Have you been undercover, in the shadows, asking yourself WTF is even happening on Season 2 Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
Here. *Hands out lanyards to your group* This article is for you: (Almost) everything you need to know about what’s happened so far on Season 2 of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., before it returns from its mid-season hiatus TONIGHT (Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015).Please, stick together, and do your best not to become a stationary blinking dot on my tablet of location data. That would be … bad.
Almost Everything That Happened Until This Point on Season 2 of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD An Unofficial L.I.S.T. (Litany of Intelligence, Strategically Tiered)
Ward spent most of Season 2 doing disgraced push-ups at 5 in the morning in his Indefinite Time-Out Chamber, having illuminating chats with various members of the team at key moments, making creepy promises to Skye about introducing her to her dad one day (THIS COULD HAVE BEEN US BUT YOU WERE HYDRA), and sporting attractive Evil Facial Hair. Hydra crashed a United Nations meeting and did a whole bunch of violence while pretending to be SHIELD, because that’s kind of their “thing”, succeeding in turning the world against SHIELD (even though SHIELD at the moment is like, 6 people and a jet that can become invisible). This opened up Act II of Ward, though, in that U.S. Senator Christian Ward (who has quite possibly the most Republican name ever) builds a national anti-SHIELD platform for himself, leading Coulson and him to strike a deal: lay off SHIELD in exchange for the chance to publicly prosecute his disgraced SHIELD agent brother, Grant. Random SHIELD personnel, who we’ve never spent any screen time with and therefore cannot be trusted, escort Ward to a prisoner transport vehicle, where he goes ahead and crushes his own hand to pop on out of those handcuffs, kill everyone, and escape.
Things spin out of control from there, since, well, he kills his brother and parents, then kidnaps Skye. It’s cool though because she shoots him in the gut the first chance she gets, mid-“I STILL CARE ABOUT YOU”-speech and all, so he hobbles off with a battered but alive Agent 33, and we’ll re-enter Season 2 with him officially untethered to any interests but his own. And that’s kind of exactly where we want Ward.
May continues her official/unofficial role as second-in-command of SHIELD to Coulson, though as Coulson undergoes considerably more strain this season, May starts to also become the emotional anchor for Season 2 that Coulson was for much of Season 1. She documents his doodling outbursts, makes him a Jason Bourne duffle bag of money and passports and stuff in the event they need to hide out somewhere and search for a cure, teaches Skye to manage her heart rate while killing people with the SHIELD FitBit as her new Supervising Officer, and handles the several new additions to the team with the kind of steadfast absorbing nature that teams require to become teams (though not without the occasional delightfully deadpan memo to new teammates that “You know I don’t like you, right?”).
May’s position in SHIELD 2.0 is so fundamental that not only does Coulson name her as his chosen successor in the event things go south for him, but Hydra operatives create a digital face-mask of her face for Agent 33 so she can go around impersonating May to get high-level access to SHIELD intel before eventually getting her head slammed into a coffee table by Real May for not knowing that she actually hates coffee. May also holds the record on this show for Person Who Has Been Tortured By Enemies More Than Anyone, if we’re not counting Coulson’s memory re-programming situation as torture. I don’t know if it needs to be said that Agent May is consistently one of the most brilliant characters on this entire show, but let’s not take any risks.
Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse
Lance and Bobbi are new characters to this season, installed seemingly to fill the dudebro void that Ward left in the wake of his betrayal (Lance) and to keep an eye on Simmons at Hydra while having chemistry with what appears to be everybody (Bobbi). Bobbi is nothing short of breathtakingly effective in basically every regard, and has incredible origins in the comics as Mockingbird that will be explored and developed more throughout the course of this show if it has any regard at all for my feelings, which, so far it demonstrably doesn’t, but here we are.Oh, also, they were married once.
Fitz put it all on the line for Simmons at the end of Season 1, and tragically suffers from brain damage incurred due to an extended lack of oxygen. He lovingly simulates this for Ward in possibly the most satisfying interrogation scene of Season 2 (oh, the days when you just got sucked out of the Honeycomb Room into the sky until you were ready to talk). This moment is critical for him in that it signals the beginning of his recovery, having regained some of his confidence suffocating Ward to get intel that helped the SHIELD team maintain Simmons’ cover and stay a step ahead of Hydra. As part of his road to recovery to this point, Fitz has been having conversations with an imaginary personal version of Season 1 Simmons, who still sports a sleek long-hair ponytail and collared shirts under navy sweaters because he didn’t yet know that Season 2 Simmons has chin-length chopped hair and was undercover at Hydra making anxiously determined faces in the elevator as the door closed over her (or even gone at all, really).
