Review: ‘Agents of SHIELD’ changes direction (again) for season 3

A review of tonight's “Agents of SHIELD” premiere coming up just as soon as I have a shotgun/axe combination of some sort…

Season 3 doesn't have quite as jarring a shift of the status quo as season 2 did, but there are still many changes, including:

* SHIELD's new main focus is tracking down all the new Inhumans who are popping up, and saving them from the nefarious group run by Rosalind (played by Constance Zimmer of Lifetime's terrific “UnREAL”), with the whole thing basically framed as an X-Men story where you substitute Inhumans for mutants. (Which is all part of Marvel's larger attempt to work around Fox owning the film rights to all the X-Men characters.)

* Skye's powers are now under her control, and she's chosen to call herself Daisy, which everyone but one-armed man Coulson has accepted. (This also makes it easier to cross-promote between the show and any comics where Daisy Johnson appears.)

* Simmons is missing and presumed dead, even though we see at the end that the monolith just transported her to another planet. Fitz, meanwhile, has become so obsessed with finding and saving her that he has somehow gotten over all his problems with speaking and thinking that dominated his season 2 arc.

* Bobbi is the new Simmons, at least until her knee heals, while Hunter is preparing to go after Ward.

* May is AWOL, having never returned from the vacation she went on with her ex.

* Mack is the new May – or possibly this show's version of Worf from “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” there to look tough and imposing at first, but mainly there so the bad guys can seem more impressive by how quickly they kick his ass.

So some of this is genuine change, and some of it is just shuffling the show's many, many pieces around in an attempt to once again find a direction that works – at least until the needs of the movies (several of which get alluded to in dialogue here) take priority again.

Look, I admire shows that can reinvent themselves and/or their characters, particularly when things aren't working at all (as they weren't with “SHIELD” prior to the events of “Turn Turn Turn”). At this point, though, I'd rather they perfect one particular approach, both overall and with individual characters, before switching things up again and again and again.

Seeing Fitz as a rogue agent capable of handling himself in the field was fun, but also frustrating given how the show just abandoned his brain injuries (and all the great material that came with it) late last season. Making Bobbi a scientist makes sense given her own injuries and frustration with fieldwork (and also hearkens back to the character's comic book origins), but seems a waste of what Adrianne Palicki has brought to the show. And the increased focus on the Inhumans for some reason means we get even more of Lincoln, whose every second on screen makes me want to take a nap, even when he's hurling lightning bolts at a giant monster/alien/Inhuman/whatever that's attacking a hospital.

As always, there's just enough of a good show here (I particularly enjoyed Coulson and Rosalind's verbal sparring on the Metro train, even if the show really needs to have Phil be smart enough to know he's walking into her trap) that I'll keep watching, and occasionally writing about, even as the whole thing feels like a missed opportunity that's being unfortunately designed – and constantly redesigned – by committee.

What did everybody else think?