*WARNING: This will include spoilers for the show Agents of SHIELD (season one and two). So if you haven’t seen the first and second season and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this post. I’ll be talking in depth about several things involving the show that are extremely dependent on context so if you don’t want to know before watching, this has been your warning. And I really mean I’ll be spoiling HUGE plot twists. It also goes as a warning that if you haven’t seen the series, some of this might not totally make sense.
To be honest, there is so much that I love about the Marvel television series Agents of SHIELD. I ended up watching the entire first season all the way through three times in the span of a couple months. And it was during these three times that I really started to pick up on so many different things.
To truly start though (a little late for that by now), I do want to state that the reason I waited until watching the second season before posting a review of the show was to see if there were any answers to many questions and cliffhangers and to see if there was further context to situations that might change my opinion. Turns out watching the second season and reading reviews/critiques of the show did actually change a lot for me. (Like how the first season is eerily reminiscent of another Whedon production – Firefly. Lady Geek and Friends weren’t the only ones to see this similarity – The Nerds of Color saw it too.)
But as far as an actual review, let’s start off with Agent Grant Ward. This lovely motherfucker turned out to be Hydra by the end of season one and honestly, I’ve been having repeated dreams that he is either out to get me or that we’re after the same thing for different teams or something like that and it’s been really creepy because I know that the character could probably just kill me with one foot.
Anyway, one thing that I did want to write about was Ward’s involvement in Hydra and his devotion to John Garrett. There’s a part of me that definitely does not like Ward. I mean, he has killed and betrayed and done some really horrible shit but at the same time, I also look at his past and think about all the trauma and manipulation he went through. The relationship he had with Garrett was FUCKED UP because it seems to me like Garrett found this vulnerable kid in a really shitty situation and used that to manipulate Ward into becoming his own body guard and/or weapon.
Of course, all of that doesn’t justify what Ward has done but instead I feel like it just gives it context. The second season provided more context to Ward’s family and history and yet again, I feel like his past explains how he got down the path he did but doesn’t justify his actions. And oh hot dam this guy remains super creepy. He does significantly better as a villain than a hero to be honest.
And there’s TAHITI and Fury’s decision to revive Coulson after the battle in New York in the first Avengers movie. I ended up watching the first season all the way through three times and by the end of the third time, I started to realize how messed up that situation ended up becoming. I mean Coulson REPEATEDLY asked for death during the surgery and we find out at the end of the first season that he actively recommended that the program be shut down.
Fury and others actively went against Coulson’s wishes and did not allow for his bodily autonomy to be respected. Informed consent, an important part of health care, was not given before Coulson went through the program (because you know, he was dead?!?!). And they KNEW the side effects of the GH 325 drug and how dangerous it could be if he were to find out. I’m just incredibly frustrated with this story line because an incredibly dangerous medical procedure was done on Coulson not only without his informed consent but went against his wishes.
As far as the second season, I’m not sure I liked it as much as the first season. Lady Saika wrote about the first episode of the second season and I definitely agree with so much of what she mentioned – how it feels like we’re missing the back story of the new characters and how they joined the new SHIELD and how the episode portrayed both Fitz and Simmons. And the second season ended up being less of a one problem per episode show to one with a significantly longer story arch.
Another thing that really bugged me about the second season were the portrayals of Skye’s parents. MadameAce wrote about the white man’s redemption at the woman of color’s expense and how the redemption of Cal at the expense of Jiaying was poorly written and filled with flaws. Her analysis manages to articulate the uneasiness I felt about both Cal and Jiaying. Near the end of the post, she added:
All too often female characters are reduced to being props in male characters’ storylines, and that same thing happens here. Jiaying is a great character, but the story was so focused on Cal that it forgot to treat her as a person in her own right. This resulted in both Jiaying and Cal doing things that made no sense and didn’t fit their characterizations.
There’s also the fact that so many of the actors of color on the show (other than May and Skye) either end up dead or evil. I do greatly appreciate Raina’s character because she does seem so human as a character. But even then, she ends up dead by the end of the second season. And so many other characters of color in the show end up dead or evil. (I honestly could not believe and was so mad that they killed off Triplett in season two.)
The more I rewatch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and the more critiques and reviews of the show, the more I wonder about the show and the writing. There’s definitely so much that I love but it’s not perfect and it feels like there’s a lot of Joss Whedon in it as well.