Howdy ladies and gents, time for a semi-review of sorts. Now that I'm up to date with Agents of S.H.I.L.E.D. this season I thought I would pass on my thoughts on how I feel its shaping up so far. I don't know how long this post will be, but please stick with me. SOME SPOILERS TO FOLLOW...
The thing stood out to me after seeing the first episode was the change in tone. Immediately you are presented with a much darker and serious show than before. Its like AoS did a 180 in terms of personality, without the characters, you could assume that this was a totally different show. Obviously due to the fallout of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the ongoing threat of Hydra, things could never go back to the light-hearted and humorous nature of last season, that's not to say that there isn't small moments of humour to be found, it's just that it takes a back seat to the drama instead. The show's more mature and aggressive than before and now this show feels like it is more in line with the MCU films like [Captain America: The Winter Soldier](movie:254973).
Story-wise this show seems to be more focused, swifter in tone and has a better use of its source material than ever before. What I like about the stories in season 2 now is that it is all about S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to survive in a world that's against them. Director Phil Coulson has his main base of operations and small teams across the world, but he is outmatched and out-gunned by Hydra and the US government who want to take him out. Right now it is about living to fight another day for S.H.I.E.L.D., while their enemy, Hydra, is everywhere obtaining new recruits and trying to utilize a new dangerous artifact that could kill many people if weaponized. When it comes to the use of the MCU films and Marvel comic books, this show happens to have a better grasp on how to handle it. Using the flashback sequence in "Shadows" with Pepper Carter and the Hollowing Commandos is great way to not only tie those characters to Captain America: The First Avenger, but it's also great for the Agent Carter TV series that will be on its way soon too. Its good publicity and nice tie-ins overall. Also the use of villains like Absorbing Man (Carl Creel) and returning characters like Blizzard (Donnie Gill) and Raina, and introducing Bobbi Morse (aka Mockingbird) is a good way of again connecting aspects of season one and two, while also relating to the comics too.
As for the cast, they're all very good with returning cast members doing very well and the new cast fitting in nicely. Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson is great, he now feels more in line with the Coulson I knew from the MCU films, the man is focused, serious, doesn't mess around and always has a backup plan. Since becoming the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. the guy just oozes a badass personality and definitely has mannerisms and traits similar to Nick Fury when he was in the role. Ming-Na Wen is still awesome as Melinda May, she is still silent but deadly, can kick anyone's ass in a fight and her personality leads itself to some funny interactions with other team members. She also has great intimate moments with Coulson, helping him with his problems but also doing missions with him too. Chloe Bennet is great as Skye this season. I can't say I was keen on her character last season at all, but now she's changed as much as the show has personality-wise. She's got a new look, she's a field operative now is in the thick of the action and now trains under Melinda May. She's cool now and I also like is the fact that she has problems with the secrets and tasks that Coulson sets for her too.
Oh and then there's Brett Dalton as Grant Ward, I wondered how he would factor into this show in this season, but the people behind the show have found a way for him to be relevant but not overshadow the main plot elements. I love Dalton, ever since he came out as a Hydra agent he became one of my favourite bad people, and even though he's done so much wrong and hurt so many people, I still like him, and after the episode six I'm hyped to see where his character goes from there. Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, damn, talk about a major change. Poor Fitz, poor Fitz. The dude's broken. Because of his brain injuries he sustained last season he's got problems relating to memory, interacting with people and forming basic sentences. Caestecker's acting is very impressive and heartbreaking to watch. Elizabeth Henstridge has definitely stepped up this season as Jemma Simmons, with her role going undercover and gathering intel for Coulson, while also having issues with Fitz's mental problems. Henstridge has become even prettier than before and I like the new dangerous scenarios and conflicts she now has to deal with.
B.J. Britt as Antoine Triplett is still as cool as ever but just in a smaller capacity. Patton Oswalt as is still great Billy Koenig, unfortunately we don't get to see that much of him though. Adrian Pasdar has has a more imposing presence this season as Glenn Talbot, he's now on the hunt for S.H.I.E.L.D. but is also talking to the media trying to reassure US citizens that his people are there to protect them and remind them that S.H.I.E.L.D. are the bad guys. Pasdar really lends himself well to a villain role. Ruth Negga returns as Raina and is just as cool and confident as ever, though she now starts to realise that there are forces bigger than her at work that could end her life if she doesn't play her cards right.
And there's the new cast members. Reed Diamond is a great as Daniel Whitehall, even though Hydra is everywhere, it is nice to have a face to put to all this chaos. This man is basically the new John Garrett and while he's not as humours or as charismatic, the man has a very intriguing past, has a sinister presence and his personality seems to be something like 'work with me and you'll live or turn against me and die', and he's awesome. Henry Simmons as Alphonso Mackenzie is another nice new addition to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and I like his interactions with Fitz, while Nick Blood as Lance Hunter is one of the new field operatives that is part of the core team, he's the funny, cocky and British guy in the group. The guy has a bit of a bumpy start as he's not exactly loyal, his jokes aren't always funny and he moans like a little bitch, but otherwise he's fine. And finally we have Adrianne Palicki who is awesome as Bobbi Morse (Mockingbird), she is gorgeous, knows how to go undercover and is excellent in a fight. There's no sign of Ian Quinn or Deathlok at the moment but I hope they return soon because I miss them.
The presentation for this show seems to be improved as well. Visually the atmosphere, cinematography and lighting come across better and more film-like or at least higher quality. The action seems to show up more often and is more aggressive than before with more hand-to-hand combat sequences, super-powered characters messing people up and big set pieces. Even the visual effects seem better with scenes involving Absorbing Man and the Quinjets looking pretty slick and detailed. Even the by Bear McNeary seems more interesting and developed than last season.
So all in all season two of [Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.](series:722469) is a hell of a lot better than it was last year and from what I've seen of the first six episodes, it is really firing on all cylinders. The show is like a bullet train, its focused, quick and moves with conviction. It feels like the show has a presence among all of the other great TV going on right now, all it needs to do it keep up this momentum and give us fans more mysteries and action, but give it to us quickly and not drag things out like last season.
So have you been watching season two of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and if so what do you think? Are you down with the show's new direction and how do you feel it compares to last season? Whatever your thoughts are be sure to drop them in the comments below and I'll see you on the next review, laters! :D