‘Agents of SHIELD’ Season Finale Falls Short of Marvel-ous

Agents of Shield Finale

One of the recurring gags used during the upfront presentations has involved the comic-book spinoff TV shows — “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” and Fox’s upcoming “Gotham” — which essentially try to tap into the power of the Avengers and Batman, respectively, without access to the signature characters. That flimsy relationship to the rest of the Marvel universe has seemingly handcuffed “Agents of SHIELD” for much of the season, including the decision to blow up the whole organization in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

Yet as Tuesday’s season finale made clear (and SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched), those events have also created the opportunity to reboot the show — leaving Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson charged by none other than Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, in a cameo so cool he had to wear shades) with rebuilding SHIELD, whatever that means.

Frankly, “Agents of SHIELD” came into the season armed with so much synergistic baggage that it’s no surprise the series under-delivered, both in terms of ratings (after a solid opening) and its creative arc. Indeed, until the “Captain America” tie-in this was essentially just a modern-day redo of “Mission: Impossible,” except for the occasional name-dropping about, say, Thor.

The SHIELD-Hydra plot, extended from “Captain America,” did give the series a greater sense of purpose down the home stretch, while bringing in Bill Paxton as a wisecracking bad guy who took a sharp turn into Crazy-ville in the closing episode. That included a surprisingly grisly sequence in which he eviscerated a general, plucking a bone directly out of his chest.

The search for the moles in SHIELD’s midst also produced the most cathartic moment in the finale, as Ming-Na Wen’s Agent May had the opportunity to punch out the traitorous Ward (Brett Dalton), the only fight in an action-packed hour that possessed any real oomph.

While the episode closed with a scene that promises a further plunge into its mythology next season, one suspects “Agents of SHIELD” will seek an equilibrium and procedural element that will settle things down a bit. Marvel would also be doing the program a favor by sparing it too many detours to service the movie franchises, which were generally awkward and didn’t yield the sort of rating spikes one might have expected. (UPDATE: The preliminary audience for the finale was 5.2 million viewers, with a slightly better 1.9 rating among adults 18-49. While delayed DVR viewing will pad that total, “SHIELD” remains reasonably solid but, given the budget and expectations, still a mere mortal, ratings-wise.)

Marvel’s remarkable theatrical run box-office-wise has left the company ill-equipped to deal with failure, and ABC is clearly eager to leverage the studio’s assets, as evidenced by its midseason series “Agent Carter,” starring Hayley Atwell as the alluring government operative featured in the first “Captain America,” fighting the good fight post-World War II.

Whether Marvel can jump-start “SHIELD” through sheer force of will is anybody’s guess, but with “The Avengers” sequel looming on the horizon and a full slate of theatrical titles in the works, the series is serving a larger purpose (just witness the promo for “Guardians of the Galaxy” tossed into the finale). And if the show remains mildly fun but less than Marvel-ous, it’s going to take a major implosion for Disney-Marvel to give up that weekly piece of primetime real estate.



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  1. AJN says:

    In Scotland this guy would be referred to as a fannybaws

  2. HW says:

    This guy has no idea what hes talking about, the finale of Shield was the best one yet.

  3. Steve Kemper says:

    This article shows you don’t have to have brains to be a columnist. The AOS finale was AWESOME. It tied so many of the season story lines all into a neat ending. The problem with this show was not the ending, but the beginning – as in the first 3-4 episodes. It was very mechanical and uninspiring in the beginning, but some of us saw the potential and stuck with it. And I am SOOOO glad I did.

    As some of the other comments say, and the reviews on IMDB – this is Agents of SHIELD, not the Avengers. If you’re looking for Avengers-level production you are barking up the wrong tree.

    My only beef with the Marvel CMU, including AOS, is that, to this point, they seem completely unwilling to kill a good guy off. Why did they have to bring back Patton Ozwalds twin character? His death made us hate Ward – that adds to the interest level. Though I do expect they will kill Steve Rogers sometime in the next 4-5 years.

    Now I can’t wait for season 2.

