Agents of SHIELD: 3.01 Laws of Nature
While some might consider a permanent move to E4 a demotion for what should be one of the most watched genre shows on television, in truth, those pretty young Agents of SHIELD have found their rightful home. It's a sign as well that the show itself has gained a better sense of its own tone and identity.
This first episode certainly started with a bang and some flashy action that quickly set the stakes for this new season. Since terrigen made its way into the ocean it is spreading and new Inhumans are popping up all over the world and SHIELD is trying to protect them. The Laws of Nature have changed and so has our teams' purpose.
The reveal of a second and then third party after the Inhumans was nicely handled, in fact the whole stand off between Coulson and Rosalind Price, head of the fledgling ATCU (Advanced Threat Containment Unit) was well played. Coulson is too often a little too earnest so it was nice to see a more playful side to him again. It was also nice to rest HYDRA a little and let new characters step into the light.
There was also a lovely moment in which Coulson struggled with the change in Daisy from the erstwhile hacker Skye of the first season. Mack and Hunter's casual reply when Coulson said it was hard to get used to was confident and fun writing.
Iain De Caestecker is still the best thing in this series and whilst he initially seems to have become something of a bad ass, we soon realised he was more damaged than he was in Season 2. Fitz is desperate to get Simmons back and there was some genuinely powerful moments here. Juan Pablo Raba also stands out as the Inhuman Joey Gutierrez. His story looks set to let the themes of this season play out nicely and his introduction was a smart way to establish the new status quo for SHIELD.
There were references aplenty to the wider MCU as The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant Man, Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: Winter Soldier all got alluded too. We're getting a better sense of a post-Sokovia world and people are, as Daisy points out, a little touchy about it. There was also a cameo from Iron Man 3's President Ellis as he highlighted the need to respond to the rise in superpowered people. The groundwork for a really interesting season, thematically linked to the upcoming Captain America: Civil War is being laid and I'm really excited to see how this all plays out. It'll be fun to see how the writers mine both Jonathan Hickman's Secret Warriors and S.H.I.E.L.D comics too.
It was a genuine joy to also see more superpowers play out in the show and FuseFX gave us some impressive visual effects work. Daisy and Lincoln teaming up showed the the show really wants to play with powers this year and deliver on the promise of its premise. The new Bus was cool and Inhuman villain Lash looked great too. It's a shame that the best effect for the Kree planet Simmons is trapped on was consistent use of a blue wash, but here's hoping we get to see something more impressive. Though it's great that Agents of SHIELD is even ballsy enough to play with Marvel's cosmic side despite it's television budget.
For all the positives though, I can't help feeling that the SHIELD team is starting to feel a little too big. Especially now Daisy is going to be starting her own team of Secret Warriors (Which I'd consider a spoiler if it hadn't played a major part in the seasons publicity campaign).
On the other hand ABC President Paul Lee has confirmed that the network has given a pilot order for Marvel's Most Wanted a spin-off featuring Bobbi and Hunter. Whilst individually the characters are fine and a spin off will give everyone a bit more room, I'm not sure I can sit through a whole series of the bickering couple.
Overall this was a fun starting point for the new season. The show feels confident and is embracing the ever evolving, ever growing Marvel Cinematic Universe - I can't wait to see what Doctor Strange and the introduction of Marvel's mystical side opens up for the series next year, Howling Commandos anyone? However, despite the action it was also exposition heavy, having to lay a lot of pipe for the reason of the series. Here's hoping that the energy continues and SHIELD continues to develop into the must watch television we all hoped it would be.