Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can't seem to make up its mind on what kind of show it wants to be. It's advertised as a sort of Men In Black-esque look at the Marvel universe's human cleaning crew, but it operates more as a police procedural with the occasional larger than life guest star to keep the comic fans happy. For a show whose creators claim to not be trying to make a Marvel movie every week, they sure are trying to make a Marvel movie every week. We all knew that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was going to have a more profound effect on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. than any other Marvel movie that came before it, but it turns out that we were right to be a little wary about how well they would live up to Captain America 2's high expectations.
Spoilers for Captain America ahead. Tuesday night's episode was like a high-stakes game of Where's Waldo? Finding the traitor in their midst when everyone's dressed and acting like a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and everyone's acting sketchy and hiding something was a lot like combing through one of those giant images of hundreds of people crawling over each other just to find that one kid in the red and white striped shirt. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did their best to keep everything suspenseful, of course. Every time you thought you had the answer, they'd turn around and point fingers at someone else.
All of that sounds a lot more exciting than it actually was. If you've watched Captain America, then you can follow the plot of the episode and realize just how screwed the team is, but you also end up expecting a little more. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is usually half-mystery, half-police procedural and "Turn, Turn, Turn" was, well, half-mystery, half-police procedural. Sure, the stakes were higher, but they didn't feel anywhere near as high as in the movie. For a show that's supposed to take place in an organization that we've just learned has been corrupt from its conception, about characters that basically gave up their entire lives to work there, watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can feel consistently underwhelming.
I still can't decide how we're supposed to feel about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's not supposed to be a Marvel movie nor is it supposed to just fill in the blanks between Marvel movies, but then it turns around and aspires to do both. "Turn, Turn, Turn" felt like an addendum to The Winter Soldier rather than a good work in its own right. At this point, I'm really wondering if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is ever going to crawl out of the shadow of the movies. Or if it even wants to.