Fri
Apr 11 2014 2:00pm

This Week’s Game-Changing Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Was Exactly The Problem With The Show

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. posterAs the credits rolled on Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier, I turned to my friend and said, “That movie was everything that I’ve wanted Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be.” But despite what the producers might think, it wasn’t because of the marquee names and big explosive action scenes. I was talking about the espionage, the intrigue and excitement of plainclothes heroes digging deeper and deeper into a conspiracy and trying to do what's objectively “right” in an increasingly complicated world. 

Fortunately, this week’s game-changing episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got me pretty excited. Unfortunately, that’s also the problem with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and why I fear it’s doomed to fail. (*spoilers for the show and Captain America: The Winter Soldier* to follow, obviously)

Part of my continuing issue with the show has been its lack of edge-of-your-seat thrills—and again, I’m not necessarily talking about world-threatening villains and big-budget helicarrier explosions. For a show about secret agents in a world full of superheroes, the stakes have never quite been high enough, and the subtle hints of at a larger story have hardly elevated past the winks and nods to Marvel continuity. Yes, the producers have done a good job of seeding along all of the little bits of tech and villany—Deathlok, Ian Quinn, et cetera—but the emotional and thematic throughlines of the series so far have been severely lacking. Coulson’s resurrection and Skye’s origins are both intriguing, but they’re not enough to carry the narrative through. After seeing the Captain America 2 tie-in episodes, I understand now that it’s because the story wasn’t allowed to become anything bigger.

“Our challenge was that we couldn’t say the ‘H word’ until after Captain America 2 . . . so we had to have an ongoing threat that we’ve called Centipede, that we’ve called The Clairvoyant, that we’ve called other things, because we could not say the word Hydra,” explained producer Jeff Bell in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly. Jed Whedon added, in an interview with Comic Book Resources, “We couldn’t really have anybody bad within the organization, we couldn’t paint the organization in a negative light, and we couldn’t say the H-word. The concept of the Clairvoyant . . . was born out of a desire for us to have our big bad be tied to it, without us being able to talk about it. We came up with the concept of someone who appears to have powers that we can be chasing on our own.”

Or, in other words, “We weren’t allowed to organically build our story to its actual climax because someone else had dibs on it first so we just spun our wheels for 16 episodes instead.”

David Hasselhoff Nick Fury SHIELD

I understand that the big reveals—that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been corrupt almost from the start, and are now dismantled; the whole Winter Soldier conspiracy and Alexander Pierce and Project Insight blowing up—had to happen on the big screen. But why couldn’t they allow the show to hint at the corruption of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the start? It’s about a secretive organization! Lies and corruption are in the DNA of that kind of story! Even shows like Fringe (which Bell worked on), Dollhouse (which Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen worked on), and The X-Files all hinted towards something else insidious going on in the background; someone pulling the strings behind the scenes, something bigger than our characters. That’s what keeps people watching and hooked (see also: LOST).

Coulson’s team has barely had to tackle with bureaucracy, and even when they have, it’s been easily resolved. That’s also why the continuing thread of Coulson’s resurrection hasn’t worked as well—of course S.H.I.E.L.D. would have all kinds of crazy technology that isn’t public, and using it to save the life of a prized agent isn’t really all that insidious, even if the circumstances were a bit shady. Instead, the latter half of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first season has just relied on “dun...dun...DUN!” cliffhangers to end every episode, in hopes of getting you to tune in next week. They couldn’t have an overarching story with narrative tension that pulls the viewer back, so they used quick and easy stingers as if to say, “But next week! Something will ACTUALLY happen! We swear!”

What if Melinda May’s spying on Coulson had been revealed in the second episode and never resolved until this point in the season? Or what if the show took a note from the recent Secret Warriors comic book series and had started off by depicting Coulson’s team as one of Nick Fury’s hand-picked squads of trustworthy agents? Especially considering that Fury knew that something was rotten in S.H.I.E.L.D.? (Maybe tie it in to AIM, who was established in Iron Man 3, and has a Hydra connection in the comics?) Would that really have spoiled Captain America 2? The Hydra reveal could have still been saved for the film, particularly the fact that it went so deep. By then we’d be so invested in the characters that our minds would be even more blown when Melinda May revealed that not only had she been spying for Fury, but that the purpose of the team has been a lie all along as well. A twist within a twist! That’s what happens in secret agent stories!

