Earlier this week, Vox published a disturbingly accurate guide to when you can feel confident in giving up on a TV show. According to the article (and I agree), if you want to give a show a good shot, the amount of time you should devote changes from, say, four episodes for a serialized drama, to a half season for a live-studio-audience comedy. I highly recommend reading the whole guide, but there’s one instance it doesn’t address: the need for a second-season check-in.
In this age of Peak TV, and with you all being busy, important, intelligent, hard-to-please consumers, you don’t owe a television show your eyeballs. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to watch it. But how often do we want to love a show, watch it long past the point of enjoyment, and finally tune out, only to hear months later that the second season is everything we wanted it to be?
Agents of SHIELD was one of these shows. It was basically the poster product for the entire concept. I’m sure a lot of you dropped off before the second, far superior season. Then, if you bothered, you had to play catch-up once word got back that it was worth your time and then some.
I was one of those who checked out, then checked back in and finally loved the show. Upon reflection, though, I can’t remember when it was that I checked back out. I’m pretty sure I made it to the second season finale. There are lots of reasons why you might drift away from a show, or this show— overwhelming character turnover, scattered plot lines, weird midseason breaks that kill momentum. Whatever it was, I never came back to see how Skye transitioned to Daisy, or how anyone transitioned to anything.
Then this week I checked back in on the fourth season premiere, and if you were waiting for the signal to come back, this is it. While the earlier seasons ranged as sort of a weak to moderate (with a few stellar stand-out episodes) placeholders between Marvel movies, the fourth season might just be the perfect companion to, or at least tiding-over until the grittier Marvel Netflix fare.
That’s in large part due to the show’s new 10pm time slot. The show can now be a bit darker (and sexier), but the biggest change seems to be that they’ve hit a stride with the comfort of their characters, almost all in new positions and roles than when we first met them.
Plus, maybe most impressively, long gone are the laughable special effects of season one. I wasn’t prepared for anything nearly this good, or good-looking, after reading that we’re now entering into Agents of SHIELD: Ghost Rider.
Does that make you picture something along the lines of…
I’m as surprised as any of you when I say that AoS has totally nailed this character. They’ve got the effects down, and the grittiness. This is no Johnny Blaze, but rather Gabriel Luna as Robbie Reyes, a Los Angeles mechanic with a supernatural darkness that, even having skipped all of season three, is clearly what Daisy/Skye was looking for in a foil, or maybe full adversary, from the beginning.
I’ll probably go back and fill in the season three gaps (mostly to see what I missed in Fitzsimmons’ progression, because they are in a WHOLE new place). But recommending a catch-up is a burden, I know. So even with new characters, and changed characters, if you’re looking for something to pass the weeks with until (and then following your binge of) Luke Cage and the other Netflix shows, you should be able to jump into season four of Agents of SHIELD without too much confusion.
And if the season premiere is any indication, it’s totally worth it.