Tuesday, September 23, 2014

TV REVIEW: "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.- Episode 1-Season 2)

Welcome to my first ever television review. I have been flirting with this idea for awhile now. Starting tonight, I am going to slowly but surely begin adding TV commentary on this blog. In approaching this task, I thought to myself, "this might be harder than I thought." Television is a much different animal compared to film, which means it needs to take a different approach to master it. This first recap and review maybe rocky, but I hope you enjoy what I have to say.
This being a movie blog, I thought there was no better place to begin than with "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." a series that actually takes place, and feels the effects, of a current movie franchise. Not only that, but I am starting in a place that I love, and I feel it is always important to start at a place you love. I watched all 22 episodes of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D's." first season. Much like the general consensus, I felt the first half of the season was mediocre, but then after the affects of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," the show got better, much better. It made some big choices and it made some big gambles. I love what they did, and I predicted that by season two, "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." would have found its footing.
Episode one of season two is called "Shadows," and it is an action-packed thrill ride. There is a lot more action in this one episode that almost half of the first season. I was hoping for that though, we already know the characters, we remember a lot of the big players from first season, so we could jump right into the action. I also liked that this first episode used a lot more visual effects, which further elevated the experience. One of the major complaints I remember about the first season was how cheap it looked. That never bothered me, of course Marvel was not going to give their first TV show the same budget as one of their blockbusters. Especially when the fate of their first show was generally unknown, and there were several times during the first season's run where the show could have been cancelled. I have to say, with this first episode of season two, the effects seem more realized and some of the fun tech we have seen throughout the Marvel franchise was seen. That will make any Easter Egg archeologist happy.
The episode begins in 1945, and we witness Hydra agents stealing tons of unknown items from a defeated military base. Whose base it is was never revealed, however, whatever it was they were experimenting on (and whatever Hydra is obtaining) got the military personnel killed. Just as Hydra plans to make their getaway, we see Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) bust onto the scene with none other than the Howling Commandos from "Captain America: The First Avenger." It was so cool to see Carter and especially Dum Dum Dugan in action again and I hope we see more of the Howling Commandos in the upcoming "Agent Carter" show. Carter arrests the Hydra agents and re-captures the items, marking them as 084's.
We then move to present day, and we see the new S.H.I.E.L.D. that director Coulson (Clark Gregg) is trying to create. It is a rag-tag organization made up of older S.H.I.E.L.D. agents like Agent Koenig (Patton Oswald) and mercenaries like Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) and Isabelle Hartley (Lucy Lawless). Nobody, new or old, sees much of Coulson, who is busy trying to gain resources, recruit new agents, build an entire uncorrupted organization from scratch. Add in the dangerous Hydra group still at large and you have more stress than any human could manage. We re-connect with Skye (Chole Bennett), Tripett (B.J. Britt), Melinda May (Ming-Ne Wen) and even Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). That's right, Ward has been imprisoned under the watchful eye of Coulson, and Coulson will be using Skye to get information from him. There is a juicy scene between Ward and Skye, the only scene Ward has in the whole episode. Skye is still hurt and she is not willing to trust Ward, but he does give Coulson valuable information and he wants to rekindle with Skye. She is not having any of it. I remember people complaining about Ward not dying at the end of the first season. But if they keep him as a Hannibal Lecture-type character, I think I could dig it.
Another character still reeling from the events of the first season is Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker). This was a character I didn't really care for in the first season. I felt him and his gal-pal Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) were just two walking cliché's. Do we need to British, wisecracks who know tech well on the team? Really? I warmed up to Fitz by the end of the first season. When we meet him in season two, he is damaged from his injuries. He is not quite as gifted as he once was, but he's getting there. By the end of the episode, when we see just how "damaged" he really is, I couldn't help but feel for him. I think Fitz could be an instantly absorbing and rich character this season and I am hoping for the best.
My biggest complaint about the first season was how disconnected it felt to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, they'd do some name-dropping one episode, and make a casual joke another episode, but that got mind-numbing after awhile. It seemed the cinematic universe was there for window-dressing and nothing more. In this first episode of season two, we spend time with characters like Carl Creel and Glenn Talbot, and all my Marvel nerds know those guys and where they come from. I like that this is beginning to feel apart of a bigger universe and I think the show will only benefit from that. This first episode also laid down some more minor groundwork, which will begin to answer the questions we had at the end of the first season. I liked it, and I can't wait to learn more.
This was a solid start, I can't wait to learn more about Lance Hunter and how Nick Blood portrays him. I can't wait to see more of the 084's and how they relate to season one. I can't wait to spend time with the characters I fell in love with first season. More so than last time, I am wildly excited to see what happens next week.
Begin to expect a new recap and review for "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." every Tuesday night. There is another show beginning in October, which is connected to an unrelated movie franchise. That show will also get its weekly recaps and reviews as well. I hope you like what I have done, and I ask to please be patient. I am a new kid on the block of TV criticism and it will take some getting used to. I hope you enjoyed what I have so far.

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