“Sure seems to be a lot of feelings around here.”

I stand up while I watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., again. Ever since I was a little kid, I could zone out on the couch, like everyone else, while I watched Buck Rogers or the ABC Movie of the Week, but if something cool was on I would get up and pace around, wearing an oval path in the avocado green shag carpeting in front of the color Zenith in the living room. And that’s how I’m watching S.H.I.E.L.D., lately. Not so much the FitzSimmons soap opera, but whaddaya gonna do? That’s me, and not them. This multiverse Shrike threat is great. Can’t wait to see how it shakes out.

But that brings up a mildly ancillary point about decompressed storytelling.

I loved Season One. Building Deathlok, the Hydra reveal, Bill Paxton as secret bad guy quoting Empire in a quinjet attacked by missiles and no spilling his S.H.I.E.L.D.-branded coffee cup? Yes, please, give me seven seasons of that. Seasons Two and Three were kind of treading-water, for me, as an audience member. Good points here and there; Hunter and Bobbi welcome additions, but boy did I not care about The Inhumans. Season Four, though, added an interesting narrative kink that was right up my alley: the “story pods.” Ghost Rider, the LMD concept, and the Framework, all pods seven or so episodes long but all tangentially related. Holy God I wish all TV adventure shows were like that as you get what comics call “jumping on points” three times a season. This strengthens audience loyalty because you’re giving folks a reason not to abandon your show.

I would have given up on this show halfway through Season Two if it wasn’t called Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Lots of people did. But what an awesome way to ensure folks return if you market your seasons in thirds. Sorry you didn’t like this one; maybe you’ll like the next one. If you liked the Ghost Rider pod, stay tuned, because this next bit is about Darkhold robots. It’s not Ghost Rider, but it’s tangentially related. And, hey! If you liked the LMD bit, it leads into this The Matrix riff. So you’re far away from GR at the end of the season, but it all makes sense.

What daring. What outrageousness! What insolence… what arrogance!

I salute you.

Why in God’s name did they abandon that format? I assume the writers lucked into it, but boy did that work. Sorry you didn’t like this one; maybe you’ll like the next one. That’s the ultimate ticket to audience loyalty. But then you guys went the other way, and embraced decompressed storytelling for Season Five. Sure the future/space thing has its appeal, but how do you do a season set in space and not show a spacesuit? I allow this might just be me, but, come on. Budgets can’t be that tight, and it’s not like Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #6 isn’t a top-twenty iconic cover in comics. How the costume designer isn’t lobbying to take a crack at that one, I have no idea.\

Anyway, national treasure Clark Gregg is slaying things left and right this season, and it really comes across the joy he has letting buttoned-down middle manager Coulson off the leash as alternate-universe Sarge who has never heard of S.H.I.E.L.D. but is still kicking ass and taking names, sardonically. Everyone knows I’ve been a fan of Marvel’s American James Bond world-building before any of you knew who Jasper Sitwell was so I’m in the tank for all of this, but Clark Gregg sold it to the world in the first Iron Man.

So, I gotta say, in this politically fraught world where economics and status and religion and social media all vie for control of our souls, I loved that when faced with a cosmic threat morally pure Mack said with conviction, “There’s only one God,” and Sarge responded:

“Oh. It’s one of those planets, huh?”

I just loved that. As soon as society gets its shit together, so, too, will entertainment. And I loved that not-dead alternative universe Coulson deliver that message.

Captain America would be proud.


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