  4. Chandra Love says:

    I really loved the show. Since I don’t know all the Marvel comic book characters I wouldn’t know if something or someone was missing. But if TV is for entertainment I was very entertained. The twist and turns in the plot made be want to come back for more. Looking orward to next season.

    • DaRel says:

      honestly, go rewatch those first few episodes and the season as a whole. the show was well made from the beginning, i think all of us just didn’t know what to expect and what we saw seemed dry and odd sometimes

  5. tONY says:

    I think all of you expect a little too much from TV. After all the original concept of TV was to sell advertising for products…it just so happened you got a GREAT show in the process…BOTTOM LINE: iT’S ONLY ENTERTAINMENT.
    P.S. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD is very cool.

  6. Bob Huxley says:

    The reviewer must have watched something different than I did, or been in some kind of altered state of mind. I loved the whole season, particularly how they bookended Captain America: The Winter Soldier with two episodes. There was a lot of stress after the movie as it looked bad for S.H.E.I.L.D. but I liked the resolution.
    This is TV. If the reviewer is so jaded, as to have to read the ratings before writing his review, it is time to move to another profession.
    To Kamiko, too bad you missed a good show because of adopting someone else’s opinion as your own.
    To the network execs: Many people who watched Glee might have liked AoS but never saw it. I think it is stupid to pile up all the good shows at once. Not everyone will spend hundreds of $$ a year on DVRs, Hulu Plus or high speed internet at their house. Glee is a cute soap with AWESOME music, but I prefer AoS. I’ll watch Glee in reruns later this year, or on Netflix.

  7. Kamiko says:

    Ive seen nothing but bad reviews and how boring this show is. i never watched it due to the poor comments every time.

  8. Greg P. says:

    The episode really wasn’t very good (IMO, of course). The dialogue was really poor, the character choices were … strange (seriously, the Garrett stuff was so over-the-top it made Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin look like Heath Ledger’s Joker), and the acting left a lot to be desired. The actor playing Tripp is terrible, making every line sound forced and unconvincing. Plus, as is a common theme on the show, the fight scenes were anticlimactic.

    There were some great moments — Fitzsimmons stole the show, Fury was great, Coulson had a few good one-liners — but ultimately it was a disappointment, given how good the show had been since “Winter Soldier” hit theaters.

  9. Jacques Strappe says:

    tsk, tsk, tsk ..Brian Lowry has opened up the comic book can equivalent of whoop-ass. Seriously, Brian, love your columns and most of your reviews. You should know by now the hate mail you will generate whenever you dare speak of comic book hero or hero-less worlds. Probably best to just state the plot points and allow the fan commentary to provide the obsessively scary and passionate reviews written so earnestly and devoid of a shred of irony.. Oh, and avoid making any more editorial comments about Resurrection, too–I fear for your soul as I understand fans have organized prayer circles to banish you to hell.

    Best Regards,
    Your Mother

    • B.J. says:

      Well, Mom…..although everyone is entitled to his opinion, it would be really swell if sonny would watch the episodes before he comments on their worth. Unfortunately, critiques aren’t harmless to a show. Some folks will read them and choose to not even give a series a chance because of what a reviewer says, so it is helpful when they at least get their facts straight and have a solid basis for a review first. He has his opinion, we have ours……ours just happens to be based on actually watching the show.

      • Kamiko says:

        it is due to harsh reactions and comments like yours that people like me dont give it a chance. after all, your opinion is not the only one that matters, and just because you like this show, the hundreds of poor comments like your make me believe otherwise.

  10. B.J. says:

    I don’t agree on any point. Actually, I am really glad, like the films, that Shield didn’t end the season horribly, but still left us with a mystery to look forward to in season 2. I don’t know why critics seem to think that a finale has to end badly (as in Once Upon a Time) to be exciting. There are other ways, like the introduction of Skye’s mysterious past and possible dark ‘monster’ side yet to be revealed, what will happen with Ward, how will they deal with Hydra and who, after all, is actually in charge of Hydra?. etc. etc.

    • Kamiko says:

      it is due to harsh reactions and comments like yours that people like me dont give it a chance. after all, your opinion is not the only one that matters, and just because you like this show, the hundreds of poor comments like your make me believe otherwise.

