Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Shadows”

Agents of SHIELD - "Shadows"

Meanwhile May, Skye and Trip are still continuing the mission as we hear Coulson in voiceover tell Billy that he knew the operation was a risk.  However, it was important to give them a chance to survive, and that he’s willing to sacrifice soldiers if he needs to.  They need weapons and the enemy has the advantage.  We see what they were after as Skye and Trip steal a quinjet, a SHIELD aircraft seen in The Avengers and The Winter Soldier, and turn on its cloaking device as they fly away, with May escaping on a motorcycle.  We see that Coulson is watching Fitz work, and that stealing the cloaking device was the goal, as Coulson clearly doesn’t think Fitz was up to the task of inventing one.  Coulson says the damage to his temporal lobe was too great, and that Simmons leaving only made things worse.  As he says this the camera shifts and we realize that the Simmons we’ve seen all episode was just a figment of Fitz’s imagination, and that he’s just been talking to himself.

Coulson talks about continuing to fight for Fitz and for those they’ve lost, but they have to take risk, and if there are sacrifices they won’t be in vain.  And in the end they’ll disappear.  Creel walks out in front of Hartley’s car, bends to the ground and turns himself into concrete, sending the car flipping through the air, landing upside down.  Hartley and Idaho are not moving, possibly dead, but Hunter struggles to free himself as Creel approaches.  However, Creel is only interested in the 0-8-4, still locked in the grip of Hartley’s severed arm, thrown clear of the car.  Creel touches the car’s tire, turning his hand to rubber before picking up the object and walking away, leaving the severed hand behind.

After the credits, we find ourselves in a HYDRA base, where a figure is informed that Creel has successfully escaped.  The person talking is the agent who spoke to Creel earlier on the screen, and mentions someone he just calls “her” (Raina?) before telling the figure that he knows how long he’s been searching for this.  The figure turns around to reveal that he’s Dr. Whitehall, still alive and completely unchanged, except for the American accent in which he answers, “You have no idea.”

What an episode to begin the new season!  (You can read my initial thoughts about the episode here.)  I thought it did it a great job as the season premiere, setting the tone and the general story for season 2, updating us on our characters, introducing the new characters and mysteries, and even giving us a tease for Agent Carter.  It had some good action, a healthy amount of character drama, and even a little bit of humor.  And all of it had a rougher edge than we were used to last season, which can only be good for the show.  The previews for coming weeks looked exciting, particularly May taking on what seemed like the entire army from atop her motorcycle (which should be no problem for her), and I liked Skye saying that “SHIELD’s my life now.”  I guess she’s a true believer now.  Look, I’m obviously a fan, and I’m predisposed like things and be positive, but even doing my best to temper that attitude this episode has me excited for the rest of the season.  After spending last season worrying about whether the show would be renewed, I’m just so happy to have it back that I’m going to relax and enjoy it, and not stress about what’s to come.

 S.H.I.E.L.D. Thoughts

Shadows” really set a distinct tone for the season.  The shift to an hour later doesn’t seem to have made the show significantly darker (Hartley’s arm was pretty dark, but no more than many things we saw last season), but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a change.  I would say the show feels more “gritty” than last season except that I hate that word and the way it’s used.  It is true, however, that 3/4 of last season showed us a very polished SHIELD, with infinite resources behind them and things generally held together well.  That’s long gone now, as Coulson is having to scrape together to accomplish his goals, take big risks, and compromise at every turn.  They’re really the underdogs, which suits the characters well and makes for more entertaining television.  Also helping is the presence of a standing enemy to fight in HYDRA (and Dr. Whitehall).  The first part of season 1 suffered from having too many standalone episodes, but with HYDRA looming large at all times even the less connected episodes will still fit into the larger war with HYDRA and quest to rebuild SHIELD.  Mysteries can’t be the sole driving narrative force, there has to be something more for people to follow, and I think SHIELD will really benefit from HYDRA’s presence.  The key will be hanging on to what made the show so good last season: the rich characters, the Marvel feeling, a good dose of humor, and excitement and adventure.

