How to Fix Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
***The following article will contain spoilers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. You have been warned.***
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just finished its third season with another epic finale. We got to see Hive’s face! They went to outer space! A minor, replaceable character sacrificed himself! It was an exciting 2 hours, but it took a painfully long time to reach that climactic point. Every season seems to suffer from the same problem. The first few episodes of the season start with a bang, we get a killer mid-season finale and then a handful of filler episodes that tease the “big finale” until you just can’t take it anymore. I enjoy Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. most of the time, but it gets exhausting. That’s why I’m proposing a list of changes that would help the show reach its full potential.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is arguably Marvel’s weakest TV offering, yet it has more episodes than any other Marvel show. Daredevil and Jessica Jones receive 13 episodes per season, Agent Carter only managed to earn 10 and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is sitting pretty at a whopping 22 episodes. TWENTY-TWO. It’s no wonder we get so many episodes that feel like filler. If Daredevil and Jessica Jones can manage to tell captivating superhero stories in almost half the time, then there’s no reason S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to be taking up 22 hours of prime time television. The Netflix shows may be an unfair comparison since they don’t have to leave time for commercials, but Agent Carter‘s first season was a measly 8 episodes and they still had plenty of time to deliver an interesting story. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was cut down to 10 or 13 episodes, there’d be less filler and possibly more time for ABC to include another Marvel show in their lineup each year.
Bring in a big guest star
Let’s be honest, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t have the strongest actors in their cast. Clark Gregg is great and Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge are pretty solid, but everyone else seems to venture into soap opera territory from time to time. I love Brett Dalton too, but how many excuses can they really come up with to keep resurrecting him? This is where a powerful guest star comes in handy. We’ve seen what stars like Bill Paxton and Kyle MacLachlan can do for the show. Their presence seemed to kick everything up a notch and bring out the best in the cast. Unfortunately, we’ve also seen what a bad guest star can do to this show. Dichen Lachman’s acting was almost painful as Daisy’s mother, Jiaying. The same could be said for Jamie Harris’ wooden performance as Gordon, the eyeless Inhuman. It takes a strong guest star with a proven track record to help elevate things and keep the show fresh. I realize it’s unrealistic to expect Captain America or Scarlet Witch to show up on AoS, but can we at least get Jeff Goldblum or Emilio Estevez to come in and play a random scientist? Hey, I hear Nathan Fillion is available.
Do more intimate stories
The first half of season 3 might be the strongest batch of episodes this show has ever done and it all started with Jemma Simmons being trapped on that alien planet. “4,722 Hours” was the fifth episode of the season and probably the boldest. For nearly the entire hour there are only two actors onscreen, Elizabeth Henstridge and Dillon Casey. We’re shown how Simmons manages to survive on the mysterious planet, how her and Will begin to bond and how they eventually plan to get home. The episode plays out like a short film and it was such a departure for a show with such an ensemble cast. It’s the “Fly” episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It would get old if every episode was like this, but it’d make for a nice change of pace to have a few more intimate episodes each season.
Kill some real characters
I don’t necessarily want to see the writers get rid of any of the main team members, but I’m sick of characters being introduced just so they have someone to kill off. Season 3’s finale set the stage for Daisy to go out in a fiery blaze of glory, but an injured Lincoln somehow managed to beat her to the quinjet and sacrifice himself. I suppose it was a shocking twist, but is Lincoln really an important character? His death leaves behind no repercussions. We might hear one of the agents say “Damn, I sure miss Lincoln,” but that’s the extent of it. It’s the same thing that happened to Trip. Remember him? He was part of the main team, but the story was going to keep moving with or without him. The only reason either of these characters were introduced is because they were expendable. The same can be said for Rosalind Price and Gideon Malick. The writers kill them off for some cheap shock value and then never have to address it again. Perhaps this is a good thing though. I don’t think I could have handled 6 straight episodes of people mourning over Daisy.
I like this show a lot and there have been a lot of great moments, but it’s starting to feel like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. We all started watching this show because it was supposedly connected to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, but it’s clear that Marvel Studios has no intention of bringing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the big screen. They might throw us a bone by having Lady Sif or Maria Hill show up, but do you really think Fitz and Simmons are going to show up in Infinity War? Do you honestly want them to? Marvel even cancelled the one movie that could have gotten away with including AoS characters. These past two seasons have been devoted to setting up The Inhumans, a movie that’s never coming. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is also the only show that screws with the MCU’s continuity. It’s realistic to assume that the Avengers aren’t going to drop everything to fight ninjas in Hell’s Kitchen, but wouldn’t they be aware of an evil infestation that wants to use a warhead to turn people into disfigured monsters? Also, don’t you think they would have heard that Phil Coulson has been brought back to life at this point? I hate to say it, but this show just isn’t worth jeopardizing the stability of the MCU. The truly great moments are few and far between, especially now that Netflix has shown us how amazing a Marvel show can be. It’s been a good run, but if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t make some serious changes then it might be time to call it quits.