When Coulson realized that the Clairvoyant was an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., my reaction was, “Well yes, of course s/he is. This is a show about secret agents.” It was made even more disappointing by knowing that the Bigger Bad behind this Big Bad had already lost. (Yes, it’s entirely possible that there’s another twist coming with the Clairvoyant and Ward—at least there’d better be). If the show is now going to be about Coulson’s team hunting the splintered Hydra factions then what was the point of the preceding 16 episodes? Why not just launch the series spinning out of Captain America 2, as Fury’s superhero secret agent cleanup crew? Don’t get me wrong, I’m as excited as anyone else is for the end of this season, but it still has me wondering what the point of everything else was up until now.

I realize that Marvel Studios is in a difficult position, trying to pull off this otherwise unprecedented transmedia crossover, but so far it seems that their insistence on playing it safe is the very thing that’s holding them back. Maybe they should consider looking to some of their own comic book source material for inspiration—the aforementioned Secret Warriors, which influenced some of Captain America 2’s plot, or Brian Michael Bendis’s multi-year New Avengers / Secret Invasion epic for some real clever and dramatic drama of slow-building trust issues.

More importantly, they need to let Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. be a good show that stands on its own, instead of worrying so much about movie tie-ins and celebrity cameos. No one’s going to complain about Iron Man not appearing if the show is compelling and dramatic and the stakes are high enough. Make it a thrilling enough espionage story so that we don’t need Robert Downey, Jr. or another appearance by Stan Lee. As it is right now, the safety net of rules that have been put in place by the studio have essentially relegated the show to the status of Ongoing Hour-Long Commercial To Promote Our Bigger Budget Movies Which We Obviously Care More About. And frankly, no one wants to watch that.

They would, however, want to watch this:


Thom Dunn was once paid $200 to dress up as Spider-Man and sign autographs at a Walmart. It was the best day ever. He is a writer and musician who enjoys Oxford commas, metaphysics, and romantic clichés (especially when they involve whiskey). Thom is a graduate of Clarion Writer’s Workshop at UCSD, and he firmly believes that Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is the single worst atrocity committed against mankind. Find out more at thomdunn.net.

34 comments
Chris Lough
1. TorChris
Ugh. I hadn't realized the extent to which the show writers had been hobbled by having to wait for Captain America 2 to happen.

I mean, yeah, they should have been more creative with their characters, or just waited until this fall to launch the show, but that's a really tough situation to write under. Not everyone is capable of busting out the wall after being backed into a corner like that. The folks running the show are super new to this, too, and probably can't argue against any demands from DisneyMarvel without being handed their walking papers.

Maybe they should consider looking to some of their own comic book source material for inspiration—the aforementioned Secret Warriors, which influenced some of Captain America 2’s plot, or Brian Michael Bendis’s multi-year New Avengers / Secret Invasion epic for some real clever and dramatic drama of slow-building trust issues.

You are obviously overlooking the greatest asset Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could ever hope to add to the show.

Colin R
2. Colin R
I know you're acknowledging the difficulties in what they're doing, but I think you're underestimating them a bit. This is a show that ties in with an ongoing movie franchise, so tying it in with those films is not just a goal, but part of its raison d'etre; it can't entirely stand alone. And since it is sort of the younger sibling of the franchise, it ultimately is going to have to be more conservative, and take its lead from the movies.

So I guess what I'm saying is that I don't think the problem is that they avoided hinting at SHIELD's corruption, or bringing up HYDRA, in the first sixteen episodes. I think it was a very reasonable choice to focus instead on the smaller scope--the people on board the plane, their goals, problems, and dramas. The problem isn't that they chose to do that, it's that they didn't do it particularly well, and they didn't tie it in very well to the MCU at large.

But yeah, it would be nice if, instead of operating inside a box, they were expanding the edges of the map. The strength of a TV show is that you have a lot more time to spend exploring stuff that you can't in a two-hour movie.
RK Bentley
3. rkbentley
I think in hindsight a standard mid-season replacement with a 13 episode season would have been better.

6 episodes leading up to Cap 2 and 7 dealing with fallout.

It's unfortunate they're playing it safe. I'm getting more spy stuff with The Americans and Archer right now.

Could the 8pm hour is too restrictive...?
Brian Haughwout
4. bhaughwout
“Our challenge was that we couldn’t say the ‘H word’ until after Captain America 2 . . . so we had to have an ongoing threat that we’ve called Centipede, that we’ve called The Clairvoyant, that we’ve called other things, because we could not say the word Hydra,”
Ouch!

