In Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Shadows”

With villains like this, things are starting promisingly.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Episode 26 “Shadows”     Broadcast September 23, 2014

Written by Jed Whedon & Mauriss Tacharoen

Directed by Vincent Misiano

After a brief retelling of the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. having been revealed to have been infiltrated by Hyrda, the show begins in 1945 Austria. A Hydra stronghold, the last one, is busy getting all its most important materials out. A Dr. Whitehall is most interested in an object referred to as the obelisk, but before any more can be said the gates of the facility are blown open and Agent Carter and the Howling Commandoes enter taking capturing everyone and taking charge of the facilities. She worries that the objects they’ve confiscated from Hydra are too dangerous, and her job is to find and hide them so they are never seen again. The show then transitions to Alexandria, Virginia, where three mercenaries, Isabelle Hartley, Lance Hunter, and Idaho, are about to buy a file containing information on the only Level 10 Classified object, the obelisk. However, the deal goes bad when one man springs forward to grab the file. Bullets don’t stop him and he leaps from the tower, gone. Agents May, Skye, and Trip reveal themselves to the mercenaries; they were watching the deal the whole time as back up. Hartley calls Coulson and asks what they should do. “Go dark,” is his response. Cue opening credits.

S.H.I.E.L.D. is operating in the shadows now. They are being pursued by the United States Army led by crazed Colonel Glenn Talbot, played excellently by Adrian Pasdar, who gets quite a bit to do this episode. Not helping is Agent Fitz’s loss of memory, suffered last season. Agent Simmons comforts him, telling him he’s getting better every day, but something still seems off. The addition of mercenaries to the group doesn’t sit well with the former agents, but what’s Coulson to do since S.H.I.E.L.D.’s numbers have been compromised, killed, or captured? Outside of a confrontation scene with Talbot and closing narration, Phil Coulson, played superbly by Clark Gregg, doesn’t do too much in this outing. He’s essentially in Nick Fury’s position, trying to keep things going, but with no resources. Ming-Na Wen’s Agent May gets to confront and shoot people, and that’s about all. Chloe Dalton has had her character of Skye buffed up considerably: she’s now a crack shot, she’s jaded by what Agent Ward has done, but she’s wholly loyal to Coulson. These are correct steps in the right direction for Skye. Ian De Caestecker was annoying as Fitz as what’s going on him wasn’t surprising. Elizabeth Henstridge and B.J. Britt function fine, but don’t contribute to the story. Brett Dalton has one scene as traitor Grant Ward, and it was good, but his position on the team seems really contrived. Lucy Lawless as Hartley had me happy to see her as part of the Marvel Universe.

The standout of the episode is Carl Creel, the Absorbing Man, marvelously portrayed by Brian Patrick Wade. A long time Marvel villain, he has the ability make his flesh the same material of anything he touches: concrete, steel, diamond, etc. The effects used were top notch, aping the way he’s been shown for decades in the comics. I screamed for joy when at one point in the story he fights one of the agents with a ball and chain, his trademark weapon of choice. It was a quick fight, but it was like seeing an old friend brought to life correctly. He also uses his ability to escape from somewhere, and it was very, very slick.

The good: A lot of action, the return of Hydra as a foe, Lucy Lawless, the Absorbing Man, a new “unknown” object, and the means to stay hidden.

The bad: A predictable turn for Fitz and Simmons, as wells as for Lance Hunter.

The final line: With villains like this, things are starting promisingly. Overall grade: B+


Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!”, he reviewed comics for TrekWeb, and he currently reviews Trek comics at TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for two years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
    2 Comments on this post.
  • Raissa Devereux (@RaissaDevereux)
    25 September 2014 at 5:31 pm -

    I was more surprised by the Fitz reveal than you, but I agree it was obvious in hindsight. All the guest stars rocked. I was really shocked by what happened to Izzy Hartley and her team. I do have to say though that my favorite villain beat was when Creel had the presence of mind to absorb the tire rubber before he picked up the artifact.

  • Ian Cullen
    27 September 2014 at 10:44 pm -

    I loved this episode. Only just gotten round to watching it. Fantastic fun and a much stronger start for the second series that the show had in its first season. Loved the nod to Agent Carter at the beginning with the Howling Commandos.

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