Movies and TV
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2: What Went Right?

Bob Chipman | 5 Nov 2014 12:00
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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing a lot of things right in season 2.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did not air a new episode this week, having been pre-empted for a special about Marvel's 75th Anniversary. So instead of a recap, please enjoy this overview of how season 2 has managed to improve over its predecessor thus far. A SPOILER WARNING is in effect.

At this point, even the film geek community's hardest to please critics think Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has turned a major corner in its second season. Heck, I was among the more forgiving of season 1, and even I could tell that the show had spent its time off working out an entirely new ground-game. It's sharper, funnier, more exciting, has a better sense of self, and is just a flat-out better show.

How did we get here? Well, mostly it's just the same kind of gradual evolution that most TV shows go through. In truth, the majority of series (even great ones) look a lot different starting out than they do once they've figured out what works and what doesn't, but because of its Marvel Cinematic Universe (and Whedonverse) pedigrees, Agents came pre-loaded with expectations that it would play closer to the made-for-binge-watching mini-movie set than the cheeky "NCIS: Marvel" setup that landed on screen.

But otherwise? I'd say it's been (number) specific "big" factors that've made Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. feel like an whole new show:

Everyone Is More Interesting
Yes, it was a bit refreshing that in the first season the heroes were a Scooby Gang of happy-go-lucky misfits, but that kind of "aw shucks" dynamic can only extend so far before you start undermining tension. Season 2 has taken the events of both the first year's finale and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as an occasion to make everyone a little bit more interesting by "breaking" them all, just a little bit (or a lot, in some cases).

Examples: Fitz/Simmons as platonic BFF's finishing each other's sentences? Cute. Fitz/Simmons as friends who used to finish each other's sentences but now don't because one's romantic crush on the other came out in a dark moment? Interesting. Coulson as a ragtag team-leader put off his game by questions of how he survived death? Actually, that got tiresome toward the end. But Coulson as the Director of a (now "underground") relaunch of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself plagued by suspicions that he might be dying, turning into a monster, or both? Much more interesting.

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