Recap: ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Season 2 Premiere “Shadows”
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned to our screens this week, did it continue the momentum that it had built up during the last third of the first season?
After the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, there was a noticeable improvement in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Rather than being a show about agents who investigated strange threats with a seemingly infinite set of resources and money, it became about a small group, lead by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), and their fight to survive and stop the revealed threat of HYDRA.
Season 2 begins with a scene set in 1945 Austria where we learn of a piece of tech that HYDRA has found and its potential devastating effects. Before the artifact can be taken away and hidden, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and the Howling Commandos arrive, seal the item in a box and mark it as an “084” item.
Moving into the present day, the new rag-tag group of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are trying to figure out who is still loyal and who is part of HYDRA. While on a mission to recover intel, a new enemy who is revealed to be “The Absorbing Man”, turns up and steals the information before getting away.
The agents return to base and discover that Director Coulson is back in town apparently from traveling around the world recruiting allies. He tells May (Ming-Na Wen) that the artifact that HYDRA are now after is the same item that Agent Carter sealed away. More information is need on the attacker in the warehouse, so Coulson sends Skye (Chloe Bennet) down to the basement of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hideaway to ask a bearded Ward (Brett Dalton), now a prisoner, for any intelligence he might have on who the attacker is and how HYDRA communicate. Ward has apparently had a change in heart from his HYDRA ways and tells Skye about HYDRA operations and that the attacker is a man named Carl Creel (Brian Patrick Wade) who has the ability to absorb the properties of anything around him. He goes on to tell Skye that he will never lie to her again, but before he can continue, having revelations for the young agent about her father, Skye seals his cell and leaves.
Meanwhile, we find Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) back in the lab. Fitz, however, has not fully recovered from the traumatic events at the end of last season and is having trouble working to the same level as before. Even more worrying is his inability to finish sentences and full thoughts. While trying to work on a new cloaking device for The Bus, he talks to Simmons about everyone else judging him and pushing him onto the back burner, but she urges him to be patient as everything will get better soon.
At the episode’s climax, Creel targets Brigadier General Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), the man believed to be responsible for wiping out the HYDRA threat once and for all. Before any harm can come to him though, Skye and May stop Creel and kidnap Talbot while the army takes Creel into custody in their base. Back at the S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Coulson tells Talbot that he just wants to be friends and that not all of S.H.I.E.L.D. was evil. While talking to Talbot, we see Billy Koenig (Patton Oswalt) recording Talbot’s finger prints and sampling his voice patterns. When Talbot is released, he orders a full lock down on the prisoner.
May leads a group into the base where both The Absorbing Man and the sought after artifact are being kept. Izzy (Lucy Lawless), a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who leads a for hire mercenary group, finds the box with the 084 artifact inside first and opens the box. Before she can take it to safety though, Creel attacks. In a desperate attempt to stop him, Izzy grabs the artifact to see what it does, and her hand instantly turns black and she is paralysed with pain. The alarms sound and the group splits up, Izzy and her partners escaping with the artifact while May and the others continue with the second part of their assignment: stealing a Quinjet. While driving away from the army base, Izzy tells her Hunter (Nick Blood) to cut off her dead hand as she can feel that it is killing her. Just as her hand has been cut, Creel appears again and crashes the car. Izzy and the driver appear to die in the crash, and Creel walks away with the artifact.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, Coulson is asked whether it was worth risking everything for one Quinjet, to which he is positive it was. He reveals that with the invaluable cloaking technology, S.H.I.E.L.D. can fully go undercover and protect the people they swore to protect. The heist was put into action because of Coulson’s fears that Fitz will never be the same again, especially after Simmons left the team. Her departure, which she felt was for his own good, fully broke Fitz mentally, and as the scene cuts to Ftiz talking to Simmons, when the camera pans around the pair, Simmons is gone and Fitz is talking to no one.
Any fears that the show would have a slow burn like Season 1 have been safely shelved for now, A.O.S. continues to feel a lot more focused. The actors have all settled into their respective roles and clearly are enjoying where the show is heading, and their characters have developed leaps and bounds from the gimmicky, almost too comedic fluffy start they were given, forced to become hard shelled agents in the face of the agencies inner betrayal. Only time will tell if the upward trend continues, and it will be interesting to see how this season plays into Age of Ultron which comes out next summer. It would be great to see some of the characters from A.O.S. either have a small cameo or even just be mentioned in the film, as then it would really feel like the show is truly part of the same world.
A strong season opener is just what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. needed, and the show has delivered with a much stronger storyline in place, and hopefully it is bound for great things.(4 / 5)
(Photos copyright: Marvel, ABC)