For a lot of fans, last night's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season finale delivered, but not for Jim Steranko.
SPOILERS ahead for last night's finale, obviously.
Steranko, a comics legend who crafted some of the most influential Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. stories ever published by Marvel Comics, has been writing personal reviews of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. all season long for The Hollywood Reporter, and he's never been shy when it comes to criticizing a show based on an organization he helped build. Steranko's not all about spitting venom at the series, though. He also seems to geniunely care about making it better, so much so that he's offered up his own plan for how to reshape it. Since he hasn't gotten a call to come help the series (yet), though, Steranko is left with only his observations at this point, and while he found a few things he liked in last night's season finale, "Beginning of the End," his overall impression was of a season that ended "with a whimper."
Steranko's main complaint centered on the episode's reliance on setting up potential new stories for season two (Skye's parentage, the Gravitonium, the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D., etc.) rather than resolving the storylines that had been set up all season long. Sure, some things were resolved, but not enough for Steranko's taste, particularly in light of how long the show took to get to the events of the finale in the first place.
"After 22 episodes of 'sanctified' plot and character crumbs being salted with terminally-sluggish velocity (into anemic 'standalone' stories) and the promise of paying off the Whedonesque tangle of intrapersonal detritus, the season wrapped instead with another disappointing layer of warmed-over potholes, carrots, and hooks," Steranko wrote.
Steranko did note at least a couple of things he liked, including May's defeat of Ward in a hand-to-hand fight, and Fury's entrance from above to rescue Fitz and Simmons, but in the end what he was impressed with was far outweighed by a sense that the show just didn't deliver on all of the promise it was building up over the past few weeks. For him, too little got resolved, and too much got rolled over into next season, to the point that the episode felt like a teaser.
"Didn’t those of us who hung in, kept our fingers crossed, and hoped for at least a modicum of closure deserve something more than a preview of next season’s shellgame antics? And OMG -- another year of Who-Is-Skye? teasers! Frankly, she is not compelling enough to shoulder the series, no matter what Coulson scratches on the wall," he wrote.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be back in the fall with another season of adventures. We don't know yet if Steranko will return to review season two, but as we look back on the last few months, we can say he certainly contributed plenty to the often-polarizing critical conversation surrounding the show.
What do you think? Is Steranko right about the finale?