Movie tie-ins, Cameos and Inhumans... oh my!
Overall, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 was a much stronger season than its freshman run. The nods to the Marvel Cinematic Universe continued and for the first time, the series introduced a corner of the MCU untouched by the films; The Inhumans.
Looking back, the creative team made the right decision front-loading the season with the best installments. Last year, the series got better as it went along and Season 2 managed to maintain that forward momentum.
Unfortunately, a stronger first half meant storylines like the Inhumans and "Real S.H.I.E.L.D." felt rushed or hastily thrown together in Season 2B. Luckily, Avengers: Age of Ultron sneaked in at the last minute to infuse the series with some much needed spark. Let's be honest, this series was born from the films and will always serve as a companion piece to the big event movies.
So, how did Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s sophomore season do overall? Read on to find out in our latest TV Fanatic Report card.
Best Episode: Sure, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 19 is fresh on our minds and was an outstanding episode. The way the final moments kick started Avengers: Age of Ultron was unprecedented for a crossover. However, the Midseason Finale, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 10 officially introduced The Inhumans. That installment not only changed the MCU forever, but validated the series as an integral part of Marvel's game plan. Plus, the mystery of the alien glyphs, the ancient city and Skye's true identity paid off in a big way.
Worst Episode: I guess 13 really is an unlucky number. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 13 aka Cal's Super Villain team-up was painful to sit through. After a three-month hiatus waiting for some Inhuman action, the writers gave us "enhanced" baddies. Not only did we feel cheated these guys weren't Inhuman, but they were cheesy, lame, over-the-top villains. This is the one episode we'll skip when rewatching Season 2.
Best New Character: I'm tempted to say Isabelle "Izzy" Hartley (Lucy Lawless), but of course she was killed off in the premiere. What was the deal with that stunt-casting? Anyway, how about we go with Inhuman Lincoln instead? Why not Hunter, you ask?
Well, more often than not he was out for himself and rubbed us the wrong way. Whereas from the moment Lincoln was introduced, Skye finally had someone in her corner that could help with her new abilities. With all the shifting alliances toward the end of the season, it was a relief Lincoln remained a good guy.
Worst New Character: Actually, probably the worst use of a truly exceptional actor goes to Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos). From the moment the "Real S.H.I.E.L.D." and Gonzales were introduced, fans were torn that Director Coulson's leadership was being challenged. Did Gonzales have some valid points about Phil's priorities? Sure, but Phil Coulson is our hero, and we love him despite his flaws.
This automatically made Gonzales an antagonist not to be trusted. While his intention to make peace with Jiaying was genuine, we spent so much time disliking the guy it was tough to feel bad about his death. It's a shame an actor like Olmos could not have stuck around longer as an ally.
Best Ongoing Story Arc & Performance: Without a doubt Leo Fitz's (Iain De Caestecker) brain trauma. Not only was De Caestecker brilliant in all his scenes throughout the season, but the material was treated respectfully. Fitz was actually our Best Character choice in the Midseason Finale Report Card. So, it's fair to say we continued to be impressed and moved by Leo Fitz's story arc this season.
Most Underutilized Character: Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) had some great moments this season, but they were few and far between. His captive situation in the first half of the season worked well, but once he escaped, Ward's arc was hit or miss. We understand the writers were playing the redemption game with the character, yet his motivations were never really clear.
Now that Ward has taken on the big bad role next season, we should see much more of him. It was a great choice by the writers not to redeem the guy, sometimes that's too predictable. Besides, evil-Ward is just too much damn fun!
Coolest MCU Character Cameo: Agent Carter made a couple of appearances this season, so she has the advantage over Lady Sif. Not that Sif's visit wasn't a blast and important. After all, she did lay out the history of the Kree and Inhumans which was massive. It's just that after Agent Carter Season 1, we've really fallen hard for Peggy. Her her tie-in with Hydra and the Diviner was one of the more brilliant writing moments this season. More Agent Carter/Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tie-ins are welcome next season. Make it happen Marvel and ABC.
Best Avengers: Age of Ultron Tie-in: That's an easy one... Theta Protocol! The mysterious protocol had been name-dropped on the series several times and even came up in the film. However, it wasn't until Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Episode 20 that the actual reveal came. Was it a little frustrating to walk out of the movie theater still guessing what Theta Protocol might be? Absolutely, but the way the series flashed back a year and showed us Coulson was responsible for the Hellicarrier that saved the day in Avengers: Age of Ultron was pure magic.
WTF Moment: Coulson losing an arm in the finale... what?!? Now that was a total Walking Dead moment I was not expecting to see on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a million years. Will he get a robotic arm? Or will the technology that brought The Vision to life in the film be used to regrow his arm? Tune in to Season 3 to find out Marvelites!!
Hopes for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3: At the midseason point, we were hoping to learn more about the Inhumans and watch Skye deal with her powers. It's safe to say the writers came through on those counts. However, though Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the potential to be a hugely successful series like Daredevil or The Flash it's still lacking the structure of those shows. Our hopes for Season 3 is that the momentum is consistent throughout the season and each episode has a solid beginning, middle and end.
There are still too many filler episodes, and random moments. Anyone that blames the 22-episode run, need only look at The Flash to see that it's not impossible to achieve. Planning the season like a 22 hour movie, and leaving less wiggle room would work wonders for this series. We're looking forward to seeing how the creative team tackles Season 3.
Overall Grade: C+
You're up TV Fanatics! What would you grade Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2?