Agents of SHIELD continues its second season with “Making Friends and Influencing People.” Coulson and his team are still in the difficult position of trying to protect the world while on the run from almost everyone. Hydra is running around the world, grabbing up any of the remaining SHIELD agents they can find, and then submitting them to the “Faustus process.” Dr. Faustus is a long time villain in Marvel comics, known for brainwashing his enemies.
The episode spends a fair amount of time with Simmons, the missing member of the team. Until now, she’s only been seen as Fitz’s hallucination. They make it look like she’s walked away from the struggle entirely until we see where she’s working. It was an amusingly done sequence, and answered the questions about where she’s been and what she’s been up to.
Following up on the two part clash with the Absorbing Man, AKA “Crusher” Creel, we see the return of one of the few powered villains from last season– Donnie Gill, known as Blizzard in the comics. Gill is a former SHIELD scientist who gained powers in an accident when last we saw him. Now, he’s running around loose, being hunted by Hydra, which brings him to the attention of Coulson and company. Much of the episode is the race to recruit, capture, or kill Gill.
Among the twists and turns along the way was a scene with Fitz confronting Ward, the team’s Hydra traitor. Ward was responsible for Fitz’s injuries and brain damage. Let’s just say that Fitz is not in the most forgiving mood during their conversation, understandably enough.
Skye has gone from kind of helpless tech girl in season one to dangerous field agent this season. It seems a bit rushed to me. That sort of training takes a long time. How long ago were the events of Winter Soldier at ths point? She’s certainly showing an aptitude for shooting.
Ward is still justifying his actions. He belittles SHIELD’s compassion for people. I actually think he’s making himself more unlikable as we see more of him. Credit where it’s due, he was given the chance to excuse his actions by using the brainwashing excuse, since that plays such a big part in the episode, and he didn’t do it.
I think one of my favorite pieces of the new season is the sort of odd working relationship growing between the brain-damaged Fitz and newcomer Mac. Mac is a competent tech, if not at the brilliant levels Fitz was. But, for whatever reason, they seem to be bonding, and Mac is picking up on what Fitz means during some of those painful pauses in his speech. Some fans online are calling Mac the “Fitz-Whisperer.”
I continue to find the show enjoyable. The entire cast is fun to watch, although Clark Gregg’s Coulson and Ming-Na Wen’s May steal the show every scene they are in. The series had some problems last season, especially around the middle. But, since the tie in with Winter Soldier, I really think the show has gotten a LOT better. I like that they’re using more actual villains. I did find it odd that they dropped Talbot’s hunting them and Coulson’s trances completely this episode, but there’s only so much time per show.
I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, especially some more of the characters I’ve heard will be showing up.