Enter S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0…
Starring: Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Ming Na-Wen as Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons
Series created by: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen
Episode directed by: Vincent Misiano / Written by: Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancheroen / aired in the UK: 24/10/2014
What’s this episode about?
Coulson and his team must prevent a superhuman criminal from stealing a powerful artefact stolen from Hydra during World War II…
Having endured mixed reactions from fans and critics for much of its first season, it was great to see Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begin to find its creative footing as it moved from the format of an episodic family-friendly procedural to something edgier and more arc driven as Marvel’s fledgling show linked into the events of big screen hit Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
AoS makes a confident and sure return – kicking as much back-side as Ming Na-Wen – as “Shadows” picks up were season one left off, with ‘Director’ Coulson leading the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the fight against Hydra and other extraordinary threats to the general populace. As the episode title infers, Coulson and his team are now working from the shadows as they continue to thwart the plans of their enemies whilst evading capture by the U.S. Government.
Much as the show’s direction has undergone some change, so has Coulson and his team. Whilst Skye has become an adept and loyal agent, Ward must deal with the consequences of his betrayal (allowing some rather creepy Silence of the Lambs-esque moments between Ward and Skye) just as Fitz’s mental state is fast deteriorating – offering more depth and dramatic potential for actors Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet and Ian DeCaestecker.
The team are also joined by some new faces including former Cylon and Warrior Princess Lucy Lawless as Isabelle ‘Izzy’ Hartley – a beer swilling tough cookie that could very nearly give Agent May a run for her money. Although Clark Gregg feels absent from much of the episode, his inclusion is no less significant and his narrative sparring with Adrian Pasdair’s General Talbot are amongst the episode’s many highlights.
The episode’s plot surrounding a stolen Hydra artefact is serviceable, yet intriguing, and offers links to the larger live action Marvel Universe as well as hints at this season’s story arcs. Despite a sizeable threat from superhuman heavy Carl Creel (aka the Marvel Comics villain ‘The Absorbing Man’), facilitating the episode’s requisite action, it’s arguably the show’s characters and their plight that are now in the driving seat.
The season premiere’s real treat though comes right in it’s opening scenes as we flashback to 1945 as Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter and the SSR (the proto-S.H.I.E.L.D. organisation established in Captain America: The First Avenger) lead the charge against Hydra as Nazi Germany faces defeat by the allies. More than just a spot of viewer-baiting it provides a welcome tease for the upcoming mid-season Agent Carter series.
All in all, AoS may have had an uneasy ride during its first season but is sure to deservedly find itself atop of the watch list of many a discerning comic book fan.
The bottom line: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back with gusto and based on this season’s premiere, shows great potential for the show’s future.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs in the UK on Fridays at 8pm on Channel 4. US viewers can catch it Tuesday nights on ABC.
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