Welcome to our first Round Table for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2!
This week, our panelists discuss Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 1, as staff writers Jim Garner, Allison Nichols, Kathleen Wiedel, Christine Orlando and Henry A. Otero are joined by guest Andy Behbakht of the Helicarrier Podcast for a discussion on the new agents, baddie the Absorbing Man, Skye and Ward's face off - and plenty more.
Don't be shy S.H.I.E.L.D. Fanatics, you've got a front row virtual seat and it's our hope you join our discussions weekly in the comments section below!
Did you enjoy the Season 2 premiere? Anything surprise you?
Jim: I loved the nod to the upcoming show Agent Carter by having Hayley Atwell and the Howling Commandos make a cameo appearance at the beginning of the show. I'm sure that won't be the last time there is cross-over story point.
Allison: Enjoy? I'll let you know once my tears have dried and my heart is put back together. The Fitz-Simmons twist was so well done, and I am not okay.
Kathleen: I really enjoyed myself; there was a lot of fun to be had! As Jim mentioned, the Howling Commandos and Agent Carter made a brief appearance near the beginning, and we discovered the original "object of unknown origin" (the origin of the term 0-8-4)! It was also nice to see Reed Diamond hamming it up as the HYDRA leader - though I have to wonder why he's still apparently using the same style of frames as he did more than sixty years ago! Plus there was the speculation between Triplett and Skye about Agent Koenig and his brothers (How many are there, really?). The biggest surprise, and easily the most heartbreaking, was when it was revealed that Fitz had been hallucinating Simmons the entire episode. Poor guy!
Christine: It was great fun. I'm a big fan of Reed Diamond so his appearance was a definite plus but it was the Fitz-Simmons twist that got to me. That Simmons left him in such a state (supposedly for his own good) and yet he's so drawn to her that he has constant interactions with her was heartbreaking.
Andy: The season 2 premiere of SHIELD felt like a completely new show and I love the fact that there is a clearer arc now with S.H.I.E.L.D. vs Hydra, just like in Marvel comics! I'm with Alison, the Fitz-Simmons thing was so painful and that was the biggest surprise to me regarding this premiere as well as a certain death that I will get to in a bit.
Hank: Yep, I absolutely loved the premiere and as Jim mentioned the Agent Carter/Howling Commandos cameo was probably my favorite moment. As far as surprises, I'm with everybody else the Fitz-Simmons reveal was heartbreaking. It's going to be tough watching one of my favorite characters struggle with his condition.
What did you think of new agents Isabelle "Izzy" Hartley, Lance Hunter, Idaho and Alphonso "Mack" MacKenzie?
Jim: I liked them a lot, I'm actually sad they killed off Hartley and Mack so quickly. Looks like Hunter might be around a little while though.
Allison: I couldn't get much of an impression on them. They were just thrown in along with a bunch of new changes. Lance Hunter is the one I have the clearest sense of. He amuses me, but maybe it's partly because of the accent.
Kathleen: I'm with Allison in that I'm somewhat disappointed in the way they were thrown at us so quickly and two of them disposed of by the end of the episode. Come on, Marvel, you just killed Xena! After sawing off her arm with a knife! (Ew, by the way.) We really didn't get much of a chance to get to know these people.
Christine: I was really disappointed that they killed off Izzy. I was looking forward to seeing more of her. The other two didn't make much of an impression.
Andy: I loved them all, I really wanted to get to know Mack a bit more, but there will be more episodes for him to shine. Lance Hunter is feisty and fun and he is totally my cup of tea because we need a character like him on S.H.I.E.L.D. How could you not love Izzy Hartley? Lucy Lawless is phenomenal, but I was disappointed that they killed her off, although this is Marvel so you never know what could happen...Idaho was fun too, although I'm not sure if he is still alive after that car crash.
Hank: Personally, I felt Hartley and Hunter were written better than when we first met Ward, Skye and even Fitz-Simmons. They felt like fully fleshed out characters from the get go. As everyone mentioned I was totally bummed out that Lucy Lawless was killed off. I agree with Andy, Lance Hunter brings a new dynamic to the team. Will he stick around for vengeance? Think I'm going to dig his character.
What are your thoughts on Carl "Crusher" Creel (a.k.a. the Absorbing Man) and his visual effects?
Jim: His power has been done so many times before, so it wasn't that impressive. His effects were decent, my only beef was how he got ahead of a speeding SUV doing 60+ MPH.
Allison: It's pretty cool that he can control it. At one point, he just transforms one of his arms. That is skill. I'm still confused how he managed to catch up to a speeding car at the end. Is he also super fast?
Kathleen: The effects were decent and not too distracting. I'm with Jim, though - how in the world did he get in front of that SUV?! I have another problem with that scene, too: even if he's made of asphalt, he's not actually attached to the ground. Creel should probably have been sent flying by the impact with the SUV. Here's another thought - where did he get the pants? He had to be buck naked in the warehouse to blend in the way he did. And why in the world were the two guards not actually watching him? (I know, I know, plot device! He had to escape somehow.)
Christine: I loved how everyone is questioning his super powers. I'm more willing to let the particulars slide. I enjoyed the special effects and really liked how he became asphalt to flip the SUV. As for how he caught up to them...I don't question time and space when it comes to superheroes and villains. My brain would get twisted trying to figure it out.
Andy: Being someone that wasn't too familiar with this character prior this appearance, I loved him! I love that they are bringing in such cool comic book characters and I think someone like the Absorbing Man is a perfect television villain. The visuals for his powers was phenomenal and I was surprised that they were able to do so much in just one episode, since this is a TV budget we are talking about. Good show!
