Episode Air Date: September 30th, October 7th, 14th, 21st 2014
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Agents Of SHIELD (Heavy Is The Head, Making Friends and Influencing People, I Will Face My Enemy, A Hen In The Wolfhouse)
Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Brett Dalton, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Nick Blood, BJ Britt, Patton Oswalt, Adrian Pasdar, Reed Diamond, Simon Kassianides, Henry Simmons, Brian Patrick Wade, Adrianne Palicki, Ruth Negga, Kyle McLachlan, Dylan Minnette
What a difference a few weeks makes! I remember, I was commenting last time about Agents Of Shield, that Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), who was absent from the premiere, except for in Fitz’s (Iain de Caestecker) head as a hallucination, would resurface only in the mid-season finale, and I also reiterated that Skye’s dad (Kyle McLachlan) could feature, as a possible good guy! Oh, how wrong was I on several accounts! In fact, the past few episodes of Shield have warranted my declaration that this show is one of my favourites this entire season, as we see new characters interacting with our main leads. We also are given more pieces of the overarching puzzle, as we ask questions such as what does Hydra member Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond) want with the obelisk, what are the strange writings that Coulson (Clark Gregg) is writing, and is Simmons Hydra; and as we ask these questions, we are then enthralled and amazed at the high calibre of the show, and how it could tie into the upcoming movies.
Yep, I’ve told you all quite a bit of revealing information, right out of the bat! If you haven’t seen the show, then I guess you probably wouldn’t care what I just revealed in the first paragraph- that Daniel Whitehall has sinister plans for humanity with his rampant search for the obelisk, that Coulson has started to show some of Garrett’s symptoms when he was writing the strange markings or coordinates, or that Simmons has gone undercover in Hydra to learn more about their nefarious plans… but for those of you who are Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans, let me first recap the past 4 episodes, then dive deep into what we know, what we don’t know, and how allegiances could shift in the upcoming episodes, and the themes that the show reminds us about everyday life, that makes the show so appealing!
When we last left our heroes and villains on Agents Of Shield, Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) was caught in the wreckage of a car wreck, orchestrated by Carl Creel (Brian Patrick Wade), leaving his comrades dead, and him critically injured. Blinded by revenge, Hunter is picked up by General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), a thorn in SHIELD’s side, who offers Hunter a job, at capturing Coulson and the team, in exchange for a proper burial for Hartley and Idaho. Yet Hunter double crosses Talbot, and relays the job offer to Coulson. With Fitz and Mack (Henry Simmons) being able to build a weapon able to stop Creel, Hunter realises that SHIELD is going to capture Creel instead of kill him, which was what he wanted as revenge.
So he turns on Coulson and co., and tries to kill Creel himself. Which doesn’t really go down that well, as Hunter underestimates Creel’s power. But it’s Coulson to the rescue, as he uses the device made by Fitz and Mack to turn Creel into stone then later tells Talbot that the deal is off, and Hunter works for SHIELD now. It is also revealed that the team now have some ships, with cloaking devices so that they appear invisible, and also in the second episode, Coulson has an ‘episode’, drawing the strange draws that Garrett used to draw, and Raina (Ruth Negga) aligns herself with Skye’s father, as he asks her to bring Skye (Chloe Bennett) to him.
Immediately in the next episode, we see Simmons (for real this time), in Hydra headquarters, and we later know that Donnie Gill (Dylan Minnette), whom we last saw in Season 1 (I think around episode 12?), is being targeted for recruitment into Hydra. Ward (Brett Dalton), who’s still locked up in his cell, and still acting a bit creepy, informs Skye that Hydra brainwashes recruits to do their dirty work without thinking of the consequences (though he himself acted freely because Garrett was a mentor and like big brother to him); and he also tells Fitz, while having his oxygen deprived, as Fitz was so angry of what was done to him, that Donnie actually is a Hydra agent, and the team were just reactivating their asset.
So SHIELD send a team to extract Donnie, while Hydra send Simmons to do the same. Not wanting to blow Simmons’ cover, Agent May (Ming Na Wen) shoots off target, allowing Simmons to escape unharmed. Skye shoots Donnie though, to make sure he doesn’t harm any more people, though the fact that Hydra never recovered his body suggest that he may make an appearance later on in the season. At the end of the episode, Fitz is informed of Simmons’ depature, and at the same time, Whitehall promotes Simmons for a job well done, while Ward tells Skye that her father is alive, much to her shock and surprise. One of the SHIELD agents, Agent 33, is also completely brainwashed by Hydra as well.
The final two episodes that have since aired continue to advance the season arc of the obelisk, Skye’s father and the mind control of Hydra on all their agents. When an ancient painting surfaces, the team try to acquire it, with Coulson and May going undercover at a charity function where the painting is to be unveiled. They meet Talbot, and they reluctantly agree to work together, much to May’s surprise, but later it seems Talbot has already acquired the painting, he wants to meet Coulson in private, and Coulson sends May to his hotel room, where Agent 33 and Talbot (who is actually Whitehall’s right hand man Bakski) kidnap her and tie her up.
