alone in my anticipation of the television show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Over the years, I’ve become a fan of the sprawling, multi-universe cinematic world that Marvel has created since 2008’s Iron Man, and I was looking forward to what they had to offer on a weekly basis through my television screen. The fact that Joss Whedon, master and commander of a little known film called The Avengers, was at the helm of the first episode only served to heighten my excitement, because not only am I a fan of what he has done in the Marvel universe, but I am also a huge fan of his work in television in general. Therefore, it was with no small amount of eagerness that I looked forward to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiere.
Given the show’s subsequent drop off in viewers, I was not among the many who abandoned ship after the first couple of episodes, but I will admit to staying with the show rather begrudgingly. I never looked forward to the next new episode, and instead, they tended to pile up on my DVR, a sure sign of lack of interest on my part. The characters somehow didn’t quite sit right, with many of their relationships and interactions feeling forced and unnatural, while the plot meandered off on a mystery of the week style storytelling, which is inherently boring and predictable. In particular, as I wrote last time, it irked me to no end that Agent Coulson had been miraculously resurrected from his death in The Avengers, and despite my love of Clark Gregg’s portrayal of the character, the narrative implications seemed to be too much for the show to overcome. As a whole, the the series gave off the impression of an unfortunately squandered opportunity, and I was on the verge of throwing in the towel altogether. This is, until I saw Captain America: The Winter Soldier this past weekend and everything changed.
At the time I saw the movie, I was several episodes behind in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and I had no intention of making them a priority in my DVR viewing. However, after seeing Captain America, and its far reaching implications on the Marvel universe, I was instantly determined to catch up and find out how the show would deal with these pressing issues. Last night I burned through the remaining episodes, and by the end of my mini-marathon, I was amazed at how quickly this show had turned itself around. Characters suddenly have depth and dimensionality, their relationships with one another suddenly feel real and genuine, and most importantly, the storytelling has ratcheted up the quality in nearly every way. Whether it’s the overall plot, the week to week stories, the mysteries, or the intrigue, everything is better. It’s almost as if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was desperately trying to figure out what type of show it wanted to be, and as soon as it found something that worked, it just ran with it in the best possible way.
There’s only six more episodes left of the season, and with ABC still mum on whether or not the show will return for a second season, I can only cross my fingers and hope that my wishful thinking works again. In the meantime, I’m thrilled that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has found its storytelling mojo, and is finally delivering on its promise and potential. The show has some pretty important plot points to address in the upcoming episodes, and in a most welcome change from the beginning of the season, I can’t wait to see what happens next.