As I said many times in these reviews, the biggest failing of last season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was the lack of villains, particularly the powered and costumed kind—the type of villains that appear liberally in, you know, comic books. So far, three episodes into season two, Agents of SHIELD has not shied away from established villains, just the opposite in fact: the show has embraced them and their presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the season’s opening episodes, fans were treated to a note perfect Absorbing Man, and this week the series revisited a character mishandled and marginalized last season, Donnie Gill, the cold wielding villain known as Blizzard.
Now, the Blizzard was never what you would call an A-list villain, not by a long shot. But, and I argued this last year, if you’re going to use the Blizzard use him, or else you have a generic villain with cliché powers wearing flannel. And I think we had enough of that in Smallville.
This week (while there was still no costume, dammit) the Blizzard was, say it with me, the Blizzard. His power set was frightening, and a fan could see why a man with the ability to freeze anything at a touch would be such a valuable asset or such a lethal enemy. In other words, the Blizzard was allowed to be a super villain. Thank you.
While Marvel fans should be thrilled with the coming of the television super villain, this was nowhere near the main event. No, that distinction goes to the return of Jemma Simmons and in a very unexpected (for those that didn’t watch the spoiler laden episode preview) way. It was good to see the lovable Simmons again, especially as we watched her wake up and start her day with a jaunty tune playing. During this sequence, we were reminded of the woman’s beauty and gentle nature. All we knew of Simmons’ departure was that she left because she felt Fitz would recover from his injury quicker without her around, something that didn’t really sound like the nurturing Simmons.
This week we got the truth, Simmons had joined Hydra. When she arrived at work, jaunty tune still playing, and the camera panned to the HYDRA symbol emblazoned on the wall, the iconography was startling and painful as the realization hit like a crashing hellicarrier that dear Simmons had either been compromised and was now the enemy, like Ward, or she was behind enemy lines as a double agent. Now, Simmons is a brave and capable woman but such a mission is more suited for Natasha Romanov not SHIELD’s resident gentle soul. But a double agent she is as we found out when Coulson paid her a visit.
The fact that Coulson would risk Simmons just shows how dedicated he is in bringing down HYDRA. He’d seriously endanger a surrogate daughter just to gain an advantage. Simmons’ cover was compromised as HYDRA agent Bakshi, the man revealed last week to maybe be Skye’s father, learned that she had a connection to Donnie Gill, the cold powered asset HYDRA would like to control. We got to see the capacity of HYDRA this week, or at least the capacity of the branch controlled by Whitehall and Bakshi (remember somewhere there is another branch controlled by Baron Von Strucker, a branch that holds captive to very important twin miracles…).
We also got to see HYDRA’s mind control device, a machine that will remind old school G.I. Joe fans of the device Dr. Venom used to control his victims, but I nerd digress. We were also introduced to Agent 33, a SHIELD operative who was being held in the machine by Whitehall.
So we know where Simmons is, but what of Fitz. Fitz was still trying to deal with the loss of Simmons and his diminished intellect. Fitz’s story came to a head this week as he stumbled on a certain holding cell, a cell holding the man that tried to murder Fitz and caused his brain damage, a cell holding Ward. We got to see another meeting between Skye and Ward this week similar to the one in the season opener. Fitz’s encounter was vastly different as Iain De Caestecker really stepped up his acting game as Fitz and sold the hell out of the damaged man’s pain, fear, anger, and confusion. Fitz confronted his former friend and drained the oxygen out of Ward’s cell showing the traitor that Fitz may be damaged, but he is not broken. Ward convinced Fitz to let him go by telling him he knows that Simmons is in danger.
Which takes us to a thrilling action laden conclusion with Lance Hunter, Agent May, and Skye trying to extract Blizzard from the hands of HYDRA, both factions under orders to kill Gill if he does not comply. To further complicate things, Bakshi sent Simmons to help convince Gill to join HYDRA as Simmons and Gill were once friends at the SHIELD academy. Of course, the new SHIELD operative Agent Hunter had never seen Simmons before and only perceives a HYDRA agent standing between SHIELD and Gill. In a great moment, May shot Hunter in the Kevlar to stop him from popping Simmons. I really thought Simmons was about to get Whedon’d, thank goodness for May and her willingness to shoot an ally in order to get a job done.
During this whole thing, we were treated to the further evolution of Skye as she served as the team sniper. The entire episode kept showing Skye’s heart rate on a wrist monitor, as she shot Blizzard, her heart rate never raised over 61. This is not the same girl from last season constantly out to prove herself, this is a SHIELD operative whose blood is freezing faster than if Gill touched her. Never thought I’d say this after last season, but man do I like Skye.
The ending was a bit anticlimactic as Gill was taken down rather easy, but the episode’s main strength was the utilization of Simmons and Fitz. Simmons was in the most precarious position of any SHIELD agent as Coulson put the sheepish scientist in the hands of wolves. If Simmons is made, what would that do to Coulson’s soul? Through it all though, Fitz now knows that Simmons did not leave because of him, she left for the mission, something that must be a relief to the still damaged genius.
We got to see Gill cut loose and be a for real super villain, but the real villain of the series, Ward had a bit of news for Skye. News regarding the identity of his father, news that sent Skye’s carefully monitored heart rate well over 100.
Speaking of daddy, Bakshi has been firmly entrenched as HYDRA’s Coulson as already, in just episode three of season two, we have our big bad. On the first day that comic fans got to channel jump between a Marvel and DC series (The Flash ruled by the way), Agents of SHIELD stayed strong as the agents that were so annoyingly fresh faced and bubbly last season have all evolved into rich and at times tragic figures.
The Blizzard first appeared in Tales of Suspense #45 (September 1963) and was created by Stan Lee and Don Heck. When the cold based baddie first appeared he was known as Jack Frost and looked like a Rankin/Bass character. He became the Blizzard and fought Iron Man for many years until he was murdered by Iron Man 2020. Donnie Gill first appeared and took the name Blizzard in Iron Man #223 (October 1987) by David Michelinie and Bob Layton. Gill was a member of the Masters of Evil and the Thunderbolts. Blizzard has a cool costume and if Gill still lives, I encourage the folks behind Agents of SHIELD to use it because comic books are awesome, and I’m a big nerd.