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S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Two: Agents of C.H.A.N.G.E.

I don’t live-tweet very often. I usually leave that job to the professionals here. But last night, I found myself watching the second season premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, and I happened to have my phone with me at the time.

It’s no secret that I’m not the biggest fan of the series. From the jump last season, the show reminded me of everything that I usually hate from a Joss Whedon production. That said, I continued to watch it out of some sort of nerd obligation. And while the post-Winter Soldier episodes did get relatively better, the second season premiere wasn’t really on my radar all summer.

Still, I watched it. And tweeted about it with the rest of the nerds watching on the West Coast. In the end, it was a serviceable episode, though I’m not sure if it’s the greatest jumping on point for any new viewers as it felt like there were some things that happened in the interim between seasons that nobody knows about yet.

Anyway, here are some of the thoughts I had while watching the show:

If you needed proof that the show was pretty terrible prior to the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, than this is all you need. Usually for season premieres, shows will air a brief recap of the previous season to catch viewers up and orient them for what’s to follow. For the Season One recap for AoS, they only focused on the events after Winter Soldier, as if the Deathlok/Centipede storylines never existed. (How, some of us wish that were true!)

Y’all forgot about me?

Fortunately, after the events from season one were properly capped, the season kicked off with a tie-in to the first Captain America — with an establishing shot inside WWII Germany, just in case all you folks jokingly whispering “Hail HYDRA” to all your buddies forgot they were Nazis — and the arrival of Agent Carter and the Howling Commandos!

You can debate the merits of tying everything into a singular cinematic universe — or going the DC route and separating all your properties — but you have to admit that moments like this are what make the whole MCU conceit a thrilling thing. Seeing Neil McDonough and Kenneth Choi in character as Dum Dum Dugan and Jim Morita, respectively, was the highlight of the whole show, and really bodes well for the tone and approach to Agent Carter.

It’s about time Hayley Atwell got to be front and center in her own franchise!

The rest of the episode consisted of the fractured S.H.I.E.L.D. team trying to determine loyalties while still saving the world from the shadows as they chase a MacGuffin around for 44 minutes. So basically, how every episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. plays out.

That said, there were some cool beats peppered throughout:

I did like that they brought in an actual Marvel supervillain with the introduction of Carl Creel, a.k.a. The Absorbing Man. Not only is he the first full-fledged Marvel villain to appear, fully formed, on the show, he has ties to the MCU’s other big bad: Loki.

I doubt they’ll get Tom Hiddleston to guest star, though. Then again, he wasn’t too ashamed to address Hall H in character, so maybe there’s a possibility? I mean, can you imagine the throngs of screaming Hiddlestoners tuning in at the mere thought?

And yeah, the dude playing Creel didn’t show off the greatest acting range, he looked the part enough. Though, a small part of me wishes they had cast Nick Nolte instead.

(Seriously, what the hell is even happening in that scene?)

Speaking of Hulk, does anyone else think Adrian Pasdar as General Talbot is doing a terrible Thunderbolt Ross impersonation? I mean, I know they’re basically the same character in the comics, but you’d think he should differentiate him somehow. Also, what’s William Hurt doing lately? Think he’d have time to reprise his role on the series? Or will Marvel just replace everyone who appeared in The Incredible Hulk with Mark Ruffalo?

The other thing I thought was interesting was how they’re approaching Agent Ward this season. Keeping him locked up Hannibal Lecter-style — while cliche — is interesting enough. Though, I get the sinking feeling the writers are going to acquiesce to the #SkyeWard ‘shippers and redeem him. Which is a shame because that character only became interesting once he went to the dark side.

Also, shout out to Greg Pak for landing the acting gig!

Pak isn’t the only new actor joining the series1. Lucy Lawless made her long-awaited debut, and promptly (allegedly) bit the dust soon after. Though, why they’d cast such a high-profile (in geek circles, anyway) actress for a heretofore unknown character and kill her off so quickly is puzzling, it also foreshadows the fact that her character is probably not dead anyway.

Anyway, nothing really revelatory happened, but also nothing made me shut my TV off in disgust either. If nothing else, it further piqued my interest in Agent Carter. So there’s that.

  1. Yes, I know that’s not Greg Pak. Or is it? 
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