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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Agents of SHIELD S2

Agents of SHIELD
Series 2.

You know, I was sure that I reviewed the first half of Agents of SHIELD's second series, but apparently this was not the case. I should know, I just spent a while searching for it so that I could check to see what my opinion of it was, and I found nothing. I guess that's a review that slipped through the cracks.

Picking up some months after the end of the first series, Agents of SHIELD sees Coulson as the new Director of SHIELD, assembling a larger team in order to pursue Hydra. Trouble arises, however, in the form of Skye's father, a mysterious underground city, immortal HYDRA scientist Whitehall, a conspiracy brewing within SHIELD itself, and an enclave of the superpowered Inhumans, led by the mysterious Jiaying. 

I'm just going to come out and say it: While I enjoy Agents of SHIELD, it's not a show I await with bated breath each week. It's not like Game of Thrones or The Flash, which I will happily stay up until the wee hours of the morn to catch as soon as possible - nor, to take an example from Marvel's portfolio, is it like Agent Carter, which I feel is a truly unique piece of television. 

I do enjoy it, though - but oddly, I enjoyed this series less than the last. Part of that is the change in dynamics: The first series was all about a small, close-knit team working as part of a much larger group, whereas the second series expands that focus, making it less about a team and more about a larger and more loosely connected group, whose interactions with each other are often fraught and fractious.

But with the same amount of dramatic posing.

That's a significant part of the first half of the series and an even more significant part of the second, where Skye suddenly gaining superpowers and the True SHIELD conspiracy cause even deeper divides in the group, and several more characters with their own agendas are added to the cast. Large ensemble casts can work wonders for a show, but in this case, I feel like the move away from a small team caused the show to lose some of what made it - well, not special, but fun. 

 (Speaking of superpowers, a whole bunch of superpowered people are introduced this series, but with the exception of Skye, their powers all seem very - small. A guy who can shoot short bursts of lightning is a lot less impressive when you know he occupies the same universe as Thor, let's put it that way, and it doesn't do wonders for actually seeing the Inhumans as a threat.)

That said, this series does introduce some great characters. Hunter and Bobbi, both characters from the comics, are added to the main cast and are both great fun; Robert Gonzalez, played by Edward James Olmos, joins the cast as a recurring character; Dichen Lachmann and Luke Mitchell, both alumni of Australian soap operas (Mitchell was on Home and Away, even, the same soap that Chris Hemsworth was on), both join the cast as Inhumans. And they're all great characters, don't get me wrong.

Lincoln, whose power is essentially being a Cut-Price Thor in about three different ways.

In fact, the only character in the show that I don't really like is Ward. He was important to the storyline of the last series, and seeing people furiously try to defend him and his Neo-Nazi ways was, um, interesting. In this series, though, he doesn't really seem to have a clear role other than 'insert himself clumsily into other people's plotlines', and could just as easily have been killed off without it affecting the series in any meaningful fashion. To be honest, he probably should have been killed off - the series was not crying out for a creepily misogynistic and passive-aggressive recurring villain. 

The storyline has some interesting turns, but is, for the most part, very much what you'd expect, and it doesn't go to any particularly surprising places. There isn't anything like the 'Ward and Garrett were evil all along' reveal of the last series, which was one of the high points - while there is some vague attempt to reproduce that shock in the third-to-last episode, the character in question is a far less major one, so it lacks the same impact.

What a charming family.

That said, the last few minutes of the finale have some impressive shocks in them, and I'll be looking forward to seeing how those pan out in the early episodes of the next series, due to start airing later this year. Especially that one thing. With the stone. And Simmons. You know.

Overall, a very enjoyable but not especially striking second series, more of a 'watch if you have time and it sounds interesting' than a 'you absolutely must watch'. If I gave stars, I'd give it three and a half. But I don't give stars. 

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