PODCAST! – Around the Water Cooler: “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” – The Season 4 Mid-Season Recap and Progress Report (MAJOR SPOILERS)

Image result for agents of shield season 4 title

Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie

THE SPECS:

Who:  “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall to spring Tuesdays at 10:00 PM.

What: “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” a serial television drama based on the comic/graphic novel and film universe of Marvel Comics.

SYNOPSIS

The mission of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, i.e. S.H.I.E.L.D., is to monitor and collect rogue supernatural subjects, forces, and people and to control them.  The Division is kind of like the so-called Men in Black but is focused on any fringe element looking to create the next Tony Stark (Iron Man) or Captain America or Thor without the natural-born endowments (or the cool suit invented by a rich guy).  Of course, the mission has been complicated ten times over since the start of the series.

When: Season 4 premiered on ABC on September 20, 2016, at 10:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in the fictional Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and closely follows the events of “The Avengers” films, previously directed by series creator Joss Whedon (along with brother Jed).

Why: Two reasons for most of the panel: Joss Whedon and Disney’s first television production of a Marvel-type nature.  It seemed like a no-brainer, really.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

CPU! has covered Agents of SHIELD since the beginning, though in podcast format only starting last year.  If you would like to catch up on our SHIELD coverage, click the embedded links below, or find the audio equivalents on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (links further below):

Seasons 1-3A

Season 3A Midseason

Season 3B (post-finale)

Our SHIELD panel, namely Kristen, Jen, and moderator Kylie, recently reconvened “around the water cooler” to discuss Season 4A and the introduction of “Ghost Rider” as well as to prognosticate upon possible future plot developments of the second half of the fourth season (and to speculate upon the likelihood that the show has moved markedly toward the bubble of cancellation). Listen to the podcast, and see if you agree or disagree with our comments, reactions, and predictions.

This podcast was recorded in December 2016, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the first half of the fourth season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!

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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will catch up on coverage of a CPU! favorite, in podcast format for the first time – and just in time for the program’s last season. Next week, CPU! introduces a new panel of old favorites as we talk about seasons three through five of NBC cult favorite Grimm.  Stay tuned!

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1)  Still a Question: Will we learn which planet it is (i.e .Hive’s home planet beyond Earth)?

ANSWER: We haven’t yet, and it’s one of the main questions of the podcast panel.

2) What happened in the six months prior to the third season time jump/epilogue?  How much could have really happened to change everything so much?

ANSWER: As we discuss in the podcast episode, not much back story was flushed out in this half season regarding the time jump.  In fact, the panelists universally felt that the time jump was largely meaningless and did nothing for the story.  What we do know is the following:

–Afraid that the events surrounding Hive, Lincoln’s death, and Daisy’s (Chloe Bennett) response to Lincoln’s death might lead the government to shut down SHIELD, even though the agency previously existed as a black ops division, Coulson (Clark Gregg) removed himself as director and appointed Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara) as the new Director. Mace is (SPOILER) an Inhuman, as well as a public relations dream and a long-time camera-friendly politician, so Coulson felt that Mace was best positioned to legitimize SHIELD in the eyes of government figureheads and the public and to downplay some of the more high profile SHIELD missteps (or events that looked like missteps).

–Daisy, aggrieved by Lincoln’s death, went rogue and decided to go after Inhumans by herself, for reasons unexplained.  She used her powers openly and without discretion in the process, allowing the public to dub her, somewhat fearfully, with the “Quake” moniker.

–Coulson and Mack (Henry Simmons) searched for Daisy with Mace’s approval, but she consistently eluded them, trying the new director’s patience and vexing the paternal Coulson.

–Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) positioned herself to be promoted through the ranks at SHIELD and to earn the Director’s trust enough to be made an assistant within his inner circle.  As a result, she is subjected to random lie detector tests to ensure that she is not withholding secrets from him, which, of course, she is.  She’s also in the process of buying a place to live with Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), which is nice.

–May (Ming-Na Wen), Mack, Coulson, and Fitz are all agents tasked with securing Inhumans, aliens, and, by extension, Daisy/Quake.

–Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah) was pardoned by the government/SHIELD regarding his dubious cybernetics practices and is kept on as an adviser, though he is expressly prevented from working on robotics and cybernetic technology as part of his pardon. He doesn’t comply, of course.

