Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2 Recap (SPOILERS)

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So now that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 finale has had a chance to sink in a bit, I’m going to start a short mini-series looking back at season 2 and ahead to season 3.  Up first is a recap of everything that happened in season 2.  Hold onto your hats, because there was a lot that happened!

The season began about 6 months after the season 1 finale.  Coulson was Director of the new S.H.I.E.L.D. and had been busy traveling to recruit agents—generally loyal agents of the old S.H.I.E.L.D.  At the same time, he was also traveling to track down Hydra leads and put “Theta Protocol” into action.  One of Coulson’s first missions in season 2 was to track down the “Obelisk”—the original “0-8-4”—an object which can turn anyone who touches it to stone.  In so doing, Coulson’s team also confronted Carl Creel, aka “Absorbing Man,” who was working for Hydra.  He placed at least two agents undercover in Hydra—Jemma Simmons and Bobbi Morse—to gather intelligence and figure out what Hydra was doing.  When Simmons’ cover was blown, Morse helped her to escape—blowing her own cover in the process—and they brought much of Hydra’s research back to S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Hydra meanwhile had also been busy consolidating its power.  The primary villain for the first half of the season was Daniel Whitehall, one of the six “Heads of Hydra” serving under the direction of Baron Strucker.  Each of the Hydra Heads had their own area of expertise; Whitehall’s was human enhancement.  We found out over the course of the half-season that he was an original member of Red Skull’s Hydra who was captured by Peggy Carter and the Howling Commandos after Red Skull’s death/disappearance.  Prior to his capture, he was experimenting with the Obelisk—experiments which proved fruitless until a Chinese woman touched it and it began to glow.  In 1989, after spending 45 years in a S.H.I.E.L.D. prison, Whitehall was released by Alexander Pierce, a high-ranking Hydra mole within S.H.I.E.L.D., after that same woman was rediscovered in China, not having aged a day.  Whitehall vivisected her and used her organs to give himself her gift of youth.

We were also introduced to Skye’s father, Cal.  We learned that he and Raina had history together and that he had been searching for Skye/Daisy for decades, ever since S.H.I.E.L.D. stole her.  In fact, he blamed S.H.I.E.L.D. for most of his problems—at least those that he did not blame on Whitehall, who callously cut his wife to pieces.  Cal formed an alliance with Whitehall and Ward in order to get his revenge on both Whitehall himself and Coulson (whom he blames for Skye’s hatred of him).

Ward began the season in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody following his capture after Garrett’s defeat at the end of season 1.  He agreed to give S.H.I.E.L.D. information in exchange for face-time with Skye.  After a failed attempt to hand him over to his brother, Ward managed to escape from custody and exact revenge against his brother before infiltrating Hydra to find Cal and help arrange a meeting between Cal and Skye.

Meanwhile, Coulson’s compulsive alien writing—revealed at the end of the season 1 finale—had been getting progressively worse, to the point that he was doing it all the time.  Finally, when it seemed to be driving him insane, he discovered other people who had been doing the same thing and started putting the pieces together.  Skye (who was also exposed to the Kree blood but had not been drawing symbols) realized that it is not writing, but rather a diagram.  When Coulson found a man (a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent) who constructed the alien symbols into a three-dimensional train set, he realized that it was not supposed to be flat, and used the three-dimensional diagram to track down the location of a hidden alien city in Puerto Rico.

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Skye and Cal finally met in “What They Become” (2x10) after Ward captured her and took her to Hydra at the hidden alien city, and Skye initially rejected Cal.  However, when Whitehall double-crossed Cal and Ward, S.H.I.E.L.D. attacked to rescue Skye and destroy the alien city, killing Whitehall in the process.  In the confusion, Skye and Raina wound up in the temple in the middle of the alien city with the Obelisk (which has been revealed to be a “Diviner”), joined by Tripp.  The Diviner activated, revealing Crystals which released a Mist that caused Raina and Skye to be encased in stone.  When Tripp panicked and kicked the Crystal, destroying it and the Diviner, shards of Diviner metal embedded themselves in him, causing him to turn to stone.  The stone encasing Skye and Raina crumbled away, revealing their transformed bodies—Terrigenesis!

