There are still two episodes left in “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” Season 1, but it’s already far past time to name this one of the best shows of the 2013-14 TV season.
Season 1 got off to a rocky start. There were many critics — ourselves included — who complained about the series’ lackadaisical pace and convoluted mysteries. But the main problem with the first half of “Agents of SHIELD’s” freshman season is that it took so long for “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” to come out.
Those first 15 episodes of Season 1 certainly have their faults. There were high points — “FZZT,” “The Hub” and “Seeds” — and low points — “The Well” and “Yes Men” — as the show took way too long to lay the groundwork for where it was going. But again, the fault there seems to be that “Agents of SHIELD” had to bide time until “The Winter Soldier’s” release on April 4 to show its true colors. The episodes leading up to and after that movie’s release have been the best of the series.
Now that it has the freedom to be the series it was always intended to, “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” has turned into a fantastic show. Its connection to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe is clear: This is where viewers get to see the fallout of HYDRA’s SHIELD infiltration. And the fact that the movie so influenced the show is game-changing in terms of how the mediums of film and television can be interwoven.
The stakes actually feel high now that Grant Ward is an enemy and Phil Coulson’s former SHIELD team is on the run. The biggest complaints about the show have now been given convincing resolutions: Coulson’s strangely assembled team was actually put together by May, Ward was such a square because it was all an act and Coulson was acting like a weirdo because his entire memory had to be stripped and reinserted after he died. Every time another layer of the mystery has been stripped away, “Agents of SHIELD” gets a bit darker and more believable. What the audience is left with now is the truth underneath the lies.
With two episodes left in Season 1, there are plenty of truths left to learn. Why is Skye an 0-8-4? Is Garrett really the Clairvoyant? What was that blue alien that generated the GH324? But the world of “Agents of SHIELD” no longer seems shaped by its mysteries, but informed by them. This whole good spies-vs-evil spies plotline is awesome, and something that was planned from the beginning.
“Agents of SHIELD” was a big experiment for Marvel, and it paid off. Ratings are rising as the show heads towards its season finale, and it truly is an engaging show. With the HYDRA twist revealed, the Marvel drama now can tell the story it wants to tell, and we can’t wait to see where it goes in Season 2.
“Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.