Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 2, Episode 2: 'Heavy is the Head' Review

10/01/2014 Unknown 0 Comments

This time last year, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was getting worse with each episode, lagging in almost every way possible, in stark contrast to this season, which is fairly high adrenaline and intrigue for most of the first two episodes.

(This review will avoid most spoilers. Episode 2 recap and spoilers will be covered in a separate post).

Picking up immediately after the high stakes end of the season 2 premier, Episode 2: 'Heavy Is the Head,' capitalizes on the momentum from the season opener, which is something the show rarely did properly last season.  The chase for the Obelisk (0-8-4) is on, while Coulson continues to try to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D., and Fitz struggles to return to his old self and fix the cloaking generator.

'Heavy is the Head' continues to establish this new attitude for the show, as it continues to cut out some of the dead weight from the first season (and even trims down some from the first episode).  So far, this season demonstrates a much smarter approach to this universe.  The show still isn't perfect, but it has essentially eliminated most of the lackluster and cheesy groaning moments so prevalent last year.

The biggest improvement in the show is in the story.  Last season, there was very little connective tissue between episodes.  There were some common themes, but it very much followed a monster of the week format and kept the larger season plot as a much fainter back-story.

This season starts off tying directly into all the main mysteries of last season, and episode 2 continues to explore, expand, and tease most of those mysteries.  Whereas there was very little momentum episode-to-episode last season, I'm excited to find out what happens next week (which was only the case in the second half of last season).

Performances are still loose across the board, but the script seems to work within the character constraints a little better.  Nobody is really expected to be a standout, except Iain De Caestecker's Fitz, who I rave about almost every week.  Not only is his character one of the most emotional and compelling, but they keep finding new characters to match him with, which consistently elevates both characters.

One of my chief complaints last week was that the new character 'Mac' was just dropped in with little explanation and we had very little context for him.  In just a few minutes of exchange between him and Fitz, Alphonso 'Mac' Mackenzie (Henry Simmons) is a new bright spot to the show.

I don't know if they increased the budget, or are just using it better, but the effects are also very much improved. The effects for Carl Creel AKA Absorbing Man were excellent last week, but there's a shot in this week's episode that demonstrates the show's improvement in direction and special effects even more.  There were still moments where there was some obvious CGI (such at the quinjet), but it was still well done, not distracting.

The most exciting thing about this season so far is the way it is trending after two episodes.  Last season seemed to lose momentum from episode to episode, but I truly feel like this season is going somewhere and has something exciting to show us.  That could all go away in just a single week, but so far, I'm thrilled with the changes they've made.

It's hard to get too excited about this show, considering how quickly last season could drop all momentum, but so many things have been fixed, my confidence in the show is much higher.  With Agent Carter, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Daredevil's Netflix series all on the way, Marvel just might transition from Phase 2 to Phase 3 with a bang.

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