Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season Three - TV Review

'With three seasons under its belt, one of the positives to take from this offering is that S.H.I.E.L.D is starting to gain the confidence to consider ideas outside of its immediate sphere of influence.'

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D continues to be something of a TV enigma, a throwback to Saturday night Sci-Fi serials of the Nineties with at least equal part exposition to attractive 'monster of the week' innocence. It shouldn't work and it often doesn't, but there's also often a satisfying episode or two which does what good TV should do and wraps you up in a large blanket of a world which doesn't really exist.

On the plus side for the third outing of Marvel's flagship TV show, the lessons from Season Two have been carried over and S.H.I.E.L.D Season Three again features a beginning-to-end plot thread (the search for Hydra's 'god'), which informs every episode on at least some level. It's no mean feat to manage a central thread through twenty-two episodes and weave in a satisfying sub-plot, with the agents attempting to tackle inhuman-murdering inhuman Lash, and the show deserves more credit than it often gets for doing so. The finale probably chooses the right character allegiances (although there's an odd-looking trail for Season Four) and hints at directions which are new enough to justify your continued involvement with Marvel's offering.

On the other hand, there's a prime example too here of the damage the Marvel universe can do to itself. Constantly looking for new opportunities, there are big decisions at the half-way point for agents Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) and Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki). Having initially offered an uncertain presence, those two have become a highlight for the show, with Hunter in particular a fantastic, humour-filled alternative to the too straight faced Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), whose development and continuing presence here is still a weak point. As the Marvel Universe calls (but not, it seems, with any substance) the agents get an emotional apex in Parting Shot (S3E13), on a par with anything the series offers. The high-point though is with sacrifice and the momentum of the show dips for some time.

With three seasons under its belt, one of the positives to take from this offering is that S.H.I.E.L.D is starting to gain the confidence to consider ideas outside of its immediate sphere of influence. The position of outsiders has always been fertile ground for comic books which feature those from other planets and on more than one occasion, S.H.I.E.L.D enters a political fray by discussing its inhuman collection of characters as 'illegal aliens'. Similarly, though less successfully, the relationship between Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Daisy (Chloe Bennet) continues to be one of the better examinations of quasi father/daughter roles mainstream TV has managed, in the main because Bennet's character is never helplessly at the whim of Gregg's. Those two elements rarely get anything beyond a surface view, but at least there's scope for their discussion.

Though it tells its assigned arc well, the tale of the Hydra god is never quite as satisfying as Season Two's long thread and ultimately this season is missing one or two memorable characters and the same number of memorable episodes to stand out. Lash, for example, morphs into a perfect antihero, but he's never given long enough to shine. In a show that runs for this long every season there must have been room, so whilst S.H.I.E.L.D entertains again, it's not with the level of polish attained during the last run.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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