I agree with pretty much everything said here (including the May-reporting-in-earlier idea). One thought I've had, especially with all the kip weeks and such is that -- especially with so much wheel-spinning needing to be done before The Winter Soldier -- this season probably should have been a 13-episode run starting in the spring, so that it could have been tightened up the first two acts of the season into half as many episodes and cut out a lot of the filler.
Brian Haughwout
5. bhaughwout
(I like that @rkbentley posted the same 13-episode idea right as I was in the midst of posting mine! I take that to be a good sign for it's wisdom...) ;)

Part of me still wonders, when looking at the construction of the first part of the season, how much the writers adapted to the "ix-nay on the ydra-hay" issue by trying to be an 8PM ON ABC TELEVISION!!! show too much, with all the soapiness and formula that comic fans kept complaining about but might have sold to the more traditional TV audience watching the shows around MAoS on the schedule when one watches (or fast-forwards through on the DVR) the commercials. After all, with a billion-plus dollars in sales, The Avengers had to appeal to the comics-readers' TV-watching middle-aged parents, eh?

Just a theory I've thought about on and off but never really seen investigated in interviews -- basically, whether the show's lack of success among many of its expected fans was due to being tailored to its timeslot and network audience more than anyone expected it to be.
Nate the great
6. thDigitalReader
I like this idea.:
"Maybe tie it in to AIM, who was established in Iron Man 3, and has a Hydra connection in the comics?"

I really like this idea, and what's more it would work better as a story arc than what was broadcast. Here's how it could have played out:

1. The Hydra weapon found in the second episode was not long lost but was refurbed by AIM and sold.

2. Coulson's team is assigned the task of finding out how the heck AIM got their hands on Hydra weapons. So rather than going from one unconnected case to another, the team unravels more of the story each week.

3. Centipeded could have been revealed as an AIM side project aimed at controlling the implosion issue. Similarly, gravitonium could have been tied in as well (AIM contract work).

4. The team's investigation leads to a larger and larger organization with the eventual conclusion that AIM is being controlled by some other organization.

5. And then Winter Soldier hits theaters, and we find out that Hydra isn't dead.

Tell me that isn't a better story arc than what was broadcast, I dare you.
Thom Dunn
7. ThomDunn
@TorChris Yeah, I think the showrunners were unfortunately saddled with an impossible task. I don't begrudge them anything (after all, I did write a power-pop song about my love for Maurissa Tancharoen). The fault lies more specifically with Marvel Studios than with Tancharoen, Whedon, or Bell. So I guess what I'm trying to say is "Blame Jeph Loeb."
Brian Haughwout
8. bhaughwout
@7, I'd actually blame the showrunners and NOT Marvel (the opposite of you here). Marvel was very clear from the get-go where S.H.I.E.L.D. as an entity would be and where The Winter Soldier (a film many more folks would see than would watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and would be a more key piece of continuity) would take it. You've shown here in a few paragraphs -- and others have joined in -- how Team Whedon could have solved the Faux-Hydra issue. Given the time and money they have to actually deal with this, there's no reason for them to fail at it compared to a Tor.com writer and some readers. As cool as it is to blame Jeph Loeb for things and suck up to anything Whedon, it's becoming readily apparent that the showrunners had nothing sprung on them here but rather just failed at some basic storytelling.
Martin Cohn
9. arixan
@3 Flash to Jessica Walters and Sam Jackson in an Archer S.H.I.E.L.D. crossover.
Thom Dunn
10. ThomDunn
@bhaughwout Ya know, I was trying to give Whedon/Tancharoen/et al the benefit of the doubt, but I think you just proved that I proved otherwise, so you're right. That I'm right. The first time. Right?...OR AM I, and now I'm switching allegiances because I'm a secret agent and this is all about propaganda? Hrmmmm....
Bridget McGovern
13. BMcGovern
Comment @12 unpublished. Everyone should certainly feel free to disagree with the post and with other commenters, but we ask that you express those disagreements respectfully and avoid personal attacks in your comments. Please check out our Moderation Policy for further information.
Tex Anne
14. TexAnne
When I left the movie, I thought, "Wow, what's this going to do to AoS??"

