Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap and Spoilers

9/24/2014 Stephen Colbert 0 Comments




This is a spoilery recap of the season 2 premier of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..  The spoiler free review can be found here.

Season 2 of Agent S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't waste any time jumping right into the action, capitalizing on the momentum of the end of last season.

The first thing we see is a flashback to Austria in 1945, after the death of the Red Skull.  Agent Carter and the Howling Commandos are raiding a Hydra base, and seizing several artifacts.  This might be a huge event, effecting both the rest of this season, as well as the Agent Carter show that will air during the break, but there were only two noticeable items initially.  First, the 084 (later revealed to be the 084, as in the first one), and second, a box containing what looks like a (the?) blue alien, although no clear label could be read.


Agent Carter and the Howling Commandos had some excellent dialogue, and the tone felt spot on.  It felt almost like a button scene from Captain America: The First Avenger.  Hopefully it was an accurate example of what the Agent Carter show will be like.

Fast forward to present day, several months have passed since the end of the last season, and it's obvious.  Skye is a fully capable and confident S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Coulson has been running all around the world looking for recruits, and there are 4 new team members who receive basically no introduction.

The new characters are all enjoyable, but how and why they joined S.H.I.E.L.D. is unclear, and I had trouble even catching their names before the end of the episode.  I know Lucy Lawless was Isabelle Hartly because I actively follow the show, but there was no narrative or exposition to establish any context for the start of this season.  I feel like they skipped several episodes of really interesting content.  A simple introduction voiceover bridging the gap would have been nice.  Anything to add a little context.


The pace prevented this concern from being a lingering issue, though.  S.H.I.E.L.D. is being hunted down by Brigadier General Talbot, the government has seized tons of boxes from S.H.I.E.L.D. storage, and The Absorbing Man—Carl "Crusher" Creel—is looking for the 084.

Coulson has tasked Skye with interpreting the symbols he began writing at the end of the last season (the same symbols Garrett was writing, and the same symbols that can be seen on the blue alien).  It's unclear just how much Coulson knows at this point, but they are making sure to keep all these plot points in play this season.


There are quite a few clever plot devices in place that can be drawn from to expand the rest of the season.  Coulson is recruiting, so new friendly talent can be regularly added (he even says he found "allies" in London.  Thor?) and tons of boxes with fancy S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff inside mean almost anything can pop up at any time.

The Absorbing Man effects are probably the best we've seen on the show yet.  This character is an excellent addition, and he wasn't a one-off villain either, meaning the show is moving away from the monster of the week formula, thankfully.


The Bus is out of commission, because they can't fly it anywhere without Talbot tracking it down.  Fitz is working on cloaking, but his brain injury is proving to be a major impediment.  Iain De Caestecker puts on a good performance, as the character plays with our emotions.  His initial introduction makes him look far more brain damaged than he is, but it turns out he's fairly cognizant, but suffers from frequent memory lapses and has trouble staying focused.

The reveal at the end that Simmons left some time ago, and all their interactions (in which she's still finishing his sentences... just in a new way) are in his head was a gut punch to many fans.  This is so far the most compelling character arc, and it will be very interesting to see where they take both Fitz and Simmons in the coming episodes.

Skye goes to visit Ward for the first time in his captivity, and doesn't trust him at all.  I really wish they had killed Ward off in the first season or something, because I don't have any confidence in his portion of the show right now.  It appears they are trying to start the long process of redeeming him, but it just feels contrived and I'm not a fan.  There is a reveal that he knows about Skye's father, which is interesting, so at least he still has some utility.

I'd like to see him reveal some (or all) of what he knows, then make some sort of team saving sacrifice to get him off the show.  I don't hate Brett Dalton or his performance, the character just does nothing for me.   B.J. Britt's Agent Triplett fills those shoes much better, so there's very minimal need for Ward any longer.

Coulson has General Talbot abducted to save him from Creel, but Talbot refuses to co-operate with S.H.I.E.L.D..  The government seemingly captured Creel, but Coulson reveals that the Absorbing Man intended to be captured so he could be taken to the location of the 084.

Coulson sends his team, including Isabelle Hartley, Lance Hunter, and Alphonso "Mac" Mackenzie to retrieve the 084, with special instructions to also steal a quinjet, since Coulson doesn't have faith in Fitz's ability to get cloaking working any time soon, and his world travels are being hindered by "flying economy."

During the search for the 084, the camera slows over a box marked "SSR 138".  This may be nothing, but if Lost taught me anything, it's to memorize any numbers that appear on screen.  This may be the box containing the GH.325/blue alien, or something else entirely, or nothing.  We'll revisit this when there's more to go on.




After finding the 084 (which has the mysterious symbols all over), Hartley tries to pick it up, but it sticks to her hand (or her hand clamps down on it?) and starts turning her arm black.  After escaping the government facility, she has her arm cut off to stop it from killing her.  She says "you've seen what they can do with robotics these days," as a possible reference to The Winter Soldier, but before they can get to a Hospital, Absorbing Man turn himself into asphalt and destroy their vehicle.  He goes to the overturned Suburban and touches the tire to turn his arm into rubber up to the forearm and picks up the 084 without issue.

The fate of Hartley is not specified, but she appears to be dead at the end of the show.  Considering the only person that stays dead in Marvel is Uncle Ben, I think we'll have to wait an episode or two to see if she continues to be a part of the show.  Her character was solid, but I wouldn't mind slimming the team down a little bit.  This first episode started to feel crowded.



The end of the show reveals what may be the big-bad for this season, Dr. Daniel Whitehall, AKA: Kraken.  He's a Hydra agent and has historic ties to Baron Von Strucker, who was revealed in the post credits scene for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so we already have some pretty strong connective tissue established between that and Avengers: Age of Ultron.  Combined with the fact that the blue alien is most likely a Kree, I'd say we have a very connected shared universe.

We'll see how far the rabbit hole goes, but this show is already more relevant to the rest of the MCU than the last season, but we're only one episode in.  Definitely a good, but not perfect, start.

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