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Thursday, December 7, 2017

TNH Roundtables: Full Season Review - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

As we do with other shows, The Nerd Hub sits down to discuss our thoughts on this latest season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. What did they do right and what did they do wrong? Where have they been, and where could they be going? So, take a look at what we had to say and look for our reviews from the upcoming season, as well as, take to the comments section below and let us know what you thought about this series.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was one of the first comic book shows in the new golden age of comic books on screen. It was shown to have much potential but quickly abandoned by many. The show, however, was well done enough to be kept alive by those who stuck by it. As they say, "patience is a virtue". This is one of the only sows in the genre to consistently grow in viewer base and production quality with each new season. Those at its core bring it to its now fifth season. By the time this article comes out, the fifth season will have already aired, but we wanted to sit down and discuss the latest season that helped propel them into this monumental feat, as well as, take a look at what you might expect in the upcoming season. Before we continue, this post contains major spoilers for discussion purposes, and if you would like to, you can skip the jump to our closing paragraph for a spoiler-free recap of our opinion.

We saw this season premiere with Ghost Rider, did they pull off a solid arc with this character? What worked and What didn't?

Jennifer - I feel like the writers did a fantastic job writing in Robbie Reyes. With that said, I'm thankful they did not use Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider because it just wouldn't have been as good as it was since we have already seen this character on screen. I think most can probably agree that they were happy it wasn't Johnny Blaze allowing for an entirely fresh start to the character. Personally, I am truly hoping they figure out a way to write him into The Defenders, with Gabriel Luna playing him, as I think this can create a unique story.

Trey - Yes and no. Most of the problems with it stem from the fact that this is a cheaply produced ABC series and Ghost Rider is an effects-driven monster with an insane body count and it doesn't mesh very well with the money they have to work with, and the fact that ABC is kind of a family-friendly network doesn't help. If you want any further proof of that just look at the Ghost Ride action scenes and compare them to that of the films. I did like the character himself and how they staged him as a tragic hero who got caught up in other people's fights that he had nothing to do with but also doesn't shy away from the fact that he was when all is said and done, a mass murderer. Overall, it's satisfying but could have been better.

Jack - I think that if you were able to ignore the subpar effects due to the budget you will find that the choice to use Robbie Reyes was for the best and worked quite well alongside the Darkhold, as well as, gave a strong story to give him a chance at future development. Reyes story also helped to move along Daisy's as well as Mack's development. Much like all of these subplots, one thing moved itself, as well as, at least one or more other subplots and it worked well.

Fitz and Simmons' relationship grew but had some hiccups along the way due to Fitz grief and the backlash from his decisions on how to ease this grief. One of those was an ever-recurring issue that came in the form of the Life Model Displays. Do you think Fitz did the right thing with his original intention behind A.I.D.A?

Jennifer - Fitz knew at the very least some of the consequences of creating any form of AI or as they call it on the show, an LMD, due to its physical form. So, no; regardless of him not knowing what the Darkhold was or what whoever possessed it was capable of, I do not feel did anything right as far as Aida goes. He helped defy orders and a decent character died. Radcliffe not only created Aida but had ill intentions from the start and he deserved what he got but mace deserved a better fate.

Trey - I would say so, yes. The thing about any new technology or invention is that it's not malevolent in of itself. It's always the human hand that steers it towards paths of destruction and chaos and it's pretty clear that Fitz did not want that to happen. Did it backfire on him in the end? Yes. But the intent itself was pure, so I can't fault him for it.

Jack - I feel that Fitz had the best of intentions that resemble the likes of Stark and Ultron. The one difference, however, is that Fitz didn't cause the corruption, but regardless, Fitz should have know better than to play with such an idea without having the absolute most trustworthy people on board and for me, Radcliffe was never such a thing.

The Darkhold was a major factor this season, involving both Aida and Ghost Rider. Do you feel they tied all of this together well or was it all just too much?

Jennifer - ABSOLUTELY!! They did exactly what they should have done; they brought in as much information as they could without completely overloading the storyline. I'm sure we'll see or at the very least hear more about the Darkhold in the future. I can definitely see how it could seem like they overdid it with the ghosts and the Darkhold on top of adding Ghost Rider to the season, but they wrote it so well that all it did was keep us tuned in.

Trey - I feel like Ghost Rider may have been something of a last minute Deus ex Machina for the plot, but aside from that, it all tied together. And even then, it was properly foreshadowed. It was clear from the get-go that the Darkhold was some kind of book from hell and that using it was tampering with the forces that no one on this planet understood, save for maybe Doctor Strange. So maybe Ghost Rider's final appearance felt a little forced, but his actual function seemed to tie everything together in the end.

Jack - I felt this is what made the season so good. As I mentioned before, all of the plots seemed to play off of one another very well, as they all gave each other a reason for existing and that's really all I have to say as far as that goes.

The Patriot was featured to help the subplot of the re-legitimization of S.H.I.E.L.D., as well as, the legitimization of the Inhumans. What worked and what didn't with this arc?

