Thursday, September 25, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Shadows

Picking up a few months after the end of last season's finale, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team remain fugitives from the United States Government as the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. works to slowly rebuild the organization while remaining in the shadows. Since the time we'd seen them last May (Ming-Na Wen) has taken Skye (Chloe Bennet) under her wing to complete the agent's training, Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) has left the team although the injured Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) still hallucinates conversations with her while trying desperately to communicate and complete his assignment which he could have accomplished far more easily before his brain damage.

Although Tripplett (B.J. Britt) has remained and Ward (Brett Dalton) remains locked up in the most secure room in the S.H.I.E.L.D.'s new headquarters (where he somehow has come into possession of knowledge about Skye's parents?). Limited resources and few remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who haven't already taken jobs in the private sector (or are working for HYDRA) forces Coulson to enlist the help of an old friend (Lucy Lawless) and her fellow mercenaries to fill out the team.

S.H.I.E.L.D.'s mission to protect remains the same alebit at a more conservative budget (which honestly is likely to fit the constrains of the network television show better going forward). To that end Coulson sends his team into danger to retrieve the first O84 which is being targeted by HYDRA's agent Carl Creel (Brian Patrick Wade) with the ability to morph and change the composition of his body when he comes into contact with various elements. Although the take casualties and lose the 084, the team does manage to make off with one impressive item to help their work continue in relative anonymity.

Although HYDRA will apparently remain the main threat of S.H.I.E.L.D. it's an old enemy not a new one who is introduced here in Doctor Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond) who has been acquiring artifacts like the 084 since he worked for the Red Skull back in WWII. In a bit of fan service, and to promote her new show on Netflix, we even get a flashback sequence featuring Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and the Howling Commandos taking down Whitehall's agents at the end of the war.

"Shadows" works well as a season premiere to reset the parameters of the show under the new conditions in which Coulson and his team a forced to work. I'm confused about Ward's knowledge about Skye's father, but that along with his knowledge of HYDRA foreshadows the day (presumably in the not-too-distant future) where he will leave his prison. Lawless and the other mercenaries work well (even if the underline theme of the group working solely for monetary profit is enforced with all the subtlety of Thor's hammer). Fitz's confusion allows Simmons to continue her role (of sorts) on the show even though her character has moved on. I'm far more pleased with the look of the Absorbing Man (does this mean we'll be seeing more Marvel super-villains?) than the disappointment of Deathlok and happy to see Billy Koenig (Patton Oswalt) has returned as well.

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