Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Season 4: a review

After our favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. characters (minus Mack, initially), came back from the Framework and Aida/Ophelia became a woman scorned and went batshit crazy, with superpowers to boot, things got really good. I even enjoyed that Yo-Yo went into the Framework herself to get Mack to come back, even while everything was shutting down. Even Radcliffe managed to go out in a classy way.

And did I mention that Ghost Rider came back from whatever hell he went to? Somehow Coulson assumed the Ghost Rider persona long enough to kill Aida once and for all. The implication is that he’s made some sort of bargain with the vengeance demon, but we don’t know what it is yet.

Yeah, the ending was good. And, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is coming back for another season. The final episode of this season, World’s End, included a scene with all of our favorite characters at a diner, waiting to get arrested.   The “authorities” (in quotation marks because I’m not certain who they were) show up, cut the power, then use some sort of tech magic to put everyone in stasis. Someone says something about a window closing in a few minutes, and then we’re out of the scene. What happened? It seems to be a mystery that we’ll have to wait until next season to answer. A postscript shows Coulson waking up on a spaceship, looking out a window at an asteroid field and then saying something about getting back to work. Yeah, I’m intrigued.

There was also a logo teaser for Marvel’s Inhumans, also coming out in the fall. This new show may have helped to get AOS renewed for at least one more season.

Season 4 was good overall. It ranged from very good at times to mediocre. I felt like it started strong and ended strong, but was weak in the middle. It must be difficult to write for a 22-episode season. Breaking the season into three smaller but related arcs was a nice attempt to maintain momentum, but the narrative still seemed to flounder a bit in the middle. I feel like the entire LMD section of this triptych could have been condensed into two episodes. I’m not sure that I would have wanted to expand either the Ghost Rider or Agents of Hydra parts of the season. I’m leaning towards the Hydra storyline although I’ll admit I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Framework.

Honestly, I think Season 4 provided evidence that shorter overall seasons may be the way to go. I look at shows like the Marvel ones on Netflix, or Better Call Saul, Fargo, this year’s Legion and Stranger Things. Heck, even The Crown. Shorter seasons seem to result in tighter writing—better writing—less filler or disposable episodes. I realize it would result in less ad revenue for the studios behind the show, but could result in more seasons in the long run. Mediocre story arcs will definitely result in cancellation eventually.

Not yet, though.

I look forward to Season 5. I’ll still be watching.

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