Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S2E1 - "Shadows" Review

Following the dissolution of SHIELD, Coulson and company are still on the run from the government they had promised to serve. There's some new faces teaming up with the core group we've already grown fond of, to fight against the threats to the world, be they people or objects. Skye's getting trained by May and is now able to hold her own in the field, Ward is being guarded under lock and key, and what's going on with Fitz's state of mind?

Paging Agent Carter

Yes, that's right! The episode opens with Peggy Carter kicking some Hydra butt, with Dugan and Morita right by her side. This largely serves as an introduction to the upcoming series, Agent Carter, as Peggy declares the need for an organisation to keep dangerous technology contained and keep an eye on those who would toy with it (Howard Stark).

Hayley Atwell is right in her element, slaying nay-sayers who would doubt her ability to be the top bill of a Marvel show. Having Dugan and Morita in the sequence was a nice touch as well, albeit a bit sad since it's preferable to have the entire Howling Commandos present. This was an excellent teaser for what's to come on Agent Carter, and also transitioned nicely into the present-day portion of the arc, as the dangerous object they retrieved from Hydra is what the team spends a great deal of time chasing after.

"Aren't you a sight for sore eyes?"

Skye has to pay a visit to Vault D to try to get intel from Ward, who has been saying from the start that he would talk, but only to Skye. The development in both Ward and Skye is solid content. Ward reveals the dark journey he has gone through, having tried to commit suicide more than once. But now he wants to prove himself to Skye, promising that his intel is true, as will every word he speaks for the rest of his life.

Skye stays steel-faced, a stark departure from the emotional centre of the team she previously was. Skye's development in the field is exciting, while the changes in her demeanour are gripping. Are these walls she has built up to hide her true self, or is the old Skye dead and gone? The revelation that Ward wants to tell Skye about her father, though she shuts the screen before she can hear him say it, presents the beginnings of a new journey for Skye, as it has already been confirmed that her father will be part of the show this season.

"They treat me like I'm gonna break."

Poor Fitz is having a rough time. Following his almost self-sacrifice for Simmons at the bottom of the ocean, he suffered damage to his temporal lobe and is shown to be having cognitive difficulties. He's still brilliant of course, having been tasked to put forth a cloaking device, but very much in the recovery stage. Simmons offers him comforting words, finishing the sentences he can't remember the words for, and assuring him that he's almost there.

The twist that Simmons is not actually present was well-executed and rather clever writing. Who would have thought that Simmons would leave the team, thinking that it's in Fitz's best interest? The inseparable duo has indeed been separated. This also shows how much the team have bonded, as Coulson tells the others how they need to be strong and carry on for Fitz, and all the others lost.

A fresh start, a fresh beginning

Overall, this was an excellent start to this season. The newcomers bring a fresh energy, from Hartley (Lucy Lawless) and her team of mercenaries, to the villain Carl Creel a.k.a. The Absorbing Man. BJ Britt also is a strong performer, being able to hold his own in the lighthearted and more dramatic moments. The team is stronger, having bonded through their time and experiences together, but also battered from having lost so much, including Hartley, who had to sacrifice her hand after it was poisoned by the Quinjet.

With these characters having to live in the shadows and operate under morally grey circumstances, the show is now better suited to fit the later 9PM time slot. There's more room now for the writers to thrive creatively. Hydra is an organisation founded by Nazis, which are associated with one of the darkest chapters in world history. If the story continues to explore that darkness of which people are capable, the stories can resonate more and have a greater impact on viewers. Agents of SHIELD has gotten off to a solid start while also building up further excitement for Agent Carter. Keep it up, Marvel!

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs on Tuesdays on ABC at 9PM.


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