When Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. left off last season, everything was in chaos. H.Y.D.R.A. had basically destroyed S.H.I.E.L.D., Ward turned out to be a right bastard, Fitz was badly injured and Nick Fury stepped down, leaving poor Phil Coulson to pick up the mess of pieces. And while season 1 of the show started off with a whimper, it did manage to end with a bang. So will season 2 be able to keep up the momentum and be the television series that everyone wanted? If “Shadows” is a good indicator of what’s to come, the writers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may be beginning to hone in on what the fans want.
As we enter into ‘Shadows’, we are transported into a time somewhat beyond the last episode of season 1. S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone underground, hunted by both their enemies and their former allies alike. Coulson is now in charge and he’s running a tight ship. Not in that he’s a hard-ass, but in that there really aren’t that many people left who are willing to associate themselves with the formerly glorious government organization. He’s even taken to hiring on mercenaries in order to fill the ranks.
We begin the show with a brief flashback. Enter Agent Carter and… the muthafuckin’ Howling Commandos! It’s obviously a set-up for the Agent Carter series they’re producing, but it was still pretty cool. They bust in on some Nazis (aka H.Y.D.R.A.) as they’re trying to secure some sort of crazy, unknown artifact. The artifact is seized by Carter and sent off to be stored away in a mysterious place.
Return to the present. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team is tracking some former government guy that is selling information. As it turns out, that information is regarding the artifact. That artifact happens to be the only “Class 10” object in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s super-secret vault of doom that holds all the crap that normal humans should properly avoid. So Coulson and the crew must figure out who wants the object as well as what the object really is. When they do find out, it becomes apparent that nothing good will come of H.Y.D.R.A. possessing such an artifact and Coulson jumps into action to prevent bad shit from happening.
The rest of the episode consists of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team trying to grab the artifact before the bad guys can. And the bad guys’ chief agent is… the muthafuckin’ Absorbing Man! Yes, super villains are now a part of the show in a much bigger way. Not only that, but the writers have introduced a character that is damn near perfect as a foil to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. And the actor that plays Absorbing Man (Brian Patrick Wade) looks so eerily like his comic book counterpart that one can only pat the casting director on the back and say “Good job.”
On the side, we get a little bit of Coulson’s struggle to keep S.H.I.E.L.D. alive, some face-time with the traitor Ward (who is now a prisoner), a look at what happened to Fitz after his accident and the brief intro of General Glenn Talbot, a character that looks to be a major player in the second season of the show. All-in-all, a nice variety of new stuff balanced out with the remnants of the old.
Will season 2 pull its own weight? My biggest complaint with the introductory episode is that it felt crammed. There was so much to resolve from the last season and so much to introduce to establish the new season that there was little time for the finer details. It makes me think that the writers overcompensated a bit due to all the backlash from the first season being so slow and unfocused. It that little speed bump settles, however, we should have a good, linear story.
Also, the presence of a super-powered villain that was not ridiculously over-powered was a good choice by the writers. We don’t need gods visiting the Earth, we don’t need enemies that can read minds and manipulate the world – what S.H.I.E.L.D. needs is a selection of (familiar) bad guys that seem appropriate for a mainly human squad of heroes to struggle against. If they can keep presenting us with those sorts of villains, the show can only benefit.
The only thing I see as being a potential disaster is the possibility of a “redemption of Ward” story arc. Ward was a HUGE bore the entire first season up until he turned out to be a H.Y.R.D.A. operative. If they try to spin the character around and have him rejoin the group, I will kick my television set. He is far more interesting as a villain, so please, writers of S.H.I.E.L.D., keep him that way.
Next week on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ‘Heavy is the Head’. Check out the trailer for the episode below.