In the end, not much happened in that ballyhooed six months, so none of the panelists understood why the jump was necessary or why a passage of time to demonstrate yet another chase for Daisy would add to the story.  Also, we felt that it was not executed well.

3) Is Daisy definitely “Quake” now?  What is her aim at this point?  Is she totally rogue?  Is she working undercover for SHIELD?  Is she off the reservation over mourning the loss of Lincoln?

ANSWER: Daisy is definitely Quake now, owing to the public’s Cisco Ramon (DC REFERENCE!) like ability to name superheroes.  Her aim at the start of the season is to track Inhumans and, particularly, Ghost Rider on her own.  She is totally rogue and totally off the grid and not working for SHIELD, finding the agency’s rules and bureaucracy “too confining.”  She is, in fact, or so it is implied by May later in the season, off the reservation because she is grieving Lincoln’s death.

4) If Coulson is no longer the director of SHIELD, who is?  Is May the new director? Why is Coulson no longer the director of SHIELD?  Did he break away over his personal (fatherly) feelings for Daisy or for another reason?

ANSWER: As above, Mace is the new director.  Coulson stepped down more to protect SHIELD itself from politicians who feel that SHIELD is sheltering (i.e. allowing to live/roam free) rather than containing Inhumans at humans’ expense. One side bonus of this move, however, is that he could track the hurting Daisy with more freedom as an agent under the radar than he could as SHIELD’s high profile director.

5) Will we find out about the “purpose” behind the Inhumans, as alluded to by Lincoln (RIP), and explore more of the mythology and connection between the Inhumans and the Cree?  Will we ever find out the true origin of the Planet?  Is the Planet important beyond being the place where Hive was exiled for millennia?

ANSWER: Still questions without answers.  The Inhumans/Cree story lines and alien mythology were subverted this half season in favor of creating the “Ghost Rider” story arc.

6) Will we ever learn more about the Cree themselves?  Are they related to any of the individual Avengers?

ANSWER: As above, still questions without answers.

7) Will we be returning to some “the team chases Daisy” motif as we already experienced in season 2?  The panel is against this idea.

ANSWER: The panel was not heeded, to a point, and the show was the worse for it (listen to us, man!). Some time was devoted to Coulson and Mack’s chase of Daisy. Fortunately, a frustrated Mace prevented Coulson from being distracted by this eventuality for too long, feeling that Daisy outmaneuvered Coulson and Mack every step of the way and to no avail and at a significant expenditure of SHIELD’s resources. Eventually, everyone catches up with each other in the end.  That’s usually how it works.

8) What or who will be the new “Big Bad” now that Hive has expired?

ANSWER: The “Big Bad” is as yet undefined.  It could be the Watchdogs, the anti-Inhuman terrorist organization that first appeared in season three.  It could be politicians like Senator Ellen Nadir, who seem to be funneling money and resources to the Watchdogs.  Or, it could have been Robbie Reyes aka Ghost Rider’s Uncle Eli, who toyed with quantum physics and got himself sucked into an inter-dimensional rift by playing with forces he did not understand.  As we discuss in the podcast episode, this half season was a bit messy.

9) Is Hydra really gone?  It can’t be, right?  New heads and so forth?

ANSWER: So far, so gone, though panelist Jen predicted that Senator Nadir could possibly be, or be connected to new heads of, Hydra, since she is holding captive Inhuman(s) undergoing terra-genesis for as yet unknown reasons (with Mace’s knowledge; listen to the podcast for details).

10) Will Bobbi and/or Lance ever be brought back to the show, since their purported spin-off was axed before airing?

ANSWER: So far, so gone, though it would be nice for SHIELD to accidentally bump into them at some point.  I can’t imagine they would stay gone for good, unless budgetary reasons prevent them from returning.

