Agents of SHIELD: The Things We Bury

CarterOne of the things I am really enjoying about Agents of SHIELD is how well they tie in with the other Marvel projects.  Even this week, there are references to both the first Captain America movie and the upcoming Agent Carter tv series (which I’m REALLY looking forward to).  “The Things We Bury” does a great job bridging the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s past and present.

There are several scenes set in 1945 and later, with Agent Carter dealing with some of Hydra’s agents.  These scenes set in motion events that play into SHIELD’s current problems.  We learn a lot more about Skye’s father, the so-far nameless doctor (I am NOT calling him The Doctor).  His past connects to Hydra, the Obelisk, and many of us think to a recently announced Marvel film.  Hydra’s operations in the 40′s are disrupted when the Red Skull is defeated, as seen in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Coulson puts together a nice, Mission Impossible type of scheme, sending Skye and Trip out to do seemingly random things in Hawaii.  The payoff shows that Fury picked his successor as Director well.  It was an elaborate scheme but it worked.  Coulson is a tactical genius.

Mostly off away from the rest of the cast, Agent Ward, formerly of SHIELD, maybe of Hydra, possibly free-agent bad guy settles some family matters.  This is usually where a lot of people make the joke that Thanksgiving dinners would be really awkward, but I don’t think that will be an issue.  I’m really not sure whose side Ward is on at this point, and I’m not wholly convinced he is, either.

I do like that they finally showed Trip back in the field, but I’m not sure why this was a trade-off.  Both Bobbi Morse and the formidable Agent May end up back at base.  There was a decent explanation as to why Morse wasn’t running and gunning, but May was seemingly left behind because Coulson said, “I said so.”  The process of deciding who goes on which missions seems to be utterly random.

There are a lot of revelations about Skye’s past.  Ward isn’t the only one with a complicated family history.  Her father seems to be perfectly willing to kill anyone who not only gets in his way, but just more or less inconveniences him.

Ok, wild speculation time, so skip this paragraph if you’re so inclined.  Blue skinned aliens have been playing a part of Agents of SHIELD for a while.  We’ve now learned there’s a hidden city, and certain humans have something that ties them back to it, genetically.  Currently in Marvel comics, there’s a storyline going on when they are revealing that some humans (like the current popular Muslim Ms. Marvel) have ties to the hidden race of Inhumans, and their city Attilan.  The Inhumans were created when an alien race called the Kree (who have blue skin) experimented on some humans.  The Inhumans is one of the films Marvel announced for down the road.  And, in at least one interview, it was confirmed the blue aliens on SHIELD are Kree.  So, is Skye’s father, and Skye by extension, an Inhuman?  Or maybe her mother? Or both?  It seems possible, even likely, to me.

What I liked: Trip is out in the field again!  Coulson pulls off a great plan.  Fitz is still improving, and at a slow but believable rate.  They played off both Captain America and Agent Carter very well without it feeling forced.  Hunter and Bobbi have an amusing scene together.

What I didn’t: May isn’t in the field, nor is Bobbi.  Trip didn’t do that well.  I’m getting a bit tired of “Who’s Ward trying to kill this week?”

I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5.  I think the show is consistently getting better, and I’m overall happy with the direction it’s going.

Agents of SHIELD: Uneasy Lies the Head

shieldCaution, there be mild spoilers below.  Read on at your own risk, etc.

“Heavy is the Head,” is the second episode of the current season of Agents of SHIELD.  It picks up right where the cliffhanger from last episode ended, and leaves a few characters in a lot of trouble.  There’s also the issue of the Absorbing Man on the loose, although here they just use his name, Creel.

One thing I found a bit confusing about this episode was the personnel issues.  At the end of last season, SHIELD was pretty much just Coulson’s team.  That was it.  Now I know they’ve been trying to get some help, whoever in SHIELD didn’t go over to Hydra, but it seemed to me like they had a lot more people suddenly in the second episode.  That struck me as a bit odd.  Maybe all the extra agents came with the new base they call the “Playground,” but it isn’t really clear, at least not to me.

Many of the scenes set up what are likely going to be ongoing plots for the season.  Talbot is playing Ahab with SHIELD as his White Whale.  For whatever reason, he is so convinced they are the bad guys that he won’t begin to consider that he might be wrong.

Fitz is still recovering from injuries he suffered last season.  He has some kind of lingering brain damage, and his fight to get his brilliant thoughts out is hard to watch.  Ian de Caestecker is doing a great job with that performance.  He’s still hallucinating his former teammate, Simmons, and she seems to be giving him bad advice.  The hallucination almost seems to have some of her specialized knowledge, which is occasionally making me wonder if this is more than just brain damage.  Then again, last season they did a really bad job of keeping their fields of study separate, so this may be more of that.  At times, they didn’t seem to quite grasp the difference between the biologist and the tech genius.  Fitz later gets some help from Mac, another new character who is working with the reduced SHIELD in their science section.

Coulson is also keeping secrets about his own condition.  Whatever was done to him to bring him back after his death in the Avengers movie is still having repercussions, and he’s doing his best to hide it.  That makes a degree of sense, with Coulson now being the Director of the embattled and on the run agency.  May is in on whatever it is, and his helping him both keep it hidden and figure it out.  Ming-Na Wen’s May is a great bad ass, and one of my favorite parts of the show.

Raina, the Girl in the Flowered Dress, who was an antagonist much of last season, is back again.  She manages to survive an encounter with Creel, and then offer Coulson help locating the villain.  As far as I can tell, she’s still working with the Centipede group from last season, and isn’t Hydra at least.  The end of the episode shows her touching the mysterious Obelisk that Creel stole and she tricked away from him.  It glows and then shows weird symbols, that look a lot like the ones Coulson has been carving in his fits of… whatever it is.

Creel, who I thought might be a season-long problem, is dealt with due to some clever maneuvering.  Hunter, one of the mercenaries introduced this season, also gets a lot of screen time.  He’s not a favorite of mine, but he’s fairly realistic as Coulson and Talbot both try to sway him to their side.

I’ve heard rumors about other characters slated to appear this season, and I’m looking forward to them.  SHIELD on the run is an interesting idea, sort of forced on them by the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.  I do very much like that, as they are trying to stay out of custody, they are still carrying on with their mission of helping people.  To me, that’s part of what makes them heroes, not just fugitives.

They manage to steal a jet back from their impounded armory, and that gives them several useful edges.  More firepower is good when you are so hugely out-manned and out-gunned.  The captured ship also lets them perfect a cloak for “the Bus” as they call the big plane they used as a headquarters season one.  A nice nod to fans, the stolen aircraft is called a “quinjet” which is the name in the comics of the special ships the Avengers fly around in.

They have a lot of interesting plot lines to work on this season.  SHIELD as heroes on the run, sort of like a higher-tech, better organized A-Team, lends itself to a lot of drama, as does Talbot’s obsessive hunting of them.  Coulson’s condition is a mystery that will keep the fans talking, and cause worry on his team.  We also don’t know yet what happened to the real Simmons, although that looks to be coming up next episode.  And there’s still the matters of Skye’s origin and Ward, their traitor/prisoner.

I enjoyed the episode, like how things are being handled, and think there’s a lot of potential in this show.  I’m certainly sticking around to see what comes up next.