In the first two episodes of this second season of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” we were treated to the live action debut of Marvel Comics super-villain, Crusher Creel, AKA the Absorbing Man. This week we see the return of a villain who was only hinted at and birthed in the season one story, “Seeds” – Blizzard. Now both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra are vying for his talents, but is that an old friend working the cause for Hydra? Look for my thoughts on “Making Friends and Influencing People” after the jump.
What Has Gone Before
In the aforementioned “Seeds,” Fitz and Simmons, along with the rest of the team, returned to the SHIELD academy where they met Donnie Gill who was playing with technology to control the weather. He turned out to be a ‘bad seed.’ Since then, in the battle against Hydra, Fitz sustained brain damage, and we are told that Simmons left the team.
When we last saw Donnie Gill – the Iron Man foe called Blizzard in the comics, and played by Dylan Minnette of “Saving Grace” on television – he had been shipped off to The Sandbox where he can be monitored. You could call it a prison but really it’s a facility where dangerous alien artifacts are contained. The problem with this former S.H.I.E.L.D. cadet, who had developed freezing powers from his weather experiments, is that The Sandbox may have been compromised when Hydra went to war with S.H.I.E.L.D.
We open on the shadowy Dr. Daniel Whitehall in the midst of torturing SHIELD Agent 33 (from the 1990s Hercules comics), in hopes of turning her to the hordes of Hydra. Whitehall appears to be our big bad (at least so far, but we’re only three episodes in, after all). In the comics, Whitehall is known as The Kraken, a legendary Hydra agent with a magic helmet and godkilling sword, who was also affiliated with Zodiac, another enemy of SHIELD. Who knows how much of that will translate to the small screen?
The Faustus Method of torture being employed upon Agent 33 is a reference to an enemy of Captain America called Doctor Faustus. This maniac was a brainwashing expert for hire who worked for the Red Skull, the Secret Empire, and neo-Nazis – basically anyone with an evil agenda and an accent. Notably, Faustus brainwashed Sharon Carter/Agent 13 (from Captain America: The Winter Soldier) into faking her death by suicide.
God Help the Girl
Next we look in on Jemma Simmons as she starts her day to the tune of God Help the Girl. She seems quite happy in her new lab job in her cute little Diana Rigg “Avengers” (no, not those Avengers) jumpsuit. She makes happy shiny small talk with the security guard, and she’s all smiles. Then her less than happy boss walks by, and camera moves so we can see the company logo. Oh no. It’s Hydra.
Simmons’ workplace is both rushed and dangerous. Her superiors are either scary or scared. Nobody wants to wait to be sure, where back at SHIELD everything had to be perfect and double-checked. Hydra just doesn’t have the efficiency standards she’s used to. Maybe there’s something to be done about that…
Downtime at The Playground
Business as usual at The Playground. May is still holding a grudge against Hunter, and Skye is still slowly becoming May. They are teacher and student, yes, but now they are also strong friends, and each others’ support systems in more ways than one. And Mac and Hunter are blending in well too. The camaraderie has more chemistry with the new mix of characters than the cast did last season. I guess they have better combinations and connections this time.
All may not be what it seems however (which is one of my favorite things about this show), as we find that Coulson is waiting for Simmons when she comes home from work. She’s deep undercover, and helping SHIELD find out who Hydra has been scouting. Skye is also checking in with Hydra by chatting with The Asset, ahem, I mean Ward. Wow, still a lot of hostility down there in The Vault, and more to come.
Hiding out in the Middle East, Donnie Gill is being pursued by both SHIELD and Hydra, and has apparently turned more than a little psychotic. We watch as he kills several opponents with his ice powers. We learn he was trained in the use of these abilities at The Sandbox, making him quite an asset for both sides. Donnie has definitely taken a disliking to Hydra and wants to be left alone.
Speaking of Hydra, in an attempt to have Simmons prove her loyalty to her new employer, they’d like her to recruit Donnie. Yeah, that’s going to go well. As the SHIELD team race to Gill, Bakshi (Whitehall’s number two) remotely walks Simmons through talking Gill into joining Hydra. The hairs stand up on the back of my neck when the words Bakshi asks Simmons to say to Gill are the same The Kraken used while trying to convince Agent 33 to join Hydra…
Airing Out The Asset
Back at The Playground, Fitz is starting to lose it. Getting paranoid that things are being kept from him, he investigates on his own, finding Ward down in The Vault. There are holes in Fitz’ mind, but he remembers Ward, and remembers what he did to him. Fitz gives his attempted murderer a taste of his own medicine by removing the oxygen from his cell. In the throes of near-death, Ward spills the beans on Donnie Gill.
Much like many in SHIELD, Donnie Gill had already been recruited by Hydra, and was already an agent. He was brainwashed to forget. Thus the code phrase being used. Happily Fitz’ information saved the operation, and kept Simmons’ cover intact. Gill however was lost. Not dead – comic book death rule number one is no body, no death. I am sure we’ll see Blizzard again.
There’s a thing in the comics that went on about a dozen or so years ago when Marvel relaunched the Avengers comic. SHIELD and Hydra were fighting then too, status quo, ya know, but there was something else going on. Shape-shifting aliens called Skrulls were infiltrating the human race by taking on the forms of people we trusted. Who do you trust? became the battlecry and the watchwords of what became known as the “Secret Invasion.”
Spider-Woman, as a former SHIELD agent, former Hydra agent, and Avenger, and also, the Skrull queen – she epitomized the concept of the doubler-double-double-agent. Every other week readers were losing their minds trying to figure out whose side she was on. It got old rather quickly. With the similar games being played right now on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” it could very well go that way as well. Please, let’s not play this Spider-Woman Syndrome card too often, okay?
The Final Word
Coulson finally has a sit-down with Fitz. He’s still not telling the young scientist everything but that’s okay. Coulson is a Director after Nick Fury’s heart, he’s just full of secrets at this point. Speaking of secrets, Skye also has a sit-down, with Ward. He drops a big one on her, saying he knows her father is alive, and he can take her to him. Despite the oncoming return of “Twin Peaks” to television, I guess we’re going to be seeing more of Kyle MacLachlan…
Next: Dancing with the Agents…?