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The first two episodes of season 2 really feel more like a full-length movie (if you add the commercial breaks) in the way they fit together. Both episodes deal with Carl “Crusher” Creel, aka the Absorbing Man, and the Diviner/Obelisk/“Original 0-8-4.” Both episodes involve S.H.I.E.L.D.’s attempts to gain some recognition (or at least breathing room) from the U.S. military and its top S.H.I.E.L.D.-hunter, General Talbot. These two episodes also together help to define Fitz’ handicap and show him working to overcome it and move forward. Finally, this episode begins pretty much from the moment the season premiere left off.
The episode begins with Hunter trying to work his way out of his predicament in the flipped SUV. However, he is unable to free his leg until May drives up on the motorcycle and hands him the Mouse Hole device (the thing Fury used to escape the Winter Soldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and which Fitz says he had originally designed) which he uses to cut through the SUV door and free himself. However, he is taken into custody by the military, which arranges a meeting for him with Talbot. Talbot wants Hunter to give him Coulson, and Hunter agrees to a deal, but only as a way to return to Coulson. For as surprising as it might be that the mercenary decided not to betray Coulson for money, I think he wanted revenge on Creel for Hartley far more than he wanted money. I like how much this episode fills in of Hunter’s history. We learn about his distinguished service in the SAS, and that he left it for a girl (though it’s not clear right now whether the “girl” is Hartley or the “psychotic ex-wife”). We also find out a little more about Hunter’s motivations. Considering that he Iced Skye, May, and Trip to go after Creel alone and nearly got killed for his efforts, Hunter isn’t exactly a likeable guy at this point. However, his character is at least a little more fleshed out.
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While Hunter is in military custody, May continues on to chase down Creel. Although she manages to catch up to him, Coulson does not allow her to attempt to kill him; he wants her to follow him and find out who he’s working for. May follows him to a diner, where his contact does not show, but he does reveal that he’s absorbed the Diviner metal and is starting to lose control. He inadvertently shocks a waitress and kills her, and leaves as soon as it happens. Creel returns to his truck and attempts to “reset” his arm with various materials, but they do not succeed. However, Raina approaches him to buy the Obelisk and gives him a ring as “payment” (he doesn’t give her the Obelisk). I actually like the effects for all of Creel’s transformations. When it needs a texture, it has a distinctive texture—as is the case with the asphalt—but when it does not need a texture, it has a really smooth look to it. I’m pretty sure most of it is CGI (the Diviner metal on his arm might be a physical makeup, however), but it looks as real as anything on the show.
At the same time, Skye and Trip land the stolen Quinjet at the Playground, where Mack examines the cloaking hardware. Fitz sees it and gets upset that they didn’t give him enough time to figure out the cloaking hardware himself. This causes him to return to the lab and mope while Trip and Mack work on replicating the cloaking technology and outfitting it on the Bus. I like that they use this as an opportunity to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge regarding cloaking, specifically the fact that the cloaking technology also includes a noise-cancelling component. That’s something I’ve occasionally worried about, considering that the helicarrier or a quinjet would make a lot of noise, even if it is “invisible.”
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However, while in the lab, Fitz’s “muse” (fake Simmons) suggests that instead of beating himself up for not solving the cloaking issue he should start working on negating Creel’s powers. Fitz looks through Creel’s DNA information, and realizes that “I didn’t solve this today.” Unfortunately, he can’t figure out a way to explain what he means to anyone. Finally, he makes Mack understand that he knows the solution—it’s one of his old designs. The two of them look through a tablet with schematics of devices from season 1, and Fitz finally stops on the Overkill Device from “The Hub” (1x07). The two of them modify the device so it will work on Creel. I really enjoy the dynamic between these two. Mack doesn’t take any nonsense, and he doesn’t treat Fitz like he’s less of a person because his mind is jumbled up. In fact, the relationship between these two may be the most fun one in season 2. I also like how this episode shows Fitz making some major steps, even though it doesn’t feel like much.
Coulson sends the team after Creel before Fitz and Mack manage to figure out how to negate Creel’s powers, and the entire plan goes sideways when Hunter decides to go after Creel for his own personal revenge instead of sticking to the plan. He Ices May, Skye, and Trip, and takes the rifle to attack Creel. Unfortunately, Creel sees the attack coming when a woman screams, and transforms before the bullet reaches him. He attacks Hunter, and Raina disappears with the Obelisk before Bakshi can grab its case. Creel nearly kills Hunter, but Coulson uses the modified Overkill Device to cancel out Creel’s ability, causing him to lose control and cycle through all of the substances he had absorbed recently. He finally went fully flesh and turned to stone as the Diviner metal took hold. The final confrontation of the episode wasn’t very big, though it did a decent job of showing off Creel’s power. I kind of hope he’s not done for the series, as he is the first major powered person we’ve seen on the show. However, I do suspect that the Diviner killed him. Perhaps the Secret Warriors will recruit Creel’s son, as they do in the comics.
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Overall, the episode is good and a lot of fun. It’s not hugely action-packed, but it does give us a lot of good character development and continue the story of an interesting and powerful villain. With a super-powered team coming to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3, I can’t wait to see what super villains they’re going to face!
Do you want to see Carl Creel make a reappearance? Do you think his son, Stonewall, will join the Secret Warriors? Let me know in the comments!
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