Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Shadows”- Season 2 is off to a fine start

NOTE:SPOILERS FOR THE EPISODE FOLLOW.

One of the many criticisms of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. last season was that it started off a bit slow, seemingly trying too hard to connect itself to The Avengers movie. Things picked up after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the show collided, making S.H.I.E.L.D. a fugitive organization after the reveal that it had been infiltrated with Hydra. Nick Fury has turned the reins over to Agent Coulson, and due to their fugitive status and the discovery of a Hydra mole on their team, the crew had to become more focused, more capable, and more determined to handle these new threats. That new capable and determined look showed itself early on in “Shadows”, the Season 2 premiere.

The show opened with a nice cameo by Agent Carter, Dum Dum Dugan, and Jim Morita catching up to Daniel Whitehall in Austria, 1945, and securing some dangerous relics, including one designated “084”. Flash to the present where that very item is the subject of a clandestine sale to Izzy Hartly (a nice guest appearance by Lucy Lawless) and her two mercenary companions, Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) and Alphonso “Mac” Mackenzie (Henry Simmons). Things go wrong when things are disrupted by Carl “Crusher” Creel, also known as the Absorbing Man (Brian Patrick Wade). The crew, led by Melinda May, a much more self assured Skye, and Triplet arrive too late to prevent Creel from getting away. The scene set the tone for the opening episode, showing the team working under much more dire straits and giving the show an overall darker feel.

Not only has Skye come into her own (after dealing with Ward’s betrayal last season), but the rest of the team has undergone a few changes as well. Coulson has now slipped into a more Fury-like role, coordinating operations and making the tough decisions, showing that he’s not above taking risks, like when they need to steal a Quinjet with its cloaking abilities later in the episode. It’s nice to see that Triplet has stuck around, filling in for the traitorous Ward. Fitz, sadly, has suffered greatly since his near death at the hands of Ward. Showing him struggling only to have Simmons finish his thoughts for him showed us what his sacrifice has done to him, and though he’s not the same, given their fugitive status it can be understandable why Coulson continues to keep him around. The reveal later on that Simmons was gone and not really in the lab with Fitz was a bit touching, as we see that he’s using her as an anchor to keep his psyche from fracturing further. And Ward is still around, albeit locked in a cell. For now, he’s a source of information, but it will be interesting to see how the show deals with him going forward. Does he remain an unrepentant villain? Or will they try to redeem him? Personally, I prefer the former rather than the latter.

Having Creel still in play at the episode’s end gives the show a capable threat to deal with, along with worrying about clashing with the US military and Glen Talbot (Adrian Pasdar). And the reveal that Whitehall (Reed Diamond) is still very much alive and looking no older than he did in 1945 only adds to the threat that the S.H.I.E.L.D. team must deal with. It’s a shame Lucy Lawless’s Hartly apparently died in the episode, but with her exposure to the “O84” artifact it may be possible that we’ll see her return. This was a very well done opening to the show’s second season, and it looks like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is hitting its stride. Season 2 is off to a fine start, throwing us right into the action and introducing new threats along with the old. The characters have all undergone changes and are far more capable (well, except for Fitz, but his changes are engaging as well) than they were in the first season. The show needed these welcome changes if it has any hopes to compete with the other comic book shows hitting the airwaves this fall, and with “Shadows”, it shows it’s up to the challenge.

 

8/10

 

 

Thomas Juretus

Born in 1963. Enjoy videogames, movies, comics- anything that tells a story. Have written three novels (The Zarchler Chronicles Book One: The Cassandra Crisis, Shalgroth The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Two, Madman's War The Zarchler Chronicles: Book Three) all published and available through PublishAmerica. Currently working on my fourth book, a sci-fi/murder mystery.

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