Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. S02 E01 - Shadows
If ever there was a series that needed to hit the ground running this is it.
After a much hyped and anticipated start, with the back-up of the Marvel movies to add an extra punch, much was anticipated.
And it all almost went completely wrong.
Only in the last few episodes of season 1 did things pick up. Traitors, secret organisations, super soldiers, double dealings, and betrayals. All the fun of the world of made-up espionage, with a few juicy cameos thrown in. This is what we want.
So with the team on the run, S.H.I.E.L.D a broken entity, where do we begin?
Well 1945 obviously. HYDRA Nazis are on the run, the Red Skull is reported as dead, and it’s time to do a runner with the booty. In this case a shiny odd shaped metallic McGuffin known as the Obelisk, which apparently can turn people to stone by some unknown means. Before you can say Hail Hydra, in storm Agent Carter’s Howling Commandos, cameos from Hayley Atwell, Neil McDonough et al. HYDRA Nazis are despatched and Obelisk captured and secured , with dire warnings about not touching it. It’s then sealed in a metal box and sprayed with the number 084, sound familiar?
Cut back to present day, with our modern day HYDRA hunters staking out an exchange of cash for info , which turns out to be a set up to capture more of the HYDRAtors, but ends up with the secret info being stolen by a mysterious bullet proof man…
This is a much more confident start to the second season. We’re soon knee, no strike that, NECK deep in a mission to try and stop the kidnap of General Talbot, that turns into a different kidnap that turns into a mission that turns into ...and so on.
On a personal level, they're all still dealing with the fallout from season 1, Coulson is on a recruitment drive and is struggling with the concept of Economy airline seats, May is still angry , Skye is toughening up but is flummoxed by strange symbols that Coulson has her working on, Simmons is trying to steer a very broken Fitz back to mental health, and Ward has been having a tough time in an isolation cell.
Mercenaries Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) and Isabelle Hartley (Lucy Lawless) are new to the team but not exactly trusted, especially as Hunter seems to be going out of his way to ask for a slap.
Recurring faces Agents Triplett and MacKenzie need something more to do in order to avoid become potential redshirts, which they're all at risk of doing if they don't calm down on the alcohol. No wonder the whole organisation was riddled with double agents, there's beer everywhere, they're all swigging away. Coulson needs to get back in the good books of the government, or the big bad for this season is going to end up being their barman demanding they settle the bill.
Speaking of the bad guys there are no tentative steps here, the 'Gifted' villain is up front from the word go, he's already known to S.H.I.E.L.D. and not only are his gifts completely consistent with the comics, but he has a nice line in pervy super-self gratification. He's in a couple of scenes and provides a good level of menace, but there are a couple of occasions where instead of focusing on his cool use of abilities you are wondering "Is he naked ?" .
Set ups for future episodes are already in place , so we should be able to get straight into the action over the coming weeks.
All in all a much better start for Season 2 , and it needs to be.
Casual viewers may be lost, but if rebuilding is the thing here, the whole show is a metaphor for its own existence.
Can I offer one request though? Can we get Agent Coulson to lighten up a bit? The show is much better when less than 100% of his lines are exposition or recaps…..
Go on Coulson, give us a laugh, you know your want to…