New Questions

1) Is Ghost Rider (GR) gone for good?  Why was he even brought on the show to begin with? What IS GR?  Who was the GR before Robbie Reyes? Is Robbie the last GR, should he never return from where ever he landed with his Uncle Eli? Does GR reap souls from the living?  How was GR able to touch the physicists trapped within the dimensional rift? Where do the souls or people slayed or reaped by the GR go?  Do they go to hell?  Why was the GR mythology not flushed out more on this show if such care and attention to bring him on the show was necessary to the overall story?  The podcast panelists felt that the GR arc combined with the several other story lines introduced or continued in this half season (Daisy as Quake, the humans vs. Inhumans, SHIELD as an evolving SHIELD) was ultimately a misfire in execution, mostly, on the part of the producers and writers.

2) Is Nadir affiliated with Hydra?  Could Hydra be coming back – since it seems foolish to eliminate them from the MCU completely?

3) Ada (Mallory Jansen), Radcliffe’s newest android creation, seems to have created a double for May.  Is the real May being held captive by Ada (we see a bloodied May in Ada’s storage closet)? Is the doubled May, back at SHIELD headquarters, an android? Or, is she some sort of inter-dimensional echo created by Ada with the knowledge from Dark Hold? Or, is double May an alien?  Because, when in doubt – aliens.

4) What was the Dark Hold book all along?  Some sort of window into Hell?  Is it alien?  Is it Cree?

5) What happened to the Inhuman undergoing terra-genesis that Simmons was blindfolded and squirreled away to help and, then, to abandon when the process was complete?

6) Is Mace going to remain SHIELD’s director?  Is he part of a new SHIELD Inhuman fighting force? What secrets is he hiding (since Simmons implied that there were secrets)? Will he be the “Big Bad” in the second half of the season as panelist Jen predicts?

7) Is Coulson really attempting to position Daisy as a possible future SHIELD director?

8) Are Mack and “Yo-Yo” aka Alana Rodriguez going to make a legitimate romantic go of it?  What pain is Mack nursing?  The loss of his brother?

9) Will we see any more Avengers or Avengers-related characters on the show?  The panel feels strongly that the show would benefit from an injection of movie-caliber quality, either in character appearances or in story reworking.

10) Was Ada truly affected by the Dark Hold?  Does her creation of double May mean she is evil or an insane robot now?  Will SHE be the “Big Bad” in the season’s second half? Does Holden know or having any inkling of what his creation has become?

PARTING SHOTS

By consensus, the podcast panel believes that the show’s critical crossroads has come and gone, and that in the case of Marvel Agents of SHIELD, in the heretofore described “make it or break it” scenario, SHIELD may be close to breaking it.  The panel felt that the show hit a low point in this half season, comparable to the first half of its first season, while rebooting its trajectory post-Hive and post-departure of Brett Dalton.  The panelists, though still willing to continue watching, feel that the show has become stale and somewhat boring as it flounders to find a new focal point, though we still have numerous questions, as above.  In addition, though Daisy would be a logical choice for that new focal point, the panel also universally felt that the writers have short changed one of the more popular characters this season by creating Daisy’s petulant, somewhat flat response to her grief, while the character herself is mired in a repetitive story line centered on her developing powers and Quake persona.  Furthermore, the fourth season’s first half has only served to confirm another panel perception: the time jump was anticlimactic and seemingly unnecessary in the grand scheme of things and did not create an enticing enough cliffhanger to convince fickle fans to continue watching, resulting in lower ratings overall. The panel still thinks it’s worth tuning in to SHIELD, even if the “tuning in” does not necessarily occur at the time of first airing, though, for the first time, all three panelists felt hard pressed to recommend the show to others, as all panelists believed strongly that SHIELD might not be able to recover from its current, disorganized, post-Hive path. In fact, viewers who stopped watching the show much earlier may finally be justified in their quick prejudgments, though the panel still asserts that the first three seasons are worth the watch.

LOOKING AHEAD

A full season of Marvel Agents of SHIELD was ordered upon renewal, but both our podcast panel and other TV pundits believe that renewal for a fifth season could go either way, meaning that the show has unofficially entered bubble territory; thus, no official announcement about the show’s fate has yet been made.  Agents of SHIELD returns from its mid-season hiatus on January 10, 2017. The podcast panel will revisit this program at the end of season, so keep checking back with CPU! for all the latest blog posts and podcast episodes. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional SHIELD coverage. Until then!

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One comment

  1. kyliekeelee · January 5

    Reblogged this on Reel Musings.

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