TV Series Review
Things changed that day when an army of mechanized aliens burst through a rip in the sky and invaded New York City.
That day—at least in the Marvel universe where the Avengers reside—people realized they were surrounded by near-incomprehensible forces and powers, things that we mere mortals have very little control over.
The agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. inhabit that smaller world filled with larger-than-life characters—a liaison of sorts between Avenger wannabes and the rest of us. "It means we're the line between the world and a much weirder world," says Agent Grant Ward in the first season. "We protect people from the news they're not ready to hear. And when we can't do that, we keep them safe."
But what if S.H.I.E.L.D. can't protect itself from itself?
Agent Ward is emblematic of the organization's state of flux. Unmasked as a Hydra agent in Season 2, he's now apparently working for the enemy—doing his part to bring the world to evil's heel (or perhaps destroy it altogether). The agency itself has been officially disbanded and discredited. But Director Phil Coulson and his loyal cadre of agents continue to fight the good fight, and you can bet they won't stop crusading for the cause of truth and justice until all the world's calamities have been cleansed. (Or until ABC cancels the show, whichever comes first.)
The second season revolves around an alien obelisk that could remake the world in frightening ways. Daniel Whitehall—an ageless Hydra bigwig with a penchant for cruel experimentation—aims to use its power for his own nefarious purposes. A mysterious doctor also wants access to the obelisk. But his main goal seems to be to reunite with his daughter, Skye—who also happens to be S.H.I.E.L.D.'s creative conscience.
Along with Skye, Coulson's bright, flawed and distinctly non-superagent-filled team includes Melinda May, who reluctantly offers her own near-lethal abilities; Lance Hunter and Antoine Triplett, who provide some much-needed brawn; and the tech duo of Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, a Rosencrantz & Guildenstern-like pairing that collectively answers to the moniker FitzSimmons.
While big-screen plot points from Avenger members' various escapades impact the program's direction, don't expect Thor to make many cameos here. While bedazzled superheroes look just fine on the supersize movie screen, the more episodic confines of television demand a bit more subtlety (if only a bit). Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is as much X-Files and The A Team as it is The Avengers, and cosmic superpowers take a backseat to nifty gadgetry, agent interplay and ground-bound adventuring.
Superhero stories have proven to be an effective conduit to poke at some profound questions. What is good and evil? What makes us heroic? What makes us human? And with Agents being the brainchild of Avengers director Joss Whedon (who's also known for having done some serious thematic probing with television's Buffy the Vampire Slayer), this show seems prepped to follow suit.
For all that promise, though, Agents still has some sizable problems. These agents can feel positively gritty, and the show has gotten progressively darker. It is inherently violent—filled with fights and shootouts and occasionally grotesque corpses. Sexually charged double entendres can fly more than the superheroes do. And foul language can be an issue.
One could say, then, that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes an effort to try to do the right things, and that's important. But just like the agency itself, the television show has been infiltrated with a few nefarious elements.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Drama, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Crime
Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson; Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May; Brett Dalton as Grant Ward; Chloe Bennet as Skye; Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz; Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons; Nick Blood as Lance Hunter; B.J. Britt as Antoine Triplett; Reed Diamond as Daniel Whitehall; Kyle McLachlan as The Doctor
Paul Asay Paul Asay