“The enemy has the advantage. We need one of our own.”
SYNOPSIS: Coulson and his team are now wanted fugitives with limited resources — but that’s not stopping them from keeping the world safe from powerful and unseen threats everywhere. However, with new members they hardly know, will S.H.I.E.L.D. ever be trusted again?
It’s been a while since I talked about Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (which, going forward, I’m going to refer to without all those darn periods in there to spare my fingers). The last episode I reviewed was way back in November of last year: episode 1.03, The Asset. I realized not long after, that some people may have taken the silence on the subject of the show as confirmation that, like a lot of Marvel fans, I found the show disappointing and found other things to watch on Tuesday nights. This couldn’t be further from the truth. From the first time I saw the pilot, back in San Diego last year, I was in the long haul when it came to the MCU’s first foray into television.
However, being a fan of this particular show on the internet was a difficult thing for a long while. Everywhere I went, wanting to sing the show’s praises, people complained about its lack of direction, the characters, its supposed isolation from the MCU as a whole and a host of other things (including Skye’s shiny hair for some reason). But I remained convinced that the show, though slow to start, was inevitably building towards something big. We got that around the time Marvel Studios released Captain America: The Winter Soldier and all of Agents of SHIELD‘s pieces finally fell into place. The back half of season 1 was nothing but payoff for all of the seeds planted earlier in the season, the action had heavy consequences for the show, and finally connected up to the rest of the MCU in a big way that was clearly in the works from episode one.
It’s difficult to not say that I feel vindicated when it comes to defending Agents of SHIELD, going into season 2, where the stakes seem higher and the tone has gone appropriately dark for its move to its 9pm timeslot. I am so ready for season 2.
My thoughts on the season 2 premiere, along with a whole lot of feelings and spoilers, after the jump.
When we last left our heroes, SHIELD was destroyed, Ward was Hydra, Fitz was supposedly left damaged in a way yet to be revealed, and Nick Fury left Agent Coulson the keys to his very own espionage and law enforcement agency. A hell of a lot happened at the end of last season, and the characters are left trying to rebuild an organization that was destroyed from the inside out.
The season premiere joins them months later, after what General Talbot refers to as a winter of eluding him. Since a large contingent of SHIELD turned out to be Hydra, it turns out that the organization as a whole isn’t trusted by the United States government. They’re still hiding, they’re still on the run, and Coulson is struggling to recruit new agents while weeding out which of the present ones can be trusted. It’s a great premise for the season, and I think it’ll tie in well with Agent Carter when it premieres, since that will supposedly give us a look at how SHIELD was formed the first time around.
There wasn’t much about this episode that I didn’t like. I’m glad that Skye seems more capable this season, and not just some “hacker” brought along for the ride. I love that they’ve got Ward locked up like their own personal Hannibal Lecter (Brett Dalton is acting the hell out of that role), and I love all the new additions to the cast. Or at least, the ones who’ve survived. If Marvel has the balls to bring on Lucy Lawless as a SHIELD Agent only to kill her off in the first episode of the season, then kudos to them, seriously. This episode certainly feels like the showrunners are pulling out all the stops (Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen wrote Shadows actually), and I’m hoping that we can expect this level of storytelling— which is consistent with the back half of season one— throughout the rest of this season.
It helps, I think, that they’re able to run with the Hydra threat from last year. In addition to Hydra cells being active now, they’re actively recruiting as well. “Gifted” individuals such as this episode’s Crusher Creel will hopefully be a big part of the season as well Dr. Whitehall, a Hydra Agent from the days of Red Skull, who is mysteriously still alive, because apparently no one in the 1940s actually died in the Marvel Universe.
And I’m really hoping that sooner, rather than later, we get an answer for the strange writing that’s shown up on this show since Eye-Spy last year. The Clairvoyant (who turned out to be Hydra Agent Garett) was after it, Coulson was writing it on a giant blackboard at the end of season 1, and now we’ve learned that very first 0-8-4, collected by Agent Peggy Carter herself, has the same writing on it. My guess is that it’s Kree. Guardians of the Galaxy has shown us that the Kree in the MCU are blue, the alien from last season that played such a big part in both Coulson and Skye’s miraculous recoveries was blue, and if you look closely, there was a glimpse of blue in the crate that Agent Carter closes. We’re totally about to get a cosmic tie-in at some point. But knowing this show and knowing how many balls they have in the air in terms of plot (they barely hit any of them in “Shadows” and introduced a lot more), it may be a while before we get there.
