Saturday, 25 October 2014

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

"Do not abort. Proceed as planned!"

It's back! And what an opening episode. This confidently retools the show to be about a small, under-the-radar outfit led by Coulson gradually rebuilding, expanding and, after the end, even pootling about in their very own Quinjet. All this, and the Absorbing Man too. And I love the visual effects in play with "Crusher" Creel.

We begin with a flashback, from 1945, guest starring Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter, in scenes both reminding us of HYDRA's Nazi roots and introducing us to what seems to be a significant and ongoing MacGuffin, the first ever 0-8-4. This is also, of course, a teaser to a certain sister series we can expect later. Oh, and there's Dum Dum.

Let's do a tour of the characters, shall we? Coulson is calm, controlled, organised, brilliant and in his agent, but May is there to remind him that he has issues- and to do little else. Fitz is genuinely tragic, like an elderly person with dementia. His damaged brain has made him forgetful, with words forever on the tip of his tongue; as my wife says, it's as though he has a stammer inside his head. Yet he retains his intelligence, and he knows exactly what's happening to him. Worse, he's isolated; at the end we learn that, far from talking with Simmons all the time as we thought, she is all in his head. Simmons left a few months ago.

And that's the point, I suppose; months have passed since the end of the season. Trip, for example, is clearly a fully integrated member of the team by now, and pretty awesome. I hope we get to know him a little better.

Coulson has been busy recruiting and plotting. He hints at "allies" in London who, no doubt, will be revealed later in the season (dare I hope for Captain Britain and MI-13?), but right now we see him recruit ex-SHIELD mercenary, the soon-to-be-one-handed Hartley, with her two mercenary mates: Cockney wide boy Hunter and Idaho, of whom we know little for now. Wonder which state he hails from?

Ward, still held prisoner, has become bearded, philosophical and perhaps even stoical. He seems quietly determined to redeem himself, and to prove himself to a still-disgusted Skye. (And he seems to know of her father.) This seems an interesting character trajectory for what already looks to be a splendid season.

If all that isn't enough, who is the mysterious character at the end who is important enough to be played by Reed Diamond? I can't wait to find out.

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