Last week kicked off what looks to be a very exciting second season for “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and this week’s outing continues firmly hitting the new status quo as a team version James Bond/comic book hybrid.
We pick right up from last week’s conclusion with Hunter (Nick Blood) trapped in the getaway truck after Creel/Absorbing Man (Brian Patrick Hunter) attacked and stole the Obelisk. May (Ming-Na Wen) is in hot pursuit, but stops to free Hunter, but he insists that she bring Creel down. She gives him one of the cool S.H.I.E.L.D. “lightsabers,” but before he can fully get away, he’s captured by the soldiers from the military base the group infiltrated.
May has a clear shot at Creel, but Director Coulson (Clark Gregg) wants her to stand down so he can find out who Creel is reporting to in a sequence that asserts Coulson’s new status as well as provide a glimpse of how Coulson interacted with agents when he wasn’t hanging with Avengers.
Trip (B.J. Britt) and Skye (Chloe Bennet) return with the Quinjet, which Coulson hopes the group’s new resident tech genius, Mack (Henry Simmons), can analyze and duplicate its cloaking technology. Skye and Trip are good for at least one solid, relaxed scene and episode that feels like a laid-back moment with spies. While the writers don’t necessarily need to force a romantic subplot to the dynamic, more Trip/Skye scenes would be something I’d enjoy seeing more of in future episodes.
I really like how against type the casting of Mack is — Simmons is a big, muscular guy and instead of having him play a brawny fighter, he’s the tech guy. And it is truly refreshing to watch two black guys interact in an action series and not be related.
Hunter is dropped in a field and Gen. Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) arrives via helicopter in an effort to persuade him to give up Coulson. Hunter, being a reasonable mercenary names his price — a proper burial for Hartley and not the smear campaign funeral that other ex-S.H.I.E.L.D. members have received … and $2 million. A man’s gotta eat after all.
Back at the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, Hunter returns and Coulson knows Talbot tried to sway him, but promises to help him get Creel. Blood is proving a nice new cast addition and it’s nice not knowing which way Hunter will side.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons) try to crack a code to neutralize Creel’s powers, but Fitz still can’t put his words and thoughts together correctly. Simmons “tells” him he ought to confide in Mack as he’s different than the others. That could prove a fun pairing.
Creel meanwhile has his own problems as he can’t get the Obelisk out of his system. His HYDRA handler assures that he’ll be fine so long as he sticks with the plan and just in time to throw a monkeywrench in those efforts, Raina (Ruth Negga) appears and tries to bribe him with carbine. It’s a nice character trait to make Creel a bit of a material junkie always lusting for a new feel.
Trip, May, Skye and Coulson debate strategies when Reina calls. She slipped a tracker in the carbine and Coulson’s crew have one shot to nail him before he vanishes again. Hunter wants in on the mission them to help track down, but those of you who smelled a double cross you’re clearly not struggling with allergies as Hunter stuns Skye, Trip and May … so he can kill Creel. Hunter may not be a team player, but he is bringing a loose cannon edge that was missing previously.
In the episode’s “that was cool!!!!” moment, Hunter takes aim with Trip’s high-powered rifle, but in a sweet slo-motion shot, Creel turns around and absorbs into a bulletproof substance. He goes after the out-matched Hunter, but is saved by Coulson making use of one of Fitz’s old gizmos.
Coulson makes good on his promise to Hunter and arranges for a proper burial for Hartley. As Hunter sets off, Coulson recruits him to officially join the team as the member who is willing to do the good things he can’t anymore. I like it. This reclamation project with Hunter seems to have a lot more promise than last season’s arc with Skye.
May and Skye look on at Mack and Fitz having a heartfelt conversation about Simmons (Fitz seems like he’s starting to at least be aware he shouldn’t admit he’s seeing Simmons), and Skye reveals she’s worried about Coulson. Having some distance between Coulson and his star agent from last season is a smart move as it’s giving her more time to hang with her fellow agents and not simply be the “outsider” voice that always convinced Coulson to do something outside of S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol.
While Skye is merely suspicious, May knows what’s wrong with Coulson. They both agree it’s time for Coulson to have another episode and he gets back to work carving out that mysterious symbol he started working on last season.
Meanwhile, Raina brings the Obelisk to a stranger (Kyle McLaughlin). He tells her to pick it up and this time, it doesn’t lead to a gruesome murder and simply lights up in a pattern similar to Coulson’s carvings. She’s as surprised as we are, but the stranger assures her it let her live and he’ll reveal everything once she brings him his daughter.
Post-credit scene, Coulson is in a field awaiting Talbot, who comes storming in with several SUVs. Coulson has Creel on ice (smart move not killing him off) and offers to keep bringing in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most wanted provided Talbot gives them some breathing room. Talbot’s not biting saying he doubts S.H.I.E.L.D. has any personnel, much less firepower until Coulson has the team drop the Quinjet’s cloak as he boards another cloaked vehicle. Mac and Fitz have the cloaking devices working and the special effects look much crisper yet again.
The show has settled in nicely from passing curiosity to must-watch status and this week didn’t disappoint and with next week’s teaser promising to reveal Simmons’ whereabouts since leaving the team, it should be just as entertaining.