Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: Shadows (S2E1) – Review

Marvel Agents of SHIELD - Season 2, Episode 1
Sight for sore eyes

Oh, man.

Oh man oh man oh man.

I have been waiting for this blog entry since…well, since Season One ended.


Now, if you haven’t seen this episode yet, or if for some unimaginable reason you aren’t caught up on last season or the movies, you have to stop reading now, I promise you.  There’s something about knowing the twist that completely ruins your ability to enjoy the episodes leading up to it.  That’s why they’re called spoilers.


This episode starts off with a very cool flashback to the 40’s with Agent Carter and compatriots Dum Dum Dugan and Jim Morita in tow, knocking out some Nazi Hydra scum and seizing some dangerous stuff so they can lock it away for good.  The biggest piece of this is the original 0-8-4, a small metal-ish obelisk with some alien (I assume?) markings that seems to turn people to stone when they touch it.  No bueno.  Maybe Stark (senior, not junior) will know what to do with it.

Catching up to the present day, in a startling shock, that little piece of history is in demand.  Since SHIELD has been marked a terrorist organization, ex-agents are turning freelance with their secrets, selling to the highest bidder.  Luckily the highest bidder is a group of mercenaries on Coulson’s side and includes Lucy Lawless, Nick Blood, and Henry Simmons.  And that was almost fine, except for information leading to the obelisk gets stolen away by a guy who doesn’t seem to worry too much about the bullets in his chest.

Come to find out, that is Carl “Crusher” Creel, also known as the absorbing man.  He can’t really be damaged physically, because as soon as he touches something, he can rearrange his molecules to become that substance.  So he can be a true Iron Man, Man of Steel, or even Tin Man if he wanted.  He could be smooth as butter or turn into The Rock, or if he tickled the ivories he could sing us a song and be the Piano Man.  Enough puns?  Probably enough puns.

So there’s enemy number one.

To track him down, however, they need intel.  Intel they don’t have.  However, Ward has intel, and they have Ward, and that’ll do.  He’s vowed to only talk to Skye, of course, so there’s that confrontation.  Impenetrable laser wall that can be turned soundproof or opaque at the tap of an iPad.  He lets Skye know that Hydra has been communicating through the whitenoise in SHIELD’s channels, and sure enough that pays off.  But with less ignorance comes less bliss and the map of Hydra receivers starts looking like a fairly decent 4G coverage map of the world.  You know in cartoons when one bat in a cave opens its eyes, then every bat in the cave opens its eyes?  That moment.

Enemy number two is the US Military, mostly General Glenn Talbot.  With a promotion and a chip on his shoulder.  His personal mission is to make sure that every last shred of anything remotely related to SHIELD is completely destroyed.  Luckily, Coulson and crew are scrappy and resourceful, and manage to kidnap him, steal his biometrics, and use them to break into a military stronghold.  No big deal.  Super cool spy tech, right?

So then the showdown happens.  Creel wants that obelisk, SHIELD wants that obelisk, and Lawless decides to touch that obelisk.  And then starts turning to stone or whatever that is, can’t let go, and it’s slowly killing her.  Mercs abandon the plan to get her to a doctor, except Creel crashes their car in a scene reminiscent of The Winter Soldier, and grabs the obelisk by turning his hand rubber.  Coulson’s team accomplishes goal number two: steal a jet with cloaking ability.  A giant black jet with SHIELD logos won’t exactly give them freedom to move about the country, you know.

Oh, and one more thing.

Fitz is alive.  He’s talking, he can walk, he seems to be fine physically.  But he stopped breathing for quite a while last season when he was at the bottom of the ocean.  His brain didn’t get quite enough oxygen for a while.  He is now experiencing some pretty hefty damage to his brain – his ideas aren’t coming as quickly or as easily, and he’s having trouble expressing himself.  He only feels calm when he’s talking to Simmons.

Except for one more thing.

Apparently, he’s the only one who can see her.  She left the team, thinking he’d recover better without her around.  So he’s talking to her, she’s finishing his sentences, she’s calming him down, she’s touching his shoulder and he’s holding her hand and I’m about to cry as I’m trying to write this, jeez.