      • tONY says:

        Again…you listened to other people and didnt even respect yourself enough to watch and judge for yourself…weirdo.

      • Kamiko says:

        this comment was made here by accident. i was commenting on the one above this.

  11. Lorion says:

    I don’t think the upcoming Agent Carter series has anything to do in response to the ratings performance of Agents of Shield. Agent Carter’s series is one of four additional television series that Marvel Studios made arrangements to begin working towards last year, prior to any knowledge regarding how Agents of Shield would perform.

    As for the current status of the end of season per episode viewing ratings, I would caution that there is more to them than meets the eye. Fans of shows like this tend to skew towards the “I’m not going to watch the new episode until I’ve seen the last one first.” Since a lot of fans bailed on the series before they realized that there was something of worth growing there, a lot of them have held off on coming back even after hearing about it getting good because they want to take the time to “catch up” first. They aren’t watching each new episode as it airs, so they don’t get counted in the ratings the same way. Most of them probably won’t catch up until the summer.

    What I think we are likely to see is a sizable portion of Marvel’s fan base will revisit and rewatch the first season over the summer months, catching themselves up on the storyline prior to the second season premiere. The consistent ratings during the end of season 1 seems to me indicate that there is a strong core audience, whom will continue to promote that message of “it got good” that has been getting plastered on blogs and news articles for the last two months. Based on the critical reception of the later half of the season, I wouldn’t be surprised if season 2 displays a jump in ratings, as well as strong DVD sales for the first season. It just needs the Summer months to give folks time to get reacquainted.

  12. In my opinion i really liked the finale…To keep things short Agents Of Shield has been like a roller coaster for me. Initially it started off with lots of potential then it started to get tiring w/ what seemed like too many filler episodes…But then every episode since The Winter Soldier has been great IMO and this finale was everything i want from a finale. It had the emotional moments,humour and tons of action w/ a satisfying ending. I think it achieved its goal by wrapping up the current story arc but also left me wanting to see where they go from here in Season 2 rather than leaving it on a Cliffhanger and not tying up loose ends.

  13. tONY says:

    Great comment!
    The article was written by someone who either doesnt like or understand these shows…

  14. tONY says:

    Lowry just doesn’t get it…

    ‘Agents Of Shield’ is fun, exciting and cool to watch.
    What else do you really need for a show on network at 8:00pm??

    • Ernie Zippreplat says:

      Totally agree, this show was fun to watch and we always look forward to Tuesday night to see it. We even turned of the Hockey Playoffs to watch it.

      • Kamiko says:

        Tuesday night at 8pm, is also NCIS, which is what i watch. i didnt even know this program was on until i saw an article, and the poor comments attached to it made me high tail it the other way and leave it where i found it. changing evenings or giving it better advertising may change the ratings perhaps.

  15. TheSav™ says:

    It’s funny how the article’s title states the finale was “short of marvelous” yet there were no examples of why the episode failed. Everything in this review is generic and could be gleaned by fast-forwarding a DVR playback.

  16. Mike S. says:

    “One of the recurring gags used during the upfront presentations has involved the comic-book spinoff TV shows — “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” and Fox’s upcoming “Gotham” — which essentially try to tap into the power of the Avengers and Batman, respectively, without access to the signature characters.”

    Umm… Okay, so I maybe totally misunderstanding, or just flat out wrong, but “Gotham” is using plenty of “signature characters”.

    Commissioner Gordon (albeit he’ll be Lt. Gordon) is the main character. A young Bruce Wayne will be in it to a capacity. As well as Alfred; Selena Kyle (who will one day become Catwoman); Oswald Cobblepot (Penguin); Pamela Isley (Poison Ivy), I think, had been announced. Harvey Bullock is a name many people know, at the very least, if you grew up with (or simply enjoyed, considering how phenomenal it was for all ages) Batman: The Animated Series, though he’s appeared elsewhere.

    This series may not touch on every single one of these characters each week. And (jokingly) I highly doubt they’ll all be banding together to fight a greater evil. But these aren’t a handful of created-from-scratch-for-the-TV-show characters like SHEILD has, they’re all characters with a history within the source material.. The only character that doesn’t, from my understanding, is Jada Pinkett-Smith’s character, Fish Mooney, who was created for the show.

