“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” May Finally Be Ending, But Why Did It Last This Long?

Matthew Loffhagen
ABC
(Photo: ABC)

It looks like it’s finally the end of the line for Phil Coulson and his crew, as the showrunners for “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” are gearing up for what is probably going to be a big, bombastic ending for the series.

While “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” hasn’t officially been cancelled yet, the writing is on the wall. The show has been moved to the dreaded Friday night slot, a move that generally precedes a cancellation, and it’s currently pulling in lower ratings than any other ABC show with the exception of “Once Upon a Time”, which has already been given its marching orders.

It seems like the creative force behind “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” are certainly preparing for the worst. According to TV Line:

“‘We are in process [of writing the finale],’ co-showrunner Jed Whedon told TVLine on Saturday at the show’s Episode 100 celebration. Added co-showrunner Maurisa Tancharoen: ‘We know what it is’.

“And what it is, Tancharoen said, could serve as ‘either’ a season or series finale.

“Whedon elaborated, ‘Yeah, we’re ready for if this is the end. We’re definitely going to make it rewarding either way’.”

Frankly, it’s not surprising that “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” might be about to wrap up. The real question is how the show managed to keep going for as long as it has!

Agents of SHIELD Season 5
Source: ABC

After all, better shows than this have been cancelled a lot earlier in their development. Based on the first half of season one, it’s a surprise anybody stuck around to watch more of “Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.” to begin with.

The world was riding high on Marvel hype following Joss Whedon’s “Avengers” (back before news of his affairs came out and he became a somewhat more problematic name in Hollywood). Everyone was excited to see a TV show set in the MCU, and while the idea of Phil Coulson inexplicably coming back from the dead felt weird and out of place, Marvel had never made a misstep yet (“Iron Man 2” doesn’t count).

Then, the show arrived, and it was clear that the entire premise had been built around the most boring part of the MCU. Instead of following superheroes, we had a team of generic, boring, one-dimensional S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that were entirely flat and lifeless.

The only interesting character in the first episode is Mike Peterson, but for whatever reason, he’s becomes an occasional guest star rather than a consistent character.

Agents of SHIELD Premiere
Source: ABC

A show built around Mike would have worked, but a show built around Skye/Daisy/Quake/Whatever drags a lot, especially in the first season. Samuel L Jackson cameos do not help as much as they should.

Then, something happened that essentially saved the show. “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” blew up S.H.I.E.L.D., instantly stripping away the premise of the entire series.

This should have been the death-knell for the show, but instead, it actually made things interesting. Suddenly, all of the big, complex, incredibly dull plot threads that were in play got burned up, and things were forced to follow the plot of the far more interesting “Winter Soldier” movie.

Over the next few seasons, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” finally managed to make the characters likeable, even if the storylines were still hit and miss. There’s been some good stuff along the way, and even if things end at this point, it’s safe to say that the show has lasted a lot longer than anybody expected.

Still, though, there is a sense of regret hanging over “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” that will never be erased.

For some reason, the genius executives at ABC decided to keep this show alive for years while instead killing off “Agent Carter”, and that will never stop hurting.

Agent Carter and Dottie Underwood
Source: ABC

Unlike “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, “Agent Carter” is instantly enjoyable, with characters that are dynamic and engaging without the benefit of years of backstory.

Alas, the show was never really given a chance, and we’re all left wondering why “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” lived when “Agent Carter” deserved the spotlight a lot more than it ever got.

Oh well. We can all hope for a Hayley Atwell cameo in “Infinity War”, and in the meantime, we can hope that the team behind “Agents of  S.H.I.E.L.D.” manage to go out with a bang if this really is the end of the line for Phil Coulson.

Maybe the show can have a third Samuel L Jackson appearance, just to tie things together? That’d be nice.