This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.
Okay, maybe I’m still in my post-Daredevil season 2 orgasmic happy malaise, but could anyone else not keep track of all the different Russian characters on tonight’s Agents of SHIELD? We had some military general that could control a shadow, we had a dead attaché, we had a prime minister, and we really didn’t get a solid explanation to who everyone was or what they were after. Maybe I missed it because I was still thinking of the glory of Jon Bernthal’s Punisher, but I think tonight’s episode of SHIELD tried to stuff a little too much into its run time.
We pick things up from last week with Morse and Hunter stowed away on Malick’s plane. They get a free trip to Russia where Malick is trying to set up a reservation for Inhumans, a reservation that he will control. There is a great deal of politicking and blah blah until we discover that Malick brought a newly introduced Inhuman general with him.
Turns out Malick wants to control that general or something and set up shop on the reservation, and our heroes had to stop Malick’s nefarious Powers Boothe schemes. And really, does anyone in the world play a better scumbag politician than Boothe? Seriously, get ‘ol Powers on the phone for the inevitable Donald Trump biopic.
Anyway, the main event is certainly not the bloated Inhumans in Russia subplot; we’re clearly focused on Morse and Hunter, and sadly, it is also the farewell to Morse and Hunter (at least for the time being). Things go pear-shaped in Russia, and Hunter and Morse have to take the heat. Now, because they were forced to save their team, Marvel’s espionage power couple can never be associated with SHIELD again. The farewell to Morse and Hunter is effective with a nice emotional farewell, but with high tech gadgets designed to change people’s identities existing in the world of SHIELD, things kind of seem forced. But hey, it sets things up for the spin-off, so I guess that’s the endgame.
But seriously, there is some nice stuff between Morse and Hunter as the episode focuses on the fact that duty has kept the spy couple away from having a true life or relationship. There is some nice stuff regarding the bond between Mack and Hunter. And really, it is a blow that Morse and Hunter are forced away from their team. I just wish that the story that forced them away was a little bit more cohesive.
I do like the fact that the Inhumans thing is becoming an international issue with Russia taking steps to handle the growing threat in its own way. It makes things seem bigger. Too often, Marvel films get the big ideas while TV seems like a small afterthought. Well, Agents of SHIELD does not take place in a few blocks radius in NYC; it is a globetrotting adventure, and I like it when it seems that way.
Also, the super powered menace of the week, General Androvich, is pretty badass. The fight sequences between SHIELD and the shadow controlling Inhuman are darn impressive. It is like Melisandre’s vagina shadow baby versus SHIELD, and I dig it. It also seems very comic book-y.
While I loves me some shadow monster, another issue that SHIELD has suffered from lately is the lack of cohesion with the rest of the season. Lately, there has really been no movement on the Fitz Simmons front, there has been no examination of Coulson since he lost his lady love, there has not been any moments focusing on May dealing with her feelings about her husband. There have been a lot of concepts thrown against the wall, like the stuff with Ward, but there just seems to be a lot of inertia lately. Can you define this season? Can you find a recurring theme or motif? Not really, there is just a lot of going through the motions.
Now, some of those motions have been really cool (i.e. shadowy Russian guy), but this season lacks a sense of identity. Agent Carter has an identity, Daredevil has an identity, looking to the competition, the CW DC shows and Supergirl have an identity, but Agents of SHIELD is just kind of there. Not awesome, certainly not terrible, just there. The show certainly has had some groaners over the past three seasons, but this week marks the first time I am actively bored—well, at least for part of the episode.
Morse and Hunter broke my ennui because damn, they have charisma. That bodes well for the potential spinoff but the fact that SHIELD has lost two of the characters that actually make the episodes sing, that might be a dire portent for the future. Or it could mean that some of the neglected characters might be able to get the spotlight again.
And I’ll say it again, ad nauseam I know, this series needs a villain. It needs a Whitney Frost, or a Zoom, or a Vandal Savage, because Malick, while an effective douche, just isn’t doing it for me. Hey Marvel, you own about 700,000 awesome villains, can Agents of SHIELD borrow one?
Listen, after I watched 13 killer episode of Daredevil; I’m not going to poop on Marvel, but for reals, it’s time to spice up SHIELD because things are starting to get a bit repetitive and dull, and in the growing landscape of awesome comic book TV, that ain’t good.
The only Androvich I could find in Marvel history was the Russian operative known as Iron Curtain. He didn’t have shadow powers, but he was Russian. Iron Curtain first appeared in X-Factor Annual #1 and is about as obscure a character as you can find.
Listen, if you are going to have an episode in Russia, I demand to see the Soviet Super Soldiers. For those not in the know, the Soldiers feature a member named Ursa Major. He can turn into a giant bear. There’s nothing not awesome about that.
Plodding pacing aside, Morse and Hunter, and I look forward to seeing them get the solo spotlight if ABC takes Marvel’s Most Wanted to series.