Jennifer - Okay, so The Patriot threw me off in the first few episodes of the season being that I didn't know who he was, to be honest. I may be a little biased, since season one when they had Fury on, I have felt like they could bring in a movie character at least; but no, instead they used The Patriot who needed multiple injections to be like "Capt", not just one. I really didn't like the fact that they made him a fake Inhuman. There are more than enough characters in the universe that they are allowed to use, so they didn't need to add a fake inhuman to the show. A perfect example is a smaller character like Falcon who could fit the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. role and not have it affect his movie continuity more than a quick mention of it. This would allow a human to take the role the role and not have to use that subplot because the interest would be in the strong link to the movies, as well as, some further development into Falcon's backstory that could never be covered in the films being a secondary character. That being said, with the character being planned to be killed off anyway it seems the choice was better anyway. The Patriot won't be missed; at least not by this girl anyways.

Trey - It worked when he was being this uber likable, but still slightly insufferable bureaucrat who was running things the way a corporate executive might run an individual grocery store, but clearly had a few secrets. That allowed the character to have an interesting arc for himself, as well as, giving Coulson and his team an additional obstacle to navigate whereas before they more or less did things on their own terms. What didn't work? When it turned out that he wasn't an Inhuman. The character immediately stopped being interesting and was delegated to a figurehead while Coulson ran the show. That was just lame.

Jack - I can see why they made the choice to make him a fake inhuman to propel the public perception directive, but it was just so poorly done that nobody I've talked to was able to continue to enjoy it and therefore making his death less significant. My guess is that that's what they were going for, but overdid it as they were unsure that the audience wouldn't get too attached to the character.

The L.M.D.'s tested the teams resolve and nearly ruined them. What worked and what did not work with this arc?

Jennifer - I always try to expect the unexpected even watching shows and movies, it's just the way my mind works best and I did not see multiple LMD's coming into play. It was just agent May in the beginning and it seemed like she would be enough to infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D., especially since it's May and she is the strongest human on the show, other than Coulson of course. I don't know for sure if it would have ruined the team, even if the lost another member of two there would still be a show as long as it wasn't Coulson, May, or Daisy. I did like the fact that the L.M.D.'s weren't brought in until about halfway through the season; it most definitely kept the momentum going in waiting for the mid-season premiere.

Trey - Honestly, I can't remember anything about this arc. The thing about infiltration/impostor story arcs is that I find them more frustrating than anything else. You know who is bad and these bad guys are in a position of authority which makes it difficult for the heroes to do what they need to do, but it's only a matter of time before the good guys take back over. It's boring. It's literally a retread of the HYDRA stuff from the back end of season one and The Winter Soldier. But it worked in those instances because we didn't see it coming at all and it literally uprooted the entire status quo of not only the character's lives but the entire MCU. Unfortunately, the L.M.D.'s were more or less just a distraction and something to move the plot along a bit. Can't say that I was a fan.

Jack - As Trey said these types of arcs are more infuriating than anything knowing the end result and being so anxious to have it end. I think they should have killed another character with this arc as well and this would have stood out differently, but all in all, it worked well not knowing who was an L.M.D. anymore so than the characters did, aside from May. For instance, the part with Fitz and Simmons was incredible. Agin, however, I would have at least made us think one of the characters died and have it revealed it was an L.M.D. after the fact so that we could have little more emotion drawn other than anxiety. 

We got a glimpse at an alternate reality within The Framework that revealed some truth about the characters. What about this worked with the rest of the arcs, and what didn't?

Jennifer - It played into the show beautifully. Just like expecting the unexpected, I also picture situations from another point of view, so I actually enjoyed seeing what a world ruled by HYDRA would look like. It was an interesting point of view and again helped keep the momentum of the show. The world set in The Framework and the storyline, in general, made the fourth season the best so far and it leaves room for it to get even better. I feel like the only part that didn't work for me was them bringing in Fit'z father. I understand the drama aspect and trying to make a personal connection for Aida to help keep him occupied for her benefit, but it all seemed a tiny bit unnecessary. I think they could've made more connections to the films than they did in other seasons within the framework; I know I'm always a little disappointed in that aspect, but that's because they have so much more to work with than they bother with.

Trey - Well, I'm going to answer this one in reverse. Its main problem was that it went on for far too long. It seemed like it was setting itself up as maybe a two-part/three-part arc, but it just kept going on and on and on. It was pretty cool though to see alternate versions of these characters, (evil Fitz was easily the MVP), as well as some older characters who died earlier in the series be brought back for a little while. It also was an interesting how they took small little background details like Fit'z daddy issues and Mack's daughter and made them into critical plot points in this world. But again, it kind of overstayed its welcome.

