‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Review: A ‘Bridge’ to Nowhere

By  · Published on December 11th, 2013

Mind-numbing tedium, thy name is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The only entertainment I derived from “The Bridge” was to marvel at how bad it was, from the cliche-ridden dialogue to the murky, insipid action scenes to the laughably inept building of suspense. Last night’s hour was the final installment of Coulson and Company before a break of at least four weeks, so what the writers should have done is offer up a reason to care about Centipede. Instead, they had the bad guys kidnap the one character who is absolutely indisposable to the show and put him in danger. Do the people running the show think its viewers are such rubes that we’d actually be afraid for Coulson’s safety? Promos say they’ll finally reveal the truth behind his Tahitian vacation in January, and maybe they will, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has utterly failed in getting me excited about it.

Because, honestly, what could Tahiti possibly change? The show will still be full of cardboard characters played by middling-at-best actors, running through exposition-heavy lines to propel inconsequential adventures of the week and hint at, allude to, intimate, imply, and insinuate deep, dark secrets but never actually reveal them. Watching the show is like constantly being offered a burnt meatloaf-flavored ice cream slathered in ketchup and being told I can have it if I wait just one more week, just one more, just one more. I wasn’t that interested in the ice cream in the first place. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s insistence on teasing me with it week after week eventually amounts to an insult, with its assumption that I’d happily wait so long for that piece-of-shit snack. It knows there’s other food in the world, right?

Taking stock of the show at this halfway point in the first season, it’s easy to see that too little has happened on the show. Yes, Skye has joined S.H.I.E.L.D. and adopted Coulson as her daddy, but the character remains unconvincing as a hacker and has made very little progress in her search for her parents. Only the barest of hints have been dropped regarding Ward’s childhood abuse and May and Coulson’s workplace traumas. One of the geeks almost died, and I was kind of hoping for it because I wanted something, anything of consequence to happen on the show, but it would have been the wrong geek to die, and it didn’t happen anyway. And the series has entirely squandered its most interesting premise – exploring a scared new world where superpowered beings are real and whose existence threatens to turn every ordinary citizen’s bus ride to work or walk to the park into a gamble of “will today be the day I become collateral damage in a battle between good and evil?” – by isolating its cast from the rest of the world in a plane that doesn’t even look very cool.

To return to “The Bridge”: Mike Peterson returns to the show and tries to become the best S.H.I.E.L.D. agent ever, and everyone thinks he’s just swell and really, really ridiculously good-looking (though, okay, J. August Richards is that). Then he has to choose between his newfound S.H.I.E.L.D. loyalty and his son, because it’s not for nothing that five minutes didn’t go by in this episode without somebody mentioning that Mike has a male offspring that he cares for quite a lot. Raina, the woman who recruits random men for medical experiments, reappears to kidnap Mike’s son and offers to trade him for Mike, except nope, she wants Coulson instead. Then she maybe blows up Mike, though we didn’t see a body, so there’s another piece of dingleberry-dangling the show thinks I’d care about, except I don’t because, hello, it’s just shit.

Those last three words will be my final pronouncement about this show, as this’ll be my last recap of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. For readers who’ve stuck with me and this terrible, dumb show, which had a few good moments (Peter MacNicol forevs) but was mostly an exercise in supreme mediocrity, thanks for reading. If you’re enjoying the series or still have hope it’ll get better, please explain yourself in the comments.