We’re back, true believers! The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have returned with a new purpose and some new cast members to lead the way. Following the dismantling of S.H.I.E.L.D., during both last season and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, its up to Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and the rest of his team to pick up the pieces. The team however now finds itself without the extensive resources of S.H.I.E.L.D. at its fingertips and must battle old foes, and new, in order to carve out a new place for themselves, and their new organization. Along with the old teammates, the team is joined by Hartley, Lucy Lawless, as well as the returning Patton Oswalt as Agent Koenig. What new threats face the team this season? How many Marvel characters will make their first televised appearance? Who will survive? Hit the jump for our Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 premiere recap entitled, “Shadows”….
To preface this recap, let me start off by saying last season was a season of highs and lows. There was a lot to like, but also a lot to dislike. So this episode has to act as a barometer for what we could expect from Season 2. Did the creators learn from their first jump out of the gate? If this episode is any indication, then the answer is a resounding “yes”.
Our episode begins with a look back to a scene taking place during World War 2, post Captain America. Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) and the rest of the Howling Commandos stumble across a Hydra operation and acquire some alien/unknown weapons and artifacts from the evil organization. It was great seeing the Commandos again as they had a great chemistry between the lot of them in the original Cap movie and I’ll be anxious to see if they make more appearances in both this season of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the upcoming Agent Carter mini series.
We then find ourselves in the present, several months following the season one finale, where most of the artifacts found in WW2 are being auctioned off with the agents pouncing on the deal. We’re introduced to Lucy Lawless’ character, the leader of a group of mercenaries who Coulson has hired to help with missions that the team is woefully unmanned to deal with. I thought this was actually an interesting, and logical, decision for the team moving forward, though I feel that the mercenaries themselves were a tad paper thin in the character development page. I kept getting the idea of “red shirts” when it came to this group of characters who could easily act as bullet sponges for the main team, though this is liable to change with some more episodes down the pike.
The big Marvel “get” for this episode is of course the Absorbing Man. A major villain in the comic book universe, usually going hand to hand with the likes of the Hulk and Thor, Crusher Creel acts as a hire for Hydra, attempting to get to the artifact before Coulson and crew are able. The special effects given to Creel in the episode are pretty good all things considered with him having the ability to transform into any material he touches. There’s a nice nod to his “ball and chain”, no not his wife though she may show up later in the show as she’s also a Marvel villain. Having Creel have a huge locker with dozens of different materials was a nice touch, and something you don’t see in the comics as the Absorbing Man is pretty much an idiot. Crusher addressed a previous problem of mine with the show in not introducing enough of the bigger Marvel properties into the show’s rank, so its another step in the right direction.
Moving back to our main team, it’s certainly a different dynamic which they find themselves in, with Coulson now acting more like Nick Fury than ever, travelling across the globe to recruit more members he can trust and only meeting team members sparingly. He’s got a lot on his plate, and Gregg is able to portray that quite well while still having Coulson’s dry wit slip in from time to time. Skye also finds herself in a different scenario as she has become an official member of the team in more than just name, going on missions with the other members, handling guns and ammo, and not being behind the glow of a computer screen for the better part of the episode. Her interactions with the now imprisoned Agent Ward, who was revealed to be an Agent of Hydra last season in a great twist, give off a Hannibal Lecter/Clarice vibe and is another welcome change.
The biggest surprise for me of the night, and the most compelling story arc, was Fitz and “Simmons”. If you read my past recaps, you would note that I thought these two were the weakest members of the team, both physically and for the overall quality of the story. This season however finds a very different Fitz who suffered from severe brain damage during season one’s finale. As he first appears, it seems that he’s become something of an “idiot savant”, forgetting words, mumbling to himself, and quick to anger at everyone around him. It’s revealed, in a nice twist, that Simmons had left the team months ago and Fitz has been hallucinating “Simmons” the entire episode. It really helped to hit home the idea that Fitz is a changed man and certainly not for the better. I doubt we’ll be seeing a Fitz/Simmons romance at any point soon.
After an interaction with Glenn Talbot, in which the team are able to really live up to their espionage origins, they come across the trail of the artifact from World War 2, only for it to nearly kill Hartley, only being saved by one of her mercenary buddies hacking her arm off. At the tail end of the episode, Creel retrieves the artifact in another nice display of special effects and it’s revealed that Hydra may have something of a fountain of youth at their disposal.
Overall, really strong showing for the first episode of the second season. They’ve certainly addressed a lot of the problems I had with the first season and it seems they’re weaving a web that will cross over the timelines, bringing in a nice crossover with Agent Carter and co. A minor dent here and there, but overall, definitely worth a watch and I look forward to seeing if they can keep up this clip moving forward.
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
I know they didn’t have the time or budget, but man, I couldn’t have been the only one hoping Talbot would start calling in some Hulkbusters when Creel appeared.
No Love Triangles! Sorry, it’s just great to see that “Will they/Won’t they” trope pushed to the side.
“Hey Dugan, what’s the German word for nuts??”
“I don’t know, but tie a blasting cap to ‘em and I bet we’ll hear it.”
“So the guy was bulletproof huh? Sweet!”
“Flying economy blows.”
“No matter what you do, don’t look him in the eye.”
“Nah, he’s all right.”
“When they took that away, I started running at the walls.”
“You should have run faster.”
“Kidnapping me and tying me up in your honeycomb kill room!”
- “I’ll have you so deep in horse manure, you’ll need a damn snorkel!”