Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Shadows

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Any doubts the show's creative team could keep up the momentum established in the second half of last season were quickly put to rest in the opening moments of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 1.

Agent Carter made an appearance as did General Talbot and Absorbing Man (the VFX were pure Marvel). Coulson was focused on rebuilding and recruiting, doing a fine job too I might add. Our team's as efficient as ever, using the traitorous Ward to uncover Hydra secrets. And poor Fitz might never be the same again.

What an intense, action-packed and emotional opening to the second season. Based on this first installment alone, I've got high hopes for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2.

"Shadows" kicks off in Austria 1945. I thought the Agent Carter cameo might come across a bit self-indulgent, but it actually tied into the episode perfectly. Hydra is packing up the first 0-8-4 and abandoning their last known base. This opening flashback looked like it was ripped straight from a Captain America film right?

It's fitting that while Coulson rebuilds his fractured organization we learn more about the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), the agency that preceded S.H.I.E.L.D. Sure, Marvel/ABC were plugging their new series Marvel's Agent Carter, but they did their job well. I can't wait to check out Hayley Atwell's new series. How about you?

Who exactly is our ageless Nazi leader? That's Daniel Whitehall, aka the Kraken a notorious Hydra agent. This is one bad dude and within the Marvel Universe he's responsible for training Hydra's up and coming talent. It's safe to say Whitehall will be a recurring villain this season. Loved that he mentioned the Red Skull as well.

When the show returns to present day, we meet several new S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Among them Isabelle "Izzy" Hartley (Lucy Lawless), Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), Idaho (Wilmer Calderon) and Alphonso "Mack" MacKenzie (Henry Simmons). I wondered why Lucy Lawless did not appear in the official cast portrait. What's with this new trend of hiring our favorite genre actors and killing them off in their first episode?

Hartley and company are negotiating with an ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent over the very same Level 10 "0-8-4" Peggy Carter locked away all those years ago. Carl "Crusher" Creel, a.k.a. the Absorbing Man interrupts and we meet our first superpowered baddie of the season. Personally, that's one of the things that frustrated me about the show's freshman run... it's the Marvel Universe, we might not get to see Iron Man, Thor, Hulk but give us more super-humans you know? I think the writers got the message loud and clear.

Things go south fast and the familiar faces of May and Skye appear to assist. I've got to admit, it's great to see everyone again. You don't realize how invested you are in these characters until you see them in action again.

While General Talbot is trashing S.H.I.E.L.D. on television, Coulson is busy focusing on recruiting the few loyal agents he can. We learn from Agent May that Hartley's team of mercenaries are "good." Shame that Hunter seems mostly in it for the money. That said, after losing his friend and colleague Hartley I'm sure he'll stick around for some payback.

The 0-8-4 in question is no ordinary otherworldly artifact...

It's not just an 0-8-4, it's the first and all Fury knew about it was the trails of bodies that followed it.

Coulson

How kick ass were the Absorbing Man's powers guys? The visual effects absolutely top-notch as well. Whether glass, steel, concrete or rubber the transformations never looked lame. Actually, I bet a huge chunk of this installment's budget went into Absorbing Man Ha!

Anyway, turns out John Garrett (the Clairvoyant) had kept Creel a secret. This leads to a tense confrontation between Skye and ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Ward for intel. I'm one of those fans that did not want a redemption story for Ward, but I admit I felt kind of bad for the guy. How's that even possible? Great writing that's how. Not only did we feel for Ward, but we relished in Skye's strength. I wasn't a fan of hers last season, but I think I'm going to like this new Skye.

Skye clearly hates Ward at this point, but he's hoping when his information proves true they'll have more of these chats. Will he be the person that reveals her father's identity?

"Crusher" Creel goes after Talbot and his family. Coulson takes the opportunity to prove they're the good guys. Talbot refuses to cooperate, so Coulson and his team use his fingerprints and voice modulation to pose as the General. The U.S. military don't understand what they're dealing with, which is where S.H.I.E.L.D. comes in. Wonder if Talbot will ever realize this?

Agent Hartley locates the 0-8-4 but makes the terrible mistake of touching it. Come on Izzy, even the Warehouse 13 gang know to put on their purple gloves before touching an artifact. Creel sees this and splits.

Little do the others know, May and Skye have alternate orders. Coulson's decision to proceed with the plan was a tough call. However, he was also after a jet with cloaking capabilities. They need this technology to balance the odds.

Disappear, become ghosts, that's how we have to live now, in the shadows. To save people even when they don't know it, don't want it.

Coulson

Fitz had been working all episode on a cloaking device. Apparently the damage to his temporal lobe is serious stuff. He's fragile and not the Fitz we remember, even imagining that Simmons is at his side. Yes, Fitz's struggle  killed me because he's always been one of my favorite characters.

Will they somehow manage to fix Fitz? I certainly hope so, he and Simmons are very much the heart of this show for me.

Brutal the way Hunter cut Hartley's arm off, and all for nothing in the end. Creel topples their truck and walks off with the 0-8-4 which we learn is the "obelisk." No spoilers from me kids, Google it for more details.

The series appears to be going darker and much more adult this season. I'm totally cool with that, as I said at the top I've got high hopes for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2.

Fantastic start to the season right? What did you think of the new agents? How about "Crusher" Creel? Is a redemption story still possible for Ward? Are you as broken up about Fitz as I am? Your turn S.H.I.E.L.D. fanatics, hit the comment section below and share your thoughts on the premiere.

Keep an eye out for our Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. round table coming later this week!

If you ever miss an installment, you will be able to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. online right here via TV Fanatic.

Shadows Review

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 1 Quotes

It's not just an 0-8-4, it's the first and all Fury knew about it was the trails of bodies that followed it.

Coulson

Disappear, become ghosts, that's how we have to live now, in the shadows. To save people even when they don't know it, don't want it.

Coulson