Sunday, July 12, 2020

"AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.": Conflict Within


I just finished a re-watch of the Season Two "AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D." episode, (2.15) "One Door Closes". I really enjoyed the flashbacks featuring the experiences of Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie, Bobbi Morse and Robert Gonzales on the day S.H.I.E.L.D. fell in (1.17) "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER". But looking at the "S.H.I.E.L.D. agents v. real S.H.I.E.L.D." story arc from Season Two - I now realize that it was one of the major reasons why I disliked that season so much.

For me, that story arc was just stupid beyond belief. After watching Bobbi, Mack, Gonzales and Isabelle Hartley survive the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., I found myself incapable of rooting for the series' main protagonists - Phil Coulson and his team. In fact, I could not. It was not hard to be upset over the mistrust that Gonzales’ team held toward Agent Skye aka Daisy Johnson and other Inhumans without getting to know them. I found some of Gonzales’ comments about Fury a little hard to swallow as well. Fury had his faults, but he did not have a God’s complex. I also felt that Gonzales, Anne Weaver and the others from the agency’s different factions should have contacted Coulson from the beginning. But I also found Coulson’s unwillingness to really work with Gonzales and the others without being the agency’s top dog even more hard to swallow.

What exactly was wrong with Coulson working on the same committee as Gonzales and Weaver? Coulson kept claiming that the agency could only be managed by one person at the top. And since Fury had selected him to be the Agency's new director in the Season One finale, (1.22) "Beginning of the End", he felt he was that one person. Apparently, Coulson, who had worked for S.H.I.E.L.D. since he left school, had forgotten that the agency had been managed by more than one person before Howard Stark’s death in December 1991.

Stark, Peggy Carter and their former wartime commander, Chester Phillips had served as the agency’s leaders for a little over 20 years until the latter’s death around the beginning of the 1970s. For a period of 20 to 21 years, both Peggy and Howard ran S.H.I.E.L.D., with HYDRA mole Mitchell Carson almost completing the triumvirate. It was during this latter period when Coulson had joined the agency. Only from December 1991 - the time of Stark’s death - to the present day, was S.H.I.E.L.D. led by one person. Peggy Carter was the first, solely leading the agency until her retirement. Alexander Pierce became the next sole director, followed by Nick Fury. The latter appointed Coulson as the next S.H.I.E.L.D. director to succeed him, unaware of Gonzales, Weaver and a few others had formed a committee to manage their own S.H.I.E.L.D. organization. For a day or two, Mack succeeded Coulson as the new director during mid-Season Three, until the latter resumed the position. Then Coulson stepped down as Director following the defeat of HIVE in the Season Three finale, (3.22) "Ascension". Jeffrey Mace became the fourth S.H.I.E.L.D. Director until his death in the Season Four episode, (4.18) "No Regrets". Coulson resumed the position of Director for the rest of Season Four and throughout Season Five (with the exception of a few episodes during which Daisy Johnson served as acting Director), until his second death after that season's finale, (5.22) "The End". Mack permanently became the current director by the end of that episode.

During a rough period of 28 out of 71 years, S.H.I.E.L.D. had only one leader. Coulson had been with S.H.I.E.L.D. long enough to know this. But his ego and blind adherence to Fury’s words would not allow him to accept this. As for Gonzales, Weaver and other leaders of the agency’s other faction; their prejudices against enhanced beings - fueled by HYDRA using one to attack Weaver on the day of the agency’s fall - had blinded them to the possibility that not all enhanced beings were a threat.

I realized that Coulson had made his peace with Gonzales, Weaver and the S.H.I.E.L.D. committee before Season Two ended. But honestly? This whole story arc was a cock up from the beginning and completely unnecessary. And it proved to be one of the main reasons why I disliked Season Two of "AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D." so much.

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