In this season of SHIELD, Fitzsimmons, like Fitz’s mind, is a fractal fragment of fragility and other fra-words, possibly never to be the same again, but existing with a grim determination to one day be whole in whatever way it can. One of the chief struggles and joys of Season 2 is getting to see Fitz gradually return in strength and confidence, most gloriously exemplified in a mission where he trained to successfully assemble a device in under six minutes with a damaged hand. OkCupid Dating Interests: ability to casually assemble complex devices while under fire and on a time limit while on a covert operation.
Mack (Alphonso Mackenzie – sparkle heart emojis)
Mack joins the SHIELD team as the resident weapons technology and systems expert and my New Favorite Person. He and Fitz strike up a beautiful friendship in which Mack helps Fitz interpret things in order to solve complex, urgent problems with Science and Ingenuity together. Mack’s scientific prowess, flannel shirts, social observation/peep-ability of dynamics like which of his teammates clearly have history, and first-person-shooter skills make him an essential asset to the team, and he continually anchors people and plot points that would otherwise be flying out of the Bus like Commandante Reyes’ henchmen in Season 1 were it not for a certain inflatable raft. It’s hopefully clear, then, why I wanted to hurl my television set out of the nearest window when Mack was overtaken by the Kree city’s biological defense systems that turned him into a soulless guardian who lurked in the shadows near the Obelisk chamber in the final moments of the mid-season finale episode. Once the Diviner was activated, he was de-activated as a soulless guardian and presumably returned to form, but I literally cannot handle any more people on this show being damaged by things and it remains to be seen whether there will be some residual effects of that upon the show’s return. There probably will be, because I appear to have a sign on my chest that says PLAY WITH MY EMOTIONS MORE.
Simmons was undercover at Hydra at the beginning of S2, pretending to examine test tubes in a posh gradient sweater while secretly gathering intelligence about Hydra’s Plans (such as, what are The Plans, and For What, Even). She sciences her way into impressing Hydra’s upper echelons, who enlist her in an assignment to recapture an asset of theirs that she knows from [British voice] The Academy (aka SHIELD Hogwarts). To maintain her cover for her, Skye kills for the first time, and the SHIELD FitBit makes sure it all goes on record. Later, as Ward is being hauled out of SHIELD HQ, Simmons looks him dead in the eye and says, “If I ever see you again, I’ll kill you,” cementing Skye/Simmons as the realest mother-effing friendship on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, second only to Coulson/May. It’s a bit awkward for me to say this, though, because the original bestie friendship on this show was Fitzsimmons, which is a topic this season has barely handled — that is, outside of Fitz’s tormented imaginings, a scene where they stood and looked at each other from a distance finally, and a scene where Simmons cried trying to explain to Fitz why she left (presumably in part because it was making his condition worse for her to be around). I would go to the ends of the earth to find a sandwich that would make this relationship whole again.
Whitehall, the central Hydra villain of Season 2, is the scum of the earth who used Skye’s mom for Evil White Man Immortality. Yes, he violently harvested her body for the properties that maintained her youth, and used them on himself to somehow still be alive. This is why Skye’s Dad wants to murder him. I’d say that’s more than fair.
Skye’s Dad aka Cal
Cal is not Rupert Everett from My Best Friend’s Wedding. (This was confusing for me initially, since, as you may know from my podcast coverage of
Interchangeable White Dudes And Agent Carter, I heroically strive and tragically fail to tell most white men apart.) After initially demonstrating a total disregard for both iPads and human life, Cal maneuvers his way into Hydra where it is revealed that his true end goals are to a) reunite with his daughter and b) kill Whitehall for murdering her mom and the love of his life. He tragically fails to achieve either of these, as he reunites with Skye but is greeted with horror and disgust at the shared revelation that he is an actual monster, and is beaten to the kill by Coulson, who hasn’t been shooting with an icer since like Lorelei running amok or sometime around there maybe. It kind of feels like he is a “doctor” in the way that Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter analyst for the Miami PD.