Hovering alongside the new tone is this theme of “brokenness,” which feels like it will be a major part of the season.  On a large scale, SHIELD is broken and Coulson is left picking up the pieces and trying to rebuild as director.  But on a more personal level there are Fitz and Ward.  The two are tied together, yet each dealing with different kinds of brokenness.  Ward’s very identity is broken, as he’s dealing with the shattering of the world he knew and his perceived place in it.  He had a firm view of what was right and wrong, even if he thought HYDRA was right, but he seems to have genuinely been broken by facing the consequences of his actions (or perhaps by SHIELD torture).  Fitz was broken by Ward, and has to deal with some serious mental damage from his ordeal under the ocean.  It was heartbreaking to learn that Fitz has been imagining Simmons presence, even if it was touching she was his calming influence.  That’s a much more serious problem than his struggles with finding the right word or focusing on his work.  The question is whether he’s hallucinating Simmons and really believes she’s there or just imagining her beside him because it helps.  I hope it’s the latter, because the former is much more troublesome.

I’m not much of a comic book guy, despite my love for SHIELD and the Marvel movies, but even I noticed that we’ve been flooded with a lot of new characters from the comics this season.  In addition to the obvious appearances of Peggy Carter, Dum Dum Dugan, and Jim Morita, we got Carl Creel, known in the comics as the Absorbing Man, Reed Diamond’s Daniel Whitehall, who is also the Kraken, and Henry Simmons as Mack.  And that’s not even mentioning the addition of Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter to the regular cast (an honor not afforded to B.J. Britt’s Triplett for some reason).  Lance Hunter was a member of S.T.R.I.K.E. in the comics, although that hasn’t been established in the show and would be strange considering that S.T.R.I.K.E. was revealed to be aligned with HYDRA in The Winter Soldier.  Add in the news that Adrianne Palicki will appear in episode 5 as Bobbi Morse, aka Mockingbird, a Hawkeye-esque superhero from the comics, and it all adds up to the producers of the show getting the message from fans that there weren’t enough comic characters last season.  For myself, I’m happy that the show is honoring its heritage, but I couldn’t care less if the characters that appear are from the comics or not, as long as they’re well written and not superfluous.

Everyone wants to know what’s going on with the 0-8-4, Skye, Coulson, the alien writing, and GH-325, so here’s my theory, which I support but can’t take credit for coming up with.  (Note: Clark Gregg and others involved with the show have made not-so-subtle confirmations that this theory is correct, so this could be considered a SPOILER.  Skip to the next point if you don’t want to know.)  Most people seem to think that the “Guest Host” alien kept in T.A.H.I.T.I. was a Kree.  The Kree were even listed off as a blue-skinned alien race by Lady Sif last season, although she said they’d never visited Earth.  In the first scene tonight, Dugan tries to open a crate that Carter keeps closed, but we get a glimpse of a blue arm, which even has something that resembles the alien writing.  Add in the fact that the metallic object (which is being called the Obelisk) seemed to turn Hartley blue and for a moment had the alien writing on it, and it seems like everything is connected.  Is the Obelisk a part of some crashed Kree spaceship, which was recovered along with a partial Kree body?  How did a Kree end up on Earth before 1945?  Is Coulson going to slowly turn into a Kree?  Does Skye’s backstory have a connection to the Kree?  Was one of Skye’s parents a Kree?  If you’re wondering just who or what a Kree is, go back and watch Guardians of the Galaxy and remember that the film’s villain, Ronan the Accuser, was a Kree.  Am I crazy for wondering if Skye shares a parent with Peter Quill?

Lucy Lawless was one of the highlights of this episode, and as much as I would like to hope that she survived having her arm cut off and the car wreck and will return later, I don’t have a lot of hope for it.  Especially after this interview with the show’s producers.  Still, she made a nice addition, and if Hunter is going to stick around then she did a good job of helping introduce him to the audience without having him just randomly thrown into the mix.

