So, Agents of SHIELD. I’ve been watching it since the start, and… well it took quite a while to get going, and I almost gave up a few times, but over the past few weeks it’s really, really gotten rather good.
However, I do have something of a complaint. Or an improvement, perhaps. Be wary, spoilers, for the past… month’s episodes or so. Since Turn, Turn, Turn.
Anyways, a few episodes ago, they had an episode which was running concurrently with the events of The Winter Soldier (which was an excellent film that I’d really recommend) where SHIELD is more or less destroyed from the inside by Hydra. One of the revelations during this episode was that Grant Ward, who was one of the main characters, was in fact working with Hydra.
Okay, fine, sure. Wasn’t entirely convinced, but it seemed going to be going in an interesting direction, so I went with it.
But the problem I have is that he – and the other Hydra characters – seem to be being portrayed as standard miscellaneous bad guys. The plot from The Winter Soldier doesn’t really have any effect on things, and I’m not wholly sure what the aim of Garrett and Ward really is.
What I’d prefer is if they were made not to be bad guys per se, but rather simply antagonists. It was kinda summed up in this weeks episode, where Skye calls Ward a Nazi, because of course that’s who Hydra originally were, and he responds incredulously “What? No, of course not, things have changed since then. I’m just a spy, doing my job”. Or words to that effect anyway.
The “I’m just a spy, doing my job” bit was particularly interesting to me, because I’m not actually convinced that Ward is acting any different now that we know he’s Hydra than he was before. He’s certainly killed people before as part of his job, when he appeared to be working for SHIELD, and no one really cared. The only difference really is who he’s killing. And there seemed to be a few scenes after the reveal where we’re meant to believe he does still care about his old team mates.
So… I guess what I’d like is more of a legitimate ideology for Hydra, and more of a reason why they’re doing what they’re doing, how some Agents became to be part of Hydra. Ideally, if there’s a way for them to convince some of the audience to be more sympathetic to Hydra than SHIELD, that could actually be quite interesting. (And you’ve got one of those social media tie-ins everyone loves these days. #HydravsShield maybe?)
SHIELD as an agency was always depicted in shades of grey… and they’re similar shades to Hydra, I think. I can actually think of a couple of interesting parallels between Pierce in The Winter Soldier and Fury in The Avengers, so… why not explore them?
It’d be far, far more interesting than the generic bad guys with no motivation that we ended up with.
Note in 2018: I suspect this would have aged poorly anyway, but obviously four years on the question of Nazis in fiction is a very different one. Aspects of the above I would probably still stand by, or at least think it’s a defensible position in 2014. But, still, it is a bit hmm, isn’t it?