Agents of SHIELD – Season 4 Overall Review

AoShield S4

I wasn’t sure whether or not to do an overall review for this season of Agents of SHIELD. It was perfectly segmented into three arcs, with each having been covered in separate reviews on this site, but there are over-arcing themes and plots that can be looked at, not to mention an overall look as to whether the season as a whole is worth tracking down… Plus, I like consistency, so there! With that said, let’s take a closer look!

Synopsis:

Former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Daisy Johnson, now the vigilante “Quake”, is hunting gang affiliates of the terrorist group Watchdogs in Los Angeles when Aryan Brotherhood members are murdered by the fiery “Ghost Rider”. Agents Phil Coulson and Mack, who were forbidden from searching for Johnson by new S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Jeffrey Mace, are tipped off to her location by Agent Melinda May…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

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Hey look! The official cast picture for the season… I should do that more often…

Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) – Starting the season off as just another agent under new director Jeffery Mace, Phil goes through quite the arc this season, ending up back in charge before the proverbial shit hits the fan…

Daisy Johnson / Quake (Chloe Bennet) – Daisy is still grieving over the loss of Lincoln, and has decided the best to deal with that grief is to distance herself from all her friends and allies… makes sense! Luckily she soon rejoins the fold for the big battle with Aida and her Framework.

Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) – May, funnily enough, spends the vast majority of this season asleep in a pod, being replaced by either an Life Model Decoy or being a CG representation in the Framework. Still, doesn’t stop her from still acting like the bad ass, as per usual!

Leo Fitz (Ian De Caestecker) – You though Jemma’s ordeal on the alien planet was bad last season, just wait until you see what Fitz goes through here! He suffers from Hank Pym (in the comics) syndrome of feeling guilty for his creations causing havoc, and then there is the Framework version of himself…

Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) – Although this season isn’t quite as a stressful as previous, Jemma still has a lot to go through, especially concerning Fitz and his obsession with Aida and her A.I…

Mack (Henry Simmons) – Extremely nice guy with a large body and a shotgun-axe, Mack is once again the rock of the group, never wavering in his… nice guy-ness.

Jeffery Mace / Patriot (Jason O’Mara) – Mace desperately wants to be a hero, and so soon is paraded about the place as the new head of SHIELD, and as an Inhuman no less… actually, less, as it turns out…

Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah) – Scientist who truly believes he is trying to help humanity with his experiments… that is until he gets a look at the Darkhold, a magical book that changes everything…

Aida (Mallory Jansen) – Starting out her life as an A.I., Aida soon has a human-like body, then a perfect human-like body, then a CG body inside the Framework, until finally achieving her dream of becoming human. It all ends well, obviously…

Robbie Reyes / Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) – Your regular Latin-American former-thug who is trying to do right by his younger brother… and also take out criminals as night with a flaming skull head.

Plus many more!

The Good:

AoShield S4 1

Robbie mid-transformation… ouch.

As I mentioned in the individual reviews this season, splitting it up into three distinct arcs with just one or two overriding themes was a great move. Seasons 2 and 3 suffered from the arc getting too slow in the middle, so this fixed things nicely. I was also happy to see that the advent of Doctor Strange in the MCU meant Agents of SHIELD immediately starting playing with the more mystical toys in the Marvel box, including a really great version of Ghost Rider. It’s funny that Reyes wasn’t really popular in the comics, but he was really well portrayed here in the series, I found him far more relatable than Johnny Blaze, and far more fun to follow than the film version of the same character…

As hinted at in the character bios, most of the characters got to do something this season. Coulson and May got closer and had their history fleshed out a bit (even if a lot of it was tragically with an LMD May rather than the actual article), Daisy has become a far more believable “heroine” of the series after a well portrayed funk at the start of the season, and Fitz and Gemma had their relationship tested again, but thankfully they haven’t gone down the route of full on break up followed by a return to the “will they, won’t they” formula that never works the second time round. Even Mack and his relationship with occasional agent Yo-Yo Rodriguez was well fleshed out, complete with sudden but tragic Mack backstory that then (coincidentally) played a big role in the final Framework arc.

Even The Patriot, who as far as the comic goes was a nobody, had a good run. A regular guy who got mistaken for a hero tries his best to actually become one. I was surprised by how much I actually cared that he was killed off towards the end of the show.

Looking at the three arcs on their own, I’d still say the Ghost Rider arc at the start was the best, then the final arc had a great ending, so that would come second, with the LMD arc coming in third. As a complete whole it works as a story of Aida, an artificial lifeform that sees the bigger picture of the universe through the Darkhold and slowly becomes more and more human, until the actual humanity is the reason for her downfall. In that sense as a season it works very well, with a satisfying end pair of episodes, and some good character development, both old and new, in between.

The Bad:

AoShield S4 3

“Oh no! Not again!!”

Aida had that old problem of being an artificial person she was unable to actually act. She had to keep a straight face and flat line delivery up until she actually become human in the second-to-last episode. The thing is I found that increasingly boring, especially during the middle LMD arc… it’s just lucky she had so many good actors around her most of the time…

I didn’t really enjoy the episodes set entirely inside the “What If?” Framework world. It just felt like stalling, especially bringing back Grant Ward (can we get a season without him, please? He was a great villain, but we need to move on!) Still, as I mentioned in my review of the final arc, I was surprised looking back at just how few episodes this was, and it probably won’t be a problem with the ability to binge-watch several episodes in a row.

Overall Thoughts:

AoShield S4 2

“Oh great, I’m a robot. As if my day couldn’t get any worse…”

Possibly the best overall season of Agents of SHIELD, and while it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the final few episodes of Season 1, the actual storytelling over the three arcs is great, with no storyline really overstaying its welcome. I can only hope this keeps up!

4 Star Watch

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