Welcome back, true believers! When last we left our band of wayward agents, the hidden artifact known as the Obelisk had been taken by Avengers-villain, Crusher Creel (aka the Absorbing Man). The team lost one of their newest members apparently as Lucy Lawless’ Hartlay bit the bullet and was killed in the final minutes of the season premiere, though this is the Marvel universe and resurrections are fair game for any character. Tonight, we’ll see the return of the mysterious “woman in the flower dress”, Raina, apparently seeking to help the team rather than inhibit them. Will the team join their old foe in attempting to reclaim the Obelisk? Will Fitz go even crazier in this episode? Why oh why didn’t I make a joke about the Absorbing Man not being played by Nick Nolte during the last recap? All this and more in the recap for the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Heavy is the Head”….
We start our episode with May encountering the mercenary Hunter, who had worked with Hartlay in last week’s season premiere, offering himself to be captured by one of the team’s nemeses, Talbot, and the US government, allowing her to track Creel. The Absorbing Man continues to struggle with the properties of the Obelisk that he absorbed the properties of, accidentally killing a waitress in quite a brutal manner, turning her into a stone skeleton of sorts. Tonight’s episode certainly moved at a frantic pace, hardly giving the audience a minute to breath. It was essentially setting the table for all the events to come in this season, and while it certainly accomplished the task, I think it stumbled as having an identity all its own. Some of the usual humor and stakes had to be pushed aside in order to get all the players where they needed to be and overall it made the episode suffer for it.
Tonight’s installment focused heavily on Hunter, played by Nick Blood (yes, that’s his real name) as he went from being Talbot’s captive, to member of the team, to traitor, to member of the team pretending to be a traitor in order to assassinate Creel, back to fully fledged agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. This all felt a tad unearned for the most part as we hardly knew anything about this guy thanks to him having only appeared last week, and acting as second banana to Lawless’ Hartlay. Had we had some more time with him, maybe his heel turn would have been more effective or maybe we as the audience would have been a little more invested in his plight having been threatened by General Talbot. Ultimately though, we’ll have to wait to see how he plays off the other members of the team, but as it stands, there are a LOT of players on the board and its tending to get a little on the crowded side overall. Hunter seems to essentially be brought on to fill the void left by the crazed Ward from the previous season, but couldn’t Agent Tripp have been given that role?
Last week, one of my favorite parts of the episode was the reveal that Fitz was entirely off his rocker, stuck in a “Fight Club” scenario where he was talking with a fictional Simmons who has been absent from the team for quite some time. This episode, I was sort of 50/50 on him to be honest. While the team handling him with kid gloves early on in the episode in the hangar was interesting to watch, leaving him to his own devices with random S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists seemed like something of a stretch. His interactions with Mack, the team’s current mechanic, also wavered from good to bad as Mack attempted to figure out what Fitz was saying as if he was playing Pictionary.
The best part of tonight’s episode came from the showdown with Creel near the end, wherein the show was able to display some pretty neat special effects. The best of the night was Hunter, having knocked out the team in order to take a shot at Creel, firing a sniper rifle at his head, only for the bullet to bounce against Creel as he turned into metal. This was then followed by Creel being zapped with a device by Coulson, causing him to frantically turn into nearly every element he had absorbed before finally changing into stone. This scene sort of reminded me of that Clayface episode from the old Batman Animated Series where he’s forced to look at all the old photos of himself (maybe we’ll see him in Gotham.)
Tonight also saw the return, as I mentioned in the intro, of Raina, one of the antagonists from last season, now working for Skye’s father, played by Kyle MacLachlan of Twin Peaks fame. More was teased at the idea of the code Coulson had been writing and the potential alien origins of the Obelisk itself. The episode had to juggle a lot of plotlines, sacrificing what the course laid out by the premiere, but hopefully, with all the plots laid out to bare, we can roll back next week.
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– Talbot considered Creel small potatoes? The guy who can turn into literally any material he comes into contact with? That seemed odd.
– For a second, I was actually starting to think Simmons had been somehow locked into Fitz’s mind, but the preview said differently I suppose.
– Where did Patton Oswalt go this episode? He was missed.
– “May, that doesn’t sound convert!”
– “I know, and we just retiled the bathrooms.”
– “He must have absorbed the Obelisk and it’s deadly powers!” Yikes, that was a bad line.
– “I’m an admirer of you and your gifts.”
“Beat it lady, I ain’t into groupies.”
– “I doubt it, you seen the guy? He’s jacked! He can turn any part of his body into any material!”
“Ok, thank you.”
– “How did we get stuck with the non-lethal option?”
“Coin flip. Tripp called Tails.”
– “Scout’s honor? You were never a boy scout, were you?”
– “We’re lucky we still have our George Foreman grill.”
– “Let’s get out of here before the iceberg runs out of fuel.”