Warning: Spoilers follow!
Agent Simmons is back, and so is the fantastic plotline and pacing set in the first episode. With returning foes and friends, this episode is a lot of fun, whilst also heightening the threat of HYDRA.
In “Making Friends and Influencing People”, my favourite scene of the entire episode (and probably of the series so far) is the re-introduction. Simmons’ morning routine, accompanied by the catchy “God Help the Girl” is brilliant, brought to a dramatic end by the revelation that her new employer is HYDRA.
It appears at first that the sweetest member of the team has gone over to the dark side. Thankfully, it is soon revealed that she is undercover, working as a mole for Coulson. Though it seems unlikely that Coulson would place Simmons in such danger, it gives actress Elizabeth Henstridge some fantastic material and much more rewarding scenes than the techno-babble filled moments of season one.
Donnie Gill (Dylan Minnette) also makes his much needed return as Blizzard, now with the power to freeze things (think The Incredibles’ Frozone, but evil). There is a marked change from the insecure student we saw last season with Minnette offering a lot of menace to his performance, despite the somewhat dodgy CGI the show uses to illustrate his powers and the slightly stilted confrontation with Simmons.
His final demise, at Skye’s hands, does seem slightly anti-climactic though; his body is never recovered, so a return is still very much on the cards.
Fitz’s discovery of Ward is a particularly intense scene, allowing Iain De Caestecker to play a side of Fitz we have never seen before: vindictive and vengeful, starving Ward of oxygen in order to show him exactly what being unable to breath is like. Vengeful Fitz is actually quite scary, and shows that the damage has had more effect on the mild-mannered scientist than just hallucinations and stumbling over his words.
With Simmons firmly within HYDRA, our knowledge of the organisation grows. The machinations of Dr. Whitehall (Reed Diamond) and Sunil Bakshi (Simon Kassianides) are given more prominence, implementing brainwashing to control ex-S.H.I.E.L.D and ‘gifted’ agents. The final threat that Simmons could face similar reprogramming is a worrying one, raising the question, is Simmons’ mission at HYDRA doomed to have fatal results?
After last week’s blip, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D was back to being greatly enjoyable. The writers continue to excel in combining great character development with superhero antics, though with the MCU’s state of the art CGI setting the bar for depicting superpowers, the smaller budget of this TV show is evident in places, particularly Donnie’s icing of the ship.
Catch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Channel 4, Fridays at 8pm.