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The second half of the season picked up right where the first half left off—Skye and Raina had just undergone Terrigenesis, and both were scared and confused.  S.H.I.E.L.D. tried to help Skye, but failed spectacularly.  Raina, meanwhile, was rejected by Cal and at the point of despair before Gordon, an Inhuman with the ability to teleport, appeared and whisked her away to the secret Inhuman sanctuary called Afterlife.  A Kree warrior/scientist who picked up the signal of the Diviner activating came to Earth to locate the people who had been transformed, kill them, and eliminate any trace of the Inhumans, explaining to S.H.I.E.L.D. that the Inhumans were the results of failed genetic testing done by the Kree thousands of years earlier—these people are alien weapons.  Lady Sif followed the Kree to Earth and confirmed his explanation of the history, but permitted Skye to remain on Earth in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody.

Coulson put a plan in motion that led directly to the deaths of four of the five remaining “Heads of Hydra,” leaving only Dr. List (and Strucker himself) in charge of Hydra and eliminating them as a major threat for most of the half-season.

Cal meanwhile put together a small team of enhanced people to challenge S.H.I.E.L.D. and show Skye what S.H.I.E.L.D. does to people like them.  However, his actions angered the Inhumans, who sent Gordon to take him away to Afterlife and keep him from drawing too much attention to the Inhumans.

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Shortly thereafter, Skye was forced to flee S.H.I.E.L.D. when a second S.H.I.E.L.D. organization formed after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. (led by Robert Gonzales) invaded Coulson’s base because they feared his secrets.  Skye called Gordon, who took her to Afterlife, where the Inhumans Lincoln and Jiaying (revealed to be her seemingly-immortal mother) helped her to understand and adjust to her transformation, as well as teaching her about Inhuman history and culture.  The Inhuman city was in a virtually inaccessible area of the Himalayas, known only to Gordon, who was the only way in or out of the city.  The Inhumans value their secrecy above all else, leading them to some questionable decisions later in the season.

The “S.H.I.E.L.D.” invasion of his base forced Coulson into hiding, where he, Hunter, Fitz, and Mike Peterson/Deathlok were forced into an uneasy alliance with Ward, who was now working with the formerly-brainwashed Kara toward his own ends.  This group placed a brainwashed Sunil Bakshi (Whitehall’s former second-in-command) and Deathlok undercover to infiltrate Dr. List’s Hydra group and find Skye’s location by finding out what Hydra knew about Gordon.  However, instead they were led directly to Skye when Hydra tracked Gordon’s teleportation.  This led to a brief confrontation between Skye, Lincoln, Cal, S.H.I.E.L.D., and Hydra, in which Lincoln and Deathlok were captured by Hydra.  This forced Coulson to make a deal with Gonzales to send in Coulson’s team to rescue Lincoln and Deathlok, gather intelligence, and disable the air defense systems so Gonzales’ jets could destroy the facility.  During this successful infiltration, Coulson acquired information on the whereabouts of Loki’s Scepter and Baron Strucker (along with the powers and background of the “Twins”), which he passed along to Maria Hill for the Avengers’ use.

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Following the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, it was revealed that “Theta Protocol” was the codename given to Coulson’s mission from Fury to repair the original helicarrier in case of emergency.  And conveniently, that emergency arose when Fury needed the helicarrier to rescue civilians during Avengers: Age of Ultron (uh… spoiler alert?).  Because of Coulson’s key role in saving so many civilians, Gonzales and his Board agreed to a merger with Coulson:  Coulson continued as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Gonzales and his Board serving as his Council (similar to the World Security Council, but with a few less Hydra agents).  Shortly thereafter, the Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D. came into conflict because of a Kree artifact in Gonzales’ ship’s cargo hold.  S.H.I.E.L.D. sent Gonzales to meet with Jiaying, who killed him and framed him for attempting to kill her, inciting her people to war against S.H.I.E.L.D.  In the explosive season finale Raina sacrificed her life to reveal the truth of Jiaying’s evil to Skye.  The Inhumans took over the ship and nearly killed the entire crew, but Skye, Lincoln, Mack, and Coulson’s team prevented Jiaying and Gordon from releasing the Diviner-metal-infused Terrigen Mist and killing all non-Inhumans.  Cal transformed into Mr. Hyde, attempted to destroy Coulson’s base, and was eventually convinced to help Coulson save Skye, which he did by killing Jiaying.

At the end of the season, Coulson lost his arm after catching a Terrigen Crystal, Skye was left as the only “leader” we know of for the Inhumans as well as responsible for recruiting a team of super-humans for S.H.I.E.L.D., Cal had his memory wiped, Terrigen Crystals began dissolving into the ocean, Ward began rebuilding Hydra, and Simmons was sucked into the Kree artifact.  Wait… what was that???  Check back on Thursday to find out just what all of that means for season 3!

What was your favorite part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2?  Which was your favorite episode?  Was there anything important that I missed?

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