The MCU Ranked: ‘Agents of Shield’ (Season 3)
Showrunners: Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Jeffrey Bell
Heroes: Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Daisy Johnson/Quake (Chloe Bennet), Agent May (Ming-Na Wen), Agent Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), Agent Simmons (Elizabeth Simmons), Agent Hunter (Nick Blood), Agent Morse (Adrianne Palicki), Agent ‘Mack’ (Henry Simmons), Lincoln Campbell (Luke Mitchell)
Villains/Support Cast: Grant Ward/Hive (Brett Dalton), Rosalind Price (Constance Zimmer), Luther Banks (Andrew Howard), Werner von Strucker (Spencer Treat Clark), Dr. Andrew Garner/Lash (Blair Underwood), Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe), Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), Joey Gutierrez (Juan Pablo Raba), Elena Rodriguez/Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), James/Hellfire (Axle Whitehead), Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah)
Cameos: William Sadler, who played President Ellis in Iron Man 3, reprises his MCU role. Also did you know he was the Grim Reaper in Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey? Peter MacNicol pops up agains as unassuming Asgardian Elliot Randolph.
Plot: Simmons is still stranded on the other side of the portal, trapped in an inhospitable world. Back on Earth, SHIELD are hunting down newly activated Inhumans to assess their worth or danger. They’re hampered by Lash, a monstrous Inhuman hunting others, government agency ATCU who consider SHIELD to be fugitives and Hydra. Later, after Simmons is recovered, the world-ending Inhuman Hive is unleashed on Earth.
Review: If you’ve been following this series (thanks!) you know that AoS hasn’t ranked especially high on the list for us. It’s been a bit directionless and hurrying to keep pace with its big screen counterpart. It was the strong cast that kept it afloat, but the stories were not doing them any favours.
Season 3 is a the point where things begin to stabilise. There seems to have been a conscious decision to take a step to the side and do its own thing rather than be beholden to the wider MCU. The first half of the season of the third season is a much tighter arc with characters who are clicking together much easier. Grant Ward, the rogue agent, was being dragged along almost through obligation last season but now he’s got a clearly defined journey. Character’s who turned up out of nowhere – Mack, Morse, Hunter – now feel like they’re part of the team and have their own story arcs. They all bounce of each other, and it’s a noticeable lose when Hunter and Morse up and leave partway through the season for a spin-off that is yet to eventuate.
The Inhumans plot thread makes for more interesting viewing this time around. The smaller number of powered individuals works well within the group, especially Daisy putting together her own squad of agents. There’s some interesting episodes focusing on the global impact of the Inhumans, including a meeting between world leaders. It’s easy to see why they’ve shifted the focus onto this aspect of the show, even if they’re sometimes being used as a fill-in for the more popular X-Men.
There’s some good twists and turns that keep things interesting, such as the reveal of mild-mannered Dr. Garner being the dangerous and psychotic Lash. Powers Boothe makes for a great villain as the final head of Hydra, giving Kyle MacLachlan a run in the scenery chewing stakes. We get a satisfying culmination of the Ward betrayal plot when Coulson straight up murders him on a dead planet, an act of vengeance which leads to the unleashing of parasitic Hive.
As good as Hive is as a villain for the second half of the season, especially with the recruitment of Daisy into his gang of followers, the momentum does seep out of the story as the episodes go on. There’s two reasons for this, the first being the disappearance of Hunter and Morse and levity they brought to proceedings. The second issue is US network’s perplexing insistence on dragging out every show has long as possible regardless of impact on quality. We always wind up going back and forth, back and forth padding out the plot when a shorter season would’ve done the same thing with better pacing.
This was more engaging than previous seasons, and word is the next season continues the upward trend.
Credits Scene: None.
Most Notable Easter Egg: When the Watchdogs are broadcasting their terrorist threats to the world the news feed on the bottom of the screen references the ‘gang war’ in Hell’s Kitchen, a nod to events in Daredevil.
Coolest Moment: Daisy getting into the field with her own team of Inhumans was a highlight.
THE MCU MASTER LIST
Well, it’s better…but the competition on this list is seriously intense. We scrap in just about Iron Man 2, which means AoS is now better than the worst MCU films.
Click those numbers if you want to see what we said about the others entries.
1. THE AVENGERS
2. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
3. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
4. THOR: RAGNAROK
5. BLACK PANTHER
6. DAREDEVIL (SEASON 1)
7. IRON MAN
8. AGENT CARTER
9. JESSICA JONES (SEASON 2)
12. THE AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON
13. THE PUNISHER (SEASON 1)
14. IRON MAN 3
15. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
16. AGENTS OF SHIELD (SEASON 3)
17. IRON MAN 2
18. AGENTS OF SHIELD (SEASON 2)
19. AGENTS OF SHIELD (SEASON 1)
20. THOR: THE DARK WORLD
21. THE INCREDIBLE HULK
Staying with TV today, doubling back and checking out the first season of JESSSSSSICAAAAAA.