And then I realized I did not care. Because the first three episodes made me not care, because they were boring. It takes a lot of talent to make Ming-Na Wen unwatchable...
Colin R
15. Chris L
I like the idea of making AIM the focus, and slowly revealing that it was itself a front for what would turn out to be Hydra. They even could have had the reveal that Hydra still existed and was behind these things, and saved the bombshell that it was operating from within SHIELD all along for Cap 2. That could have been done without Cap knowing about it too, if the team was only reporting to Fury, and he was keeping it quiet because he knew Hydra's past history of infiltrating supposedly secure organizations and places.
Colin R
16. KingofFlames
I'm starting to dislike this show, but not for the reasons of you guys. What I dislike is the overarching message we're getting, which seems to amount to this:

ORGANISED RESISTANCE TO EVIL IS A WASTE OF TIME!

Okay, so Peggy Carter, Howard Stark, and lots of good hearted people decide to form an organisation devoted to preventing en masse bombing of cities, which few people like. But their efforts inevitably fail, and the organisation they started becomes so irredeemably corrupt that it perpetrates the kind of thing it was founded to prevent. There remain some good SHIELD people, but they are all completely powerless to help except by going outside the system. I know it's Cap's movie, but nothing that mainstream SHIELD does apart from 'maverick' characters has any input in saving the day. Bucky shoots down those who try completely effortlessly, rendering any efforts o thwart evil not by Cap America and his friends pointless.

And then we get the show: Mainstream SHIELD is always an obstacle, except for the character that is secretly evil. Nobody outside our main characters within SHIELD is ever helpful, they exist only to tie them up in red tape and not releasing information. (Leaving aside the fact that SHIELD provided the snazzy jet and all their equipment to begin with). So only out six main characters are useful, and they can duck aside from any SHIELD protocols or obstacles they wish in good faith, up to and including killing people that stand in their way, like those two guards in the Guest House whose crimes amounted to not letting strangers with guns into their secure facility. Anything that an organisation does inevitably fails, unless done by rogues operating outside the system. As we now know, that facility was kept confidential for an excellent reason, and Phil and crew murdered their way in without a second thought.
Colin R
17. rufusprime
I am so sick of people blathering on about the show needs to stand on its' own. SAYS WHO? Keep it connected. Do it as a living breathing comic book and let these "stand on its' own" people go pound sand. Re-write the rules. Ignore convention. There are concepts and characters to introduce before Avengers 2. Keep tying-in. Maybe we can bump the complainers into universe 617.
Thom Dunn
18. ThomDunn
@rufusprime I'm not saying it can't tie-in. I'm all about that. What I AM saying, is that it can't just rely on the movies and try to tip-toe carefully around their plots. Ya know -- like a living, breathing comic book. So you can read/watch this one comic, and still have a complete story, but then there are little shared threads that go between the other ones, and if you consume them all, you get a larger picture. But as it is right now, 'Agents of SHIELD' is just filling in the cracks of time between movies, with no actual consequences for its characters or its plot.
Colin R
19. Jesslyn H
I watched one episode and quickly moved on to something else. No imagination, no tension, no...nothing.

Most Marvel movie fans in the house kinda shrugged and we decided not to invest our time in future eps. From my 8 yo grandson to me. My 70-something mom is still trying to enjoy it, but mostly to fall asleep w the TV on.

Frankly, I gave Revolution (gag!) more TV time than this one.
Colin R
20. Chris L
@ThomDunn the real problem is that they letting the movies put too much of a restriction on what can turn up in the show. The show should truely bridge the gap between movies, picking up on a smaller scale where the movies leave off (showing the aftermath to SHIELD after The Avengers), and ramping up to the next installment and leading into them in such a way to reward the constant MCU fans (exploring some of the strange phenomenon around the world due to the convergence of the 9 realms in Thor 2) but being accessable to the larger audience that maybe won't see every movie opening weekend. When they have to tip toe around things so the movie isn't spoiled, it just shows and lack of coordination that was supposed to be there from the beginning.
Noneo Yourbusiness
21. Longtimefan
very valid points.

unfortuantely his name is Joss not Jed. i am sure you will change it and when you do you can unpublish this comment if you like.
Colin R
22. littlebit_liz
@21 Jed is Joss's brother, one of the showrunners of AoS. It's not a mistake.
Colin R
23. Ragnarredbeard
Two speculative points.

1. I rewatched the episode and I didn't see/hear Ward say "hail hydra". Is he playing a game?

2. I've noticed that Ward over the course of the season has been less and less bottled up. Does the exposure to the berzerker staff have anything to do with it?
Joe Vondracek
24. joev
Good points, although the complaints raised here have nothing (or little) to do with why I'm not liking a show that I was prepared to love. I watched the first few episodes and was completely underwhelmed because one of the main cast is an entirely mediocre actor and that person's charcter is poorly realized. Which would be perfectly fine if that character was somewhat in the background, but the show kept going out of its way to shove the character in our faces, as if it were saying, "Isn't this person clever? Isn't this person witty? Isn't this person AWESOME??" No, no, and most decidedly NO.

