S.H.I.E.L.D. Needs Marvel Magic

S.H.I.E.L.D. Needs Marvel Magic

S.H.I.E.L.D. still needs that Marvel magic. It’s making incremental improvements but, boy howdy, it has a long way to go. The show gave us the same generic thirty minute bore I’ve come to expect from the first half.  There was no drama. The twist was flat. Honestly, I don’t think an 8 pm ABC show has the gamma powered balls to make a firefighter the bad guy.

Despite the nonshocker of the real enemy being viral in nature, the show deserves credit in one respect. As performers Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge show promise. Fitz and Simmons actually developed as characters. The actors got, gasp, time to act. The gist is Simmons gets infected with said deadly virus and Fitz is doing his darndest not to freak.  The audience gets a closer look at their co-dependent dynamic. It’s not healthy, but hey, healthy doesn’t make for compelling storytelling. Healthy makes for milquetoast plots.

I have to confess I wanted Simmons to die, not out of any vitriol I feel toward the character, rather it’s a death wish born out of my impatience wish the show. Killing either Fitz or Simmons would be a mistake. They’re a couple of hive-minded misfits, too smart to relate to anyone else, too frail to be field-certified bad-asses. They really appear to have no one but each other. Given this is a show in a super-hero universe, this dynamic could make for some very, interesting supervillians.  Alas, this is probably serious over-reaching on my part.

Marvel has made movie magic off the back of strong characters and compelling performances, but S.H.I.E.L.D. just doesn’t have it. I’ve been clear in my affection for Clark Gregg, and he has strong support in De Caestecker and Henstridge, but the rest of the cast? They’re sucking the Marvel mojo right out of the room.  They need to die. Right now. If only S.H.I.E.L.D. had a show-runner who took risks. If only it had a show-runner with a reputation for killing characters in service of the larger story.

At this point, I’m convinced that Joss Whedon’s influence on the show is cursory. It has none of the markings of a Whedon driven creation. It doesn’t have the whip smart dialogue, the stories are lacking in subtext, and I wouldn’t classify any as these women as real much less “strong.” I’ve referred to the show as generic on a number of occasions, that’s not out of laziness. That’s the word that best defines the show. It has no real identity. It’s doesn’t even have any discernible influences. It exists.

I don’t blame Whedon for not being committed to the show. The guy has a full dance card. If I were a betting man–and a man with a contact at Marvel, which unfortunately I’m not–I’d wager Jeph Loeb has more influence on the show than Whedon.  After all, Loeb is supposed to be overseeing the television division, and Whedon has his hands in a lot of movie pots right now. Still, S.H.I.E.L.D. is experiencing an uptick in quality…a slow, excruciating uptick. If the Asgardians smile upon us, next week we’ll get three-fourths a watchable show instead of half.

By David Arroyo

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