At A Glance:
Title: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
New Season Premiere: September 23, 2014
Production Companies: ABC Studios, Marvel Entertainment, Mutant Enemy
Showrunner: Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon, Jeffrey Bell
Executive Producers: Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tancharoen, Stan Lee, Alan Fine, Joe Quesada, Jeffrey Bell, Jeph Loeb
Writers: Jeffrey Bell (4 episodes, 2013-2014), Monica Breen (3 episodes, 2013-2014), Daniel J. Doyle (1 episode, 2014), Brent Fletcher (3 episodes, 2013-2014), Shalisha Francis (2 episodes, 2013-2014), Rafe Judkins (2 episodes, 2013-2014), Jack Kirby (22 episodes, 2013-2014), Lauren LeFranc (2 episodes, 2013-2014), Stan Lee (22 episodes, 2013-2014), Maurissa Tancharoen (22 episodes, 2013-2014), Jed Whedon (22 episodes, 2013-2014), Joss Whedon (22 episodes, 2013-2014), Paul Zbyszewski (4 episodes, 2013-2014)
Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, B.J. Britt
While a four month break between seasons can seem like a long time, at least fans of Agents don’t need to wait as long as fans of The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones. Of course, as this blog attests, fans of one are often fans of the others. Well then, good news: one of these shows is coming back with new episodes in less than a week’s time. This preview will contain some discussion of events from last season, so if you still aren’t all the way caught up, or are considering picking up this series in a marathon viewing session, don’t read past the break. And for those still on the fence: the beginning of Season 1 was fairly slow, but there is a payoff at the end. It wouldn’t be a Whedon (Jed, in this case) series if that weren’t the case.
<<Spoiler Alert: This preview of the second season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will include discussion of events from Season 1. Click through at your own risk!>>
While some answers were given prior to the end of last season (Fury alive but in hiding, Skye has at least one parent alive as well), there are plenty more still mysteries, the most pressing being how Coulson intends to use the mantle given him by Director Fury. It’s a lot of responsibility, being the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., even if, technically, there is no agency left to run. We know that there are other agents and potential allies still around – Agent Maria Hill and other former S.H.I.E.L.D. assets; possibly May’s mother and her connections (NSA? CIA? Hard to say) – but there are even more enemies and agencies looking to shut down what little of S.H.I.E.L.D. is left, not the least of which is the US government and military itself. How long before we get another visit from Colonel Talbot [Adrian Pasdar]? And surely Garrett’s death must mean that HYDRA has sprouted two new heads…
Let’s take a look at the agents (and one enemy) who will be guiding us through at least the early part of the season. With all the twists that hit in the second half of last season, there’s no telling on which side any of these characters will stand by the winter hiatus.
The Main Players:
Director Phil Coulson [Clark Gregg]
Coulson, elevated to Director by former Director Nick Fury (who is still faking his own death), must try to pick up the pieces of a S.H.I.E.L.D. utterly decimated by the HYDRA attacks begun late last season. Agent Garrett [Bill Paxton] has been dealt with, but what will Coulson do with Ward? And just how does he plan to unify S.H.I.E.L.D. into a cohesive force once again? HYDRA is still out there, as are HYDRA-associated enemies like Ian Quinn [David Conrad] and Raina [Ruth Negga], not to mention a suddenly freelance Deathlok [J. August Richards as Michael Peterson]. Nothing is going to be easy, and there’s no one to trust.
Agent Melinda May [Ming-Na Wen]
Agent May is my favorite character on the show (sorry, Coulson!). Her no-nonsense-kick-ass-and-ask-questions-later approach drew me in from the first episode, and she did nothing to lose my respect as things progressed. Even the fact that she was spying on Coulson was internally consistent with her sense of honor – it showed, if anything, how loyal she is to the Phil Coulson she knows, respects, and in some ways, loves. By ensuring that Coulson was who he thought he was, she honored her friendship in the hardest and most trying way possible. Her tryst with Ward set her up to take his betrayal harder than anyone, save perhaps Skye, but her ability to separate the job from her personal life served her well there. Look to see her and Coulson patch up what rift still lies between them, and work together as the new core of S.H.I.E.L.D. moving forward.
