The ninth episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series, titled “Repairs” (read our review) wraps up with a light-weight scene that illustrates how the main characters have each found their place as members of a family unit; and, in turn, how the series’ co-creators Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon – who are managing things since Jed’s brother Joss is busy preparing to shoot The Avengers: Age of Ultron – have started to get a hold on how to create a proper dynamic amongst heroes without super-powers (in a world where giant green men, super-soldiers and ‘gods’ exist).
According to TVLine, the upcoming 14th episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will introduce two additional recurring characters into the mix, described as “an African-American agent who specializes in combat/weapons, and a high-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent/munitions expert who has past ties to both Coulson and Ward.
One of the stronger (and earliest) episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., titled “Eye Spy”, features a character (Pascale Armand) who knew Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) before his (ahem) memorable encounter with Loki, which resulted to a brief, yet telling exchange between she and Agent May (Ming-Na Wen); something that paid off in later episodes, as the show’s writing staff began paying closer attention to the relationship between May and Coulson (and their history together).
In other words, introducing yet another agent who knows a thing or two about the old Coulson doesn’t sound like a bad idea, especially if it sows equally rich benefits down the line.
Moreover, if nothing else the peek we got into Agent Ward’s (Brett Dalton) memory – from the Thor: The Dark World tie-in episode, “The Well” – suggested that we could use more insight into his backstory (and, in turn, what molded him into the man he is today) than just vague details about his tumultuous childhood at the hands of his abusive brother. This new character might prove to be a clean solution to that problem.
As for the new “African-American agent who specializes in combat/weapons”: we’ve been saying since the pilot episode that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to diversify a little, so this could be a means to accomplish that end. Mind you, we’re not talking strictly in terms of race – though it will be nice to see a recurring black character after memorable appearances by Pascale Armand and Whedon-verse veteran J. August Richards (who returns in episode 10, “The Bridge”) – but largely in terms of personality, in order to get this series fully working as the “Firefly 2.0” TV show that it clearly wants to be.
Mind you, there’s no guarantee that these new agent character additions won’t prove to be cookie-cutter archetypes; or, in the case of the individual with ties to Coulson and Ward, a convenient excuse to keep stringing viewers along with breadcrumbs that lead to Coulson’s deep dark secret being revealed at last.
However, sometimes what a show needs to really hit its proper stride is to incorporate fresh blood into the ensemble, which can greatly benefit the core character dynamic as a whole. (For example: NBC’s comedy series Parks and Recreation arguably improved by leaps and bounds as a whole, once Adam Scott and Rob Lowe has been added to the cast.)
Besides, part of the idea behind Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is to provide a more intimate examination of the inner-workings of the eponymous organization than is feasible in a Marvel Cinematic Universe release like, say, the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier; and thus, offer fans the proper background they want, leading up to the developments in that “Phase 2” movie. In order to do that, the show will have to continue expanding its gaze to the other people who’re employed by S.H.I.E.LD. – and who have not been flying around on Coulson’s high-tech plane (before now).
Agents of Shield returns on Tuesday, December 10th with “The Bridge” @8pm on ABC.