Sunday, 25 June 2017
T.V. REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.-Season 4
Ghost In The S.H.I.E.L.D.
22 Episodes. Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons, John Hannah, Mallory Jansen, Jason O'Mara, Parminder Nagra, Zach McGowan, Gabriel Luna & Brett Dalton. Creator: Joss Whedon.
"What a run"! Ming Na-Wen's Agent Melinda May exhaustedly tells Clark Gregg's Agent Phil Caulson in the penultimate episode of Season 4 of Marvel's 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D'. And it really has been one hell of one. This just may be the best season of the 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' series yet. Hail Marvel! After the first series trilogy, this season of three acts stepped it up with a Ghost in the S.H.I.E.L.D. machine, some 'Man In The Hydra Castle' alternate reality bytes and a hell of a lot of paranoid androids for you Radioheads. With so much drama on the ABC it's hard being Clark G.R.E.G.G. Who needs to account for Netflix's Defenders now (chill...it's just a joke)? No matter how good they are. Especially with a 'Legion' of 'Gifted' sub-series coming from the first three letters of the alphabet network as Marvel are getting all 'Cloak & Dagger' before they finally do release their strand of 'Inhuman' DNA. If only the originator 'Agent Carter' wonderous woman could have survived to suit up and join in. D.C.'s 'Flash', 'Green Arrow', 'Supergirl' and 'Gotham' beware. You thought you were winning the small-screen war you were reduced to by direct, alternating currents. But these are the legends of tomorrow. Just like Stan Lee's best. The billionaire, playboy philantropist, the green guy, the guy with the hammer and the guy that leads with the shield. But this is S.H.I.E.L.D. As big as Ant-Man checking his extra leg-room in at airports (don't forget the orange slices). As cosmic-mystical mystifying as the Sorcerer Supreme. And of course legendary like your friendly, neighbourhood, 'Homecoming' Peter Parker. This has got as much claws as the cat from Wakanda with adamantium ones. And between the trenches of 'Captain America-Civil War' and 'Avengers: Infinity War' next year comes the lucky 'Logan', 'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2', 'Spider-Man' and 'Thor-Ragnarok' year that with this season going forth and the 'Iron Fist' streaming 'Defenders' in 2017 (and lets not forget 'The Punisher' anti-hero for our sins) makes for one of the biggest calenders of blockbusting Marvel magic yet. This is not a phase. This is legend Lee.
'Avenger' assembler and 'Justice League' stand-in Joss Whedon and his brother Jed know how to weave all the strands of narrative thread into a cohesive half-year yarn for super-comic, cult purists. As this season strategically deals with themes and metaphors of creation, existence, our warped sense of reality, sins of the devil and even the outsider, alienating ideas influenced by immigration issues in Trump's xenophobic and racist-ravaged America. WOW! Who knew a superhero show from the creators of 'Buffy' could drive such a subliminal stake through the demonic heart of our oppressors...and do it all so subtley. But remember there's so much more at stake here from a show that originates from the old fashioned stars and stripes of just another skinny kid from Brookyln who bucked Hitler in the jaw. And it all comes from a shadow league team of spies that are depleted (see: 'Spies Gooodbye'...snif), but never defeated. Lead by sassy as he wants to be Agent Caulson. Clark Gregg is still as wonderful a person as Tahiti is a place. And then of course there's Ming-Na Wen's stern but sterling Agent May character. Kicking ass and inspiring as much "it's going to be May" memes on the last day of June as Justin Timberlake. Flanked by the Fitz/Simmons love-in of great Scot's Ian De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge taking the 'It's Complicated' status to a whole new wireless level and the axe shotgun of strong-man, Mack, Henry Simmons who brings a blunderbuss of evoking Yo-Yoing emotions to this seasons proceedings powerfully. And then of course there's Daisy, the Ridley of this S.H.I.E.L.D. ship like Sigourney. The Sky high talent of Chloe Bennett has all bad guys quaking in their boots with her black suit and Widow making powers. Except one...
"I'm not the one who decides", angel of the devil Gabriel Luna answers Quake's claim that he shouldn't determine the fate of who lives and dies in L.A. As his face burns and melts all the way away into a flaming skull that sets this season aflame with an outstanding opening and Marvel moment never seen before. Big screen or T.V. That's some pretty convincing C.G. brought with that Downey Jr., Tony Stark 'Iron Man' money. Yep that's right! Luna is the great, cult, punishing anti-hero, the Ghost Rider. But he's no Harley, Nic Cage-son chopper riding Johnny Blaze (but just you Easter Egg wait). He's the Mexican Reys, stalking and riding the storm drains of the City of Lost Angels like a devil. Hell to white squared zip-up leather, in a Dodge licking flames like a viper. Driving angry, getting real fast and oh so furious in his lava like Nitrus injected Camaro. Charging this character arc up by the crossed bones, Gabriel's cursed Robbie character is easily the greatest gift of this series. So much so we can't wait for a wheel-spin spin-off changing lanes like he shifts gears. Flipping th script like he habitual does his set of keys. This Rider is off the flaming chain. But he's not the only Ghost who haunts this fall season of Darkhold demonics by the ancient book. Like original (90's) 'The Mummy' star John Hannah who wants to make human nature and artifact with his electric sheep like android dream. Piloted by his machine muse Aida, played perfectly by Aussie actress Mallory Jansen who played life-model Helena Christensen, former love of late, great frontman Michael Hutchence in the INXS biopic mini-series, 'Never Tear Us Apart'. Here she is note perfect like that classic songs iconic bass and sax. And has a real "hench" man in the formidable form of famous voice actor Zach McGowan, who cracked Mickey Rourke's Whiplash character for the 'Iron Man 2' video game. Here he plays the Superior standard, Russian Bradley Cooper lookalike villain obsessed with vodka (I know!) chased by onion (really?). Lucky for S.H.I.E.L.D. Rogers juiced up Patriot Jason O'Mara has the iron will to launch them in a new direction. Even if some senators want to stand in his inhumanity way. Like former 'E.R.' standout Parminder Nagra reuniting with Ming-Na and bending the rules like Beckham. All this and the brilliant Brett Dalton's dashing, but creepily charismatic and compelling Grant Ward returns to the hive for a few cameo episodes like we wish he was back for real, permanently. "Wait...what?! How?! Why?!" We hear you cry! Well we've already said too much and you don't want to spoil the sweet surprise. But if that was really the case you'd unfollow them on Instagram. As 'Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.' goes from 'Ghost Rider' to 'Agents Of Hydra' like a 'L.M.D.' trip this Marvel has plenty under the table for everyone to deal with before its fantastic season four finale which will make five famous ('Agents Of S.W.O.R.D.' anyone!?). So put your feet up and binge watch this one if you haven't already kept up to date, week to week. And please Phil surely it's time to crack open that bottle of Hague!? TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Agent Carter', 'Daredevil', 'Jessica Jones'.