Last week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned with a huge kick-off for Season 2. We were thrown back into the familiar yet fresh storyline involving our favorite covert agents as they try to save the world from supernatural forces. The first episode of the season packed quite a punch, and I’ll admit I was skeptical about whether the show would retain that momentum. After last night’s episode, “Heavy is the Head,” I can safely say that the show is on the right path for continued success. (spoilers ahead!)
The episode picks up immediately after last week’s events. Absorbing Man has just stolen the mysterious silver HYDRA object (referred to as “the obelisk”) from the S.H.I.E.L.D.-allied mercenaries after decimating their vehicle. Melinda May shows up at the wreckage to discover that everyone but Lance Hunter has been killed.
I was a little shocked that Lucy Lawless‘ character, Izzy Hartley, had been killed off after only one episode. I thought she would have stayed around for a bit longer and that the car crash had only temporarily incapacitated her, but by the end of the episode, we actually see her funeral, confirming that she is deceased.
However, this is Marvel we’re talking about. Since when do people in the Marvel Universe stay dead? And in a show revolving around the fact that Coulson came back from the dead, all bets are off.
Hartley and her team seemed to have been major assets to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, which is why I was shocked that they were killed off so suddenly. Though, as the rest of the episode unfolded, I understood why the choice was made, and I commend Marvel for making such a bold move.
I’ll admit I was a little hard on the Fitz/Simmons storyline last week. In this week’s episode, we further delve into their relationship. By now, it seems like Fitz has become aware that his partner is now just a figment of his imagination. Simmons almost acts like Fitz’s conscience and voice of reason. It’s very touching to see how much they work off of each other and how much Fitz really relied on Simmons to guide him in the right direction.
Back in the main storyline, we find out more about Lance and his relationship with Hartley. Nick Blood does a solid acting job and you really feel his character’s pain at having lost such a close friend and partner. What really sells these emotions is an impressive climax to the episode (which I’ll talk about in a bit).
Absorbing Man, aka Carl Creel, is given some more development in this episode. When he retrieved the obelisk, it negatively affected his absorbing powers. He finds that the object poisoned him and will soon destroy his body. How is he supposed to fix this?
In other news, Raina is back, being the old thorn in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s side once again. She shows up and provides Absorbing Man with a ring made out of an element called carbine, which is four times stronger than diamond and has the powers to negate the effects of the obelisk.
While I was interested in seeing the return of Raina, I grew a little frustrated at the introduction of the ring. The obelisk itself is a huge MacGuffin in the season so far; do we really need another one in the form of a carbine ring? Don’t get me wrong: I’m definitely interested in seeing what the obelisk is all about, but I don’t want to have to worry about the ring and its importance as well.
Flash-forward to the climax of the episode. The agents are setting up a sting to catch Absorbing Man. Lance knocks out the other agents, seizes a rifle from Agent Trip, and then tries to take out Absorbing Man himself. I thought this was an excellent point in the episode because it ultimately showed how much Lance cared for Hartley. He was going so far as to break protocol and stun his own partners just so he could get revenge. Of course, this may have been a bit excessive, but how do you expect someone to react when they have the chance to avenge their fallen loved ones?
The carbine ring comes into play as Absorbing Man adopts its powers and deflects the bullet. This leads to a satisfying yet short fight scene between the villain and Lance that ends when Coulson shows up to save the day using a specialized weapon developed by Fitz.
My overall impression of the episode was positive. It wasn’t as great as the premiere last week, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Blood’s acting was excellent, as was Brian Patrick Wade‘s, who played Absorbing Man.
Final Grade: B +
+ I thought the fight scene at the end with Absorbing Man vs. Lance was pretty cool.
+ The portrayal of Lance and Hartley’s relationship was well-done.
+ The Fitz/Simmons storyline had a better execution this time around.
– I wasn’t a fan of the heavy reliance on MacGuffins to get through the episode.
– The Fitz/Simmons side-story was good, but it still seems a little shaky to me.
– I’m worried that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might start adopting the “villain-of-the-week” formula. First Absorbing Man, who’s next?
– When Raina touches the obelisk and it starts to glow with the weird symbols, they appear to be the same figures that Coulson was carving into the walls at the end of the episode. Maybe the obelisk has something to do with his resurrection?
– Absorbing Man is revealed to still be alive, although he will be kept in confinement. This opens up the possibility that he’ll come back in a later episode or even in a feature film.
What did you think of last night’s episode? Is Season 2 heading in the right direction? Let us know in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!