Someone here in the forums at tor.com told me that the show got better and that I should give it another try, so I went back to the beginning and watched the first 12 or so episodes straight through. Ye gods. My loathing for the character increased tenfold. I was actually yelling at the screen for Coulson to punch this person in the face. (And there are scenes where you can see Clark Gregg is struggling to make the scene work with this person's poor acting skills. It made me feel sorry for the guy, and given his recent douchey comments, that's no mean feat.)

I can give them a pass on how they tie, or attempt to tie, the TV show into the MCU movies, because they are dancing a fine line between satisfying people who are fans of the comics and people who have never heard of these characters or know very little about them. If they lean too far one way, a large group of people will say, "This doesn't make any sense, I'm not watching this." If they lean too far the other way, a different group will say, "No, you're not doing it right. This is stupid, I'm not watching this."
Colin R
25. Colin R
I would guess Ward's loyalty to Garrett is more like as son to father, rather than loyalty to the cause (Garrett himself doesn't evince much loyalty to Hydra.) Ultimately he's going to be torn between two surrogate families.
Colin R
26. Ragnarredbeard
@24 joev

Which actor are you talking about? There are actually a couple who aren't the best.
Colin R
27. rogue5
After seeing Capt 2 I understand what they were trying to do, this was actually closer to Secret Warriors that people will admit to. Fury knew something stank at SHIELD so he used his position to reanimate Coulson and "hide" him. He then gave him a team that he vetted through another person he trusted (May) and then purposely took that team out of the SHIELD rotation. Was the beginning of the season (first 6-7 eps) executed poorly, yes (maybe poor choice in casting, yes looking at you Skye and Ward) but I think they have recovered enough to see where they will take it from here. Maybe the ideas metioned above like using AIM or introducing the show in January with 13 eps instead of a full season would have given them a better foundation. I am glad I stuck it out and now hopefully I will continue to be rewarded...
Adam S.
28. MDNY
Aw come on, give Agent Ward a break, I've never seen anyone do half as good a Matt LeBlanc impersonation...
John C. Bunnell
29. JohnCBunnell
I begin to think that the root of the problems with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't so much a problem of bad writing per se; rather, it's that the Powers That Be simply picked the wrong showrunners for the series.

Let me be clear: this is not meant as a criticism of the Whedon/Tancharoen duo's writing or showrunning abilities -- nor is it even, necessarily, a criticism of those who hired them, because I can see why the pick would have looked like a good idea at the time. But with benefit of hindsight, I think it's clear that AoS needed showrunners with a different set of strengths.

My strong suspicion is that what Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen brought to the table was a combination of convenience and relatively deep insider-class knowledge of the Marvel movieverse. (Whether credited or not, you just know there have to have been a lot of dinner-table conversations among the Whedons about the ongoing filmmaking process.) If you're developing a complicated, plot-intensive show on a fairly fast track, those look like pretty good credentials, especially when your candidates do in fact have prior showrunning experience.

The problem? From the audience's side, AoS looks like -- and needs to perform as -- an ensemble show with a functional operational team (like NCIS or Leverage or Hawaii Five-O) as opposed to a dysfunctional or tension-driven cast (Dollhouse or Nikita). That calls for a different kind of storytelling approach. More, I think Whedon (Jed) and Tancharoen actually had/have too much Marvelverse expertise for this assignment. The AoS writing room should have had one Marvelverse geek in it, and not in the top seat; that way, all the back story and plot baggage could have been kept much cleaner and the show's focus more effectively concentrated on developing the ensemble's character chemistry.
Colin R
30. Sighter
I think it might be that we are expecting too much from the show. Sometimes it takes more than a single season for writers and producers to get a good show set up. This is the first go round, it isn't going to be great or perfect. But I suspect things will go better as they go along.

