There are two reasons why you should be watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: It ties directly into Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it got good. Really good.
I watched the first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with my kids, and I’ll freely admit I’m biased in favor of the show. It’s become old school family TV time — we watch the show, we speculate on the various tie-ins (however thin) to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I school the kids on geek culture.
My kids love the show, and I’ve enjoyed it. Not as much as I enjoyed the continuity-soaked Arrow, but I could see where the writers were going. Unfortunately they took a damn long time to get there, taking an entire season to setup plot threads that likely won’t come to conclusion until season 2 or 3.
Except for the big one. Except for the one that setup Winter Soldier and culminated with Cap’s cinematic return. It simultaneously addressed my biggest complaint about the series, which was that it wasn’t using the Marvel universe to its fullest potential.
While Arrow was dropping DC Comics references multiple times each episode and introducing canon characters like Huntress and the Flash, it felt like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was going out of its way to avoid using Marvel’s intellectual property. Oh, we got the occasional Thor or Asgard namedrop, but the villains it made the most sense for S.H.I.E.L.D. to be going up against — A.I.M. and HYDRA — were nowhere to be seen. Instead they started manufacturing the new threat based on a warmed-over super soldier storyline that had already been done better in Captain America, Incredible Hulk, and Ironman 3. It saw a reasonable payoff in the form of Deathlok, a B-list cyborg soldier from the comics, but I wanted S.H.I.E.L.D. to take on a worthwhile enemy.
And then … Winter Soldier. I don’t think there’s ever been a TV series that tied directly into a movie like this. We had one episode that led directly into The Winter Soldier, and then a week or two later, bamf, that movie had transformed the TV series’ world.
That connection was expertly handled, and the resulting Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode felt like a continuation of Captain America 2. Walking out of the theatre I was bummed that I’d have to wait a year to see Cap again in the Avengers, and even longer to see the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. regulars in Captain America 3. Then I saw Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it was like the sequel was now.
Granted, there’s no Cap, but there is a direct continuation of the story started in The Winter Soldier. And it’s not a cheap, watereddown continuation either; it’s every bit as fun to watch as the movie.
That leads me to the final reason why you should be watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
[NO, REALLY, BIG SPOILER]
[MAKE SURE YOU WATCH WINTER SOLDIER]
[YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED]
Hail HYDRA! Yes, HYDRA is back. They were festering deep within S.H.I.E.L.D., and in the Winter Soldier they came to the surface. The intelligence organization is now experiencing a full-on civil war as HYDRA agents reveal themselves and try to take out their S.H.I.E.L.D. counterparts.
The chaos sown at the end of Winter Soldier is reaped in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with friend turning on friend. Suddenly, the series has its big bad. The so-so weird tech of the week episodes have now been replaced by a fight to survive (oh, and to prevent all that weird tech from falling into enemy hands).
This is Joss Whedon and friends playing the long game, and actually paying it off. This is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. being setup to carry the entire Earth-bound Marvel Cinematic Universe for a year while Guardians of the Galaxy advances the cosmic storyline.
Yes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got good. Good enough for you to watch tonight when the second new post-Winter Soldier episode runs. And hopefully good enough for you to keep watching.