This week, I just finished watching season four of Agents of Shield, and my word, it was an incredible ride. (Vague spoilers below, nothing major.) I’ve loved watching the trials and tribulations of these Shield agents since the show first began, but it has gradually been improving in quality to the point that this series was an absolute triumph.
My affection for the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been wearing thin recently, the novelty of so many inter-connected movies has long since worn off and now all that is left is a strong feeling of being overwhelmed and consistently unable to keep up. At least with a TV show, it is for the most part self-contained. The odd reference to the bigger universe is a bonus and easily ignored, although it’s fair to say the events of each season are affected by what happens in that big bad world.
Previous episodes have dealt with the aftermath of trying to keep a register of superhuman beings, but this series was all about something slightly more interesting – artificial intelligence and computer generated worlds. It was kind of like the Matrix, only with more interesting characters, great dialogue and pithy one-liners.
Our intrepid group of heroes have come a long way since the first series, where they were starting to uncover a dastardly plot whilst also dealing with monster-of-the-week type stories. Season four not only had an over-arching plot but it was also split into three distinct parts that all connected and disconnected and then looped back together again. It was cleverly done.
The stories are great, the acting fine, the characters are brilliant and I love the wit. On top of all that, there’s great entertainment expertly laid over the top of quite important, timely and serious ethical and moral questions. What happens when you create artificial intelligence – who is responsible for that when it goes rogue? Can you prefer a life that isn’t real over something you can’t quite remember? Should you use a higher and unknown intelligence to improve your own? Isn’t that what science is anyway, standing on the shoulders of giants?
I’ve really, really loved series four of this great show, and now, with a cliffhanger to keep us going to the series five, I’m eagerly awaiting what comes next.