Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
Maintaining its momentum from the season premiere, Agents of SHIELD continues to thrive with its new tone and direction. Featuring some development on a few key plot threads left hanging from season 1, ‘Heavy is the Head’ was a great sophomore entry into the second season.
Picking up immediately from ‘Shadows’, ‘Heavy is the Head’ focuses more on the newer members of the team and fleshes out just where the new SHIELD stands within the broader MCU. The lack of importance that plagued the first season is completely gone, which is ironic considering the lack of resources the new SHIELD is faced with. Faced with the not so secret HYDRA threat and mysterious new enemies (Kyle McLachlan) starting to emerge, Coulson and the gang have a clearly paved road ahead of them and it is sure to usher in a number of fantastic stories.
Let’s begin with what is perhaps the most shocking development of the episode, Lucy Lawless is in fact dead (boo). She was one of the most high profile new additions to the cast and it certainly was a ballsy move to kill her off so soon. I would have liked for her to stay around a tad longer but it only reinforces the idea that AoS is not playing around this season. With the demise of Isabelle Hartley, Lance Hunter (played by Nick Blood) rose to prominence. Putting his unpredictable duality on full display we were privy to a number of twists and turns that make the character all the more compelling. Throwing such a wild card into the mix is sure to keep things interesting, especially when the main cast from last season was so one-note for the majority of its run. Seeing him willingly go one on one against Creel proved a tremendous loyalty to those he deems worthy and if SHIELD can gain that trust they will have one heck of an agent on their hands with Hunter.
While on the topic of Creel, that one scene where he slowly morphs into carbine to stop the point blank sniper shot was pretty cool. Much like Hartley’s quick dismissal, it was a shame to see the Absorbing Man sent to the sidelines so early. His presence was a huge boon to the series and hopefully bigger and better baddies are waiting on the horizon. I did like how they hinted at a possible return for the character down the road (hopefully in a Hulk solo… I can dream).
Another new face we get to spend more time with is Henry Simmons’ Mack, the new mechanic that looks more capable than the rest of new SHIELD combined. We got a small taste of his upbeat and no bullshit personality in the first episode but here we get the full course. Stepping up in the absence of a fully functioning FitzSimmons (poor Fitz), Mack treats Fitz with the same respect he would show anybody else and in the process coaxes out of him the solution to all of their Absorbing Man problems. The interplay between Mack and Fitz was fun to watch and heartbreaking at the same time. When asked how he was dealing with Simmons leaving you could see his heart drop and the fact that he still hallucinates his friends presence makes matters all the more sympathetic. Iain De Castaecker has always been a highlight of the show but his new status quo makes him all the more endearing. It was also great to see that even in his debilitated state Fitz can be of use, which was a major question mark coming out of the first episode.
Not settling for watching the action from afar, Director Coulson decides to get in on the action a little bit. We also get to see him go crazy with the carvings again, but this time with May (Ming Na-Wen) fully in the know. Since the last time we saw him etch the (most likely) Kree markings on the wall they have become a common occurrence. May keeps record of all of his drawings while he gets whatever is flowing in his veins out of his system. With the Obelisk sharing the same markings and Raina’s (Ruth Negga) ability to hold the item without being harmed the mystery surrounding this alien storyline is getting all the more intriguing. The surprise appearance at the end of the episode by Kyle McLachlan (who managed to be one of the most menacing villains the show has seen in a matter of less than a minute) as Skye’s father was a lovely touch on an already delicious cake. I’m glad the Skye/Kree storyline is picking up so soon considering we were left with multiple dangling threads for almost the entirety of the first season… INHUMAN!
‘Heavy is the Head’ has pushed Agents of SHIELD into must watch territory, the status all MCU fans wanted it to have right out of the gate. Better late than never as they say. The effects were great, characters are much more complex and thrilling than they’ve ever been and the grim/overbearing tone sends the show in a much more important and focused direction. If they can keep up this caliber for the remainder of the season we are in for a treat (and if the promo for episode three is any indication it definitely will).
Overall I give this episode an 8.5/10