Episode Air Dates: September 24th 2013 – May 13th 2014
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Agents Of Shield (Season 1)
Starring: Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson), Ming Na Wen (Melinda May), Chloe Bennet (Skye), Brett Dalton (Grant Ward), Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz), Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons), BJ Britt (Antoine Triplett), Bill Paxton (John Garrett), Saffron Burrows (Victoria Hand), J August Richards (Mike Peterson/Deathlok), Ruth Negga (Raina), David Conrad (Ian Quinn), Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), Patton Oswalt (Eric/Billy Koenig)
The 2014/2015 fall season is upon us. The Mysteries of Laura and Red Band Society premiered yesterday, and new seasons of New Girl and The Mindy Project started off the day before. From now until the middle of November when State Of Affairs drops, approximately more than 50 shows will premiere (new seasons as well as established shows).
Out of all of them, one of the shows that I am personally very excited to watch, is the return of Agents of Shield, which airs its second season starting from this coming Tuesday, and every Tuesday after that on ABC at 9/8c. We will be covering this show this coming season, but for the benefit of those who want to know what happened during the first season (because they want a refresher, are new fans, or want to see what we as a site think of Season 1- this site wasn’t around this time last year to even undertake TV show reviews!) let’s dive in and holistically recap season 1 (not episode by episode as that’ll take a long time!).
Ever since Marvel unveiled The Avengers in 2012, there has been talk of a SHIELD TV series, particularly since Nick Fury, Maria Hill and Natasha Romanoff were present in almost every superhero film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), helping the protagonists and guiding the main characters Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Hulk, ensuring that these superheroes are both well guarded from the public, and cared for as well. When SPOILER ALERT (but as many people are superhero fans, should I even bother with the spoilers?) Agent Phil Coulson died at the hands of Thor’s power hungry and slightly crazy brother Loki, there was speculation that he wasn’t really dead. There were subtle references throughout the back end of the 2012 film, and clues littered throughout that Phil was alive, or at least rescued at the last minute and in a coma somewhere. In interviews post The Avengers, as talks for a SHIELD series heated up, it was confirmed at Phil Coulson was alive and would be the main character in the show Agents Of Shield, with Clark Gregg later confirmed to reprise his role.
So how has Phil survived? Well that is the main mythology throughout the entire 22 episode run of season 1. There was speculation that the Phil in the series was a clone, or a LMD (Life Model Decoy), or an android, yet while the total answer still hasn’t been spelled out for us after 22 episodes of action, heartfelt drama and high intensity suspense and drama; the answer of who or what Phil Coulson is a lot more complex and is something further to be explored in season 2.
With Phil Coulson heading up a team consisting of Melinda May (a no nonsense hard hitting and determined pilot), Grant Ward (a SHIELD Black Ops specialist) and scientists Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons; the story revolves around Phil trying to find out who he is, while also trying to keep the world safe from unknown threats. The front half of the series is very formulaic, procedural in a way, however the serialisation occurs at the back end, with many storylines tying with the release of Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. It is in this front half that Coulson and his team encounter many threats, inclusive of Project Centipede, and various other supervillans.
The team also embarks on many adventures that are seemingly unrelated. They try to recover their asset Dr Franklin Hall from businessman Ian Quinn (1×03), transport a piece of Hydra technology powered by Tesseract energy away from harm (1×02), investigate the case of the explosive cybernetic eye (1×04), track down the third Asgardian Berserker staff to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands (1×08) and also try to help a man trapped between Earth and another dimension (1×09), all before the Christmas break. It may have seemed like random storylines; however looking back there was a larger play that connected almost all the dots later on.
Skye, a former member of the hacker group Rising Tide, joined SHIELD in the pilot episode (albeit under false pretenses although she warmed up to the team, and started to develop romantic feelings for Ward). Along with Coulson trying to figure out who he is and how he survived (his memory of being in Tahiti fading as the episodes progressed), it was her search to find out what happened to her parents that fuelled the underlying themes of the first season. Though we do not yet know who Skye’s parents are, we know that she is an 0-8-4 (an object of unknown origin), and this fact will be explored further on in Season 2.
The series also began with Mike Peterson, a single father struggling to make ends meet, and it was his desperation that led him to be tangled up with the highly top secret organisation known as Project Centipede, allowing him to be a superhero (it was his quick speed that helped him save the life of a doctor in the pilot episode), and throughout the series Mike has been on a journey just as much as the members of the Shield team have. With the main goal of Project Centipede to weaponise humans in the hope of finding a cure for their dying leader The Clairvoyant, members Raina and Ian Quinn, it was their sustained presence that SHIELD fought so hard to rid the world of. Although the world isn’t so black and white in the MCU that we first thought.
It might have been easy to take down Project Centipede and the Clairvoyant with one surprise stakeout; however it wouldn’t be TV if there was no drama. After Mike Peterson has been rescued, a series of events lands him back into Centipede’s hands. Say hello to Deathlok (part man/part machine), personal servant to the Clairvoyant, and a recurring villain in the 2nd part of season 1. While Mike the man is still underneath, Deathlok shows no mercy, and complies with orders because his son Ace is held by Raina and Ian Quinn.