    No one in this show will likely “suit up” and be what they are when they’re older, but overall, even with the tiny grasp of we’ve been given through the tiny amount of information we’ve been fed, I don’t think your on base with what’s going on with Gotham -Which may or may not be strange given your position as a TV columnist.

    If you know something we don’t, then fine, egg on my face. But then your just lumping in a show no one else knows much about and hasn’t seen yet, with a completely unrelated show and universe, and saying it’s all the same trappings beyond the simple “it’s superhero stuff” header -when both shows, at least from what we have seen of Gotham, are going to be clearly VERY different, all the way down to how established the characters are before the shows started.

    As for SHIELD:

    “That flimsy relationship to the rest of the Marvel universe has seemingly handcuffed “Agents of SHIELD” for much of the season, including the decision to blow up the whole organization in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

    The show had to teach people who have no clue what-so-ever what a super secret organization full of regular humans does, in a world filled with powered beings. It was all ground work. An origin story of sorts.

    Yes, Marvel and Whedon had a goal to tie things in the show to things in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, but huge things happening in an interconnected world are going to effect things in that same world –the exact same organization.

    Ripples on the pond.

    It’s not a show reboot: It’s plot progression. Granted, the overall flow of the show is strange due to it’s plug-in connection to the Marvel Movie Universe, because we’ve never seen anything like it before in the history of television, but to call it a reboot is a grave misunderstanding of the universe these things come from.

    SHIELD never dies, even when it seems dead. It’s been battered, beaten, deposed and every other manner of “not a thing any more” one can think of, over the years. Fury has been removed, “killed”, hunted, ect just as much over his long history in the books. We’ll likely see him back in some capacity over the course of things, maybe in his own movie. All in all, this is all pretty much status quo stuff for him and the organization he’s synonymous with.

    Yes, people who don’t know the books *will not know that* but it’s the job of this show to educate people to the larger world going on outside of the 2 hour chunks of story we get over the summer (and sometimes fall) months, while adding some exposition to ongoing the stories where a movie can’t, due to time.

    It all sounds like very heavy stuff, but given how I’ve heard SHIELD’S ratings made a climb after Winter Soldiers release, people are catching on without needing it explained to them.

    Lets face one thing: Agent’s of SHIELD is sticking around whether we like it or not. Marvel/Disney/Whoever has a plan, and they’re going to see it through.

    • Big Daddy D says:

      That review was better than Mr. Lowry’s

      • big daddy D says:

        @Laurinda…Shield has been around since the 60s..and Nick Fury..the Caucasian version.. the Howling Commandos were kicking Nazi butt in WW2

      • Laurinda says:

        much better review… I never got into the comic books but I know the characters. Most people who always wanted a superhero do. But one question I have to ask is Shield is in the Avenger comic books but did it have it’s own comic? This is a great change from them behind the scenes to having the spotlight for a change… And for people, who do not watch the show, Characters like Lady Sif do make appearances… I hope in the future Iron man and the other avengers make appearances also. The show is amazing in the fact that if one of the Avengers has a movie come out the show will compensate for it and add to the show itself from the movie. No one wants to talk about the second Thor movie that was installed into the show also.

  17. partisan says:

    The finale was IMHO excellent. It hit all the right notes (humor action, emotional reveals, etc) and wrapped up the main stories while leaving some great potential ones for next season. It was especially good when you realize that it was filmed before they had been officially renewed. They could have just left it on a cliffhanger and hoped they got a season 2 to deal with it but if this had been the last episode of the series I would have walked away satisfied

  18. Henshaw says:

    It’s a testament of how far this show has come this season that people are upset by this article. A few months ago no one would have cared.

