This Agents of SHIELD review is spoiler-free.
Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Episode 1
Fans of Agents of SHIELD are used to fall premieres and twenty-two episodes for their beloved show that lives on the fringes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so they may be wondering what a shortened summer season looks like and if it will have the same impact as previous runs. Fortunately, the series has not lost its edge; in fact it feels much tighter, like a season 4 “pod” from the Ghost Rider days that most remember fondly. Roles have shifted and the scope has broadened, but the rebuilding of the SHIELD organization feels like a logical next step in a story that allows this strong ensemble cast to really highlight each character’s evolution.
For example, Daisy, who has certainly had a long journey towards realizing her Inhuman powers, has truly become Quake in Agents of SHIELD season 6. Rather than using her powers to pummel people, decimate her surroundings, or impact the ground to jump onto the roof of a building, she appears to have fine-tuned her abilities to more closely resemble the Quake of the comics, shaking apart weapons, for example, to intimidate her enemies. In this new season that includes the aliens of the Confederacy, which gives the search for Fitz a very Guardians of the Galaxy-like feel right from the get-go.
The investigation into the whereabouts of their cryo-frozen friend will keep part of the team separated from Earth, but Agents of SHIELD excels at maintaining separate storylines quite skillfully, and with favorite recurring agents Piper and Davis along for the ride with Daisy and Jemma, there’s potential for plenty of adventure onboard the Zephyr. This particular story arc takes a surprising turn at the end of the very first episode, so from that standpoint alone, the season will begin with enough unexpected twists to satisfy the most scrutinizing viewer.
Having led SHIELD in the past, Director Mackenzie is definitely in his element from the start, and it’s clear that the year that has passed since the events of last season’s finale has allowed him to grow into his role with May having returned from Tahiti to recruit quite a few new personnel to man the Lighthouse HQ. Viewers will enjoy meeting new characters in the agency that genuinely feel like they will be more than simple redshirts as the season progresses. There are even hints of blossoming relationship dynamics early on, which provides a nice balance to the action and suspense elsewhere in the story.
The new season has at its core a new mystery that arises both from the recent trailer and the sneak peek that are already out there: who is the man wearing Phil Coulson’s face, what is his mission, and who are these Mad Max rejects accompanying him? Admirably, Agents of SHIELD doesn’t lay all of its cards out on the table right away. Although there are hints about what the new threat might be about, there’s plenty of mystery about the hows and the whys that will no doubt keep viewers guessing for the first few episodes, and that’s just how we like it.
The one drawback, at least with the premiere, is that the performances from the lead characters seem somewhat subdued at first, almost as though Agents of SHIELD is allowing for a mourning period for both Coulson and for Fitz, who may not technically be dead but is still lost. There are very few light moments in the premiere, and although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, viewers who have waited more months than usual between seasons may have hoped for a more joyous reunion. But the direction things are headed is solid from a plot standpoint, and the rest can certainly wait until later.
As always Agents of SHIELD has even more twists in store in its post credits sequence, and seasoned fans will know not to miss the “WTF” moment at the end of the premiere. With recognizable moments like this, Agents of SHIELD is back in true form with a solid foundation both for its space adventure storyline and its rebuilding of SHIELD in the face of an inexplicable new enemy. Although ABC only provided a single episode for advance reviews, the premiere, which will air at 8/7c on May 10, 2019, was definitely enough to inspire optimism about the season ahead.
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Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and voices much of our video content.