So the team is down two scientists – one is gone completely, the other might as well be.  Last season, they seemed to be in mortal peril nearly every episode, and this is the way we lose them?  This is true Whedon – life is random and uncaring and no one is immune.  Respect and hate, Whedon.  Respect and hate.


It’s a huge sigh of relief to see this show again.  I’ve been missing it far too much.  Seeing a glimpse at Agent Carter’s direction was also really neat, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that all plays out, too.  They’re pretty certain they’ve crushed Hydra, even though we know different.

Patton Oswalt is just plain awesome as a brand-new version of the same old guy.  And we’ve confirmed there are more.  This nerd has guaranteed himself a cameo on SHIELD forever.  Well job, sir.

Ward is just oozing creepy.  We all know what he’s done, we’ve seen his past, and he’s lost any kind of sugar-coating he ever had – which was thin to begin with.  So, yes, he’s only willing to help, he promises to only tell the truth from here on out (what could he possibly gain from lying anyway?), and no one on the team or in the fan base is even going to consider trusting him.  They’ll check the intel and so far it proves to be right, but it’s going to take a lot to recover from just how deeply he betrayed everyone last season.

Coulson is under a ton of stress.  He has to fly around the world to personally recruit any good people left on the planet who can be loyal to the cause.  Very few, very far between, and he’s already seen the in-flight entertainment too many times.  He’s way beyond his comfort zone – going from front-line first-responder to behind the scenes string-puller, call-maker, etc.

“Agent Skye” was probably my two most favorite words of the episode.  She’s been training, she’s earned this.  She’s still a little unsure of the lifestyle of unquestioning adherence to orders, but she’s doing her best, it seems.  And she’s a formidable foe.

May is probably the character with the most integrity – she’s 100% the same May she was when last season ended.  No shifting affiliations, no anterior motives, just looking out for Coulson and the team.  Man, something’s going to screw that up soon, the way these writers play with our emotions.

As much as I am deeply, personally hurt by the Fitz/Simmons story, I am so morbidly intrigued to see it play out.  Clearly Elizabeth Henstridge is clearly going to still be part of the show, though she will be playing an imaginary, idealized version of Simmons in Fitz’ beautiful mind.  I also love that twist because it comes right at the end and makes this an episode to watch twice.  You can see all the clues from the start.  In a playwriting class, I was told that a twist has to be a surprise, but it still has to follow logically from what happens.

What happens from here, though, is what I’m waiting to see.  The Marvel universe is filled with so many possibilities.  My guesses are going to be heroic sacrifice, cure that’s worse than the disease, or descent into madness that turns him into a super villain that forces the team to “make the hard call”.  Remember, I keep myself only mildly informed about anything, so this is all 100% purest conjecture.  If it comes true, I’m a genius, but not a spoiler.

What’s next?

So we’re now in a world where the Team is mobilized again, and can move around basically undetected.

Simmons is gone, and Fitz is going.  The absorbing man has a very powerful and dangerous object, and is presumably bringing it back to an immortal Nazi guy?  We’re going to be learning more about that situation, I hope.

The mercs are in an upside down car, with their eyes closed, and blood coming out of them.  I’m not going to say they’re dead, because people tend to recover from worse than that, so I think we’ll see more of them at some point.

There are a lot of people loyal to Hydra, and very few loyal to SHIELD, but the ones who are are super loyal.  They’re protecting the world from the shadows.  Like, the world’s best ninjas, just looking out for us good people.  Heck, they even went out of their way to save Talbot and his family, even though the guy’s a jerk (not evil, just a jerk).

And then there’s all the unanswered stuff.  There’s Skye’s family lineage – about which Ward seems to know something.  There’s the weirdo alien writing that Garrett and Coulson were both scrawling (and I don’t think the team knows that was Coulson’s doing).  Also, how many other villains are presumed dead, but were actually just fake crossed off by Garrett or other Hydra agents?  Lots still unknown.  You could say a lot is still…in the Shadows.

I think we’re in for a heck of a ride this season.

What are you looking forward to?  What are you dreading?  What do you think is the next big reason for us to hate the writers?  Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time,

Geek out!

-Johnny 5