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REVIEW: Slingshot (Marvel Digital Series)

Is it weird that one of the most delightful episodes of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. this year wasn’t even technically an episode of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D?

For all of the people that may be a bit bummed when the fast-paced, high-action, format of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. means that certain smaller details or sub-plots can’t be explored, Slingshot is the perfect Marvel treat for you!

Because in a season with Ghost Rider, the likelihood of ever being able to see Elena track down her cousin’s killer on the big screen was, and is, slim-to-none.

Thankfully, Marvel has kept with its tradition of providing high-quality, visual treats to hold viewers over during the Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. hiatus. And, while last year I quite enjoyed seeing fans of the show compete for a spot on the show (enjoyed in an admittedly supremely jealous kind of way) I far prefer seeing what my favorite characters got up to during that massive 6 month time jump between seasons 3 and 4.

I suppose the only thing that makes it acceptable that YoYo wasn’t in every episode of 4A is the fact that she got an entire digital series devoted to her. I don’t think I’m the only person surprised that Natalia Cordova-Buckley hasn’t been made a series regular yet and, similarly, I doubt I’m alone in thinking that Slingshot makes it clear that she should be.

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As mentioned, the series focuses on Elena’s desire to seek vengeance against the man responsible for her cousin’s death. The personal mission allows viewers the opportunity to watch YoYo use skills other than her super-speed that aren’t as commonly shown in AoS. Though May might view her as being a, “terrible spy,” Elena manages to circumnavigate most of S.H.I.E.L.D. (c’mon, the Cavalry is on her own level) to track down her cousin’s killer. We truly get to see her in her element, both in a physical and comedic sense, and get some interesting insight into how far Elena is willing to go in life-and-death situations.

A character who has always vocalized the importance of faith, YoYo’s morals were pushed to the limit in Slingshot and explored in a way that hasn’t really been plausible on Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

While Slingshot was naturally all about YoYo, the integration of the rest of our favorites made this digital series successful at emphasizing the best aspect of its mother show: the ensemble.

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While the ensemble feel of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. was put on the back burner this year in favor of splitting the team and focusing on Robbie and his numerous demons, Slingshot manages to zero in on one character while appropriately using all of the others to further the  story. It feels a bit blasphemous to say but I think Slingshot may have actually managed this appropriation of screen time and character interaction better than S.H.I.E.L.D!

Not that I didn’t love every minute of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season! I’m just pointing out that 4A was a drastic departure from the ensemble dynamic that viewers are used to. In this respect of putting focus on one individual while cohesively incorporating everyone else, Slingshot killed it. No interaction felt forced or gratuitous like a drive-by appearance for appearances sake.

It made sense that Mace would have YoYo sign the Sokovia Accords, it made sense that Coulson would give the newest member of the team he put together a pep-talk, it made sense for FitzSimmons to give her new tech for the field, it made sense for Mack to get his flirt on, it made sense for May to be the only decent spy on the base, and it made sense for Daisy to help Elena take on the Watchdogs.

Interestingly, Slingshot felt very much like the first season of the show from which it was spun from. Having a mini-mission serve as the main focus of the series (which, when watched in its entirety feels like a single episode) is a fun callback to the format of AoS Season 1, as are the character dynamics that are briefly shown. Coulson is no longer the man in charge, Daisy is rogue, FitzSimmons are bickering like an old married couple, and, arguably the biggest character, S.H.I.E.L.D. itself is once again a strict hierarchy running on a need-to-know, follow protocol, basis.

It’d be impossible for Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. to do a full reset back to Season 1, but having Slingshot incorporate the original tone while simultaneously setting up certain aspects of Season 4 is a genuinely cool way of combining new and old. That coupled with the wry smirks, consistent comedic timing, and internal struggles of the newest S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit makes Slingshot a fun amalgam of the best aspects of each season of AoS.

It seems pretty clear that the original intention for Slingshot was to release it in weekly installments until Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns January 10th (*cough* 10/9c on ABC). For the record, I’m normally in the, “Gimme gimme!” camp when it comes to the releasing of new stuff pertaining to my favorite shows. I’m one of the sacrilegious people who has NO problem reading or seeing spoilers and tend to be wholly supportive of getting any content I can as fast as I can.

Having said that, Slingshot is perhaps the first thing that I genuinely believe could have easily maintained interest if dropped in its episodic installments. This isn’t the type of digital series that is underproduced or haphazardly thrown together in comparison to its parent show. This is a Marvel production and, despite the shortened amount of footage, nothing about Slingshot feels less than any other product of Marvel… Which is why I think that dropping each of the mini-episodes on a weekly basis could have made it equally, if not more, successful.

Again, I’m not at all upset that we were treated to all glorious 20+ minutes of Slingshot at once. I’m just saying that it’s of such a high caliber that it could have easily been something that I’d excitedly refresh my browser for each Tuesday. This series is one that I would have unquestionably looked forward to and, should additional episodes be produced in the future, I’m just putting it out there that weekly installments aren’t something that should be shied away from. In fact, a weekly format might actually rack up the views.

Surely I wouldn’t be the only one watching each episode multiple times in preparation for the next.

Series Highs:

  • Though oft-overlooked by the head honchos, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. has always been the crowning jewel of Marvel in terms of diversity. To see a Latin superhero as the titular character of a series is something that should have happened long ago but I’m not at all surprised that the minds of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. are the people who finally made it happen. Natalia Cordova-Buckley became a fan-favorite almost the instant she was first introduced to the Marvel Universe in, “Bouncing Back,” and the fact that viewers have praised her and YoYo so much is a clear indicator that there’s absolutely no excuse for other shows/films/etc. not to follow S.H.I.E.L.D’s lead and bring people of all ethnicities to the forefront. Slingshot holds far more importance than many of the MCU films, simply because it is reflective of the real world rather than the exclusively white one that Hollywood still hasn’t realized does not exist.
  • The callback to the plasma blaster from the first season of Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. was great! As was the nod to the late, great, Peggy Carter… as was the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Stan Lee pseudo-cameo.

Series Lows:

  • While saying some of the characters were out of character seems a little extreme, the limited amount of screentime for each did make them feel slightly off.
  • NOT ENOUGH EPISODES! Is it too soon to petition Marvel for more Slingshot installments? And perhaps a comic book companion as well? Perhaps Joe Quesada could write it…

All 6 installments of Slingshot are available for your viewing pleasure! You can watch over on the ABC site or through Marvel’s YouTube channel! Be sure to check them out and let us know what you thought of the digital series on Twitter or in the comments below!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen

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