Just a thought.
Daniel Baye
31. Pooga
@30 Sighter: You may be right about needing time, and *maybe* an MCU tie-in show is the rare exception, but generally you have to go back to the 60s to find big budget shows that were given more than a season to find their legs and draw in viewers. The few examples I can think of since then have generally either been a) relatively low-budget fare filling otherwise undesirable timeslots, or b) basic cable/syndicated shows where sometimes the low numbers are still better than what they'd get otherwise. I can think of several examples of much stronger shows that didn't even get to finish a season because they didn't instantly pull big numbers out of the gate. What *may* keep MAoS alive long enough to become the show we'd like it to be is the third exception: c) shows where one or more key players in the network's top brass believe in it enough to keep greenlighting it when everyone else wants to dump it.
Colin R
32. James Moar
Which actor are you talking about?
Chloe Bennett, I assumed. Skye's received much heavier boosting than anyone else (funny thing is, I like her that much better when they ease off on it).
Alan Brown
33. AlanBrown
I think @29 is on to something. The show has never felt to me like SHIELD is a realistic, competent agency. The point was supposed to be how the real world and ordinary people interacted with a world of superheroes. But the AoS gang has never felt like a real team, rooted in real intelligence and spec ops work.
There had been a lot of Coulson brooding and being gloomy, which definitely is a damper on things--but that can change. The mystery of his ressurection needs to come to some sort of resolution, so we can move on. If they play it right, each resolution can also lead into a bigger mystery, and keep the momentum moving. May has been more expressive lately, which is also a step in the right direction. Wounded characters are fine, but if they are so damaged that they are sleepwalking through life, they are not much fun to watch. And Ward as a turncoat is FAR more interesting than the wooden character he has been to date.
For myself, I never thought nepotism was a guarantee of success--in fact, other than in Hollywood, most of the working world tends to frown on it. So the name Whedon doesn't necessarily fill me with confidence.
But I can't buy into all the negativity that has been expressed above. There are reasons that I like the show so far instead of loving it, but by no means have we passed the point of no return. Many of my favorite shows didn't find their legs until the second season, and I think this show can definitely do better in the future--the ratings have not been as good as the premier, but they have been solid, and they can get better. We need to remember that this show has been matched up against the highest rated show on TV, and has been holding its own, so it is by no means a failure.
Colin R
34. marchon
@27. rogue5 I think you're on to something here. It makes me think that the writers were actually too subtle. I can see where decisions that ended up poorly were meant to serve this current narrative.

1. Question in the audience's mind: why the hey would Fury resurrect Coulson, give him a big plane, lots of support and a top notch team? And why was that team so often separated from SHIELD proper? Of course there are practical reasons for this as well. But in the show, several other agents asked this of Coulson in the first few episodes. At first it just seemed like a logical awkwardness in the show, but now that we know what May's real purpose was and can reconcile that with your idea of Fury wanting to have this outside splinter group, I think this makes more sense.

2. Why did Ward seem "too perfect" and why was May so much more boxed up? Both were hiding something. Now, the actors did not have to play things exactly the way they did, and the directors and writers didn't have to do things they way the did. Nevertheless, I can see now (especially experiencing the sudden unleashing of Ming Na Wen's performance) that the actors can do a little bit more. It reminds me of Anna Torv's performance from the first season of FRINGE. Folks thought she was boring and laissez-faire. We later learned that she had been directed to be that way and was a much more powerful actress. I think the same has happened in this situation.

I'll be interested to see where the show goes next. I haven't given up on it yet. It has become increasingly more interesting as the season has progressed. The two characters who have been "forced" on us (Skye and Ward) are less interesting to me than Fitz, Simmons, Coulson and May. I think Skye was supposed to be our "entry point" and Ward the turncoat/initial awesome badass. But I would rather have had Fitz be our entry point and May the badass. There was no need for the other two characters. Considering May only listed three positions (someone to repair the body, someone to do tech, someone to take him down if needed), she and the two young 'uns could have done it by themselves. Anyway, the show has gotten better and I'm encouraged by its current forward momentum.
Colin R
35. JonAllanson
OK, so I'm a bit late to this discussion, but after reading through the comments, I just wanted to add a view from the other side. I, for one, like the show as it is. It is one of the shows I eagerly look forward to each time it airs. In fact, while I loved the tie in with Winter Soldier, I am ready for it to get back to its adventure of the week episodes, and not the one long continuous aftermath episode phase it seems to be in now. For me, the joy of having well-told, well-acted stories that address regular people experiencing the aftermath of The Battle of New York, or cleaning up after Thor 2, or tying into Winter Soldier, or simply having adventures in the Marvel Universe and introducing characters like Deathlok and the Enchantress to the universe is great TV.
And, I know we disagree about the quality of the show. I am not trying to say anyone is patently wrong, but I simply don't see it that way. I've enjoyed the choices the actors and creative team have made, and what I'm watching works for me. Just thought I'd throw out a view from the other side.

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