Agents of SHIELD has had it’s highs and lows just like any show. But for a minute there was a time when I was fairly certain that Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD wasn’t going to make it to season 2. That all changed with the arrival of the second half of the season. The show went from being inconsequential and not leaving a real impact, to finally delivering on the emotional aspects of the show. It followed a similar trajectory as The Tomorrow People in terms of quality, but Agents of SHIELD was a higher profile show with a slightly larger audience.
I want to start by talking about the pilot. It was initially premiered for those who attended the Agents of SHIELD panel at San Diego Comic Con in 2013, but it wasn’t revealed to the public until it’s premiere in September. The buzz around the pilot was there. Not to mention the obvious connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The pilot delivered the best a pilot can do. It was entertaining, it set things up, and it gave us a reason to tune in the next week. It wasn’t a perfect pilot, but it was largely honed and presented what the show could potentially do. It was a high standard to live up to.
The Early Season
Unfortunately, after the pilot, the momentum dropped off. Yes, we needed to learn more about these characters, but we didn’t get anything to really invest in them. Time after time it looked like the characters were going to be put into dire situations only for them always find a way out. As a result, many of these early episodes didn’t work as well as they could have. One exception were the few episodes that we got that centered around Mike Peterson. He presented a new aspect into this world, but these episodes were few and far between. All along we were being forcibly told how special Skye was and how much we should love her and care about her, but weren’t given any material that the audience could sink their teeth into.
The season picked up in the second half. While most people note the first episode post the events of Captain America: The Winter Solider as the moment things turned around it was actually before that. I would honestly say it turned that corner from inconsequtional to important in “T.R.A.C.K.S.” That was the true beginning of the end as it was not only just a good episode, but it sent us further down the spiral of what actually was done to Coulson. By the time that “Turn, Turn, Turn” aired the impact was tremendous. It was from there on out that we started to care about Skye, which the show had been pushing on us from Day 1. Not only that, but it really turned the entire world of our team upside down as they handled the dissolution of their organization and the threat that as HYDRA and in particular Agent John Garrett and Grant Ward.
When the creators started this show it began with the idea of Coulson. The rest of the team was built out from there. They were entirely original and often we were forced to feel some sort of connection to these characters. It felt like a major misstep to try to force the feelings of the team about a character on the audience than let it develop naturally. People loved Coulson and it may have been more beneficial if they focused more on Coulson and how the team interacted with him. However, this is an ensemble and they wanted it to feel balance. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out early in the season. That said, they have developed a number of characters into ones that I wish to follow. One of the most intriguing characters that has been presented this season was Raina. While initially it seemed like she was a villain, the more we see of her the less sure I am of that. Raina, “The Girl in the Flower Dress” is truly interested in evolution and the peculiar. She comes from a scientific perspective and while she will do terrible things to advance her research, I don’t believe she is trying to be evil. I’d call her self-serving.
One of the most enjoyable character developments came in terms of Ward. We learned very early on that Ward was extremely capable. However, early in the season he was as bland as white bread. Ward was cookie cutter and the most interesting thing he was doing was hooking up with May. When it was revealed that Ward was part of HYDRA it was a big deal. It also made perfect sense. Once his true affiliation was revealed we finally got to really see his character develop into someone who was interesting. Sure he was despicable because he was as Skye appropriately called out, “weak” and he seemed more like a misguided boy. It was an interesting twist for his character and I was glad to see that sort of development.
Marvel Cinematic Universe
Agents of SHIELD’s first attempt to integrate the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a bigger way was admittedly a bit of a let down. We’d already seen the team cleaning up chitauri weaponry in an early episode. Then Thor: The Dark World came out and our team went to clean up again. This time it did involve an interesting plot line with an Asgardian, but it wasn’t the epic cross over that it was marketed as. The first truly good crossover came when Lady Sif was sent down to capture Lorelei in “Yes Men” where we saw the clash of the Asgardians. It was a fun romp with an already known character and it felt like it actually had a real impact. The first good crossover they had also was a potential tease for the rest of the Cinematic Universe. Lady Sif was ordered to take Lorelei alive by Odin, who we know was being impersonated by Loki. Lorelei has been in the past a cohort of Loki, so we could have seen a potential set up there as well. The biggest obvious crossover came from the reveal that HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD. I won’t go all into that because it was a very large arc and has lasting implications that will effect the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The end result however was Coulson becoming the Director of SHIELD as it will now be rebuilt from scratch.
Where to go next?
The show set up numerous threads that we will be exploring next season. I’m fairly certain that we’ll be following these larger plot lines along with smaller ones that will be integrated. So let’s highlight the big plot lines we can look forward to. At the end of “Beginning of the End“, we saw Raina enter a house with a man sitting on the couch. Aside from the fact that we didn’t see the man’s face, we did get a glimpse of his bloodied arm as though his skin had been flayed from his body. Raina marched up to him rather calm and undisturbed with the news that Skye, his daughter, was still alive. Thus, it looks like we’ll be learning more about sky’s parentage. Other than learning that it was Skye’s parents who slaughtered villages trying to kill her was the only new information we learned about her.
It appears that those who have been administered the GH325 are having these odd effects. It was excessively highlighted by Garrett, who had a synthesized version of the drug possibly that amplified this urge that we don’t see as present in Coulson in Skye. The result is he was seen drawing a series of circles and lines. In the final tag it was shown that Coulson was also doing that same drawing. Obviously it means something, but this will likely be explored as we move through the coming season. We may even learn what the drug actually is which could be the introduction of the Kree or another race.
Fitz should have died underwater, but Simmons wasn’t going to let her best friend die. She managed to save him, but it wasn’t without a cost. After Simmons and Fitz were pulled out of the water by Nick Fury, we never saw Fitz again. Though it was mentioned that he may never be the same. Fitz was a genius. He was praised numerous times for his inventions. Now, he’s going to be suffering from effects that will likely impact how he does his job. This will likely lead to some intense personal drama. It could also lead to some sort of transformation of the Fitz we know. While Fitz was possibly my favorite character and I like him as he is, it will be interesting to see his change.
Ward is captured. While I don’t think it’s likely we will see nearly as much of him next season, there will definitely be times were see see him. Ward just lost the man he followed. His world has shattered and the few people he could have counted on were betrayed by him. He’s in a bad spot, but it should be interesting to see Ward do his best to rationalize every thing he did. The real question is how much he actually knows about HYDRA because the more we delved into his new character the more it seemed that he was little more than a grunt.
Finally I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the possible introduction of LMDs in the form of Bill Koenig. Yes, Eric had mentioned his brother. But what are the chances that not only are they identical twins, but that they also have the same exact mannerisms. There was an eerie nature regarding his appearance and our team seemed to feel the same way.
Check out the season’s gallery here. What did you think of the season?