As our agents return to Earth we look back at the highs and lows of their expedition into space…
By Maisie Williams
The most recent collection of episodes of Agents of SHIELD has been a stellar first part of what may unfortunately be the Marvel show’s last season. Season 5 has provided yet another soft-reboot of the sci-fi series, which has been refreshing to watch, and has provided a number of new challenges for our beloved heroes, as well as offering new settings, narrative tones and fresh faces.
Some of those new characters have been delightfully likeable. Alien humanoid Enoch, the one who originally sent the team into space, is rather hilarious with the dry humour that comes with his witty commentary. Deke has become the loveable a-hole character. A product of his harsh and hostile environment that operated on individualism, Deke got redemption with his self-sacrificial act to help the team get home. What will happen to him remains to be seen, but there has been widespread speculation within the fandom that he could in fact be related to Fitzsimmons, as the mystery remains over his parents and their firm belief in the prophecy about the team. Flint has also become a wonderful character to watch and how welcome it is to have a young black boy represented as the key to getting the team home and helping to rebuild the world. It’s also refreshing to see the strong father-son bond he shares with Mack, as relationships like theirs between African-American males is something that’s strongly lacking in most TV.
Onto more antagonistic characters and the blue duo Kasius and Sinara both eventually received brutal impaling as they got their well-deserved deaths. Whilst both are enigmatic and intriguing villains, it’s a shame the latter’s departure felt somewhat lacklustre, and for all of Sinara’s silences there could have potentially been some interesting development there. Kasius, on the other hand, was cowardly and violent with an egotistical god-complex and, whilst sometimes fascinating to watch, perhaps too much time was spent on their interactions. These fleshed out their characters somewhat but also took away focus from the team.
Speaking of our team members, it’s been wonderful to see them all on top form after such an extended hiatus. Fitz shone through in his bottle episode ‘Rewind’, and it was brilliant that they’d roped Hunter back in for a guest appearance. The episode also showed us that Fitz still held on to remnants of his Framework self and, whilst we see small glimpses of The Doctor, Fitz is now more willing to use violence as a form of defence, which is extremely useful when members of the team like May and Coulson aren’t present, and intimidation tactics that can work to his advantage, such as when he had to protect his identity in front of Kasius and his cronies. However, at his heart, he is still the Fitz we know and love. The progression of his relationship with Simmons, as they enter engaged (and perhaps soon married) life together also feels like a natural direction for their romance to progress in.
Other strong character moments from our regulars have included the subplot of May becoming a surrogate mother to young Robin Hinton, especially cathartic given the events of Bahrain, and of course we have to mention Daisy potentially cracking the Earth like an egg and bringing about the dystopian future they were in. Although I’d bet hard money that Gravitonium plays a major part in those events, especially given that they’ve brought it back into play from a fairly shoddy early season one episode. This first half of the season also included some stunning visual effects, such as the cracked Earth and the Zephyr flying through space, as well as being surprisingly gory and physically brutal in places too.
The plot of this first arc is probably where most of the criticism comes in. Whilst the show pulled out all the stops to construct an elaborate time-loop narrative, it could be viewed as quite complex and needlessly so by those unfamiliar with this narrative device used in other realms of science-fiction. Some other aspects of a suspenseful plot also fell through, such as the build-up to the identity of Kasius’ seer whom many guessed was a future version of Elena even before the mid-season finale aired.
Small grievances aside this arc ended on a hopeful note with Flint and Tess hoping to rebuild the world in the future. As we continue drawing closer to the show’s celebratory 100th episode, airing when the show returns from its short Winter Olympics break in March, the quality of this season is dependent on whether it can be maintained as we see the next half of this story arc to its conclusion. Many questions still remain unanswered. Will Coulson survive? Will Daisy actually be responsible for a Doomsday-level catastrophe? Will Fitzsimmons actually ever get married? (Seriously though, that last one better happen). From these first ten episodes, however, we have seen a group of diverse and downtrodden people coming together to overthrow an oppressive system, which I for one think is a message much needed in our current times.
Marvel’s Agents of Shield returns to ABC on March 2nd