Emmy-nominated in the Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series category, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot” contains everything TV viewers are looking for nowadays: short run times, interesting characters and fandom tie-ins. “Slingshot” is centered around fan-favorite “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” character Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova), who has the ability to speed-run for the length of a heartbeat and return back to the place she began. The series takes place before the fourth season of the original show and consists of six short episodes, each shorter than 10 minutes long and featuring one or members of the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” cast.
What makes “Slingshot” so attractive and appealing to viewers — both existing “S.H.I.E.L.D.” fans and others looking for an inroad to a large franchise — is how it gives a voice and stronger story to a character whose superhero abilities and potential for narrative development were not being utilized as much. Due to time constraints on primetime television and already so many storylines interwoven into the original show, “Slingshot” allows for Yo-Yo’s story to shine and the beloved Emmy-nominated special effects team from“S.H.I.E.L.D.” to take the lead on a smaller-scale story. Each of Yo-Yo’s interactions with the other characters also shows a different side of the existing characters, highlighting very personal, telling interactions between the Latina superhero and each team member.
While “Slingshot” is great for viewers who want to get a taste of what they might see on “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” it still does work most effectively for viewers who are familiar with the source material. Because the plot does essentially tie directly into the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” and Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline (most specifically, Sokovia Accords and Daisy’s return to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team), seasoned viewers will get the most enjoyment out of this show. Due to the brevity of the series (and who’s to say if there will be a follow-up), it can be easy for viewers to get lost in the lack of grounding because of the rapidity of character interactions. Nevertheless, if you’re willing to dive headfirst without any context and simply enjoy the visual effects and air of mystery of the show, “Slingshot” will definitely give that to you as well.
At the same time, “Slingshot” also could have functioned well as a standalone “S.H.I.E.L.D.” episode. The show’s standout third season episode, “4,722 Hours,” solely featured Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and was lauded as one of the show’s best episodes to date (the fourth season episode “Self Control” was arguably even better, but “4,722 Hours” definitely held the record for the third season). Showrunners Jed Whedon — who incidentally also wrote and directed “Self Control” — and Maurissa Tancharoen have never been ones to shy away from taking a risk now that they have a solid fan base. “4,722 Hours” was already an incredibly unusual episode, but it paid off well, receiving critical acclaim for a show in a genre that is consistently brushed aside as fluff television not worth watching. Similarly, the six episodes of “Slingshot” very well could have been combined into a solid episode featuring Yo-Yo, although temporally it would have been difficult to place the episode, as another unique bit of this show is how it places itself between the large-scale time jumps that “S.H.I.E.L.D.” so strongly enjoys partaking in. It’s still something to think about for the future — with the series already enough of an ensemble show (and Daisy quickly becoming the focus of the series), “S.H.I.E.L.D.” could definitely afford to try something new to switch it up for eager audiences.
“Slingshot” may not have won the Primetime Emmy, but it’s still worth checking out. For anybody who religiously watches Marvel, it’s an extremely quick, fun dip back into the Cinematic Universe during the hiatus (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” returns in a few months). There are plenty of references to satisfy longtime fans and enough excitement to intrigue new viewers, whom I’d strongly encourage to also watch “S.H.I.E.L.D.” It’s one of those things that may be brief on your mind but create enough of an impact for you to appreciate it months later.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Slingshot” is available on YouTube to watch for free.
Contact Olivia Popp at oliviapopp ‘at’ stanford.edu.