One of the things that the writers and creators of Agents of Shield do best is character development. The characters on the show are complex and nuanced and always growing and changing.
Let’s start with Director Phil Coulson. All of the characters on the show have come a long way from who they were when the show started. Phil Coulson is no different. He was a man who believed in Shield and what it stood for. It was only after he found out about the T.A.H.I.T.I program and then Hydra and Ward that it shook his faith in the organisation. Following that breach of trust, he has become a harder man, a more ruthless man. Season 1 showed him as a very skilled operative but one who could still nurture, case in point, his relationship with Skye. Their almost-father-daughter relationship was one of the best things on the show. But lately, that Coulson has been disappearing in his quest for revenge. After Rosalind’s death, Coulson lost all objectivity and became more like Ward than he would care to admit. He enlisted Hunter, who’s also the most unstable character on base for help and then proceeded to kidnap Ward’s remaining brother, Thomas and threatened him. If not for Bobbi’s interference, things could have gone very differently for Thomas. But in doing so, Coulson became the very man he despised. Even on the other planet, Coulson had Ward and could have brought him in, he was injured and Coulson already had the upper hand, instead he made a calculated decision to kill him. It wasn’t spontaneous, he had time to think about it, weigh the consequences and still went ahead, and that’s disturbing, especially if we as the audience were meant to root for him. Coulson’s actions were no different than Ward’s and that’s a troubling trend. And what’s worse is that he came back and resumed his directorship of Shield as if he hadn’t just killed a man in cold blood.
On a side note: I hated the way Rosalind just died, just when we learnt the truth about ATCU and that she was in fact trustworthy, she just gets shot. Why couldn’t she have just been injured or attacked but managed to escape? Why of all the possible alternatives for her character did the writers have to go with killing her? It seemed like a cheap shot and it only served to motivate Coulson and I think she deserved better than that.
Melinda May is probably the most consistent character on the show. When we first meet her, she is closed off and doesn’t take to Skye. She has her own demons to confront but never lets them get in the way of her duty. She is a master at compartmentalization. But over the course of time, she has become more open (in stark contrast to Coulson) She takes Skye under her wing (another relationship I loved and would love to see more of. Season 3 has been seriously remiss where the female characters’ interactions are concerned, high time it was rectified, right?) The only time she loses control was when she joins Hunter on his “let’s kill Ward” bandwagon and even then she is the one who is more in control. Her reaction after she finds out that Andrew is Lash is heartbreaking because you know that there’s a part of her that genuinely believes that she doesn’t deserve to be happy, but even there, she makes the tough call and shoots him to save those around her. Oh, and she’s a better fighter than all the men on the show and never needs to be rescued.
Jemma Simmons also underwent some drastic changes along with Fitz after Ward tried to kill them. I loved her enthusiasm and her optimism. But after what Ward did and especially what happened to Trip, she changed into someone willing to kill an Inhuman instead of subduing them. The end of the season saw her coming to terms with that to a degree (it isn’t something that the show has addressed this season) Her relationship with Fitz is more troubling. It is clear that she loves him but on her part, that love is platonic. He is her best friend and an integral part of her life but she’s not in love with him. I don’t like it when female characters are defined by their relationships with the men in their lives and increasingly that’s what’s happening with Simmons. She has been quite passive this season. To a certain extent, it makes sense, considering that not very long ago, she was suffering from acute PTSD and still suffers from it (she still carries the sharpened stick as seen in the when she uses it to cut her bindings in episode 10) I’d like to see her get back to her self-assured, confident self.
Fitz, the resident nice guy. How far he’s come especially from the trauma he suffered at the end of season 1. Season 3 is also a role reversal for him with regard to his dynamic with Simmons. But he has also come into his own, where earlier, Simmons seemed the stronger of the two, this season sees him stepping up. He is also very much in love with Simmons and while it isn’t easy for him to deal with the fact that Simmons is in love with someone else, he loves her enough to save the man who protected her when he couldn’t. And it’s that struggle that makes him so engaging and endearing. He knows he could lose her forever to that man but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
Now, onto the rest of the gang. I love Bobbi. She is awesome and kicks serious ass. She is also emotionally supportive of the others on the team. I loved her interactions with Daisy and it’s very sad that we don’t have more of those. Even her interactions with Jemma, they were refreshing because these women trusted and respected each other. I wish we had more of these interactions. Hunter is a lose cannon and very unstable. Of all the characters on the show, I like him least. He is more like a liability for Bobbi than anything else. He puts the team in jeopardy and even gambles Andrew’s life and still manages to miss. And he is annoying. Then there is Mack. He is another character who has come a long way from season 2. He is now partnered with Daisy and I love their banter. They are supportive of each other and Mack genuinely cares about her. He is also the most objective when it comes to Coulson and doesn’t hesitate to call him out on it. Lincoln is being set-up as a love interest for Daisy and I don’t know how I feel about it and that has mostly to do with his character. He is just not that interesting and while his interactions with Daisy are sweet enough, it still feels like something is missing. At this point I would happy if the writers didn’t force love interests especially since they don’t the have time for it going from one life-or-death situation to another. I am also happy with the way Daisy handled their first kiss. She didn’t overthink it or blow it out of proportion. Her attitude was, ‘fine that happened, we’ll see where this goes but in the meantime there won’t be awkwardness because we are adults and we have more important things to do.’ That was so refreshing.
I am going to tackle Daisy and Ward in a separate post because that will be a long one. Stay tuned for part 2.