By Jeremy Costello
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Last week’s Season 2 premiere of “Agents of SHIELD” showed a new style and direction of the show. This week’s episode continued that trend in another significant way.
The opening scene picked up right where the season premiere left off. While there certainly were large story arcs (both with plot and character) that were continual in Season 1, there rarely was an episode this sequential. It might be sad, but this alone gets me excited for the pace of the season and the hopeful diminishment of the trail-of-breadcrumbs tactic that, while keeping interest, often times held back Season 1.
Absorbing Man, aka Creel, is still on the loose, and his powers are growing, but they’re also becoming uncontrollable and possibly detrimental and fatal. But boy, are there some creative ways his powers are utilized in this episode.
Meanwhile, General Talbott, the U.S. military leader who promises America that SHIELD will go down, made a deal with Hunter that he’d give $2 million in exchange for Coulson’s location. Hunter, the new mercenary who has joined SHIELD, gets it put in his mind by Talbott that Coulson is the bad guy who’s out for his own agenda.
Hunter wasn’t someone I cared that much about in the opening episode, but he’s got an interesting dynamic at work now. As a emotionless, detached merc, Hunter is trying to play both sides while still trying to prove his trustworthiness. Instead, he proves he can be bought if the price is right. He shows that mercs look out for their own kind, too, which surely will come back up later in the season.
A twisting surprise of the episode is the return of Reina, the girl in the flower dress who sporadically appeared throughout the first season. She looks to cause havoc again as she tries to make nice with Creel while setting him up to get caught by Coulson. The whole theme of double-crossing, who-is-on-whose-side that has emerged as a prevalent plot mechanic should continue to keep everyone on edge. Too much of this mechanic can get tiresome, almost like a crutch for the show, so hopefully that won’t happen.
The story of Fitz dealing with an injury to his brain’s temporal lobe has become more depressing. And it’s also kind of detracting from the flow of the show. He doesn’t want to be treated sympathetically by his compatriots, but unfortunately the show itself is treating him like that. Fitz also hasn’t taken the loss of Simmons well, either (Simmons does seem like she’ll return soon, maybe even next week), and their dynamic is sorely missed.
The episode truly starts feeling like a Marvel superhero property when discoveries are made about the Obelisk, the relic that gives Absorbing Man - and anyone else who comes in contact with it - his powers. Apparently the same designs that Coulson mysteriously draws every so often on the walls are engraved on the Obelisk. And interestingly enough, the people who die after contacting the Obelisk look just like the aliens in Season 1 that Coulson finds in that hidden base.
That’s not the only major storyline from the end of Season 1 that gets addressed. There is a sighting of Skye’s father at the end, and he definitely will be in play next week.
Two episodes in, and “Agents of SHIELD” already has fixed a lot of its issues with storytelling, pacing and tone. I was in the minority that still thoroughly enjoyed all of Season 1, so to see the improvements after just two episodes of Season 2 is encouraging.
TV review: SHIELD’ sets trends of continuing stories, double-crossers
By Jeremy Costello