After half-frustrating/half-exciting first season, ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD returned with a second season last week and the premiere established a strong sense of improvement and progression in the meta-story. Now that there aren’t any more Marvel movies scheduled till the middle of next year (there’ll be 2, maybe 3 episodes after the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron), and the big reveal has been had, the show can boldly move forward and go places it was meant to go in the first place. And with new cast members, the show was also looking great with potential, which is to be expected when you have Lucy Lawless on a show, any show.
This week’s episode sees the return of an old enemy of Team Coulson, someone they’ve run into before several times and who has caused the team a lot of grief as well. While this enemy weaves a new web around Coulson and the others, we also get to see them go up against Carl Creel aka the Absorbing Man a second time and come out on top finally. This week’s episode featured some great action, some great stuff with Glenn Talbot and also lots of mysteries. However, if there is one thing that has bothered me this week, it is the fate of Isabelle Hartley, the new character played by Lucy Lawless.
“Heavy Is The Head” is all about resolving the ongoing situation with Carl Creel, otherwise also known as the Absorbing Man in the comics. Last episode we saw that he was a lone operative for HYDRA who had been tasked to bring in an item from 1940s that was first seized by the Strategic Science Reserve, the precursor to SHIELD. The story of this original 0-8-4 began in the closing days of the second World War and the newly formed SSR was tasked with taking into custody all HYDRA assets and items. Team Coulson kind of fumbled the acquisition of the item in the last episode, which eventually led to Creel getting it for his HYDRA masters.
This week, we see how the showdown between Team Coulson and Creel pans out and what happens with the item when Kyle MacLachlan’s Doctor comes on the scene in a rather subtle but badass scene right at the end of the episode.
First things first, I’m pretty pissed at what has happened with Lucy Lawless’ character Isabelle Hartley. It seems that she was brought in for just a single episode, and that’s it. Towards the end of last week’s premiere, the car carrying her, Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter and Wilmer Calderon’s Idaho crashed when Creel intercepted their exit and I was kind of holding out hope that Isabelle Hartley had survived. Lucy Lawless is a pretty major actress, having starred in big shows like Xena: Warrior Princess (most famously!), Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Spartacus before, and her casting on the show gave me real hope about more oomph and star-power for the second season. But all of them came to naught since this episode confirms that she is dead. She even got a full military burial for crying out loud. That was the most disappointing thing in this episode. I wanted to see more of Lucy Lawless, wanted to see her kick some HYDRA ass all the way back into the Stone Age.
But sadly, none of that’s gonna happen now.
However, there were several rays of sunshine in the episode nonetheless. We learn about the side-affects of the resurrection drug that Coulson was pumped with while he was dying. Something of what happened with John Garrett last season is now manifesting with Coulson and it is creepy as hell given the fact that Coulson has such a great handle on his emotions and his feelings for the most part, which these side-affects are compromising. Finally a big chink in Coulson’s shield!
Then there’s the fact that Skye has grown up significantly since the last time we saw her. She is now a mature agent who gets along with the program but isn’t afraid to ask the tough questions that no one else can ask. Not a lot from her POV this time, at least nothing like her awesome putdown of Grant Ward in last week’s premiere, but she is definitely going high for the positivity factor and I like that. Put simply, she no longer is the annoying hanger-on who didn’t make sense for Coulson’s team.
Fitz also got a lot of development this episode. He’s been suffering in the absence of Simmons and is losing his genius edge bit by bit but this episode also marked the start of his healing. He bonds with tech-genius Mack in a really nice and progressive way in the episode and together they make a good team. Mack can’t replace Simmons of course and he isn’t going to have the same dynamic as she did with Fitz, but I think he is getting there. He was able to break past Fitz’s insecurities and get him to focus on the problems at hand, so that’s a great start to this new relationship.
With May, we don’t get to see too much, but what is significant is that her relationship with Coulson is becoming more personal. She has always been a close friend to Coulson, and now she is also his caretaker when he has his doubts and his episodes. Honestly, Team Coulson cannot function at all without Agent Melinda May. She is the rock for this team, and she connects all of them together. Given the fact that Coulson is now Director of SHIELD, it could be said that she is the Deputy Director, or something to that effect. She is the only person that Coulson trusts fully, a far cry from the break in their relationship in the second half of the first season, and I liked this as well. It gives May more to do than just be the action hero of the show and I am all for that.
Where HYDRA itself is concerned, we are still largely in the dark and that kind of rankles since I want to know what the organization’s game plan is. With the introduction of a new player, things just got a whole lot complicated and with Kyle MacLachlan leading the charge, things are going to get even more complicated soon enough, of that I am sure.
Still, all things considered, I think this was a pretty damn good episode nonetheless. We got more with Lance Hunter, more with Glenn Talbot, more with other secondary characters, and we also got to see Coulson decisively put Talbot in his place and get the latter to drop his jaw with shock. That was an awesome image. Loved that.
Given what the promos for next week’s episode are showing, I am anticipating a lot more action next week. Also, Simmons is going to be back!
More Agents of SHIELD Season 2: Ep 1.
Agents of SHIELD Season 1 reviews can be found here. I’ve reviewed every episode so far.