Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (2013) season 2, episode 2
"Heavy is the Head"
WRITER: PAUL ZBYSZEWSKI
DIRECTOR: JESSE BOCHO
AIR DATE: September 30 2014
'Heavy Is The Head,' the second episode of the second season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., picks up where we last left off; two agents are dead at the hands of the Absorbing Man, and the third, Lance Hunter (Nick Blood, one of the new cast members of the series) wounded and in custody of the army, notably General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar). This gives the audience a chance to get to know more about Hunter in particular, though we also get to know a bit about another new member of the cast as things go along.
Hunter’s given a choice: betray Coulson and help Talbot bring him in. He has terms of his own: a decent burial for his friends. It’s not that unreasonable a request, actually, and it’s a good character touch. He cares about the people he’s served with, and it’s a selfless notion - even if his other term involves a good deal of money. At the same time, Hunter’s effectively playing both sides against the other until episode’s end when he’s made his own decision on where his loyalties must lie. In the decisions the character makes, we see greater depth in a person who, until now, has just been a bit of a sarcastic question mark. Now, if everyone just refers to him by his surname, so much the better, because in my humble opinion, Lance is just an awful name. It’s the sort of name you expect out of a soap opera.
Fitz and Mackenzie
Fitz continues to deal with his troubles, but it’s another new character that helps him in making a breakthrough or two, which in turn helps him prove that he’s still a help to the team as a whole. Henry Simmons was largely just another new face in the season premiere as Mackenzie, but here, in engaging Fitz in conversation and not really treating him like he’s about to break, he helps Fitz get on track. It’s a good character touch that fleshes the newbie out.
The producers could have come straight out and said the season premiere was a two parter, because where we left off, the Absorbing Man was very much still out there, still a threat. Brian Patrick Wade returns to play the role this time out, and continues to be a clear and present danger, still feeling very much like you’d expect the character to be. The team have to work together in various ways to find the solution to the problem he presents. He’s not the only familiar face working against them - an antagonist from season one returns, working with a newcomer, but someone with a link to the team.
Coulson and Hunter
Clark Gregg remains the bedrock of the show as Phil Coulson, and the character is moving in different directions now that he’s running a new S.H.I.E.L.D.. He compartmentalizes too much, keeps things from most of the people working for him, with perhaps the exception of May, who’s aware of some of the enigmatic things his mind is up to. By contrast, Gregg seems to be having fun tweaking the proverbial nose of his counterpart Glenn Talbot. Technically they’re on the same side, but with the status quo of S.H.I.E.L.D. being an outlaw group and on the run, the two find themselves antagonists. Coulson’s tactic in dealing with Talbot - and giving him a gift of sorts - leaves Talbot annoyed, but it’s perfectly suited to the histories of the characters. Coulson’s cheerful and polite at that moment, while you can practically feel the veins bulging in Talbot’s forehead and hear him grinding his teeth.
The new season is well underway, and the status quo of a group of covert operators on the run, but still dealing with new threats in the Marvel universe, seems to be nicely establishing itself. With new characters getting some needed development, and the merciful absence of the not missed at all former Agent Ward (thanks to the writers, by the way), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looks like the sophomore season has a promising beginning.