Marvel's Agents of SHIELD Review by John Keegan

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD 5.01/5.02: Orientation

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD 5.01/5.02: Orientation

Written By:
Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, and DJ Doyle
Directed By:
Jesse Bochco and David Solomon

I continue to be saddened that so many Marvel Cinematic Universe fans are willing to write off Agents of SHIELD as if it has never evolved past the early days of the first season.  Especially given that those early days were later revealed to be mere starting points for massive character development and evolution.  Agents of SHIELD has become something very different than what it seemed to be at its inception, and the current incarnation is a series at the top of its game.

 


 

In the wake of the Framework incident at the end of the fourth season, Agent Coulson and most of his team are taken away and exposed to a Kree monolith.  They wake up in what appears to be part of a space station, and it takes most of the first part of the story to explore what exactly their circumstances might be.  As it turns out, those circumstances are far more bizarre and terrifying than anticipated; they have been sent about 100 years into the future, to a time when Earth has been largely destroyed and the Kree have taken control of the remnants of humanity.

 

What works so well is how the various characters (minus Fitz, who is a notable absence) react and adjust to these new circumstances.  Everyone essentially reverts to their strengths and does the best to survive and gather as much intel as possible.  By now, the characters are a fairly well-oiled machine, so it’s not hard to simply sit back and watch them do what they do best.

 


 

The one exception to the rule is Mack.  One problem with removing the team from familiar surroundings and dropping them into the future is that context can be easily lost.  Mack went through a horrible crisis in the Framework, particularly the season finale, and that explains why he seems so out of sorts in this double episode.  But it’s easy to forget that context when there are so few reminders of it in the episodes themselves, so Mack just seems a bit out of character for a while.  While the apparent emergence of the Framework is Daisy’s mind hints that additional context may come, Mack’s behavior is dismissed easily enough to keep the proceedings enjoyable.

 

The most impressive aspect of the premiere is how naturally it introduced the new society and the various levels of the Kree threat.  Kasius is quite disturbing on many levels, and Simmons’ position as one of his “superiors” has a lot of potential for calamity.  Generally, no one seems to be in a safe position, even if Fitz is supposedly working on the problem.  After all, someone made the decision to send them into that future, and someone had to have certain expectations about what would happen once they were there.  There are too many hints for that to be a red herring.

 


 

I’m not sure if this season will follow the same general format as the previous one, but I hope that it does.  The shorter mini-arcs worked beautifully to keep the storytelling concise and focused, and while the current setting seems rich with potential plot elements to explore, it also seems like things could feel dragged out or repetitive if the team is constantly up against similar threats to their lives.  For now, though, this “reset” of Agents of SHIELD is a complete gamechanger and another example of why this is a “hidden gem” of the MCU.

 



Our Grade:
A-
The Good:
  • The new setting and status quo is immediately engaging
  • It feels like very little screen time is wasted
The Bad:
  • Mack’s reactions and personality might seem odd if one forgets how the previous season ended

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD by - 12/4/2017 12:38 PM46 views

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