Agents of SHIELD: Shadows Review

Season 2 of Agents of SHIELD hits hard and strong with a truly darker tone and visual aesthetic, and an exciting new direction for the series moving forward. 

Since many readers may not have seen the episode or the first season (my review here), I will review the episode without spoilers, and then add spoiler thoughts after the rating. Also, if you have not seen the episode, you can watch it on Hulu by clicking here.

From the first scene to the last, Agents of SHIELD is clearly a different show than last year. Compared to the glossy and bright look of the first season, season two is decidedly darker and more like a serious espionage thriller, with sci-fi elements. The new team is much more combat oriented and generally more bad*ss than the more tech oriented team of the first season. The special effects in the episode are a vast improvement over the previous season. It is obviously not quite movie quality, but it is better than most anything on television. In terms of acting, the returning cast is better than ever, although the screen time is split between the large cast. The new cast members include Lucy Lawless (Xena) as Isabelle "Izzy" Hartly and Nick Blood as Lance Hunter. While neither character is given a lot of screen time, they both served their purpose well. Basically, everything in the series is improved and generally a lot better than the first season. Of the series from this fall, there has yet to be a better opening episode. Also note that my future review scores are going to be generally tougher than last season, with the scores being more in line with my Doctor Who reviews.

Overall: 8.3/10- "Shadows" is a darker and all around top notch start for what could be the expansion to the Marvel universe that we all expected from the start.

*Now time for spoiler talk! Warning spoilers are ahead (duh).*

At this point, I assume you have seen this episode, season one, and the Winter Soldier. Wow, SHIELD is truly on the run from the government after the events of The Winter Soldier with General Talbot still trying to track the team down.

The new episode opens with a flashback to HYDRA's days after the death of the Red Skull back in 1945, with an awesome cameo from Peggy Carter and two of the Howling Commandos, Dum Dum Dugan and Jim Morita. It certainly makes me excited for the upcoming Agent Carter TV series coming next year!

In the opening scene, Skye has clearly become a competent field agent thanks to her training by May. In addition to the old team, the series adds two comic book characters Lance Hunter, Alphonso 'Mac' Mackenzie, and the aforementioned Isabelle "Izzy" Hartly, although she did not last very long.

The new antagonist, Carl "Crusher" Creel, is taken straight from the comics, and the series has definitely adapted him well, and even his alias, Absorbing Man, is given a quick nod by Lawless' character. His scenes were very well done in the FX department. It was obviously not quite film level but it worked. When attacking Talbot, there was even a throwback to his comic book look with the ball and chain. Hopefully the series can continue with the sly allusions to the source material.

Coulson is taking much more of a Nick Fury role as he tries to rebuild SHIELD without all of the resources that his predecessor had. Coulson even had to make a tough decision to continue the mission at the cost of Izzy's life, which is an excitingly dark direction for the character.
Ward returns as a prisoner in SHIELD's new secret base. Last season, Ward's shocking conversion from being the bland soldier boy to HYDRA agent was one of the best parts of the series. Now, Ward has a creepy obsession with Skye, and he has even tried to commit suicide on several occasions. This new creepier and demented Ward is a refreshing change, and having him captured in the base for some Silence of the Lambs like exchanges between him and Skye will hopefully provide for some interesting possibilities. However, there is a chance that Ward will be redeemed far too early, but let's hope that will not be the case.

Last, but not least, is the emotional punch to the feels twist with Fitz. Last season Fitz nearly drowned to save Simmons, and due to the lack of oxygen, he has suffered brain damage, thus leaving him mentally ill. During the early exchanges with Simmons, it seemed that Fitz was having a hard time and Simmons was just helping him. It did seem odd that Simmons was not helping the rest of the team out with the missions, but I ultimately dismissed it for her working on something. To almost everyone's surprise, Simmons is only Fitz's mental manifestation due to the brain damage, so he is only talking to himself, which is a very Whedon like twist. Thankfully, the series decided to actually have consequences for the actions of the characters, which is all too uncommon on network television.

What did you think of the episode? Please comment below and let me know!

Shadows Review by Tegan

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