There’s a feel of taking stock about this first episode of the new season of SHIELD, with appearances by all of last season’s regular cast, albeit changed by the events of the final few episodes. There’s a whole new dynamic between Skye and the others – in particular May, and of course, the now imprisoned Ward – and the new additions to the team will no doubt get a chance to make more of a mark in future episodes. The Fitz/Simmons relationship, which was one of the things that didn’t always work for me in the first year, is now potentially one of the more interesting elements…
One welcome change is the use of supervillains – there isn’t a great scientific “explanation” given for the Absorbing Man’s powers (he’s even referred to as that at one point, albeit with the Lucy Lawless patent slightly sarcastic tone), he’s just an “084” whose existence the team accepts and tries to deal with. There are some nice nods to the comic book version of the character as well.
With no new Marvel Universe movie to tie into until The Avengers: Age of Ultron is released towards the end of this season, Agents of SHIELD has a chance to cement its place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – as last season proved, it can’t simply coast off the charisma of Phil Coulson. The appearance of Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos at the start of the episode was a good way to remind viewers that SHIELD is part of a much wider story, and given the nature of the reveal in the tag scene, hopefully we’ll get to see some more of that.
Verdict: Plenty of promising threads are set up but it doesn’t quite have the grab-you factor that the series showed at the end of last season. 7/10