Marvel’s most ambitious TV show just gets better and better
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on a winning streak. Though the show will be on hiatus until April 4, if the next story arc is half as good as the season has been so far, it’ll be well worth the wait. Ratings for the show have been steadily increasing since its premier in 2013, despite the constant threat of cancellations from ABC, and each storyline gets more fun and more weird.
One of the biggest strengths of the show has been the cast of characters, which remains largely unchanged (with a few notable exceptions) since it began, and the fourth season stays true to this while changing the internal dynamics of the gang. New relationships are always risky for a tight-knit group like this, but the writers continue to surprise us with their patient and deliberate storytelling.
This latest season opened up following the protagonist, Daisy, assuming the hero name Quake and working outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. This helps introduce one of the coolest, most fun characters in the entire MCU so far: Ghost Rider. His flaming head alone probably doubled the show’s budget, but it was worth it. His portrayal by Gabriel Luna is both intimidating and angsty, fitting for a young guy who literally made a deal with the devil for revenge-based superpowers. His plot is tied in with the central storyline surrounding the Darkhold, a mysterious book that holds “all the information in the universe.” It’s just a MacGuffin most of the time, and the plot involves more ghosts than S.H.I.E.L.D. is used to, but it works, and it allows for some of the best super-powered fights of the entire series.
The second storyline of the fourth season is the “LMD” arc, following the scheming of semi-sentient android AIDA and her creator, Holden Radcliffe. The Darkhold emerges again as the instrument that allows Radcliffe to create such a complicated and nearly self-aware program. This storyline feels more like a comic series than anything else in S.H.I.E.L.D. so far. The pacing, the random side characters, and the way the Darkhold threads through multiple stories feels like an old weekly serial, and it’s absolutely fantastic. Mallory Jansen as Aida delivers the best standout performance of the season, with the dual roles of acting as a robot, and the human it’s modeled after.
This storyline ended on another one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s trademarked jaw-dropping cliff-hangers, and if the casting rumours are true, the next arc will be a wild ride for long-time fans of the show.