Hank: Christine took the words right out of my mouth. I don't tend to nitpick the particulars when it comes to superheroes and supervillains. I thought the visual effects were fantastic and definitely a step up from anything the show gave us last season. Glad Absorbing Man will be back soon and not just killed off.
How did you feel watching Skye and Ward's first interaction since learning he's Hydra?
Jim: Skye's confidence has come a long way and Ward's emotional state has clearly suffered. It was interesting seeing them effectively switch roles from Mentor and Student to Prisoner and Jailer.
Allison: First off, Ward pulls off the creepy beard. This is definitely a new Skyeward. It's hard to get a read on this new Ward. Everything we knew about him last season was a lie. I want to see more of him.
Kathleen: It's kinda hard to tell what's going on in Ward's head at this point. Is he has broken as he seems, or is he playing the long game? Skye, meanwhile, has gained a lot of confidence since their early days as trainee-trainer, but it's clear that she is still hurting from the revelation of his duplicity. Personally, though, I'm rather curious as to what Ward knows (or thinks he knows) about her father.
Christine: First off, I loved Skye's new look. The hair is awesome. She radiates inner confidence and she was determined not to let Ward manipulate her. Ward is still a bit scary, bordering on creepy. He's got a connection to Skye that he's not willing to give up. I can't wait to see more of these two. It should get really interesting.
Andy: I'm with Kathleen, it's so hard to know what is going on in Ward's head right now because is this really how he is now or is just an act? I agree with Alison, he rocks that creepy beard (There has to be a WardsBeard Twitter account by now). I loved how Skye dealt with the situation and she has become such a inspiring and strong female character on the show that every time I see her in a scene, it makes me so happy.
Hank: Yeah Brett Dalton pulls off the beard well Allison! Everything about the character became more interesting the minute he was revealed to be Hydra. Dalton's wacko eyes and expression while talking about the button was brilliant. As Jim mentioned, I love Skye's new confidence and the way she dealt with Ward. Their future scenes together are going to be kick ass.
Share your initial impression of Fitz and his temporal lobe damage.
Jim: At first it was mostly harmless and slightly annoying. But, finding out at the end that the Simmons we were seeing was actually Fitz's imagination blew my mind a bit... Not sure where they are going with this one.
Allison: My baby! He broke my heart during every scene he was in. Fitz is trying, but aside from not being able to get to the right word, I'm still unclear on what else Fitz is struggling with. I just need more time with Fitz, even though it will most likely leave me in tears. Someone better give him a stuffed monkey.
Kathleen: Honestly, it was just so very sad. From the very beginning, his frustration was palpable. Here's a young man who's used to having everything come to him so quickly - he's a genius, hands down. And now he can't even express his own thoughts properly. I know how it feels to be searching for the right word but being unable to find it. Fitz may never fully recover, and he knows it, which just makes it so much more difficult for him, emotionally speaking. It's not all that surprising that his mind conjured up a figment of Simmons, the one person who he thinks would care about him no matter what state he's in. I hope it's not long before the real Simmons returns, because poor Fitz desperately needs an anchor to reality.
Christine: Oh, I never saw this one coming. Fitz is used to being one of the smartest people in the room and now he can barely finish a sentence. His frustration alone was bad enough but to add in that Simmons isn't even there. That Fitz feels so alone that his mind has to conjure her up to find comfort and hope...that's hard to watch.
Andy: Tears, tears and tears. I got so emotional in all of his scenes because this is not the Fitz we know and I'm seriously more furious now with Ward than ever because this is all his fault. I knew that Fitz was going to be different after the events of the season finale, but damn I never saw this coming at all. It's going to be interesting to see how his character will develop this season and most of all, how Fitz-Simmons will come together because I need them together!
Hank: Well I didn't tear up like Andy, but as I mentioned at the top Fitz is one of my favorite characters. It was really tough watching him struggle to find the right word. Interesting that imaginary-Simmons provides the word though. Perhaps those two halves of his psyche can be brought back together? I was also thinking, his condition is nothing a little GH.325 can't fix you know?
Anything specific you're looking forward to seeing this season?
Jim: I really want more info on Skye being 0-8-4, I'm really hoping we get to learn more about that.
Allison: Simmons reuniting with the team. Ward leaving that weird cell of his.
Kathleen: I'm very much looking forward to seeing Coulson's SHIELD as an underground organization, flying under the radar and helping out where they can. Plus, I really want to find out of the Agents Koenig are actually Life Model Decoys...
Christine: Everything! I definitely want the real Simmons back and I hope that there is hope for Fitz to get better. I also want a lot more of Ward and Skye. This is shaping up to be a great season and I can't wait to see more!
Andy: Oh there are so many things, from Kyle MacLachlan as Skye's father to Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse (the future Mockingbird!) as well as how New S.H.I.E.L.D. will potentially affect the bigger Marvel Cinematic Universe!
Hank: I'm looking forward to all the stuff mentioned above. Plus, there are whispers among Marvel fans that Skye and her Dad might actually tie into The Inhumans. For those not familiar with that part of the Marvel Universe, they're a fictional race of superhumans connected to the Kree, Fantastic Four, the Avengers, the X-Men and many more. Exciting stuff if the writers lean that way.
Thanks so much to our panelists and in advance to all the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans that join the discussion below. Make yourselves at home and see you guys right back here next week!