The second episode of Agents of SHIELD, while by no means bad, does not show any of the advancement or greatness that many were hoping from the show. Unlike the other Marvel franchises, this series just seems to have flat-lined at the average level.
I would say there are a lot of good elements to this week’s episode. Once again the standout character was Fitz, who upon discovering that his beloved Simmons was alive continued his insane quest to get her back. The moment where he flings himself into the portal and finally sees her was another example of how far his character has gone. He is leagues different from the shy scientist of Series One. He is confident, he believes that he has a chance with Simmons, and he will do anything for her. The scene on the alien planet where they reunite and scramble back to the portal was intense and the stakes truly felt high, which made for a very good climax.
I also liked Werner von Strucker. I was initially thrilled when I saw that Baron von Strucker was going to be a character in the MCU and then Ultron anticlimactically killed him off-screen. It looks like they are trying to redeem the Von Strucker line by putting his kid son in the spotlight. I also enjoyed how despite appearing like a total wuss and spoiled brat, we ended up seeing a bit of evil inside the kid when he was actually put in a dangerous situation.
I also really enjoyed seeing May decide to hunt Ward down. It was obvious that her attempt to live a normal life with her father was not going to work. May needs to get closure in the relationship with Ward and finally destroy him, which is very in character. While it may have taken some time for Hunter to persuade her to join the hunt for Ward, the hatred that those two feel for each other has to come out soon enough and hopefully will be realised when they meet and fight again, especially now that she has defeated Ward twice: once with intelligence and another time with strength.
Finally, I also liked the demonstration of Daisy’s powers to open the portal. Once again we are seeing that superpowers are playing a bigger role in the series. It would have been so easy for Fitz to use technology to find a solution to the issue at hand, but using Daisy’s powers show that this is a far cry from series one when tech was all that was used. Now it would seem that actual superpowers are going to be a bigger thing in this show.
The only criticism I would offer this episode is that it occasionally leaned on quips that were clunky and entirely unnecessary. Stupid jokes in the face of danger just make this show look like it is pretending to be Buffy and were part of what made series one so excruciatingly bad. This episode brought them back in places where they really did not need to be and they definitely made me cringe, not smile. Humour has its place in the show but not in the middle of an action scene. The bit where Randolph says ‘he did it’ to a group of guards and then cutting away so we don’t know what happened is not good storytelling.
While this episode was not as good as last week’s and it is disappointing that the show is not picking up steam, at least we look far away from going back to the bad old days of series one.