When last we left the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. team, they were struggling on despite a distinct membership deficiency. After the events of season 1, the once proud government organization wasn’t exactly welcome anymore. The remnants of the team, now led by Agent Coulson, consisted of mercenaries, a jailed Ward and a crazy version of Fitz. When they went to retrieve an artifact, they were confronted by Crusher Creel, aka the Absorbing Man. He got the best of them and the artifact was in the middle of being stolen away from S.H.I.E.L.D. for good. So what does ‘Heavy is the Head’ have in store?
After a rather unpleasant crash, Hunter, the last surviving member of Lucy Lawless’ team of mercenaries, ends up getting captured. He’s dumped off in the wilderness only to be snatched up by none-other-than General Talbot. The plan? To turn Hunter against S.H.I.E.L.D. so that Talbot can capture Coulson and put an end to those crazy crime-fighting ex-government operatives. And from the look of things, Hunter is ready to hand over his teammates as long as it means his former boss gets a decent burial.
In the meanwhile, poor Crusher Creel is having some issues. He’s touched the mysterious artifact and is now infected by it. Worse yet, he can infect anyone he touches with the same mess, although other folks tend to handle it worse than he, resulting in a horrible death. But Creel isn’t running around being all jovial with his newfound death and destruction powers. He’s worried about the infection and the fact that he can’t seem to change into anything else. So it’s off to barter with H.Y.D.R.A. in hopes that they can cure him.
But wait! There’s more! Remember Raina from season 1? She’s back, no longer employed by H.Y.R.D.A. and ready to make her own deals to get the artifact. The guy she’s working for wants it as well and, if the last few minutes of the episode can be trusted, he appears to know something about what it truly is. So enter one more party interested in the mysterious artifact.
As the episode unfolds, S.H.I.E.L.D. confronts Creel, H.Y.D.R.A. continues to impotently try to execute their plans, Raina plays her own little game and poor General Talbot runs around like an idiot waiting for Coulson and company to fall into his lap.
So far, the new season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn’t been a disappointment. It may still not be the show that everyone was hoping it would be, but it does play the spy game pretty well. Now that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been forced to go underground, the action is more interesting and they’re allowed to bring in regular characters (such as Hunter) that defy the usual ‘Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ stereotypes. This is letting the writers mix it up a bit and create something that doesn’t feel as forced as when they pulled Skye into the group just because she happened to be good with computers.
Surprisingly, one of the high points for me was Fitz and his relationship with invisible Simmons. It’s something that can easily be overplayed, but for now it works fine. I’m enjoying Simmons’ snarky, mischievous incarnation and the integration of the pair feels less forced than the tag-team of smartness that the writers tried to play up during the first season. I hope she continues to act as both his handy assistant and the devil on his shoulder.
All-in-all, the writing has definitely improved. It seems like the creative team knows more about what they want to achieve with the show and the actors are feeling more in touch with their characters. It may not be the kick-ass and complex visual extravaganza that Gotham is turning out to be, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has now brought us two solid episodes with the potential for more.
Let’s just hope they don’t drop the ball…
Next week, ‘Making Friends and Influencing People’. If the preview is any indicator, real-life Simmons has a new and rather unpleasant career.