For a show that started out well but settled into dull episodes midway through the first season, and only kicked into high gear with the tie-in to Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has become the most underrated superhero show on television.
I enjoyed S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 more than any of the DC superhero television shows last year, including Arrow and The Flash, which seems to put me in a minority. But S.H.I.E.L.D. had a great season-long arc focusing on Skye’s mother, Jiaying, as the Magneto of the Inhumans, a leader with good intentions and murderous methods, not to mention now-evil Agent Grant Ward.
That momentum from season 2 carries into the season 3 premiere, which is focused on Skye/Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and the Inhumans that begin to appear all over the globe.
Daisy is the latest in a long line of girls facing their destiny in works produced by Joss Whedon, from Buffy to Faith to River in Firefly, to Fred in Angel, and Echo in Dollhouse. The good news is that the “girl with a great destiny” is a far less commonly used trope than “boy with destiny,” and that Daisy provides a woman of color in the role. Note: The show became more diverse last night with the introduction of a gay character as well.
From the beginning, S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s tentpole has been Skye’s journey to know who she is and what she can do. Bennet and the writers had to grow into the role and, despite some bumps, they have. This season begins with Daisy accepting her destiny as a newfound protector of fellow Inhumans, working with those she can trust, our now familiar crew: Coulson, Mack, and Bobbi.
But there have been changes. Mack is now Daisy’s partner, Simmons is missing and presumed dead via the mysterious Obelisk as seen in the season 2 finale, Fitz is obsessed with rescuing her and has turned badass, and Coulson keeps trying out new hands to replace the one he lost in last year’s finale. He also looks scruffier than the Coulson of seasons past.
Missing from the premiere is Melinda May. Boo! I want May. Now.
One change that pleased but surprised me was the presence of Bobbi in the laboratory. Mockingbird’s comic book self always had a biology background, but, given how the focus last season was on Bobbi as warrior, I didn’t expect that to be included in the show. It’s a nice way to include it as part of her recovery from her ordeal in the season finale.
Why do I enjoy this so much? One thing that drives me nuts in the DC shows I mentioned earlier is that characters seem to do dumb things for the sake of the plot. Not so here, where we have intelligent characters doing smart things.
Yes, Fitz is being reckless and digging for information about the Obelisk, but he also has a plan to keep himself safe. Yes, Coulson did fall into a trap set by the secretive government, but he also had a contingency plan to get out of it. And the conversation between Coulson and his new government adversary ended up being much more fun than it had any right to be.
Coulson and this unknown other government agency are both after the new Inhumans, who are popping up all over the globe. The episode starts with the rescue of new Inhuman Joey, seemingly from the government bad guys. But in a neat plot switch, S.H.I.E.L.D. and the other agency aren’t truly at odds. Something else is killing the Inhumans.
That something is an unstoppable and unknown Warrior who has the uncanny ability to pop up all over the globe at a second’s notice–or at the second a new Inhuman uses their powers. (One wonders why it hasn’t killed Lincoln already.) SPOILERS: The villain is the Inhuman Lash from the comics, who feels the new Inhumans aren’t worthy of their powers. But that still doesn’t explain how he gets from here to there so fast. Lockjaw, perhaps?
I enjoyed the new Inhuman, Joey, and his frustration with his new status, and it was a nice role reversal to see Skye comforting him. I hope he sticks around, and not just because the show needs more diversity. I should look up if Joey is someone from the comics, but, again, I’m in the minority in that I hope most of the characters on this show stay original to the show. That makes their fates much less predictable.
In fact, the biggest issue I had with the premiere is waiting to hear about May, though Hunter and Bobbi’s now-sweet relationship helped a little.
I’ll be watching. You should be too.