- The Show’s Past
Sometimes, you have to look back to move forward. And looking back, you can see just how far Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has come.
In season one, the show had a noticeable campiness to it and started off on uneven ground. But as time went by, the showrunners, writers, and actors all found their footing and began leaving their distinct mark on the series.
As the show became more ingrained with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we saw a shift due to the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Then, it was the rise of Hydra, followed by the rise of the Inhumans. Each step of the journey – each season – played off the MCU in both subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Through it all, these action-reaction events helped shift the series around until its piece truly fell into place.
In season four, you can truly see how those pieces fit together and how the S.H.I.E.L.D. team has created a show with the kind of narrative cohesion you rarely see in superhero/comic-based TV. Thanks to tight and focused storytelling, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t simply manage to tell one overarching story, but managed to weave three separate stories together in such a way that every moment felt connected, every episode felt driven by narrative cohesion.
On top of the excellent and focused storytelling, a look back at past seasons also gives us a better perspective of just how far these characters have come. When we first met Skye (now Daisy Johnson) – played by Chloe Bennet – she was a hacktivist trying to do some good. With no powers and only superb computer skills, she wormed her way into the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D. and discovered a father-figure in Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg). Their father-daughter dynamic has evolved and shifted as the series has progressed and as Daisy has matured as a character. Now a powerful Inhuman, Daisy (a.k.a. Quake) and Coulson still have a familial bond, but it now feels like they’re equals who are both capable leaders in their own right.
This maturation has come over the period of four seasons and the rebalancing of Daisy and Coulson’s relationship highlights how much attention and devotion the S.H.I.E.L.D. team pays to their characters. There are no sudden, inexplicable character shifts in S.H.I.E.L.D. Everything is developed and earned in a way that feels natural, and is so subtle that sometimes you really have to look back to see how they’ve moved forward.
Of course, there are numerous relationships you could highlight when it comes to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and you could spend days breaking them down. But what it really comes down to is the fact that season four deepened and challenged the characters’ relationships on whole new levels. Just as the storytelling found a strong sense of narrative cohesion, the character arcs and relationships took us to places that made us laugh, cry, and cheer. Even in this fictional world of superpowers, dark dimensions, and alternate cyber realities, the human element of these characters shined through and shined a light on season four’s excellence.