For those of you who have seen the latest Captain America film, we all know that the infectious powerful seemingly dormant organisation Hydra, who was hell bent on taking over the world, has been dormant, and was covertly acting to kill of Nick Fury (led by Alexander Pierce, one of the bosses of Steve Rogers aka Captain America in the film)- of which they were unsuccessful. And as you can guess, or probably know, Hydra is everywhere, and the revelation that they infiltrated SHIELD changed the complexion of the show from episode 15 onwards. Prior to that, the show had declining ratings (equally frustrating and surprising), however from that point (April) for the last 7 episodes, everything came together in an epic finish of cinematic quality, worthy of being touted as one of the best new series of the 2013-2014 season.
We finally know what the Clairvoyant wants, who he is (he is SPOILER ALERT John Garrett, Coulson’s friend and Grant Ward’s training officer- revealed as the Clairvoyant in episode 16, and then fleshed out as a man who is semi-crazy) and we also know that Ward was an undercover Hydra agent from the start, which was the reveal that stunned everyone watching, inclusive of myself. With the team under attack from Hydra from episode 15 onwards, what promised to be a series everyone loved but soon fell into a procedural rhythm as the weeks went by, with the cases meandering and the characters developing way slower than expected; suddenly sprung to life and went to a whole other level! In fact I think the renewal of the show to season 2 was largely due to the immense crossover with CA2:TWS– thanks to everyone involved in creating a movie series that has ramifications on many different platforms and mediums!
With people switching sides and masked identities revealed, nothing was off limits during the back run of SHIELD, resulting in a dramatic conclusion as new storylines were set up and old stories were wrapped in a bow with the potential for reopening soon. Garrett had a different view to Ward, Mike Peterson, Raina and Ian, in that he wanted to live forever and reach enlightenment- subsequently he fell mad and SPOILER died at the end of the last episode (Coulson shot him by the way, twice in fact, so now we know he’s dead!). Garrett’s current understudy Triplett (prior to him being unmasked as the Clairvoyant) joined Coulson’s team near the end of the season also, and is a romantic love interest for Jemma Simmons, much to Fitz’s dismay and envy, as he has a crush on Simmons too!
As Ward is a main character still in the second season, it’s clear that now that Garrett is dead, that Ward may be redeemed. He wasn’t killed off, and in the last episode Coulson arrested him and threw him in prison. Ward’s complicated relationship with Skye also reminds us that perhaps the two of them will end up together in a romantic relationship; while the threat from Hydra is not over, with Reed Diamond introduced as a high profile ranking Hydra agent in Season 2, while the team also gains help from Lance Hunter, a mercenary who grudgingly helps Coulson’s team as they are on the run from Hydra, who have completely infiltrated SHIELD. Appearances from Nick Fury and Maria Hill in the series were welcome and surprising, adding more depth to the ever changing and complicated story (hopefully they will be back in season 2!), and Patton Oswalt’s recurring character of LMD Billy Koenig is sure to garner laughs for Season 2 also. It is not known what will happen to Mike Peterson/Deathlok, but with Garrett dead, there’s hope that he can be good for his son again.
And who can’t forget the real reason why we all tuned into Agents Of Shield in the first place- why and how Coulson is alive. I’ll give you a hint- there’s alien blood/DNA/substances in him. Do you want me to say more? Let’s just say the last few seconds of episode 22 of the season have me concerned for Coulson’s sanity, considering that he’s now been named Director of SHIELD (cause Nick Fury can’t do it- he’s presumed to be dead!). So what could it be that has me worried for Coulson? Season 2 is just around the corner, and I can’t wait for all the answers to be given.
One of the reasons why I was drawn to Agents Of SHIELD was that it was a team learning to work together in harmony, and the interactions between all of the members is something we can learn from in real life. Fitz, Simmons, Ward, Skye, May and Coulson all have vastly different personalities, and it is the fact that they can work together so cohesively (up until the point everyone knew Ward was a traitor!) shows us that nothing is impossible if people are willing to work on their mistakes and focus on their strengths as well- something we should all remember when leading or joining a team. Of course there are other positive messages from the TV show, but that’s just my first thought that jumped into my head and many of you will have other main reasons why the show resonated with you.
Did all 22 episodes of the first season of Agents Of SHIELD leave a lasting impression on you? Did any themes in the episodes speak to you, and which was it? What elements of the show are you enjoying- Ward’s betrayal and subsequent redemption story, the fact that all the members are on the run, the MCU crossovers, or the fact that we will know soon what fully happened to Coulson? Will you be tuning in next week when Season 2 premieres? Let us know in the comments.
RIYL: Person Of Interest, The Blacklist, Burn Notice, Arrow, Marvel Cinematic Universe films
Rating: 4.5/5 (based on 22 episodes)
Agents Of Shield Season 2 airs every Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC.