Regardless of the opinions expressed by fans and critics, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is not a disappointing flop. While it may fall short of excellence, we cannot review the first season of a television show that has not yet reached its conclusion.
The Walking Dead was recently criticised for its use of two different timelines and switching the focus of the storyline to the villain called The Governor. Despite the television show being in its fourth season and having already instilled trust with audiences, fans and critics failed to identify the importance of the events prior to the mid-season finale.
Ultimately, those who ‘refused to tune in’ were left red-faced as the mid-season finale presented audiences with one of the most shocking and powerful episodes that the series has ever produced. This was only possible by having two seperate storylines that established new characters while helping to develop those that already existed.
I can’t help but feel that a similar mistake is being made with Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Despite most viewers agreeing that the television show is superior to the majority of the content broadcast on television; there is an unhealthy expectation that the series will exceed the heights of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Angel while matching the excellence of The Avengers. Audiences should remember that they have only been able to watch one half of the first series. Furthermore, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is being compared to properties that have the luxury of multiple series (or films) to tell their story. Therefore they are unjust examples that have no relevance to Marvel’s Agent’s of SHIELD.
However, it’s worth noting that Firefly, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel all follow a structure to Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. For viewers to invest their emotions in characters and storylines, a number of episodes are used at the beginning of each series to establish the series’ setting and to expand upon character development. The primary villain is often only hinted at or ignored until the second act of a 25 episode series. This character is then expanded upon over a number of episodes to establish them as the primary threat with their storyline reaching a conclusion during the series finale.
Another valid argument is to state that a television show can evolve and adapt to suit audiences. Therefore, it is plausible that any faults found with the initial episodes will be rectified during the second half of season one. This opinion is supported by a recent statement made by Jeffery Bell who is the executive producer for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD:
“Just based on the fact that what felt like standalone were in fact for us setting up a lot of different pieces of the puzzle, I think you’re going to feel more momentum from the stories, episode to episode.”
Bell also touched upon how the story will evolve over time:
“I would say, in general, I think fans will experience the episodes as being a bit more ‘Marvel. I mean that on several levels. I think we’re always looking to find characters either from the Marvel movie universe or the comic universe that fans would recognize. I think bringing the tension and suspense of the movies is something that we’re looking to do as our characters become more confident.”
Clark Gregg recently expanded upon the complexities of the storylines yet to be explored by the series:
“I feel like the last 10 episodes are going to have as much story as any 20 episodes of what we had before.”
It is encouraging to learn that the writers and producers behind Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD recognise the existing problems with the series. Furthermore, their focus will be on further character development and more intense storylines. This will be heightened by the additions of J. August Richards as Deathlok, Bill Paxton as John Garrett and the numerous planned guest roles.