Agent 33 masquerades as May for a time, but Coulson knows she’s an imposter, and promptly acts to take her down. As May escapes her captivity, she helps Coulson battle Agent 33, killing her while Baksi escapes. Did I mention that most of the episode is set in that charity function hotel complex? SHIELD claims the painting, and the end of the episode shows a frightened Raina being blackmailed by Whitehall, claiming that she will die if the Obelisk isn’t given to him within 48 hours. But if you thought all those 3 episodes were intense, then episode 5 is the most high octane edge-of-your-seat episode of this season!
The last episode has all kinds of action and drama all looped into one. Firstly, may I say, welcome back Simmons! After Agent Bobbi Morse (Adrianna Palicki), acting undercover at Hydra as Head of Security, but really a plant by Coulson to keep Simmons safe; conducts a ‘search’ to find a ‘mole’ in Hydra (but what she’s really looking for is information that she can relay back to Coulson); Simmons is found out to be SHIELD, as Raina has uploaded a photo of Simmons sending encrypted messages to SHIELD, on Hydra’s servers. Consequently, Bobbi and Simmons escape, and join the team for good, at the end of the episode, where it is revealed that Bobbi is Hunter’s ex-wife. That’ll create some drama don’t you think? Fitz and Simmons’ relationship is also strained, and it’ll be interesting to see where that leads in the upcoming episodes.
Elsewhere in the episode, the war between Whitehall and Skye’s father escalates, as both want the obelisk, with Raina caught in the middle. As she seeks out Coulson wanting help so that she can be free of the two ruthless and powerful supervillains; Coulson and his team raid a facility where Skye’s father is said to be at. But when Skye realises that her father is a monster and a murderer, she tells Coulson that she won’t stop until she brings him down. Angered and betrayed (Skye’s father was watching her conversation with Coulson through a video camera, the entire time!), he joins forces (possibly temporarily) with Whitehall, as they work to bring down SHIELD, who is a common enemy to them.
With more additions to the ever expanding team of Phil Coulson’s (I think the team has expanded to 9 now at the conclusion of the 5th episode- not including Ward, who is a high volatile asset for the team, and maybe he will redeem himself!), I expect moving forward that maybe some actors will be upped to regular, and others may move to recurring. Hopefully no one dies, but who knows with this show? With my favourite two storylines as of the premiere, which were Ward’s complex relationsjip with Skye and Fitz’s meltdown, moving in big strides over the past few episodes, these are the most interesting character developments that are sure to last the entire season; and like before, I can’t wait to know more on those two topics. I also can’t wait to see Bobbi and Hunter interact, and how Simmons transitions into a team that has been without her presence for a while.
While the acting hasn’t really changed that much from season 1, in terms of current actors, there are a few that shine. Ming Ma Wen is brilliant as May, especially in her fight with herself in Episode 4, while Brett Dalton and Chloe Bennet have broken out of their stereotypes cast on them in the first season quite nicely, as I mentioned before as well. The cast also have great chemistry with each other as always, though the large cast in season 2 has me worried for some impending doom potentially happening in the upcoming episodes.
Though at this point in time both Kyle McLachlan and Reed Diamond play their roles as the villain to perfection, we don’t know why they want to obelisk, while Ruth Negga playing Raina is as complex as can be. I’m guessing she will turn to the good side when she realises just how ruthless her two bosses are, but that’s just my hope and we’ll see what happens. And while Nick Blood as Lance Hunter is a wonderful addition, as he adds humour and sarcasm, while is delivered well through his British accent, and Adrianne Palicki nails her part of Bobbi so far, I would say the best acting in this series is Iain de Caestecker, as a tortured Fitz, struggling with his identity, and missing the girl he loves. As I know respect Iain as an actor more than before, I think that the writers should be congratulated for coming up with storylines for all of their characters, especially their main characters, when there are more and more recurring characters added. I also congratules the creators of the show, for changing the show to fit the expanding cast and the divergence in location, yet still keeping the heart and soul of the show.
While there is still the issue of declining ratings (from a 2.1 demo in the premiere, to 1.8, 1.6, 1,7 and 1.6), I still have hope and belief that the large social media fan base can see this show on the air for a few more years. With the show reminding us that teamwork makes us better people, and that opening up to those we love about our troubles and struggles can help us understand that no man is an island; these next few episodes before the midseason break are sure to be fun, intense and filled with drama, as we see people change sides and show us their true colours.
Did episodes 2-5 of season 2 of Agents Of SHIELD leave a lasting impression on you? Did any themes in the episode speak to you, and which was it? What elements of the show are you enjoying and looking forward to- Ward’s possible redemptive storyline, the integration of Bobbi Morse into the SHIELD team, the pursuit of SHIELD by Talbot, Skye’s father and Whitehall, Simmons’ reintroduction to the team, or Raina’s conflicted nature? Will you be tuning in next week when Season 2 continues? Let us know in the comments.
RIYL: Person Of Interest, The Blacklist, Burn Notice, Arrow, Marvel Cinematic Universe films
Rating: 4/5 (based on 5 episodes)
Agents Of Shield Season 2 airs every Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC.