‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’: Good Season 2 Opener Despite Low Ratings

Caution: This review contains spoilers on “Shadows,” episode one of season two.

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” returned to ABC last Tuesday in its new time slot of 9:00 p.m. est. According to Tech Times, ratings were very low for this episode, which is a pity as it was a good one. Interest may have dropped off due to the end of the first season, which rode on the coattails of the Captain America movie with the rise of HYDRA.

The season two premiere featured an appearance by Hayley Atwell as Agent Carter and the Howling Commando task force, capturing Daniel Whitehall and an obelisk (the first 084). “Agent Carter” has been highly anticipated but the “Captain America” spin-off won’t hit the small screen until January 2015. Anyway, skip forward to the present day at The Playground, where Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is now Director Coulson for the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. May (Ming-na Wen), Skye (Chloe Bennet), and Triplett (B.J. Britt) team up with mercenaries led by Agent Hatley (Lucy Lawless from “Xena”), botching an intel sale. In the confrontation, they meet a new villain in the form of the Absorbing Man (Brian Patrick Wade), whose body creates protective armor from any substance he touches.

Journalist George Stephanopoulos makes a cameo, interviewing Brigidier General Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), who is bent on taking out S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA. Unfortunately, Talbot has broadcasted the fact that many dangerous weapons are being held by the U.S. Government. Absorbing Man is captured too easily and is taken to this facility, making Coulson and team appeal to Talbot for an alliance and Agent Ward (Brett Dalton) for information.

Predictably (but still brilliantly executed), the agents infiltrate the base and locate the 084, the obelisk we saw earlier. However, it starts to attack Agent Hatley’s arm, which she bravely requests to have cut off. As one would expect, Absorbing Man catches up and takes the obelisk, which leaves him as a problem as we continue to the second episode of the new season.

It’s obvious that quite a few changes have arisen with this new S.H.I.E.L.D. task force. Coulson as director doesn’t step out into the field as much; it’s better to see him in action and to leave the director role to someone like Nick Fury. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) seems different in the episode, still trying to recover from his injuries. The scenes seem annoyingly repetitive but only make sense when Coulson reveals that Simmons is gone, acting as a figment of Fitz’s imagination and withdrawal from the world.

One other thing was probably annoying or amusing to some viewers: it seems implied that the agents have had a rough time since they’ve gone underground and face exhaustion and limited resources. Nonetheless, the characters look as polished as ever, particularly Chloe Bennet, who sports a new hairstyle. Rather, they look like content actors who have been picked up for another season on their television show.

Tune in this week to see what happens next. What is Agent Ward hinting about Skye’s past? How do you stop the Absorbing Man?

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” airs every Tuesday on ABC at 9 | 8c.

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