Through four episodes of Agents of SHIELD’s third season, I’m more invested in the series than I have been in either of the first two seasons. Since we have a sizable chunk of story to look at, let’s take a look a look at three facets of Agents of SHIELD’s success, and what it could mean for their future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The single biggest improvement with Agents of SHIELD this year is the willingness to race through plot threads at the breakneck pace that the world’s top spy agency should demand. (spoilers for season three follow!!!)
By nature of programming as an ABC mainstay, Agents of SHIELD was always going to have more pacing challenges than the likes of a 13 episode Daredevil on Netflix. In the first two seasons, this meant snail-crawl mysteries, with unsatisfying reveals.
Fortunately, in season three, Agents of SHIELD has taken a page from The Blacklist or Orphan Black, and plowed through set-up to payoff within just a few episodes. For example:
Rather than climb the ranks of HYDRA as an adorable buddy cop duo all season, Hunter and May had their shootout with Ward last night. I wasn’t expecting this confrontation so quickly, and while it’s not quite Walt v. Hank, it was a tense, thrilling standoff.
Rather than leave Simmons stranded on an obscure alien planet, and leave Fitz to ponder her absence all season, Simmons was rescued in episode two. This was so fast, it almost felt too fast.
And finally, rather than face off against the ATCU all season, like SHIELD has done against the government and rogue SHIELD factions, Coulson joined up with their squad almost immediately. And he has a lady friend!
Simply put, Agents of SHIELD is starting to recognize it doesn’t need to stay in the same holding patterns, and has a wealth of material to move through as the season progresses. I’ve said it before, but this is a show that should not be afraid to shake up the status quo, and has the most expendable roster this side of the Suicide Squad.
We’re reaching the point of terrigenesis on the streets where it seems almost impossible for Captain America: Civil War to ignore the Inhuman developments of Agents of SHIELD.
I’m not crazy enough to think AoS will function as a necessary launching pad into Civil War, but it may well do a lot of the heavy lifting, and contextualize the issue for those Marvel fans who always want more.
It’s possible I’m wrong, and that Cap 3 opens with a news montage of “the rise of new superheroes,” and short clips of Spider-Man swinging from buildings that will blow everyone’s top off. But man would it be weird to have a Marvel Universe where a fish oil infestation is generating Inhumans, and to have neither Cap or Iron Man aware.
Choosing the Inhumans as a focal point of Agents of SHIELD was a bold move. So far in season three, it has worked well, with new Inhumans experiencing a faux terrigen bomb (a la Infinity), and Lash positioned as the S3 big bad.
At the end of the day, though, the Inhumans will be limited by the fact that Marvel is planning an Inhumans movie, and our chances of seeing or even hearing about the royal family – and by transitive property, Attilan – are next to nil.
As much as I’d like to see Maximus the Mad plotting against Coulson, and turning him inside wheels inside wheels, I’m increasingly ok with the use of Lash and the “NuHumans” of Charles Soule, Joe Mads, and Ryan Stegman’s 2014 run on Inhuman.
Lash has already been portrayed as the complicated, mysterious, and powerful Inhuman he is in the comic. Now we just need to see additional NuHumans like Inferno or Lineage enter the fray. Although they can’t immediately be welcomed to Attilan by Queen Medussa, there’s no reason to think these characters can’t have similar, yet more SHIELD focused origins.