First off, a fan of classic Marvel has to love Agents of SHIELD’s usage of Glenn Talbot thus far. Talbot was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the pages of the earliest issues of The Incredible Hulk. Bruce Banner had the misfortune of having a double foil in Major “Thunderbolt” Ross and Glenn Talbot. For decades, Talbot was used as the obsessed military guy who (while having altruistic motivations) was always hounding the Hulk. Talbot had an Ahab like obsession with bringing down the Hulk, and now Agents of SHIELD has taken the same character with the same motivations, and the same military acumen, and replaced the Hulk with Phil Coulson.
One of the constant critiques of Agents of SHIELD’s first season was the lack of strong villains. Well, Talbot may not be a villain but he is certainly an antagonist and a foil, and really works as an obstacle for Coulson’s team. Plus, he scratches that classic Marvel itch.
Speaking of villains, so far, just two episodes in, we’ve had more intriguing villains than we had in three-fourths of last season. We’ve been introduced to the ageless Daniel Whitehall, we’ve had Whitehall’s right hand man, Bakshi, and of course we’ve had the Absorbing Man. This week, Crusher Creel was defeated and captured thanks to the Fitz and Coulson, and it must be said that Creel was executed really well by the writers of Agents of SHIELD. His battle van filled with samples of minerals and substances that he could absorb was a stroke of genius.
Like his comic book counterpart, Creel was a patsy. In the comics, Absorbing Man was created by Loki to fight Thor and was usually a hired gun that has gone up against most of Marvel’s heroes. The television version of Creel was a tool used by Bakshi and Whitehall to gain control of the alien(?) artifact that we saw last week.
Now, we have to talk about what the artifact may be and, by extension, who or what Bakshi might be. Yeah, Bakshi works for Whitehall, he is suave and in control, everything a HYDRA operative should be, but he also seems to have some powers. When Creel was panicking, Bakshi compelled the Absorbing Man to calm himself. It didn’t seem like persuasion that calmed Creel but some kind of forced compulsion, which suggested that Bakshi is more than human.
The writing on the medusa artifact is pretty clearly Kree (Clearly Kree is a great band name, by the way), which could imply that Skye and Coulson are actually Inhumans after all, because the Kree created the Inhumans according to Marvel lore. This has been speculated around the nerdosphere before, but that speculation has more credence than ever as it was revealed this week that Bakshi could be Skye’s father. With those powers and his knowledge of the artifact, the Inhuman connection is beginning to seem more likely—or it could just be fan wanking.
So that was three villains, but wait, add the returning Raina to the mix, and you have a welcome landscape of mystery and threats. And, oh dear, the Girl in the Flowered Dress touched the artifact during this week’s climax, and it didn’t turn her to stone. In fact, it glowed a beautiful golden sheen and that mysterious writing appeared. So now, we can add Raina to the mix it terms of Skye’s familial lineage.
That’s a hell of a lot of villains for a show that had a dearth of baddies last season, and we still have Ward locked up as well.
We covered the villains, so now let’s look at the status of some of our heroes.
This year, Skye is just a different character. She is not a tacked on after thought or the “Poochie” of the show as Den of Geek Supreme Intelligence Mike Cecchini referred to her last season. Maybe it’s the bangs, but Skye just seems more mature and less off-putting. Her officer/soldier bond with May is awesome as is her connection to Coulson. I am dying to know more about her backstory which means mission accomplished as far as the formerly maligned Skye goes.
Coulson adapting to his role as Director while dealing with the secrets of his alien(?) blood also brings a new dynamic to his already well explored character. At the end of last season, Coulson was left scrawling that alien(?) writing on the wall. Clearly, there is something cosmic going on inside Coulson and as he delves further into the unknown, he is still left with the responsibilities that Nick Fury once held.
All Coulson has to ground him is May and Skye, and as shown by the ending this week, he is still scrawling that alien writing. The sequence of May monitoring Coulson’s fugue state is a fascinating look into the mysteries of the show. Coulson is not fully in control and he will need his loyal agents to help him keep SHIELD together.
Also in this episode, Coulson recruited a new one: Agent Lance Hunter (oh, that name is…not good), one of the mercenaries that SHIELD recruited to help him track down Creel and the only one of the mercs left alive after Creel’s attack. The young gun was tempted to go over to Talbot this week. Coulson used every last bit of his skill as Director to sway Hunter to join SHIELD. Hunter comes complete with a set of motivations to make him an instant player in the dynamic of the show.
He seems to be ready to take Ward’s place on the team, a role I kind of was hoping Tripp would fill to be honest. But we learned this week that Hunter is capable of betrayal if given the right reasons. That’s an interesting little wildcard for Coulson to deal with. Also, my inner raging fanboy really really wants Hunter to become Union Jack; he won’t, but thatwouldbeawesome!
Lastly we have Fitz. Oh man, is this stuff heartbreaking on a Whedonesque level. Tonight, Fitz came up with a way to take down Creel, but it was the old Fitz that already created the device, all damaged Fitz had to do was remember that he actually built it. So Fitz’s big victory was just remembering something he once created. Oof, is that rough. One good thing for Fitz, he bonded with a newfound pal this week, the freshly introduced Agent Mack. Mack couldn’t be more different than Fitz (or Simmons for that matter) as he could be the Rock’s stunt double, or he could have been in contention to play Luke Cage. Heck man, the dude could double as a Hellicarrier he’s so damn big. Mack motivated Fitz into remembering the Creel stopper and seems to be a person that understands how to help Fitz during his struggles. Even crazy ghost Simmons seemed taken with Mack, something that Fitz did not seem to appreciate.
The episode was filled with great character bits and some compelling teases. Bakshi’s suggestion that he could be Skye’s father was an eye opener, and it was still a thrill to see Crusher Creel on TV. A good episode as Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD continues to evolve.
-Not much of anything other than the Kree writing and maybe, possibly could be Inhuman stuff.
-Glenn Talbot: A well-meaning dick in the comics, and now a well-meaning dick on television.