REVIEW: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D- Episode 1- Shadows
The wait is over, season 2 of Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D premiered in the UK last Friday and the TV series that runs in tandem with the epic Marvel Cinematic Universe, got off to a pretty explosive start.
Always one for mystery, the episode opens with a enigmatic flashback scene set in 1945 in which three Strategic Scientific Reserve agents (the predecessor of modern day S.H.I.E.L.D) attack the last known Hydra base and seize all the enemy organisation’s weaponry including the mysterious Obelisk.
Fast-forward to present day, we see a former S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Browning (Matthew Glave) attempting to sell undercover S.H.I.E.L.D agent Isabelle Hartley (Lucy Lawless) and her mercenary comrades Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) and Idaho (Wilmer Calderon) information about the Obelisk when Browning is suddenly murdered by Carl Creel (Brian Patrick Wade), a guy with the ability to absorb the properties of any object he touches, able to change any part of his body to whatever material he wishes.
Back at the Playground, the secret base S.H.I.E.L.D are now hiding out at now that they have been branded fugitives by pain in the backside General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), who is seen talking on national news saying S.h.I.E.L.D is still a corrupt institution, even though the mole working for terrorist organisation Hydra, Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), was arrested last season, many changes have taken place. Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) has become a busy man, swamped by the more mundane side of running a secret agency, that of recruitment and rarely has time to chat personally with his patchwork team.
Speaking of Coulson’s team, new faces have become regular ones such as Agent Triplet (B.J. Britt), an obvious replacement for Ward being a stealthy field agent, and Mack (Henry Simmons) being a macho new mechanic. With Hartley, Hunter and Idaho all new faces too, it did get a little confusing trying to figure out who everyone was with the fast pace episode spending little time introducing each character. Old faces have also changed, with Skye (Chloe Bennet) looking tougher and edgier a result of the lethal Agent May (Ming Na Wen) training her.
Meanwhile S.H.I.E.L.D scientist Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) sadly seems to be in a state of confusion, unable to create a cloaking device for the plane the team used to operate on and unable to think of words he wants to say after being dangerously starved of oxygen last series when Ward sent him and fellow scientist Gemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) to their drowning deaths. I miss his bumbling but sharp mind, and it’s heart-breaking when we discover at the end of the episode he has been hallucinating talking to Simmons about feeling side-lined by the rest of the team, when in reality she’s left thinking it would be better for his recovery. Clever how the writers kept up the pretense of Simmons being there though.
Puzzles are set for the rest of the series as a dishevelled looking imprisoned Ward begins to tell Skye he knows information about her mysterious father but her ears aren’t ready to listen as she walks away after obtaining the intel they needed about Carl Creel. This comes after the first series ended with the cunning Raina showing a man concealed in shadows a photo of Skye, with the haunting words “I’ve found your daughter”, which can’t be good news given that we were told last season that Skye’s father and mother murdered an entire village before Skye, branded an object of unknown origin or “0-84” was sent to an orphanage.
Ward also reveals the secret radio frequencies Hydra use to communicate and it turns out there are an alarming amount of Hydra personnel still operating around the globe. If it’s one thing S.H.I.E.L.D is good at its bombshells.
When Creel threatens General Talbot’s family as leverage to help him find the obelisk, the team help him fight off Creel before deceiving Talbot, (who, as he is tied up in what he hilariously brands Coulson’s “honeycomb kill room”, mocking the design of Coulson’s integration room, reveals he is bent on not helping Coulson,) into giving them the secret military access codes to a base containing confiscated S.H.I.E.L.D assets.
The hunt for the obelisk, which turns out to be lethal to whoever touches it, becomes a desperate one with Creel hot on the team’s heels. Hartley, Hunter and Idaho flee in a bid to save Hartley’s life but tragically end up having to amputate her arm as it morphs into the material the obelisk is made of and she can’t let go. The rest of the team try to carry out Coulson’s orders to retrieve a quinjet, a risk Coulson says he had to take as the team really need be able to literally disappear. But what price has the team paid for the risky mission?
The episode ends with a spectacular cliff hanger by revealing that Dr Whitehall (still alive from 1945 and not aged) is the one searching for obelisk and giving orders to Creel meaning he will only spell trouble over the next few episodes.
Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D airs Fridays at 8pm on Channel 4.