[Review] - Agents Of SHIELD, Season 2 Episode 2, "Heavy Is The Head"

Courtesy of Marvel
While I am far from ready to call SHIELD a "good show," and find myself still having to frame my reactions to the series within it's own spectrum, this episode was a definite improvement over last week's premiere, and it had everything to do with how well the writers and actors were able to use character moments to cover up from plot failings. In fact, despite being the Lance Hunter introductory hour, the episode was won by the man still meant to be the star: Clark Gregg. If it weren't for Gregg, this show really wouldn't be worth anything.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that just re-tiled the bathrooms.

Before we continue, a moment of small satisfaction, if you'll allow me. A-hem...

He got rid of levels! Thank gods, because that was a stupid, pointless bit of structure that made tenuous sense in the films, and was rendered utterly arbitrary and inconsistent by the hack-eyed way season one of the show was constructed. The writers shot themselves in the foot, but managed to find their own way to stop the bleeding. This show has a lot of bullet wounds, and I doubt they've got enough gauze, but this one time, they did right, and banished to the bin a concept that never did anything but embarrass them at parties.

This episode was everything I was hoping that last week would be. It was exciting, it was swift, it was surprisingly utilitarian in it's execution of a fairly simple plot, made more engaging by occasional Le Carrian spy scheming. It used to the best of it's abilities the characters it had a use for, and shoved to the back burner the characters it had no use for (AKA, Skye). It increased and clarified the level of understanding the audience has with the elements at play in the series now, with the US Army, SHIELD, Hydra, and Skye's dad's personal motivations playing Four Corners, with every mutant and piece of space junk as a medicine ball.

But best of all, it played the strengths of the actors. This episode probably had more laughs per run time then any episode yet, and they were organic, sensibly kinds of laughs. The kinds of laughs that made it seem like writer Paul Zbyszewski probably watched a lot of Buffy back in the day. And that nearly all those laughs came courtesy of lines delivered with deadpan accuracy by Clark Gregg reminded me, for the first time since the series began a year ago why it was that I was excited for a Coulson TV series in the first place. Coulson here seemed like the Coulson from Iron Man again. A welcome and far overdue return, I shouldn't have to add.

the episode also did a solid job of introducing the newest cast-mate, Lance Hunter, former mercenary, to the team. He had a far better introduction then the principal cast did last year, and provided in a scant forty minutes a clear picture of who this character is, how he operates, and where on the moral/ethical scale he falls. And Coulson makes it clear that he isn't part of the team because he's the best at what he does, but because Coulson's desperate and knows Hunter is untrustworthy, which at least makes him honest.

The episode undercut a lot of this by spending a near equal amount of time building up the dead character played by Lucy Lawless, who did nothing but die last week. Based on what they said about her post mortem, she sounds like she was a cool, kick ass character who they killed last week with little evidence to the truth of any of this. I barred no holds in saying what I thought of such a ridiculous waste of talent and time, and reminding us of what could have been wins the editorial team at SHIELD HQ any favours.

It also appears that my fears were well placed in the CG department. While last week looked polished and great, this week things went back to more closely resembling a SyFy original movie. The Absorbing Man didn't diminish too much, but the decloaking effect, especially when applied to the Bus, looked terrible. There was a series on from 2000 to 2002 called the Invisible Man that had better looking special effects.

On the whole, I'd say there was more to like about this episode then there was not to, and I liked the position it moved everyone into moving forward. I am actually looking forward to seeing how SHIELD deals with operating as a truly covert organization, almost as much as I look forward to seeing more of Glenn Talbot's shaved head and comedy mustache. I look forward to seeing how the new Fitz develops, and whether of not they keep him this way (re: interesting), or develop a miracle cure a couple episodes down the line. But all the while the bits of me are getting excited about things again, I have to keep reminding me, the best episodes of SHIELD have still only been "SHIELD-good." We're yet to actually get an episode that is "good-good."

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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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