Don’t hate me for this, but I want to spend just a little more time on Ward.  I know there is a large, vocal contingent of people who want no part of a redemption story for Ward, and who in fact might quit watching if such a thing happens.  I understand the feeling, although I’m not sure I get just why people are completely opposed to that storyline.  (I’m not trying to dismiss your opinions, and I’m really curious to know, so tell me in the comments!)  Still, I think that trajectory is a likely one for the character.  I have to admit that the story of his repeated suicide attempts got to me, although we still don’t know the reasoning behind them.  One possibility is that he was faking simply as a way to further manipulate SHIELD.  Another is that he was trying to kill himself to prevent him from being used to betray HYDRA.  But he also could genuinely be feeling remorse for what he’s done.  What form that remorse takes (assuming it’s genuine) is another thing entirely.  Is he remorseful because of the people who died, those he betrayed, and what he did to Fitz?  Or is he simply remorseful because he might have ruined his chances with Skye?  If he does seek redemption, is he doing it out of guilt for his action and a genuine desire to make amends, or is he doing it out of an obsession with Skye because it’s what he thinks she wants?  And if his actions help the good guys in the end, do his motivations matter?  (The answer to that is yes, by the way.)  I wouldn’t claim to know how his storyline will work out, except that I doubt they’ll keep him in his cage for very long, but some options seem more likely than others.  He has a lot to answer for, and a long way to go, regardless of what happens, as he individually hurt each member of the team.  Some will probably be quicker to forgive him than others, but he may never be able to earn their trust again.

What do you think?  Are you glad SHIELD is back?  What’d you think about “Shadows”?  Do you like the direction the show is heading?  Does having HYDRA as a threat give the show a more cohesive narrative?  What’d you think of the Agent Carter tease?  What’s your theory about the 0-8-4?  Who’s your favorite new character?  What do you think will happen with Fitz?  What about Ward?  What do you want to happen with them?  If you could have three wishes, what would you wish for this season of SHIELD?  Let me know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Shadows”

  1. Pingback: Instant Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “Shadows” | Love Pirate's Ship's Log

  2. what…
    new….
    haircut…
    never noticed.

    Lucy Lawless still radiates Power.

    Trip is a class act. General.

    What is it with Put the Villain In A Glass Cell? (do not tap on the glass, it annoys real power says one tumblr cartoon of Loki). I clicked the link, I’ve seen that… it’s hilarious! (especially Stitch).

    I’m also wondering why a seemingly intelligent agent picks up the MacGuffin of Doom with her bare hands (could have used the case like a clamshell…).

    OOOOOOOooooooooooo o . O Liking the Kree theory. (of course the MacGuffin of Doom is alilen…)

    It would be hilarious to have Skye and Starlord related. Skyelord. Bwaaa haaa haaaaaaaa.

    Also kind of a neat image to have the Absorbing guy be, for a moment, Grootish.

    Now all we need is a talking raccoon.

    And a way for me to find Agent Carter online.

    As for Ward, while I would (if I was a superhero on the series), have cheerfully and gleefully fried his ass permanently, whatever the writers come up with will be interesting.

    And I do believe in redemption,.

    Sometimes.

    Maybe.

    Oh hell Rocket, just hand me that blaster………….. oh yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

    Like

    • Haha, I know, Stitch is the best, and it’s funny how well he fits into that trope. It’s the cool thing these days, and SHIELD is no different.
      I’m with you, Lucy Lawless’s character seemed too smart to me to just pick up the obelisk with her bare hand. I get that it was important for the season to establish the obelisk’s effects, and if they were going to kill her off maybe it didn’t matter anyway, but it did seem a little sloppy.
      I can’t take any credit for the Kree theory, but it does make sense to me (plus it’s pretty much been confirmed at this point by Clark Gregg and others).
      I doubt Skye and Quill are likely to be related, but it’d be pretty hilarious if they were!
      I definitely wanted Creel to turn furry like Rocket after he turned into a tree!

      Like

  3. Pingback: Instant Reaction: Agents of SHIELD – “Heavy is the Head” | Love Pirate's Ship's Log

  4. Pingback: Recap: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – “Heavy is the Head” | Love Pirate's Ship's Log

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