I’m not sure if this is a conscious attempt at recreating the sort of adventure stories that I used to enjoy as a kid – series like The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman – or whether somehow working in the Marvel Universe has somehow blunted Joss Whedon and team’s skills at characterisation and story. A large part of me hopes it’s the former, but the cynical side suggests the latter.
It’s the sort of mission that Steve Austin would have been sent on: the Brainy Scientist has been kidnapped by the Evil Genius With Whom He Used To Work (seen above), but when the OSI get there, they discover that BS actually ensured he’d be kidnapped by EG so he can stop EG from Destroying the World. Meanwhile the character whose loyalties we’re not sure about is the only one who can infiltrate the bad guys, so of course there’s a moment when she seems to flip sides… but not to worry, it’s only going to last through the next act, and we can all be relieved when she presses the important button which will allow the heroes to enter (shown above).
Okay, it’s switched up a little bit by having one of the heroes entering being an older guy, but, frankly, not that much. Clark Gregg’s giving the same performance as Coulson that he provided for the earlier Marvel movies, but being able to hold together a short film is not the same as being the lynchpin of a TV series, and we desperately need to see some progression of his character. I still couldn’t say with absolute certainty which is Fitz and which is Simmons – their lines continue to be interchangeable. There’s more attempts to give some depth to Ward and Skye, but they’re pretty clichéd.
Agents of SHIELD has been given a full season order, so there’s plenty of time for these defects to be remedied. They need to be, or the series will become a footnote in the Marvel Universe – and both the concept, and Whedon’s fans, deserve better than that. A lot of shows hit their stride with the seventh or eighth episode; the team needs shaking up, and since we’ve established this is a series where the lead will commit murder to save the world, maybe we need to see some balancing heroics.
Verdict: Rapidly becoming disposal action/adventure, SHIELD can and must be better than this. 5/10