Don’t Call It a Come Back
The second in our multi-part series on new fall comic book related television brings us the return of Marvel’s Agents S.H.I.E.L.D.. I partially watched the first season but was not really a huge fan. I think the first season started off weak and aimlessly floundered in the middle but ended strongly with the help of the twist from Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier. I think what hurt the first season of the show was its inability to figure out what it wanted to be as a show. To me it felt like it wanted to have its cake and eat it too. The show at times wanted to be its own separate entity in an over arching Marvel universe but also wanted to incorporate events that occurred in the movies to the show. When this worked well we got the final episodes of Season 1 where the Hydra infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. continued from the Captain America movie and played out in the TV show. When it didn’t we got a lot of references to Avengers and what they were up to but never actually seeing them on screen. I get why Iron Man can’t show up in a network TV show, the money involved to get Robert Downey Jr. plus the CGI is too expensive. However if you can’t get Iron Man on your show don’t constantly be talking about him and how you work with him. It just makes it that more obvious the limitations that are inherit in the show.
So if I haven’t spelled it out enough, I wasn’t a huge fan of season 1. However, I think the show ended strong and I know that my criticism wasn’t alone and that the show is fully aware of the love/hate relationship audiences have had with it. So I am willing to give it another show and see where season 2 takes us.
Season 2 picks up after some amount of time following the events of Season 1. Coulson is now the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and they are in the process of picking up the pieces post infiltration by hydra. S.H.I.E.L.D. does not baby us along. We hit the ground running and and thrown in cliff hangers here and there of where we left off last season. We are reminded that something happened to Fitz, that Skye’s father is some big deal, that Grant betrayed us. All of these happen quickly and given to us in a atmosphere that the team has been dealing with these things for some time now and it is all old news to them. We slowly get some answers to as the episode progresses but it is annoying that the tone is “I guess we’ll tell you what happened, but its just so yesterday’s news to us at this point we shouldn’t even bother”. This is annoying. Most of these things were presented to us in last episode of Season 1 and were pretty big shocking events. I feel after waiting this long to see how it turns out they should give the revelations they do tell us a little more gravity.
Back to the opening scene for a moment. Before we even get to all this S.H.I.E.L.D. / Hydra business we start off the episode back in World War II and we get to see non other than Agent Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos!
This was a pretty fun/exciting cameo and may be a shameless plug for the Agent Carter spin off show (coming to ABC in January!) but I’ll take it. All the Howling Commandos were also there and we got a nice little original S.H.I.E.L.D. mission that tied in to the rest of the episode.
Speaking of cameos we also got another big one as a new member of S.H.I.E.L.D…
Agent Xena Warrior Princess. My new favorite agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
We also got introduced to a new villain that is actually a thing from the comic books, the Absorbing Man.
His real name is Carl “Crusher” Creel and in the comic books he is a boxer and criminal who becomes the Absorbing Man after drinking a magic potion from Loki in the Thor comics. He’s nothing A list but at least its an interesting villain and a stab in the right direction.
The show ends with two big downers. They are pretty big spoilers so I won’t go into them but if you watched it you’ll know what it was. Both I was not to pleased with and were pretty big bummers.
What I Liked
I liked the new villains and new agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The new plot they are setting up in season 2 is interesting and seems to have been made with the criticism of season 1 in mind. It seems a lot more focused and the things they dealt with made more sense to me than Skye and all her bullshit that started off the first season.
What I Didn’t Like
We may or may not lose an agent S.H.I.E.L.D. that we may or may not have just added to the cast! In the first episode! Not pleased!
Overall I think we are headed in a better direction but I just don’t know. I think the inherit lack of A, B, and even C list characters isn’t something that will ever get solved. Last year I compared this show a lot with Arrow because I was watching both at the same time. Both would hint and drop little Easter Eggs of pieces of the DC/Marvel universe throughout the show, but where S.H.I.E.L.D. would only give you innuendos Arrow would often allude to a famous character and then a couple episodes later that character would actually show up. Arrow being a self contained universe was able to use Batman, Green Arrow, and basically any DC character they wanted regardless of what other movies may be doing with them. It’s hands were untied and they were able to tell a really good story where as S.H.I.E.L.D. all ways felt like it was playing with a deck missing half its cards. I still have hope for the show and thought it was a good start but have real concern it can keep up the pace for another 20+ episodes.