“This is why I don’t have Facebook.”
The award-winning writer and artist of Cerebus, Dave Sim, perfectly summarized how I feel about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., here, at the end of its functional life. Dave did a monthly comic for 300 months in a row, starting sometime in 1977 and finishing in 2004. It drove him insane, but his achievement will never be topped. He sat on a hill and said I AM GOING TO DO 300 ISSUES OF A COMIC BOOK and you have to admire the tenacity behind such a bold claim and the realization that he accomplished his goal.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., on the other hand, is going out on a massive “evil twin” episode. Should the whole thing have been like the Level Four flashbacks, of agents doing agent-y things? Should the show have been basically Men in Black: The Series, with super-villains instead of aliens? “What is the nature of identity?” is a crazy thing to address in the fourth season of a network show. It basically writes the criticisms for the critics. “What is the nature of identity?” Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t even know what it is, four years on. S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s corporate masters could never decide on or agree to what the show should be. Super-police procedural, or soap opera with TV level powers? Splitting the difference annoyed everyone but die-hards. I told my wife this morning I probably wouldn’t even watch this show if it was called anything else and believe me that is a pisser for me to admit. How is it possible that we live in a world that a show called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. exists, but it’s only kind of just OK? If Clark Gregg wasn’t in this, slaying the processed deli meat of scripts he’s given every week, I would have given up long ago.
This week’s mission flashback underscored the ham-string-y-ness of the format. Hamstrung? Ham… something? I dunno. But remember when S.H.I.E.L.D. agents did things, and the flashbacks were to the Howling Commandos? When getting an 0-8-4 was the mission and not a MacGuffin? There have been maybe seven episodes in four years that nailed the concept.
I dunno. I feel badly about this. I know I’m being a bummer. I want to root for them. I know everyone is doing their best to entertain. I’m on their side, I really am. Where’s Bobbi and Hunter, and signing the napkin, and missions with stakes? I feel like I’m the only one who remembers what it’s like to protect the story.
To be the shield.