Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D had a tough go at it last season, but was able to pull itself up from its bootstraps toward its final episodes to finish its first season out on a stronger note than how it started. This is mostly due to the effects felt from Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier; with HYDRA factions revealed and striking out within S.H.I.E.L.D., it directly impacted the course of the show for the better. One of the biggest complaints during season 1 was that there was no real sense of cohesion with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or even with the show’s own story arc–episodes played out too procedural and too “monster-of-the-week” for the taste of a lot of viewers, myself included. Until the end. When $hit got good.
The real question that’s been on fans’ minds now that the second season is underway, is will the show carry its improved momentum, or will its shortcomings return to the forefront now that it doesn’t have a world-changing plot device to make use of.
Last night’s season premiere gave hope that the show can reinvent itself and continue to engage its audience, but I wouldn’t necessarily bet the house on it. Watching it, I almost felt like that kid whose father comes around only every so often for their birthday…when he shows up you’re elated with joy but you know there’s no guarantee for a repeat performance, so you’re cautious to get your hopes up. Last night Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showed up with cake and presents, but I wonder will they do so again next week?
I liked a lot about last night’s episode (SPOILERS BELOW). I felt the pacing was spot on; the episode starts us right in the action and the lives of its characters. The show does not insult its audience (You hear that, Gotham!?!) by having to spell everything out, which allows it time to worry more about character relationships and plot, rather than obvious exposition. We don’t need to know EXACTLY what’s happened since last season’s finale. We get the gist: With HYDRA’s infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D, the government has shut the spy agency down. Coulson, who is ordered by Nick Fury to rebuild, has to do so with his team on the lamb from the law. Boom. That’s it.
The episode sees a good balance in the hard choices they have to make in rebuilding their operation and stopping the pesky HYDRA agents that pop up from time to time, all while working in the shadows as not to be arrested by the self-righteous General Talbot.
I thoroughly enjoyed Lucy Lawless joining the cast along with her band of mercenaries; I do feel she was a bit underutilized, but am hoping she and her character get more screen time down the road. Sure she lost a hand and was in a fatal car wreck, but she wouldn’t be the first on the show to come back from the dead now would she?
I liked Agent Ward being all prisoner of war, Hannibal Lectored-up.
I thought Fitz was engaging as he struggles with the loss of certain functions of his brain due to the sacrifice he made saving Simmons from drowning in the finale. It was cool to see him all Flowers for Algernon frustrated and thought it was pulled off well, especially when we learn at the end of the episode the Simmons we the audience have been seeing is only a figment of his imagination. Mind blown. Also, it goes to show his mental state is really worse than we’ve been lead to believe. Mental instability is always fun.
Lastly, I LOVED the inclusion of the Absorbing Man. I think they utilized his powers very well (i.e. they translated well on screen), got his look pretty spot on, and even appreciated the little nod to his wrecking ball. It’s funny, because I was just talking with a friend before the premiere about how I (along with other fans, I’m sure) have been disappointed that they haven’t pulled more “super” characters from the Marvel Universe and when they do the show’s rendition of them leaves true Marvel fans slightly wanting. I mean, it was cool to have Deathlok in the first season and he played a good role, but the look was a little “meh.” I mean, if I saw their version of Deathlok on screen I don’t know if I’d be able to guess who it was…and that’s saying something because I’m a big ‘ole Marvel nerd. But their take on Absorbing Man in the premiere episode? Spot on.
So yeah, I really only have kind things to say about last night’s premiere. However, the entire time I was watching last night’s episode I couldn’t just jump on its bandwagon due to a small persistent nagging that this could all go bad very quickly. I don’t know. I liked the premiere and am more than willing to keep tuning it to see where the show goes this season, but I can’t shake the trepidation that next week, or perhaps the week after that, there will be no cake.
Let us know what you thought of the episode below? What worked, what didn’t, what would you touch if you had the power of Absorbing Man?