  19. sammyglick says:

    The reviewer is 1000% correct. While many like myself had high hopes for this show, it simply didn’t deliver. Sure, by default a TV budget is a lot lower than a film, so it’s a little unfair to say AoS should have been like watching a big budget studio pic week-in and week-out — yet shows from Dr. Who, to Person of Interest, to The Walking Dead prove you can do ‘movie-level’ storytelling on TV. Don’t let fanboy/fangirl bias get in the way of recognizing that Joss Whedon let down fans of Marvel and SHIELD who did want a character driven show that would go beyond the films and really explore this unique creative universe.

  20. Jimmy Hauser says:

    It’s reviewers like you, not the creators, who ruin these shows. Do you have any sense of what a “budget” is? You expect them to reproduce Captain America and Thor on a 1-hour recurring TV drama with a 1-hour recurring TV drama budget.

    People just need to be happy that we get shows like this at all. As opposed to the relentless onslaught of ‘reality’ TV. Perhaps you would be happier watching Survivor. Please do that and stop badmouthing TV shows I would very much like to see not get cancelled because of reviewers like you that have nothing better to do.

  21. Becky W says:

    How sad Mr. Lowry doesn’t get it. The fact that Agents of Shield is part of the Marvel franchise and they incorporate the things that happen in the movies with the TV show is brilliant, ie Thor and Captain America. And btw Mr. Lowry Samuel L Jackson had on sunglasses because Nick Fury took his eye patch on in Captain America. What a shame critics are not people who actually like or understand movies and television.

  22. Chris H says:

    The finale probably could have been better, compared to how the last few episodes have been… but it was still very good, and I think this article was written by someone who isn’t a big fan of the show or even comics. Anyone who truly has enjoyed this universe and these characters would have been at least pleased with the finale, and probably more.

  23. LessThanHappywithyourReview says:

    This review is less than marvelous. Obviously it comes from someone that NEVER read the comics. These fans that are watching are the geeks that actual know the back story of these characters and Strebor is right! This is not about Thor or Captain America or Black Widow, it’s about the Agents of Sheild. Let this story unfold on its own without all the expectations and hype regarding the movies.

  24. Eliezer says:

    can’t wait to see.what they have for the fall

  25. Strebor says:

    My biggest problem with all the critics out there is that ALL of them expect this show to be about the Superheroes and Villains of Marvel. Last I checked, the show is called Agents of Shield. It is about this group, not Captain America, not Thor, not Hulk. So quit expecting those guys to just show up. Watch the show for what it is about, parts of the Marvel universe you don’t normally get to see. Shield cleans up what the Avengers, XMen, and Fantastic Four leave behind. So accept the show for what it is, and not what you expected in the first place. It is not called Avengers: Agents of Shield.

  26. John says:

    Your generic article leaves us with the impression you didn’t even watch the episode.

  27. highsurf says:

    best finale ever, I don’t think the author of this article watched the same show I did.

  28. Jshwe says:

    What a loser. Obviously this writer has nothing better to write about so he /she decided to write this bunch of crap.

  29. slick1ru2 says:

    I’ve been watching TV since the 60s. I think its one of the best finales I’ve ever seen.

    • big daddy D says:

      I agree. Lots of action..lots of resolutions-although I’m getting a bit sick of the cut scenes at the end of the show. Who IS Sky’s father, a anyway?

  30. big daddy D says:

    I enjoyed the FINALE-English, morons. There was more than enough to go around. Bill Paxton was extra spicy crazy…and Sam Jackson showed why he’s such a bad mutha fucka…even in a brief cameo.
    And I’m pretty sure that the schematics Garrett and Coulson were writing on the walls is related to Ultron..if not the actual blueprints. Just my .02

  31. Skyward22 says:

    You shut your mouth Writer person. Clearly you don’t like comic books cause this show was awesome and you did not get what its trying to bring to the table. I think the finally was Epic and they really hit the nail on the head. The twist of Agent Ward being a traitor was just as surprising and can only compare to the Bones series where in season 3 finally we find out that one of Brennan’s Assistance Zack Addy is working with Gormogon as the mans new apprentice. You clearly don’t get what Agents of Shield was about and trust me everyone that loves the show loved how it ended and look forward to season 2.

  32. I was happy with the season finally, and am looking forward to season 2. I wonder what will happen to Ward and is Sky Godzilla? I guess we’ll have to wait till to fall to find out

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