It's probably too late, and it's likely not enough, but something actually happened on Agents of SHIELD last night. Don't get me wrong - the show didn't magically become a program I would actually recommend to another human being, but it did sort of become interesting in comparison to the previous nine hours of television.
Long story short: Centipede is back and they've broken Edison Poe out of jail. He's the guy who was giving orders to the Girl in the Flower Dress in the past. What does he do? Not really much of anything. He's also not a real Marvel Universe character. The big reveal here is that Centipede has stabilized their formula, so now they actually have some super soldiers running around. Because of that Coulson calls in Mike, aka J August Richards from the pilot. Mike has been training at a SHIELD base (you know, unlike Skye) and is ready to suit up and be immediately critically injured.
Then Centipede kidnaps his son and arranges a deal - they'll give the kid back if he turns himself over to them. But wait! It was a trap - they actually wanted Coulson, and Mike sells Coulson out. But after Mike gets his son to safety he runs back to rescue Coulson only to be, seemingly, killed in a big explosion Then Agent Banana Republic gets shot and Coulson gets spirited away in a helicopter. See you next year!
While there was some kind of momentum and danger at the end, the show is still missing a spark. Maybe it's the fact that this is the kind of show where, after Melinda May is mean to her Skye runs to her room and cries. Seriously. Maybe it's the fact that Mike agrees to sell out Coulson despite the fact that he could have simply brought the team into the doublecross. Maybe it's the fact that everybody is still really boring and sweet, which makes the whole show feel like it's about a bunch of roommates and not a high tech spy agency.
I don't know what it is. I was impressed that they blew up Mike, but I didn't actually care. He wasn't an interesting character and his loss had no bearing on the team - he wasn't exactly single-handedly conquering the bad guys earlier. Maybe if Mike had felt useful, or integrated into the team, I would have felt bad when he 'died' (it's a show based on comics, he can always come back), but it was a minor moment of surprise. And what SHIELD needs is for somebody to die; I wasn't on that bandwagon earlier in the season, but ten episodes in it's pretty clear this team needs a kick in the pants in a big way. Not just in the show, but in the cast. The dynamics simply aren't working. They need to be changed.
Everything else? It's still low-rent and low imagination. Super strong guys in military uniforms aren't exciting. Evil masterminds who do nothing aren't exciting. And the team's connection to SHIELD feels more and more like a joke every week; I imagine there are meetings on the Helicarrier where everybody reads the latest bullshit mission logs and laughs because this is totally Team Shortbus.
I'm going to see this show out to the end of the season just because, but if the big mid-season cliffhanger episode didn't feel like it shook anything up/moved any pieces further down the board, what's the hope for the back half of season one? But as much as I've tried, Agents of SHIELD is a show that just isn't worth liking. I have a completist mentality that will get me through for now, but I keep forgetting the show is even on. I know it's network television and should be judged on that standard, but even by that metric this show is alternately anonymously okay and absolutely boring.
Rumors have reached my ears that Marvel Studios isn't exactly enthralled with the series, which has too many network fingers dipping into it. Could this be why the show has been so low on identifiable Marvel characters? Why use Edison Poe, a new character, when there must be a hundred equivalent characters in the Marvel Universe whose inclusion would send fans scurrying to type up theories? We've reached a point where, except for the name 'SHIELD' and a reference to Captain America, this show could be Generic Feelgood Semi-Action Bullshit: The Series.