We need to talk about how good ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’ is right now

Anyone who’s watched the Marvel series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” since the beginning will be the first to tell you that the series has always had an incredible cast of characters but not so incredible overarching storylines. The only time it found itself truly living up to its potential was near the end of the first season when it was affected by the cataclysmic events of “Captain America: The Winter Solider.”

Then at the end of their third season “AOS” made their greatest creative decision to date, they finally dropped the dead weight villainy of Ward and embarked on a new, fresher journey. Now in its current fourth season “AOS” is the best it’s ever been by far, especially here in its second half.

The Ghost Rider portion of the season was strong, but then the introduction of a little android named Aida changed the entire landscape of the series. The LMD (Life Model Decoy) storyline took off and for the first time “AOS” became something it’s never been before, consistently compelling. The LMD lead to the Framework which lead to where we are now one week before the season finale.

The storylines have been poignant, timely (hello commentary on the U.S. political landscape) and well-written every single week. Each week you’re left on the edge of your seat eagerly awaiting what comes next.

And because of that quality writing the actors have all been on fire this season. Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen have always had incredible chemistry, but it’s seemingly increased tenfold this year. Chloe Bennett has added more layers to the enigma that is Daisy Johnson. Henry Simmons has finally been given the chance to build Mack’s backstory, including his relationship with his brother and the heartbreaking loss of his infant daughter. Elizabeth Henstridge more than proved her acting chops last season when Jemma found herself trapped on a planet alone, but has brought her ability in emotional scenes to even more heightened levels this season.

And then there are the two biggest standouts of the year. The two who frankly could win awards for their performances this season if the Emmys would every actually acknowledge a show like this: Iain De Caestecker and Mallory Jansen. For years we’ve seen De Caestecker play the sweet, monkey obsessed genius Fitz, this year however he was tasked with playing a version of Fitz that was cold, ruthless and downright evil. A task he achieved chillingly well. Watching the Fitz of the Framework has almost been like watching a completely different actor take on the part.

Jansen on the other hand has been evolving a character that could have been nothing more than a robot into a terrifying creature all season long. From Aida the seemingly simple LMD to Agnes the completely kind and normal human to Aida the threatening, overpowering LMD to Madame Ophelia Hydra and now to the terrifyingly human and destructive Ophelia, Jansen has been an evolving revolution to watch. In one season on the series Jansen has managed to create a more dynamic and interesting villain than Ward was in three entire seasons. The woman has given a more than Emmy worthy performance all year long.

Next week the epic season comes to a close, though I’d say it’s a safe bet some things may be left on the cliffhanger, with what will likely be the best season finale it’s had to date. “AOS” has yet to be renewed for a fifth season, which would be a bad call on ABC’s part if it doesn’t. Hopefully it’ll receive renewal in the next few days before upfronts and if you’re one of those people who dropped the series during its slower times take the summer to get back into it; it’s more than worth it.

“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” airs its season four finale Tuesday, May 16 @ 10/9c.

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