The second episode of season two of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. very much feels like a second part to the season opener, even beginning seconds after the last episode ended. It’s surprising to see that this wasn’t originally a two parter, or even aired back to back, as it very much feels like one extra long introduction to the new status quo.
Despite the pre-season marketing making a big deal out of Lucy Lawless joining the cast as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Isabelle Hartley it’s a shock to discover that the car crash at the end of the last episode killed her. Yes, she may have been under some kind of attack or infection from the alien obelisk, but she could easily lose an arm and stay a part of the show; as such, her sudden death is a genuine surprise.
The one silver lining from her exit from her brief time as a part of the team is that it puts Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) on a path where he’s determined to get revenge for her, which means that we get to see a lot more of Crusher Creel (Brian Patrick Wade). Whilst we still hardly know Hunter I found that we learnt a lot about his character from him in this episode. He’s manipulative, he’ll lie and double cross to get what he wants, but he’s fiercely loyal and has a sense of justice, characteristics that could make him a strong new addition to the team.
In a lot of ways he already feels a lot better than other secondary male leads the series has had. Bret Dalton was fairly bland as Grant Ward across the whole first season, even when he was revealed to be a Hydra agent, and whilst I love B.J. Britt as Antoine Triplett it took a lot longer to get to know him, and even then we’ve not got to see much of his character. Speaking of Ward, this is the first episode of the show to not feature him, and it’s absolutely fine. Perhaps this is a sign that Ward and his story will begin to work its way into the background to make room for better characters.
One of these better characters is Mack (Henry Simmons), who spends much of the episode getting to know Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) better, and helping him with his neurological trauma. It’s a little bit of a disappointment to learn that most of the other characters have kind of just left Fitz alone to deal with his problems himself. I understand that there’s a lot going on for the other characters to have to deal with, you don’t really get days off from being an international super-spy, but this is one of their best friends, left alone to struggle through an incredibly traumatic experience.
Thankfully Mack is too good a person to leave the suffering Fitz on his own, and we get to see that start of what appears to be a very real and caring friendship form between the two men. Mack pushes Fitz when he needs it, supports him when it’s right, and because of this has quickly become one of the best characters on the show only his second episode in. The episode also introduces a big new player to the series this episode, Skye’s mysterious father, played by Twin Peaks Kyle MacLachlan. The episode gives nothing about him away, even his name, but the fact that he has Raina (Ruth Negga) working for him, who is clearly afraid of him, sets him up to be an interesting potential antagonist.
‘Heavy is the Head’ also continues the further evolving mystery of the strange symbols that Coulson (Clark Gregg) has been carving by revealing a connection to the alien obelisk. We know from the flashback in the previous episode that the obelisk was taken from the same Hydra facility that housed the blue alien used to save Coulson, so a connection between the two isn’t a huge leap in logic. How this will play out is anyone’s guess at this point, but hopefully it won’t be teased out as long as the Tahiti mystery in season one.
With some great action moments and a lot of character and plot development the second episode of the season has continued at a great pace and has established a great foundation for season two to continue to build upon.
Are you a fan of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Let us know what you think of this episode.