‘Heavy Is The Head’
It’s Marvel week! After the blistering Phase Three announcement, which has a lot of us giddy with excitement, one would be forgiven for finding this week’s episode of Marvel’s first TV outing just a tad underwhelming.
Picking up immediately after the events of last week’s ‘Shadows’, ‘Heavy Is The Head’ is an episode that still feels like it’s laying a lot of the groundwork for things to come. Granted, it’s only episode two of the second season, but rather than continue with the pace of last week’s opener, SHIELD slows things down this week, reducing the episode’s plot to a bare bones “search and capture”, focusing instead on building intrigue and mystery, resulting in an episode that feels like one big tease.
The episode opens with Hunter captured by Talbot’s men, while May chases down Creel before losing him in a diner, after Creel inadvertently infects a poor waitress, after suffering from the side effects of the obelisk. After this, the plot seems to have the group seemingly dithering around in the Playground hoping for a break. The second act is a bit of a drag in terms of action, but it does allow us to get to know one of the newer members of the team.
Indeed, we are given a little more insight into Hunter’s background, from his days in the SAS to him joining SHIELD and meeting Hartley, mainly thanks to his “psychotic ex-wife”. Despite this being very Hunter centric, his dilemma about whether or not to sell out Coulson and SHIELD to Talbot feels very underwritten, mainly because the conflict is settled two minutes in a debrief session Hunter has with Coulson. Likewise, Hunter’s attempted one-man takedown of Creel in the climax never felt as emotional or as personal as it should have been. Still, Hunter seems like a worthy addition to the ever-expanding team, and despite shooting May (something which “she won’t forget any time soon” according to Coulson) it feels like Hunter should fit right in.
Skye, meanwhile, has caught on to Coulson’s distance, questioning him about the alien symbols, something that Coulson immediately deflects. Two episodes in and Skye is already a hundred times less annoying than she was the entire first season. She’s smart, intuitive, and far less bratty.
Fitz is still talking to phantom-Simmons, but now it seems he has a new friend in tech-guy Mack. The interplay and dynamic between Fitz and Mack feels very strong, and once again, Iain De Caestecker is terrific.
As I said, mystery and intrigue are the key components this week. As well as the obelisk, this episode sees the return of Raina, and it seems she’s back to her old ways of being all mysterious and vague. This time, however, she’s working for someone far scarier than Hydra. Yes, as it turns out, Raina is now in the employ of Skye’s father (Kyle MacLachlan), who seems very intent on finding his daughter. And for some reason, she seems to be the only one who can touch the obelisk without disintegrating.
Coulson meanwhile is still struggling with the symbols he carved at the end of last season. The scene of May observing Coulson as he carves the symbols into the wall is a doozy; mysterious, on point, and just a little bit chilling.
Overall, not a strong episode in terms of plot, but rather an episode that does a fine job of laying the foundations for things to come.