Bravo, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I really didn’t see that coming.
I stayed with AoS all through its first season, so I’m obviously not someone who ever thought it was actually bad. I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t admit it got better during the lead-in to and spin out from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. I’m happy to report that the first episode of the new season kept the momentum from the latter half of last season.
I had two main questions in my head through most of the runtime of S2 E1 “Shadows:”
- How is this ragtag band of underdogs possibly going to defeat a Thor/Hulk villain like the Absorbing Man?
- How are the writers of a show with an ensemble this large already going to deal with adding four more cast members?
SPOILERS AFTER THE CUT
The answer to both questions was: “They won’t.”
The last act of the episode ends with a surprise twist as the Absorbing Man gets away scot-free and (apparently) kills two of the new cast members – one of whom (surprisingly enough) is genre darling Lucy Lawless. I don’t know whether to congratulate the show’s writers or the publicity department more for making it seem like Lawless and the other character who got killed were joining the show long-term, but it was a brilliant fake-out. I definitely thank the writers for not making the Absorbing Man seem like a low-level chump.
While it’s entirely possible that Lawless’ character’s death is itself a fake-out and she will be a regular on the show, I doubt it; Joss Whedon, after all, wanted to create a separate set of opening credits for the first episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer just so he could trick the audience into thinking Xander’s buddy that dies in that episode was going to be a regular cast member. Jed Whedon and his fellow AoS producers have finally followed through on his brother’s crazy scheme. It makes the show feel dangerous without pissing off a bunch of the audience by murdering Wash or Book.
(Yes, I’m still bitter.)
There are other surprises in the episode that are more poignant and (paradoxically) more predictable, but they’re of far more interest to regular viewers so I won’t spoil them. Suffice it to say that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. if off to a strong start this season. I hope they can keep it up.