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Two episodes in and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 is already blowing season 1 out of the water. For the last few episodes, we’ve been watching as Coulson tries to get the fractured S.H.I.E.L.D. into some sort of order, using mercenaries and guerilla tactics. There aren’t too many S.H.I.E.L.D. allies left, so he’s using what he can to fight off H.Y.D.R.A., the enemy organization that seems just as screwed up as S.H.I.E.L.D. is. But with last episode’s Absorbing Man finally defeated, what will the team have to deal with in episode 3, ‘Making Friends and Influencing People’? As it turns out, another familiar face is returning to the show.

This week is an in-depth look at the complications of recruiting. Both S.H.I.E.L.D. and H.Y.D.R.A. are running on a half-tank right now and finding the brightest and the best is the only hope that either team has of coming out ahead. Thus, a certain ice-wielding individual known as Donnie Gill (aka Blizzard) has become a ripe target for both sides.

blizzard

Gill, however, is having none of it. He’s hiding out halfway around the world and is willing to kill each and every bastard that interferes in his new life away from the strains of super-ness. Of course, that doesn’t mean he’s going to be left alone. And so the race between H.Y.D.R.A. and S.H.I.E.L.D. is on. Which one of them can successfully make Gill into their buddy without losing all their agents to a chronic cold?

simmons

In the meanwhile, we finally get a look at what’s going on with the REAL Simmons. She’s been working for H.Y.D.R.A. all this time but… oh yeah, that’s not right! She’s actually a double agent for Coulson. Simmons is working in a science lab for the baddies and trying to get some information. Unfortunately, her connection with Gill has H.Y.D.R.A. putting her into the middle of the action.

We also see more of Fitz, who has become an infinitely more interesting character this season. He’s truly nutso and spends a little time chatting with Ward, but not in a nice way. In fact, it’s more of a crazy, psychotic way. A way that almost leaves Ward with a seriously permanent headache.

Finally, everything boils down to which team can take control of Gill without getting killed. Action ensues, people get turned to ice and one more confrontation between H.Y.D.R.A. and S.H.I.E.L.D. ends with neither side making the winning play.

As I’ve said before, I’m much happier with this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. than I was with the first one. The show has a much grittier feel to it and S.H.I.E.L.D. actually seems like a secret organization that fights super-powered baddies rather than a club of folks that go on wacky adventures and save the world from time to time.

I’m also enjoying the new roles that the series is putting on its characters. Simmons’ double agent persona is fun and it’s been entertaining thus far to see her using her brain to defeat H.Y.D.R.A. in more ways than just developing technologies and trying to save people from dying horrible deaths because of random artifacts.

And, even though I was quite skeptical of it at first, Fitz’s bit-o-crazy is growing on me. The writers are taking it in a much darker direction than I would have suspected, so we’re not looking at a comedic relief (yet tragic) version of Fitz. We’re looking at a potentially dangerous version – a character than could solve great riddles yet could also flip into super-villain mode at the drop of a hat. I’m eager to see which road they take him down.

fitz meme

All-in-all, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has definitely matured. It feels like less of a “Marvel Production” and more of its own thing now. The characters have their own personalities, the world is spinning without the help of Marvel’s big movies and the writers are now free to really explore what they think should be the focus of the show. The reins of Marvel-ness have been released and S.H.I.E.L.D. finally has a chance to grow into something interesting. Hell, even the Ward subplot is growing on me.

Next week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looks to be taking a turn for the comedic as Coulson and May go undercover in ‘Face My Enemy’. Check out the preview below:

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