Grant Ward [Brett Dalton]
Ward’s big reveal as a HYDRA agent last season was the catalyst that moved the show into higher stakes territory, and saved the first season from being a so-so espionage drama with occasional super-powered guests. His mentoring of Skye and sexual relationship with May integrated him more thoroughly into the team than simple partnership would have, making his betrayal all the more powerful. In an interview this morning (22-09-2014) on CTV Morning Live in Vancouver, actor Brett Dalton suggested that Ward’s “allegiance was more to Garrett than it ever was to HYDRA.” This implies the possibility that Ward may seek redemption and rehabilitation this season – but is it too late for him? Comics are rife with stories of heroes falling and villains being redeemed, so don’t write Ward off just yet.
Skye [Chloe Bennet]
Skye (or Mary Sue Poots, as we learned late last season) is both an open book and an enigma at the same time. She’s open in that she wears her emotions on her sleeve, showing in turns her loyalty to her teammates, her peevishness at being underutilized and marginalized by her superiors, and her attraction/loathing for her former mentor, Grant Ward. She’s an intelligent computer expert (I’m loath to use the phrase hacker, as I think it’s misused in this show) who has shown herself to be an asset to the team, after something of an uneven beginning. While still the least well-liked of all the series regulars, Skye has worked at redeeming herself, in no small part because she has become less the focus of the show, as the team and its synergy have become instead the star. The season finale, with that brief glimpse of Skye’s father, suggests that she will be a primary focus for at least one major storyline; thankfully, there are other storylines that are likely to take precedence.
Fitz [Iain De Castaecker] and Simmons [Elizabeth Henstridge]
Fitz and Simmons, the sometimes annoying, but mostly well-liked socially inept pair of inventors/scientists resident on the Bus, have slowly grown into an integral part of the show. While they first appeared to be almost throwaway comic relief, they’ve gradually taken over more storylines, and been the major focus of several of the more interesting sub-plots throughout season 1. Simmons may be romantically interested in Agent Triplett, but her mothering of Fitz and very real concern at his condition following their escape from a submerged cargo container in the season finale, show that their emotional bond runs deep. Fitz’s condition is one of the key unknowns heading into the season premiere on Tuesday, and will be something fans are eager to find out more about. Here’s hoping that Fitz makes a full recovery, and this interesting duo can get back to doing what they do best – quietly making everyone else’s jobs easier.
Agent Antoine “Trip” Triplett [BJ Britt]
Trip was a mid-season addition to the team, and with the exposure of his SO (Superior Officer), Agent Garrett, as a high-ranking member of HYDRA, there are still questions surrounding his ultimate loyalties. After all, Garrett’s previous apprentice, Grant Ward, went with Garrett into the HYDRA fold; what’s to say that Trip hasn’t done the same, and is now working undercover with Coulson and his team? Personally, I feel that this might be a little too obvious, but that might make it all the more likely: get the audience second guessing itself, and you can keep them on their toes – and watching. The most interesting plot involving Trip, besides the is he/isn’t he of his possible loyalties, is his interest in Gemma Simmons. She, in her never-been-kissed manner, reciprocates Trip’s obvious attraction, but is this just a ploy by him to get in tighter with the team? Because if so, he’s not taking into account Fitz’s barely concealed jealousy.
Agent Eric Koenig/Billy Koenig [Patton Oswalt]
Introduced in S01E18, Agent Eric Koenig was Ward’s first victim as an open HYDRA agent. In the season finale, we were able to meet his “brother,” Billy Koenig – who is his exact double. This left fans with a lot of questions: are Eric and Billy twins? If so, why doesn’t Billy seem more upset at his brother’s death? If not, what exactly are they? Clones? LMUs (Life Model Decoys)? This is surely one of the mysteries that will be addressed early in the new season, but regardless, it’s a wonderful thing that fans are going to get treated to more of Patton Oswalt’s campy agent and his unhealthy (but useful) fixation on lanyards.
Promos and Teasers:
In the lead up to the new season, ABC has released several sneak peeks, trailers, and even a full-fledged primer hosted by the mysterious Agent(s) Koenig himself. Here are three of those videos for your viewing pleasure.
Season 2 Trailer:
This is a great little clip, introducing us to one of the series’ new regulars, Isabelle Hartly [Lucy Lawless]. It has a surprise or two, so I won’t get into the details here – have a look!
Agent Koenig’s Welcome from Comic Con:
Apparently, Eric and Billy have another brother: Sam. Don’t forget your security lanyards.
Bonus Clip: Blooper Reel from Season 1
Season 2 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs September 23, 2014 on ABC.