Raina started out this season still Raina-ing around (i.e., speaking in coy tones about literally everything). For the majority of Season 2, Raina operates as a sort of contract staff member of Skye’s Dad, where the contract was essentially that one time forever ago, Cal found Raina on the streets traveling with a band of roving “freaks” (i.e., Inhumans and other non-humans with only emerging awareness of their powers) and came to support her in a familial way still rooted in mutual interest, kind of like how Joel found Ellie in The Last Of Us and decided to go ahead and adopt her as his replacement-daughter-that-gets-treated-like-a-peer. AT ANY RATE, Raina is unfortunately increasingly trapped between the demands of two merciless masters (Whitehall, who wants the Obelisk back, and Cal, who wants his daughter), and in an effort to save herself, she tries to barter pictures of Simmons at Hydra for her freedom in a tense exchange at a restaurant with Coulson. Coulson is profoundly uninterested in her threats, and is able to be that way because he knows he can rely on Bobbi to extract Simmons (which they achieve, by jumping off a rooftop onto the invisible jet!).
After calling poor Raina’s bluff, he and Hunter tag her with a tracking device which puts them into the path of Skye’s Dad and eventually Hydra. Despite spending most of Season 2 being a pawn in the schemes of evil men, though, Raina reveals her true motivations to Skye to recover the Obelisk and enter the ancient city built by the Kree that only she and Skye are Worthy to approach. Turns out she achieves that dream, except, WHAT HAS SHE BECOME?
Coulson is slowly and ominously approaching a horizon of expiration that none of us can bear to talk about, but this is a brave space, so let’s just get right into it. His deteriorating physical state, due to the effects of being injected with GH-325, advances slowly but relentlessly in the background, like the anxiety eating away at us all. This is a stark contrast to the clear role he played as Anchor and Team-Uniter-Despite-Differences in Season 1, so um, I kind of need a hug about it all, but the thing is the person who would hug me is him and well, we just covered that. Despite all this, he is still handily managing SHIELD as a start-up/start-over organization with inexplicably large resources and a cobbled-together-but-rather-outstanding-staff, having all necessary qualifications to do so like urgently saying “GO DARK”, knowing about fingerling potatoes, or, yes, Giving Skye A Hug In An Emotionally Devastating Moment.
We spent almost all of this season watching him battle an affliction of cryptic doodle-carving that turned out to be an impulse generated by the GH-325 to sketch a map of Raina’s aforementioned Kree city that the aliens who created the Obelisk wished him to find.(I get that it was a large map and required a visual aide, but there is such a thing as attachments to e-mai– *loses signal*)*regains signal*
Anyway, it turns out Hydra is also racing to find this ancient city, so SHIELD resolves to beat Hydra to it, and well, this becomes the setting for the final scenes, where…
Antoine “Trip” Triplett
Antoine, grandson of a member of the legendary Howling Commandos, exemplary SHIELD agent, and beautiful human being, was cruelly taken from us while locking himself in the Obelisk Chamber with Skye and Raina in a self-sacrificial act to attempt to save them. The Diviner-induced transformation wreaked upon Skye and Raina unacceptably claimed Triplett as collateral damage, and in the process, stole from us one of the brightest lights of this series. This was devastating enough of a development on its own, but earlier in the series, we also collectively suffered the trauma of watching Trip barely survive a gruesome act of sabotage committed by “Doctor” Cal, who strategically severed Trip’s arteries under the guise of treating him in order to buy himself enough time to escape SHIELD’s grasp mid-mission. I can barely even type that sentence, because I hate it and this show so much for what it has done to an incredible, wonderful, and woefully under-developed character who still shone in every single moment we had with him. I will spend the first few return episodes in a solidified psychological state of denial and resentment at the loss of him.
…Did you get all that?
Mitra is a guest contributor at BNP. She and @TheAdamWells co-host Beyond The SHIELD, a conversational podcast on the TV show Agents of SHIELD (@BeyondSHIELD). When not creating earthquakes with her emotions, she can be found on Twitter excessively capitalizing things at @mitbot.