AGENTS OF SHIELD: HEAVY IS THE HEAD (S2E02)
Season two started strong, with an excellent action episode, first of a two-parter that brought the series right up to date months after the season 1 finale. The world and character building from season one seems to have paid off, while the writing and acting is top form. What’s next? Basically, part 2 of Shadows.
Heavy is the Head starts where Shadows leaves off, with Hunter stuck in the overturned SUV, realizing that both Hartley and Idaho are dead and company’s coming. May shows up on her motorcycle to try to help, but he tells her to go after Creel, then is promptly captured. May has a shot a Creel, but frustratingly (for her, anyway) Coulson orders her to just tail him.
The rest of the first act is spent with the team digesting how the op went wrong. Skye, who’s clearly grown in confidence calls Coulson on the op, as well as noting the Obelisk showed the same alien diagrams he’s been having her research (or at least lie down on). She also helps take a look at the Quinnjet cloaking device, but bemoans the fact that Fitz, who knows cloaking best isn’t the same as he once was (not that anyone bothers to help him). I’m also beginning to think that Fitz’s problem at this stage more psychological than physical, given how well he communicates with his inner Simmons. We then return to Hunter who under seeming threat from General Talbot, negotiates a proper burial for Hartley and a $2 Million payout with the General to give up Shield. This episode spends a good deal of its running time on Hunter, and it does it well in the interactions with Skye, Coulson, Talbot and the others. He is a complicated mercenary. Skye returns to trying to get Coulson to open up about what is going on, and when he doesn’t, she tries to be helpful and suggest yoga. Coulson apparently has tried it and found that he’s not really all that flexible.
Fitz, still feeling burned by being shut out of the cloaking tech job allows phantom Simmons to encourage him into dealing with the problem presented by Creel. In the meantime, Creel finds that rubber-grip hands did not protect him from the Obelisk after all. While waiting to hand it over he accidentally kills a waitress, then runs off as the watching May reports back. We flip to back Hunter, who has returned to Shield, although is not exactly welcomed. He shares Talbot’s offer with Coulson, but insists he is only interested in getting justice for Hartley, then he’s out. Coulson states that he’d like Hunter to stay on, but Hunter isn’t interested, he’s seen enough of Coulson’s Shield. Meanwhile, Mac decides to try to break through to Fitz. The first effort isn’t successful, but it’s good to see someone at least trying. We then get a humanizing scene with Hunter and Skye discussing Hartley. Of note, we have now had multiple references by Hunter regarding the fact that his ex-wife is a psycho.
After all this ruminating, the episode finally shifts into high gear around the half way point. Creel, desperate to fix what the Obelisk is doing to him finally gets a call from his HYDRA handler Bakshi who tells him to calm down and wait. Then, the even more frustrated Creel comes face to face with Raina, who also wants to make a deal with him. He advises she go away, unaware she had placed a tracker on him. Raina then contacts Coulson, claiming she no longer works for HYDRA, then offers to help Coulson catch Creel. Coulson falls for Raina’s offer, and begins planning the op to get the Obelisk back from Creel, while Mac works with Fitz, finally breaking through, and realizes that Fitz has already solved the issue of dealing with Creel: his Overkill Device. However, the operation is screwed up by Hunter, intent on revenge-killing Creel, stuns the other agents and tries to kill the Absorbing Man himself. Unfortunately for him, Bakshi somehow clear up Creels struggle with the mere mention of ‘compliance’ and Creel comes after Hunter in full Absorbing Man mode. Things look bad for Hunter. Really bad.
And the Obelisk? Someone just snuck off with it. Guess who?
Mac and Fitz, it turns out, managed to modify the Overkill device in time, and Coulson arrives just before Creel uses the power of the Obelisk on Hunter. Creel is then turned to stone. May then scolds Coulson for going out in the field, and then convinces him to give into his urge to carve the alien diagram on his office wall, filming him as he does it.
Later Coulson meets Hunter at Hartley’s funeral for a bit of a heart to heart. He gets Hunter to consider joining Shield, then asks the surprised Hunter to turn him over to Talbot. Talbot meets Coulson later, and smugly refuses his offer of help. By then, however, Mac has reverse engineered the cloaking device, and Coulson is able to show off the cloaked Bus. He also leaves Talbot Creel, who appears to be waking back up just as Coulson boards the Quinnjet. Think the army will do a better job of holding him this time. No, probably not.
The big reveal of the episode, however, is finally getting to see the man with the bloody hands, Skye’s father, who urges Raina to pick up the Obelisk in her bare hands. She survives the experience, while the Obelisk glows brightly with the alien diagrams. Perhaps she’s ‘inhuman’ enough, maybe? Skye’s dad promises to reveal Raina more, but only if she deliver’s him Skye.
This episode is as strong as the season opener, although different in tone and execution. We get to delve into one of the new team members, Hunter, deeply enough to make him, in the space of a couple episodes about as well developed a character as anyone on the team. It’s also good to see the death of a character, even a one-shot as Hartley was, treated with respect. And of course, it’s good to see the plot moving along well with further tidbits into the nature of Skye’s father and Raina. The approach to Fitz slow recover has improved as well. I’m getting a real sense of the simmering rage he’s experiencing. Another solid ep!