Original Airdate: 9-23-14
While I had a somewhat disappointing reaction to Gotham, I was very excited for the return of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and it did not disappoint. There was a lot of shaking things up at the end of the first season and it wasted no time in getting right to the heart of the action while still tossing in a few hints at a bigger picture. And on top of everything else, it took what happened into directions that I didn’t exactly expect it to, and opened with a taste of what’s to come with the other Marvel TV series showing up later on, Agent Carter. I’m glad that I stuck with this show from the very beginning, and I have high hopes for where it’s going to end up throughout the rest of this season. As usual, I won’t be shying away from spoilers so be warned if you haven’t watched the episode before reading this.
First off, it was great to see the opening scene back in the forties to get a taste of what’s to come with Agent Carter with Hayley Atwell, and a couple others reprising their roles from Steve Rogers platoon before capturing the very first 0-8-4. It then jumps forward to set up how the operation works now, where Director Coulson isn’t as much a part of the team as he once was, instead he is busy trying to repair and reform S.H.I.E.L.D. by visiting previous agents in order to find out who is still actually loyal and who may have defected to Hydra. As the team is down by several members, with Coulson busy, Ward locked up, and Fitz… well I’ll get to him later. Anyway, the team is buffered by a small group of mercenaries led by Lucy Lawless who had worked with Coulson long ago and is someone that he trusts.
Aside from the plot details, what the show really does is catch the viewer up on what’s going on and sets up where the show is going at a very brisk pace without feeling overly complicated. Though that could just be because I already knew half of it from having watched the first season. There are at least three different factions that are at conflict with each other, there’s the new S.H.I.E.L.D. being rebuilt by Coulson, there’s the government who’s headed by General Talbot, and there’s Hydra which is still mostly in the shadows but is also a very strong presence. It’s harder to tell who can be trusted, and resources are far more limited now that S.H.I.E.L.D. is back to square one essentially.
As for some of the surprises, Fitz was a great moment. There have been many shows that have used the device of having a character that’s a part of the story be revealed at the end to exist only in someone’s imagination. But I never expected this show to go in that direction and I was shocked when it was revealed that Simmons was only in Fitz’s head the whole time. I also was surprised that Lucy Lawless was killed off at the end of the episode, as I remember seeing the news that she was joining the show but I assumed that it meant that she would be a regular rather than a guest star. It was also great to see another meta-human in the Absorbing Man, who I know very little of outside of how elements of him were used in Ang Lee’s Hulk, but he looked great in this episode. And I haven’t even mentioned the somewhat Hannibal Lector aspect of Ward being in their own little prison giving tidbits of Hydra intel while playing at how he’s reformed for Skye. I still hope that he doesn’t fully reform, though I do think they are coming at his character from the right direction so far. Can’t wait until episode 2!