Written by: Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen
Directed by: Vincent Misiano
Plot: 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?
Review: Season 2’s of a TV show are really important. Hell, one can argue that a show’s second season is more important than the first.
A season 2 is the time to prove that the folks behind the show can still make the concept work. It’s time to learn from the mistakes of season 1 and take the show into some new and exciting directions. It’s too early to tell, but do I think the show’s in a good place after just checking out one episode ?
Well, let’s briefly look at season 1 for a tiny bit.
Season 1 was extremely unfocused. The first half felt unsure of itself. It wanted to be an X-Files/Fringe style TV show, but with the cast investigating Marvel Universe stuff. The problem was that the show couldn’t commit to how it wanted to do that. It just kept following the same Marvel movie stuff we’d already seen before. Comic fans wanted the show to explore new territories that hadn’t yet been in the movies, and non comic fans seemed bored with the concepts and the characters.
Things picked up by Episode 17 of the show, and it became clear by the end of the first season: the show was picking up steam –
Steam that I honestly feel they haven’t lost.
Judging from episode 1, it feels like we’re going to see a much more focused show. There are some things about this new episode that feel like soft reboots to the series, but nothing that screams to me at desperate attempts to “fix” the show. All the new changes feel organic.
Right off the bat, there’s a slew of brand new cast members in this series.
We find out that Coulson has hired some mercenaries to help out on S.H.I.E.L.D. missions. This group is lead by Isabell Hartly (played by Lucy Lawless, clearly having fun in the role), and we are introduced to Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), Alphonso ‘Mac’ Mackenzie(Henry Simmons) and Idaho (Wilmer Calderon). This new group joins with May, Triplette, a newly battle ready Skye, a broken Fitz and Simmons (but not in the way that you’d realized) and Agent Koenig (PAAAAAATON OSWAAAAAAALT!!!!!!!! YEAAAAAAH!!)
This new dynamic is actually pretty interesting, with the mercenaries only really doing it for personal gain, and our characters from season 1 trying to keep things in order.
I personally like the new direction of the show. The government is after any leftover S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, and Coulson and the gang have endeavored to keep on doing good and saving people, even if they have to hide in the shadows.
In a weird way, it almost reminds me of the idea that I wish was explored in the post The Dark Knight movie world, a world in which Batman is being chased by the cops but is still out there trying his best to do good.
The main base is no longer the The Bus, and I think it’s for their benefit. The Bus never felt like the home that they wanted to created in this show. It never felt like this gang’s version of the Serenity ship from Firefly. This new base feels unique to the show, and I like that. No need for them to have a version of the Serenity. This is a spy show, they need cool spy headquarters.
In terms of our cast, I feel like we’re in a better place than were we were last season. Skye may have been everyone’s punching bag in fan circles, but I think this new and dedicated evolution of the character is gonna work out. Without going into spoilers, the way they handled Fitz and Simmons in this episode is great, and it leaves plenty of places to explore that I honestly can’t wait to see. The answers for these two isn’t that simple and I really like that.
Oh, and yes, Ward is still here. What they’ve done to him is a bit too Hannibal Lecter for my taste (Silence of Lambs Hannibal, not TV Show Hannibal), and it’s a bit too easy to just KEEP him, but I’m gonna see were they take him and hope it’s gonna be surprising.
In terms of fan service, I squealed with glee when I saw these three in the cold open…..
Always happy to see Sharon Carter (what a good way to get people excited to see her solo series, Agent Carter, which premieres next year.) And seeing Dum Dum Dugan in a S.H.I.E.L.D. show (even as a flashback) just makes me happy. I always think of Dum Dum as a regular character in the S.H.I.E.L.D. comics so I was glad to see him here.
But the real treat for this episode…this show FINALLY uses a legit, honest to god classic Marvel bad guy!
Absorbing Man is a classic Marvel villain, with a great hook and a great visual. The version Absorbing Man in this show? Basically….the same character. They even kept his history as a boxer. There isn’t much to Absorbing Man (or Carl Creel as he’s referred to his real name most of the time.) but actor Brian Patrick Wade really looks like him, and the way his powers are used in the show is great. And hell, for us nerds, they found a way to even give Carl his famous ball and chain for one scene! He’s a great physical foe for the the Agents, and the action scenes with him look like they’re pulled straight out of the comics. He’s a classic example of the kind of characters that can be used in this show. Absorbing Man is a well known Marvel character, but he’s not a big enough treat to make him a main bad guy. Having fight against a couple of non super powered heroes? Now there’s a fun challenge.
I honestly feel really good about the start of this season. It has a ton of promise, and if they learned their lessons from last season 1, I think we got on heck of a season 2 ahead of us. Here’s to hoping they don’t loose that steam.