If you told me seven years ago that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (MAOS) would be on its seventh season I would not believe you. It’s not that I thought that the TV series could not be successful despite its rocky first season start. I just thought they couldn’t create a story that could span seven seasons, especially after Captain America: The Winter Soldier got rid of the original reason for the series by destroying S.H.I.E.L.D. The show was an underdog from the very start with no big stars, nowhere near the funding Marvel Cinematic Universe movies were getting and having to make sure their story wasn’t stepping on the shoes of the Marvel Mastermind, Kevin Feige. Yet somehow it worked and here are my speculations as to why it did?
Spoiler warning: I’ll try to limit the spoilers but there are some which I can’t avoid.
The Winter Soldier
As I already mentioned season one was nothing to be excited out. After the big shock of Coulson (Clark Gregg) being resurrected, the first half of season one played out like a disaster TV show. By this I mean, where each episode is essentially the same structure of a team solving a problem. Tensions rise, there’s a bit of character development and then at the end they finally come up with a solution just in the nick of time. Scorpion, Zoo and most Arrowverse shows (at least at the beginning) are perfect examples of this. While there is nothing wrong with this trope, it does get boring after a while.
But then came the second Captain America film rocking up the entire series. The show was still in its first season and S.H.I.E.L.D, or at least S.H.I.E.L.D as we knew it at the time, imploded after the revelation that Hydra was still alive and within in the organisation the entire time. I think the way they handled this on the show was how they started to hook their audiences. It showed the real-time effects of such a revelation. Colleagues turning on colleagues, friends turning on friends. The revelation of Hydra was a bigger shock and betrayal in MAOS. In addition, after this, the show mostly got rid of the disaster trope trying to connect more missions and storylines together and branching with its own stories, not just following the MCU. Ironically, the end of S.H.I.E.L.D was the best thing for the show.
Changing of sub-genres
Something I think makes the series stand out is its changing of sub-genres within the Sci-Fi genre. While most Sci-Fi shows pick a sub-genre such as time-travelling, space-exploring or superheroes, MAOS does them all. It starts off as a spy thriller before going deeper into special abilities area of the Marvel Universe. They fight off against aliens and end up having some of their later seasons in space. There’s time-travel and fighting Ais and even a little bit of the supernatural in terms of magic and ghosts. For a series that started off very basic, it has a very complicated story by the time we get to season seven which I think kept audiences watching. You couldn’t really say every single season is the same. The turns were in a way unexpected yet somehow linked to key moments in the MCU story from Thanos attacking Earth to the aftermath of Thor: The Dark World. For Marvel fans, it is like a dive into the Marvel lore alongside the MCU.
Alongside Coulson, there are several characters which you are able to connect to over the seven seasons. From the ice-cold badass Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) to the innocent intelligent science duo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). Like I already mentioned, your attachment to these characters makes the events of the MCU have a bigger impact. From the Sokovia Accords after Civil War to well the Hydra revelation. It is delightful to see the growth in the characters especially from Chloe Bennet’s character Skye. There is plenty of diversity within the cast and they all play their roles brilliantly.
Overall it is a great story
I think my favourite aspects of the series is how well the story is put together. Although, MAOS started off in the MCU but now has almost become its own universe (especially since the movie makers ignore its existence). Many of the small story elements from the earlier seasons are brought back or referenced to in a big way in the later seasons and the creators have spent the last few seasons tying off several story arcs. I am sure it is not perfect and there is probably a mistake or two but on a whole, the story is an incredible journey.
Which brings us to why it should be ending now
Not only is it good that MAOS gets to end on its own terms instead of a surprise cancellation, now is the best time for the show to end. For starters, the writers originally set it up so that they could end on season 5 before getting an extra two seasons which allowed them to close up character arcs and storylines. It is the last Marvel TV series to end before the rise of the Disney+ MCU Marvel series. Finally, the series, albeit distant, has always been somewhat linked to the MCU and with that entering a new chapter, it would be good to let MAOS end its story alongside the Infinity Saga. As we say goodbye to most of the original Avengers we will also be saying goodbye to the incredible characters of MAOS (unless Marvel decides to stop being cowards and finally feature them properly in their films). The series was an underdog from the start and somehow pulled together seven seasons. I am sad to see it go but in a way happy with the journey I got to go through. This was written before seeing season seven so can neither confirm nor deny whether it goes Game of Thrones but it still has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomato so that’s hopeful.