Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013) season 2, episode 1
WRITER: JED WHEDON and MAURISSA TANCHAROEN
DIRECTOR: VINCENT MISIANO
AIR DATE: September 23 2014
The inaugural season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. saw the team of operatives in the Marvel universe at a turning point. Their agency was in tatters after the revelations of the HYDRA infiltration. They were on the run. One of their members was badly injured. Another revealed as a HYDRA mole. And their leader was given the reins of a new, smaller, and more covert S.H.I.E.L.D. agency by his predecessor, Nick Fury.
After an opening sequence involving Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and the Howling Commandos making a raid on a HYDRA camp, season two picks up after some time has passed for the agents. Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is running the agency, and his agency is on the run. He’s recruited new operatives onto his side (including Lucy Lawless), but he’s facing challenges keeping ahead of the government, which views S.H.I.E.L.D. as an antagonist. Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), having had recently been promoted in rank, is spearheading the military efforts to track them down. Coulson still holds onto his purpose: protecting the world from the threats that are out there, and one of them involves making a raid on a military complex, where an old item from World War Two is stored.
Carl "Crusher" Creel
The first episode of the season starts out strongly, and another reason is the arrival of "Crusher" Creel (Brian Patrick Wade) in the Marvel Universe. The Absorbing Man makes quite a first impression, his ability to take on the qualities of any substance he touches really presented as a formidable power. Elements of his powers were mixed together with Nick Nolte’s deranged performance as Bruce Banner’s father in the misfire Hulk, but that film isn’t really considered canon anymore. Instead we get the Absorbing Man as you’d expect him: bald, muscular, grim, and pretty formidable. He’s not a character that can hold his own as a villain for a movie - Creel is not smart enough for that- but he’d do well as muscle for another villain. Perhaps in the third Captain America film? Anyway, here he’s like a bulldozer, sent in by the opposition to get the job done and take what the team is after.
Isabelle "Izzy" Hartley
It’s a bit distracting, perhaps to have Lucy Lawless guest star - even while it’s also a strangely good move. She has been typecast by what was her signature role as Xena; even though I watched little of that series, I kept thinking when is she going to start making moon eyes at Renee O’Connor? Still, she plays agent Isabelle Hartley with strength, courage, and tenacity, and balances out Coulson’s presence quite well. Pasdar might end up being a semi-regular as Talbot; he plays a good antagonist, and conveys the pissed off twenty four hours a day soldier we expect of the character.
Brett Dalton is still listed in the regular cast - this despite the fact that his Grant Ward betrayed the team and showed his HYDRA loyalties. He was the weakest member of the cast last year (though to be fair he started looking more interesting when his villainous side was revealed). And even when he switched sides, there were hints of sympathy to him. How to deal with the character now? We do see him briefly, engaged in questioning by Skye (Chloe Bennet), who’s less of a Mary Sue this time out than she was the better part of last season. He’s being held in custody by the team, locked away and lost to the world. Where will the season take him? Is there anything to be redeemed? We’ll have to wait and see.
There’s a plot twist in the first episode involving one of the main characters. And in a way, that impacts upon two of the main actors, since the second one, at least for now, won’t be engaging with other members of the cast. I can only say that it’s a startling twist, but a good one.
Season two for the series has gotten off to a good start, both building on what’s come before and moving the series into the new direction it’s embarking on. It’s good to see the team back.