Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., S2 Ep01 – Shadows

The last season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was a mixed bag of good and bad episodes. The show really kicked into gear around the time of the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the revelation that HYDRA had taken over S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside. Now, following the events of very satisfying first season conclusion, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns with season two. Right from the start of “Shadows” it feels like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be going in a slightly different route this season. What’s become of Coulson and his ragtag team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents? Let’s find out.

MING-NA WEN, LUCY LAWLESS, NICK BLOOD, WILMER CALDERON, HENRY SIMMONS, CHLOE BENNET, PATTON OSWALT

New season. Bigger team.

The first scene of “Shadows” not only gives us a brief look at Agent Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell) and The Howling Commandos and what they were up to after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, but also aims to excite audiences for the upcoming Agent Carter series on ABC. In the scene they are taking down the last HYRDA base (as far as they know) and securing a powerful artifact which we find out later is the very first 0-8-4. In the present day it’s up to Coulson and his team to secure this artifact away from the hands of HYDRA, while also being deemed fugitives by the U.S. government.

The episode brings a lot of new elements and characters to the table this season. Lucy Lawless, Nick Blood, and Wimer Calderon guest star as Agents Isabelle ‘Izzy’ Hartley, Lance Hunter, and Idaho respectively. Patton Oswalt returns as Agent Koenig, but some of the team, specifically Skye and Triplett, question why he has so many identical twin brothers. The concept of LMDs, or Life Model Decoys, though familiar to Marvel Comics readers, has not been introduced to the show’s main characters. Another newcomer to join the ranks is Henry Simmons as Alphonso ‘Mac’ Mackenzie who serves as the team’s mechanic. These new cast members do a fine job, but Lucy Lawless, who most would recognize, isn’t given enough time to shine or come into her own.

Coulson, being the newly appointed Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. thanks to Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), opts to remain in their new base of operations referred to as “The Playground”. From inside he leads his team on missions informing them of when to “go dark”. The episode doesn’t give us too much about where Coulson is mentally, but Skye and Tripplet are seen reviewing the weird symbols he and Garret created in last season’s finale.

The evil former agent Ward returns, but is left isolated in a cell below the team’s facility. The show sets up a Silence of the Lambs-esq Hannibal Lecter relationship between him and Skye. Skye is the only one he will talk to and is willing to give her any information they need on HYDRA. We get a glimpse of how neutered he’s become since last season as he knows full well he’ll most likely remain imprisoned forever. He was even suicidal at one point.

One of the biggest developments in “Shadows” relates to Agent Fitz. He suffered major head trauma in last season’s finale and it has affected him mentally. He is unable to remember words and finish sentences and ideas without the help of Agent Simmons. It’s extremely heartbreaking to see how far he has fallen, but his condition is revealed to be worse than originally perceived as the episode continues. During the episode’s conclusion, after a successful attempt at stealing a Quinjet with cloaking capabilities, it is revealed to the audience that Simmons isn’t actually there with Fitz. The Simmons we see is simply a figment of Fitz’s own imagination. Simmons had apparently left the team concluding that it would be better for Fitz’s recovery. His current state is a tragic one and as far as the rest of the team is concerned he just talks to himself. This was a satisfying twist for the series to take, but I hope we get to see more real Simmons and not just imaginary Simmons as the season progresses.

BRIAN PATRICK WADE

Brian Patrick Wade as The Absorbing Man

The main plot of “Shadows” was satisfying, somewhat intense, and filled with some decent action. Brian Patrick Wade (Teen Wolf) guest stars as the Marvel Comics villain Carl Creel or The Absorbing Man. Creel is able to adsorb the characteristics of any element he touches. He works for HYDRA and is set on stealing the same artifact Coulson and his team are after. When faced with Creel, Agent Izzy (Lucy Lawless) attempts to grab the artifact and use it against him. Her plan backfires as it begins to takeover her arm upon her touch. Izzy, Hunter, and Idaho escape but during their drive away from the government facility in which they stole artifact from, Izzy demands that her arm be cut off to prevent further infection. This scene is effectively shot as we don’t really see her team member cut into her skin, but we have an idea of the pain she feels. We also see the bloody mess left on her afterwards.

Later everything seems well until The Absorbing Man returns and stands infront of their moving vehicle, which seemed very reminiscent of The Winter Soldier’s first appearance in last Captain America film. Their vehicle crashes into him and by the end of the episode it appears Izzy is dead. The Absorbing Man then takes the artifact. It would be a shame if Lucy Lawless’ character were to kick the bucket in her first appearance. Let’s hope this concluding scene was just a fake-out. The stinger scene that followed featured the introduction of Reed Diamond (Franklin & Bash) as Daniel Whitehall. It seems he will be one of this season’s big bads.

Overall, “Shadows” was a solid season premiere. Sadly, this can be seen as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s same old shtick where they run around collecting random artifacts, but the show’s new elements make it feel very different. There is a slightly darker tone, with a touch of humor (Coulson impersonated General Talbot for example). Parts of this episode worked as a nice heist story as well. I’m looking forward to seeing where the team goes since they now have a Quinjet with a working cloaking device and I really hope Agent Fitz pulls through. The band’s back together along with a few new members and one broken one, but they’re still going strong and if this show keeps up what we saw in this first episode than this can be a very strong second season.