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Agents of SHIELD Has Never Needed the Marvel Cinematic Universe

2018 is proving to be a big year for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In addition to being the 10-year anniversary of the whole enterprise, an occasion celebrated via Avengers: Infinity War, February's Black Panther proved to be an even bigger hit than anyone could've anticipated, and may possibly wind up with an Oscar campaign when everything is said and done. Over on the TV side of things, Jessica Jones' sophomore season has just dropped and dominated the conversation for the weekend, and Luke Cage's second outing isn't far behind, with a release date in June.

All of these were to be expected, but one event that certainly wasn't was this week's episode of Agents of SHIELD, which also serves as the series' 100th episode.

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In this day and age, any show getting to air at least 50 episodes seems like a Herculean task in and of itself. When taken ABC's relationship with Marvel into consideration -- the messy treatment of Inhumans, last season of Agents of SHIELD originally under the threat of cancellation -- it's a miracle that the MCU's first foray to the small screen has managed to stick around for half a decade at all. The show has always been the odd one out among the various arms of the MCU -- it's got considerable less scale and budget than the films, but at the same time, considerably more ambition than the Netflix shows have shown, along with a stronger connection, albeit one still downplayed. It's... weird.

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RELATED: Did Agents of SHIELD Just Set Up the Thunderbolts?

Then again, if there were any word to describe the first season of SHIELD, "weird" would certainly be it. At times, it felt like the show was going out of its way to make sure viewers absolutely knew it was tied to the MCU, dropping names and references that came off as so shameless, even Ready Player One's recent posters would call them out on it. And when the show revealed its true intentions in the aftermath of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it felt like the show had evolved into the spy v. spy caper that it wanted to be. Until that game changer of an episode, it was coasting largely on the goodwill of The Avengers from over a year ago -- however intentional or not. Still, even if the show did pick up after a dozen plus episodes, it couldn't be denied that the fact that it couldn't spread its wings until the first season was nearly over is not a selling point in the show's favor.

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