New season, new time, new team members, and new attitude. In the aftermath of the first season of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and the events of Captain America The Winter Soldier, our team of super agents are in a whole new place and mindset. As the new leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Phil Coulson is working to build a new organization, albeit from the ashes, and in the shadows, as they are hunted by the military. The team continues to pick up the pieces, and encounter threats old and new as the second season begins, all this, and the Absorbing Man too. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “Shadows.”
The betrayal by Agent Ward and the potential death of Fitz has left the team shattered. New blood was needed to fill things out. B.J. Britt as Antoine Triplett, a mid-first season newcomer is staying for keeps, which is a good thing. I liked him quite a bit last season. Fan favorite Patton Oswalt returns as his own twin brother (maybe) Agent Koenig. As noted in a post during Comic-Con, Lucy Lawless will be coming on board as former undercover SHIELD agent Izzy Hartley, and soon we’ll also have the Wonder Woman of David E. Kelly’s rejected pilot, Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse, who in the comics is the Avenger called Mockingbird.
Almost all of the original cast will be returning as well as major Hulk pain in butt Glenn Talbot, played by Adrian Pasdar from “Heroes.” He’ll be hunting down SHIELD agents good and bad. Lance Hunter in the comics is a member of the UK’s version of SHIELD, STRIKE, but here, played by Nick Blood, he’ll be a mercenary on our side. Henry Simmons also joins the team as Al McKenzie, former CIA and SHIELD agent in the comics who retired to write a tell-all book about his experiences. In the show, he seems to be a high tech mechanic, hopefully not a full-time replacement for Fitz. We have been promised Kyle MacLachlan as Skye’s father, maybe answering some questions about her past. Reed Diamond also joins the cast as Kraken, a Hydra high-up and presumably the big bad for the season.
We open in the past, an introduction to the series that will fill in the hiatus after the first ten episodes of agents this season – “Agent Carter.” It’s during or after the Second World War, certainly after the death of the Red Skull in the first Captain America film, and the good guys are cleaning up the last Hydra base. And by good guys, I mean Hayley Atwill’s Peggy Carter, Dum-Dum Dugan, Jimmy Woo (I’m assuming), and the rest of the Howling Commandos – future SHIELD agents all. Here they’re working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve, obviously a precursor to SHIELD.
One of the objects collected, notably for Stark’s (obviously Howard not Tony) inspection is ‘The Obelisk.’ It’s an alien looking item with a weird death touch. When it’s sealed up, it’s marked #084. Regular viewers (and readers) know that an 0-8-4 is something of unknown origin or power. I absolutely loved the black versions of the green Hydra uniforms from the comics. Hopefully we’ll see them again.
A Third Party
Next up is our establishing shot. SHIELD secrets are being sold to the highest bidder, and the good guys are trying to put a stop to it. We also see that our little team has undergone some changes. Skye is becoming quite the field agent. We see a bit of Izzy, Hunter, and Mac. We learn that Coulson has become a shadowy figurehead no one sees any more, mostly concerned with recruitment. Koenig is protective of Coulson, and quite possibly an LMD. And Glenn Talbot is on the hunt for both SHIELD and Hydra, with a nice but indulgent cameo by George Stephanopoulos.
The intel being sold comes full circle as The Obelisk is included in the stash, the first 0-8-4 as Coulson calls it. The info deal we’ve all seen in the preview is interrupted by a third party. The man appears to be bulletproof and we find later is definitely working for Hydra. He has powers and is paid with an exotic diamond that he promptly absorbs. Yeah, you heard me, the Absorbing Man.
The Absorbing Man
Also new this season, and starting off with a bang is the Absorbing Man. Brian Patrick Wade is playing Carl “Crusher” Creel who becomes one of the most dangerous criminals on Earth in the Marvel Comics Universe. Originally a Thor foe, Creel was granted a stunning superpower by (who else?) Loki, the power to absorb the properties of anything he touches. On many occasions in the comics Creel has fought Thor, the Hulk, even the Avengers to a standstill. Actually, there are not many in the MU who have not faced this villain.
My first encounter with Creel was in Avengers #183-184 written by David Michelinie and illustrated by John Byrne. This was the Absorbing Man’s jump from second or third rate super-powered criminal to first class super-villain. Not only was he fighting against an entire superhero team, but it was the Avengers, and it took them all to defeat him. He had entered badass country, and it was one of my favorite stories of that era. Since then, the Absorbing Man has been a contender. He even got a pseudo-appearance in Ang Lee’s Hulk as the villain, although altered quite a bit. Here, except for the Loki origin, he is much the same.
When we first see Fitz, there is a great fear that there was brain damage from the end of the first season. He needs prodding, he needs comfort and pampering. Sadly Fitz is irritated by Simmons, much to her dismay. It’s not as bad as we thought, but there is definitely brain damage. So much so, that even Simmons has been handicapped by this tragedy, or so it seems, spoiler warning, folks, she’s gone. I miss the old Fitz and Simmons.
We also discover Vault D below The Playground. That’s where they’ve imprisoned former Agent Grant Ward. Brett Dalton is such a good actor that it’s hard to tell if he’s lying or not, and that’s why he was so good as a double agent last season. Here he’s being used as an information resource on Hydra. I just hope that Skye has hardened enough not to fall for his crap.
The Spy Game
As the episode rolls on, we have a few character moments. Fitz and Simmons are sad. B.J. Britt’s Triplett makes the most of what little he has to do here, proving he is just as good an actor as Brett Dalton. He’s quality, not quantity, and I want more. The episode is mostly filled with espionage shenanigans. Things like kidnapping Talbot and tricking him into doing what they need, sneaking into a government installation and stealing a quinjet(!), and just basically doing the best spy entertainment this side of James Bond.
And then there’s what this second season premiere did that everyone wanted from the first episode of the series last year – they delivered. Folks expected super-powers, they brought the super-powers. The Absorbing Man was exactly what he should have been in every fanboy’s wet dream. Crusher Creel was awesome, the special effects were cool, and he looked great. I can’t say enough how impressed I am with this presentation. Now I can’t wait for Blizzard, Mockingbird, and Graviton. This will rock.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is back! I’ll see you next week as the adventure continues.