I realize that I’ve neglected to mention FitzSimmons so far, and that’s probably because this show has absolutely broken my heart. I called it early on that Fitz was going to be the one to ultimately suffer, and I was prepared and predicted that the lack of oxygen to his brain in the season finale would affect his intelligence in some way, but Simmons not being there all along? That’s just dirty pool, Whedons. Even worse is putting her hallucination in her outfit from season 1 episode FZZT. I’m all for drama, and I love that the events of last season had consequences for our characters and for their relationships with each other, but ouch. This one hurts.
This week in continuity:
- Absorbing Man! I’m not familiar with him in the comics, but from what I’ve heard, Agents of SHIELD have done him right so far.
- I wonder how these “gifted” individuals that SHIELD has supposedly marked off of their lists will tie into Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in Age of Ultron. Because it definitely looks like we’re headed towards a tie-in, come May.
- Budapest! I wonder if Hartley and her boys were there at the same time as Black Widow and Hawkeye. Either way, it’s a fun little easter egg.
- The first 0-8-4! I’m really looking forward to these connections between 1940s SHIELD and present-day SHIELD.
- Not technically continuity yet, but I’m really hoping that Skye’s father turns out to be a recognizable Marvel name. They’re teasing the hell out of it, so I’m really anxious for the pay-off here.
Totally digging Ward’s beard now that we know he’s a bad guy. Fitz’s depression stubble is really upsetting me in a way it has no right to, and I’m super glad that it looks like Adrian Pasdar actually grew his own mustache instead of having them glue hair to his face.
Chantaal’s Corner (also known as Is It Time For Agent Carter Yet?):
I told Angel when she was writing this that she had to leave a spot for me, because while I enjoy AoS, Angel obviously has much, much more to say about it than me. Most notable bits:
- Former Agent Evil McBeardsley and his incredibly dark discussion with Skye. Ward’s characterization is going to make for a very interesting season, and if they had to find a way to keep Brett Dalton on the show, they at least found a good one. Should have led with the info about her father, dude.
- No way they killed Lucy Lawless in episode one. NO WAY. Or yes way? I honestly cannot tell if they have the balls to do so, or if this was some kind of origin story for her character. It really could go either way, and I applaud the show for it.
- This wasn’t a favorite part, but OH MY GOOD GODDAMIT FITZ. NO NO NO NO
And now we come to it: those wonderful first few opening minutes with my main gal, my favorite badass, my now and future idol: AGENT PEGGY CARTER. I love, love, loved the show tying in Peggy’s interaction with the 0-8-4 to the current day, and as Angel noted, Agent Carter will be a fantastic parallel to Agents of SHIELD. Seeing the threads of how Peggy and Howard start SHIELD after seeing Coulson rebuild it will be so great to watch.
It was only a few minutes, but there’s so MUCH in those few minutes I can’t wait to unpack in the Agent Carter show. Peggy is in charge, obviously – this is after the Agent Carter short, I presume. She’s effortlessly stepped into Steve Rogers’ shoes and the Howling Commandos follow her just as well as they did Steve. I hope they have large parts to play in the series, because the world cannot be deprived of Dum Dum’s mustache for too much longer.
Oh, and while we know otherwise, can we just bask in the fact that as far as anyone knows, Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos took down HYDRA? Peggy. Carter. TOOK. DOWN. HYDRA. IN THE 1940s.
Look, my love for Peggy is all-encompassing and I probably (most likely) blow things out of proportion, but Peggy is to SHIELD as Steve is to the Avengers. She is the first SHIELD agent, she is Marvel’s first lady of badassery, and I cannot wait for Agent Carter to start.
Thank you, internet.