I'm glad to see Season Two of Agents of SHIELD dispense with Oddity of the Week type stories entirely. These episodes are pure arc from beginning to end, mostly centered around Skye and Coulson's stories, though Fitz, Simmons, and Ward get notable side arcs as well. Not as much on May -- she's mostly a supporting player through this half of the season -- and Trip gets almost no character development at all. The handling of his character is, without a doubt, my least favorite aspect of this run of episodes. But I do enjoy what they do with Mack, Bobbi, and even Hunter. They make for an interesting team within the team, with their own history and dynamic, and even though this doesn't come heavily into play, we see seeds of the coming division even before Coulson takes his trip down memory lane. Before that episode, I never saw any signs that Mack might have a separate agenda, although in Bobbi's first full episode with the team I noticed her laying the groundwork with Hunter, that a schism might be coming -- and he noticed it, too.
Some things that caught my eye:
While he's working over Agent 33, Whitehall refers to his brainwashing technique as "the Faustus Method". That's pretty interesting, considering that Dr. Faustus, aka Ivchenko aka Johann Fennhoff, our Agent Carter Season 1 Big Bad, was Leviathan and not HYDRA. More evidence for my theory that Leviathan and HYDRA merged into a single organization eventually?
In the episode where they tracked down the TAHITI patients, one of Coulson's doctors in the flashback mentioned that their source of GHB 86 is "older than the pyramids". This makes me even more eager to get to the bit in an upcoming episode where they learn more about the history of the Kree's visit to Earth.
Speaking of that visit, we heard the word "Kree" for the first time from Reyna (unless you count Sif's throwaway mention in the previous season), and she describes them as "blue angels, coming down from heaven." And what other backstory character has been referred to as "an angel"? Why, Peter Quill's father, who's described as such by his mother. We already know that Quill's father is an alien; could he have been Kree? Or otherwise connected to the Kree's plans for Earth? (I understand that his comics backstory is different, but there's no reason it needs to be the same.) I hope we get more into Quill's history in the next GotG movie.
Alas, Antoine Triplett, we hardly knew ye. Literally -- he never got to be the central character in any episode, and his family connection to SHIELD is the only real backstory we ever got. I feel like his character development was limited to his friendship with Skye, his flirtation with Simmons, and his access to vintage spy gadgets. So his connections with other people, and a backstory that mostly served as a convenience to the plot. And then he died (probably -- consider this theory that Trip is an Inhuman and will return, although I feel like there would have been a reveal or at least another hint sometime in Season Two).
I feel like HYDRA gets a lot more diverse in this season -- more female agents, more agents of color. That makes some amount of sense, though, since at least some of the high-level agents have been brainwashed, and I'm sure more than one person joined HYDRA out of fear, or loyalty to a superior officer. Simmons' cover story that she joined for the opportunity to continue her scientific research also strikes me as credible, for a certain type of person. I'm sure that Ward isn't the only one who tells himself that HYDRA's Nazi roots are irrelevant.
I'll be moving right along to the next batch of episodes, leading up to Age of Ultron; I'm not sure what I'll do at that point, since I'm not sure I'll have the chance to catch it in a theater again. I suppose I could take a break for Daredevil, which I have yet to watch (I'm not sure where it fits in the chronology -- does anyone know?), or Ant-Man, which I'll probably see next weekend (I know, I know, but Hayley Atwell is in it, which is an automatic theater trip for me, yes even if it's just a cameo). Maybe AoU will still be in the last gasp of its theater run by the time I get to that point.
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