Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: What Do You Think of the New Guy?

 

9-28-shieldAgents of SHIELD, Season 4, Episode 2: “Meet the New Boss”

With its second venture in a later time slot, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. dialed back the butts and the blood, but kept up the breakneck pacing and showered viewers with a cascade of new information to sort through.

“Bullet point” isn’t exactly a storytelling style, but this episode, named after S.H.I.E.L.D.’s autocratic new skipper, who has a need to “unclench” and a secret of his own, had an apt description. The first two episodes moved a lot more concepts and plot points than we’ve seen from this genre of TV shows. Normally, with 20-plus episodes to fill and limited budgets, slow play is the name of the game.

It’s not clear if this break from the norm is a function of a desire to quickly reset the table after the time jump at the end of last season, or a feeling that the more “mature” audience at the later hour can handle a larger informational load. Either way, it’s a welcome change, because the characters are taking action rather than sipping lattes and holding roundtable discussions.

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A show told in bullet point fashion is worthy of a few bullet points itself:

  • Gabriel Luna’s Ghost Rider continues to be a strong addition. The bulk of his action this week was designed to get him and Daisy on the same side. Luna and Chloe Bennett have good chemistry on screen and their characters’ personalities play well off one another.
  • Much in the same way it introduced us to Inhumans, S.H.I.E.L.D. is helping fans get their feet wet in the mystical side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is coming to a theater near you in November with Doctor Strange. The ghost villains were talking about the Darkhold, which, in the comics, is the collected works of an evil god that has been known to cause lycanthropy and is connected to Strange.
  • Not sure if it was a sly nod to the fans’ devotion to Agent Carter or a not-so-sly dig at the network for canceling it, but the references to all the many untold stories of Peggy Carter (and the promos for Hayley Atwell’s new show Conviction) gave fans a tug of the heartstrings.
  • After three seasons of stern glances and few words, the direction the show is taking Agent May seems full of possibility and is allowing Ming Na-Wen an opportunity stretch some acting muscles.
  • Oh, yeah, we did actually meet new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director, Jeffrey Mace, played by Jason O’Mara. He looked and played like the goofy political animal he was sold to be in the premiere. However, there are more layers to that onion. Coulson hand-picked Mace, and for good reason. He’s a good face for a reconfigured S.H.I.E.L.D. that will be under international oversight, and he’s got a few surprises for when things get rough.
  • Despite the cast still being pretty large, the writers have done a pretty good job of giving everyone something meaningful to do in the first two episodes. Jemma has been underused the most, but that’s also the point of the role she’s playing in the new S.H.I.E.L.D., so it’s hard to complain too much. Plus we got the return of Mack’s shotgun-axe.
  • The visual effects, once considered a liability on this show, have been top-notch this season:

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Much has happened in the first two episodes of this new season, but it feels like the show has solid momentum moving forward. For a series that previously had all the nimbleness of a dump truck, this sportier model of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is an exciting prospect.

Craig Wack

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

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  • AbbySaurus

    There was so much going on, it flew by quick. Completely confused by the ghosts.

    • I think they are related to Robbie cause he knew like as soon as they mentioned the company name where to go and also ripped the photo of the wall in an angry manner. But we’ll see I suppose. At this story clip we’ll have all the answers next week.

  • I am 50/50 on the ghosts. This is where being a late comer to the comics has me thrown off. So they are bad? They aren’t bad? They are just tortured? From what I can tell they are SUPES WHINEY and SUPES nerdy. THEN THEY GO AND TRAP MACK. Sorry Ghosties. I cannot be on your side. Thank GOODNESS GR was there to save my poor sweet odd couple duo. Which I guess means he’ll explain the ghosts later since they seem to be related to his story line . It’s weird that I am wanting ALL THE INFO on these ghosts and we’re 2 eps in…. I am so needy.

    Also less eyeshadow budget this week.

    • AbbySaurus

      Between Daisy and the ghosts, it was dueling smokey eyes.

    • ChainedVase

      Daisy now triumphs by the Power of Smokey Eye!!

    • NateMan

      I think the ghosts are definitely bad – they just got screwed over by someone else bad. They’re the weakest link so far for me.

  • NateMan

    I’m a huge Reyes fan. He’s been an awesome edition and the effects are top notch.