Jack - I think this was a great concept that allowed us to see some old faces and new possibilities while still having an effect on the real world. I felt this gave it an extra edge as opposed to something that would revert. I feel like having Mace die solidified this intent, but I think it went on a little too long as if they wanted to do more than they had time for. Almost as if they wrote this arc for their framework but then realized what they had in front of them and had to tame themselves from convoluting it. Regardless, this was a fun arc and the idea of turning otherwise insignificant details into huge plot points really drove these characters developments to new levels and played with our emotions as much as theirs. All around, it worked very well, except for the fact that it probably would have done better on its own, as it probably would be done in the comics.

This season we saw a change in the structure of the show to resemble more comic book style arcs containing sub arcs all to meet and even longer arc, rather than subplots all being within a single arc. Did this new style work for the better or did it convolute the shows writing?

Jennifer - I think the season played out perfect with more of a comic book aspect. It was what kept us on our toes and excited for the next episode. They do cram a lot into most of the comic books and it does feel like it gave us more out of last season. Season four gave us what was essentially enough storyline to cover two seasons. Even with the season feeling a tiny bit cramped due to all of the information that was thrown at us, they gave us enough episodes to spread it all out.

Trey - I think it worked quite personally. It gave us smaller arcs that had quicker resolutions but were actually building up to things in the long term. It gives the average viewer something quick and easy to watch and gives the more hardcore binge watchers a reward for sticking with it from start to finish. It's a style that I approve of and wish Marvel's other series' could take hints from.

Jack  - I think that other shows, most importantly The Flash, need to take some serious notes on this restructure. This structure allowed the show to rank among the best of this comic book television season. It kept everything fresh, tied, and enticing. They don't necessarily need to do a number of episodes equal to the other arc. They could do three or four an arc and do like five arcs like I wish they would do with The Flash if the story called for it, but this was definitely a wise move by them that allowed them to target more of an audience going forward.

What would be one thing you would have added or changed about the last season if you could have?

Jennifer - Again, and I say it every season, I wish they would have tied in with the movies just a little bit more,. Now, I know there was no room nor reason to introduce or mention Spider-Man, but it would be nice to hear a little more than just about the "incident" or the "Sokovia Accords". I know I can't be the only fan who feels this way.

Trey - Based on what we got? Just a reduction of the virtual world arc. That was the that stood out to me the most and caused me to stop watching it for awhile. It wasn't bad, but like I said, it overstayed it's welcome.

Jack - There were only a few minor mistakes this season, which is something that rarely happens. Personally, I would make the color pallet more vibrant. I've felt this way for a few seasons now. I would like that to change more than anything.

At the end of last season, we saw a glimpse of what was to come with the upcoming season. Where do you think they can go with this idea?

Jennifer - FINALLY!! Now, there's an opening for more of a film tie-in, that I'm sure we have all been waiting for. I'm extremely excited to see what is next to come while they're in space. I am freaking ecstatic for the season 4 premiere, which will be two hours!

Trey - I have no idea where they're going to go with it, but what's so cool about it is that they can literally go anywhere with it. That's what's so cool about it and I'm looking forward to seeing it, but that's all I really have to say on the matter.

Jack - Well this opens the doors up to possibilities that are quite literally making the sky the limit. Anything can happen and this can really shake things up if done right so I'm really excited for the upcoming season and what potentials may be in store. Perhaps a revisit to the Kree? Perhaps more Inhumans? Not entirely sure, but I would like to see it serve a purpose much like the arcs of this latest season.

Was this season one that was worth watching? How did you feel about it as a whole? Did it beat out its previous performances or did it fall short?

Jennifer - We all know my feelings on the continuity, but aside from that I've really enjoyed almost everything. Love that the show was non stop action and suspense and that it was also meaningful in so many different ways. This is by far the best Marvel sow that they've done in my opinion and every season so far has been better than the last. I absolutely cannot wait for the season 5 premiere come December 1st.

Trey - The best way to describe this one is that it's a return to form for the show, but it's not going to convert any new viewers. The series seems to have reached a peak in season 2 and I don't see it ever getting that good again, but as someone who does like the show and the characters, it was such a relief after the slog that was season 3. All around, it had its flaws but was a good time.

Jack - This was most definitely one of the shows I recommend this season for comic book lovers, it was probably the best of the series, but it still needs an impact factor that sets it apart from other quality shows. Definitely worth watching if not for the sole fact that the arc restructure is something everyone needs to witness going forward.

In conclusion, This show is overall a show that doesn't turn heads for everyone but does do well by its strong fan base, with each new season being slightly better than the last. This season brought the window back open for new viewers with its expanded reach coming from the new comic book style arcing suiting more viewers preferences at once, as well as, offering something that nobody else does and leaving the sky as the limit for the next season quite literally. In the end, we would definitely recommend everyone giving this show a shot, as well as a second chance and remember that patience truly is a virtue.



Stay Tuned for our upcoming Roundtable Reviews where we will give our thoughts on The Punisher, The Last Jedi, Crisis On Earth X, Wynonna Earp and American Godz.

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Contributed to and Edited by, Jack Flowers. Contributions from Jennifer Gritten and Trey Griffeth.

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