Synopsis of 2×02: Hunter is caught by Talbot and his people, who are looking to make a deal on obtaining Coulson. Fitz struggles with the problem of stabilizing Creel as his powers grow out of control. Raina returns and reveals that she’s working for a third party.
Man, if you compared this episode to where we were two episodes in last season, there’s no contest for how far and away the show has come.
(Yeah, I gave that episode a four star review initially too, but I was running on a new show high. Fight me.)
The episode opens right where the first episode left off, with Lance Hunter struggling to get out of the car after being the only one to survive an intense accident caused by Creel. May finds him and offers to get him out, but he refuses since Creel is getting away. May heads off on her motorcycle to capture Creel while Hunter is captured by Talbot’s people. Coulson warns May about being seen in civilian areas, even though she has a clear shot to Creel. He orders her to stand down, which May follows, though you can see the grit in her teeth as she does.
Meanwhile, Hunter is delivered to Talbot, who takes him on a helicopter ride. Here, we learn that Hunter is a decorated soldier, but he left the service because of a girl. Oh no…
Talbot wants Coulson and is willing to give Hunter whatever he wants for him. Hunter requests two million dollars and a proper burial for Hartley since she was listed as fugitive and he doesn’t want her family to worry about her. OH NO.
Yep, you guessed it, Hartley was the one Hunter was involved with. The one he gave up his old life for, and now she’s dead and that’s the cheap ploy to get the audience to feel for him and show his less douche canoe side. Ugh. Welcome to the Women in Fridges club, Agent Isabelle Hartley. We hardly knew ye.
The thing is that I would have less of an issue with this if 1.) We actually had more time to get to know Hartley as a character and her death wasn’t just a cheap ploy to make us like Hunter, and 2.) she was played by someone that wasn’t Lucy Lawless. Fridging Lucy Lawless is the biggest waste of Lucy Lawless you can ever have.
Whatever, bro. This is why I didn’t rate the episode higher.
Moving on from Hunter’s man pain, we see Skye and Trip return back from the mission in one piece. Trip is still perfect, with a voice as smooth as silk and a smile that could light up the sky. He also has wisdom from a fortune cookie that Skye asks is wisdom from his grandma. At this point, any mention of Trip’s relations make me go “PEGGY CARTER?” Cause… you know… she was married to Gabe Jones in the comics. Still, MCU canon is not 616 canon, so we probably won’t know until Agent Carter. I hold out hope though. Same with this continued relationship with the USAF bringing us Major Carol “Cheeseburger” Danvers.
Skye tells Coulson that she saw the symbols on the obelisk, but he’s more “Good work, agent” with her than actually concerned, which immediately makes Skye suspicious. Shortly after, Hunter returns to the facility, letting Coulson know he has 48 hours to turn him into Talbot. Skye and Hunter share a moment in Hartley’s quarters over trusting people, family, and how S.H.I.E.L.D. is only a job, but I literally do not care what British McManpain has to say. He’s like Ward before I liked him for two episodes.
In other parts of the base, new recruit Alphonso “Mack” McKenzie (Henry Simmons) is working on reverse engineering cloaking for the Bus, which noticeably upsets Fitz. I have to say, Iain De Caestecker has been knocking it out of the park on these past two episodes. His struggles as Fitz trying to find the words and communicate with others again as he tries to work feel painfully real. However, the Simmons figment tells him to maybe look into how to stabilize and capture Creel. This catches Mack’s attention, and he begins working with him to figure out the Creel situation.
I have to admit, watching how Mack communicates with Fitz is one of the healthiest things I’ve seen in a superhero tv show or movie. There are certain things he could do better, like not shouting at Fitz to calm down, but he actually listens to Fitz and talks to him calmly. He treats him like a human being still, but understands that he’s struggling to communicate and works with him on it. He clears the scientists and figures out that Fitz HAS figured out how to stabilize Creel. He just can’t remember which design it was. The Simmons figment is right. Trust him.
And that’s why I gave the episode four stars. More Mack with Fitz please! Even with that look of sadness Fitz has when Mack asks about Simmons leaving. Oh baby…
In parts elsewhere, Creel is struggling after handling the Obelisk, which is leaving something of a rash on his skin. After several attempts to make it go away and accidentally killing a waitress who happened to touch the rash, Creel yells at the mysterious HYDRA agent who was supposed to meet him. The agent tells him that they will go ahead with the secondary drop point for the Obelisk and that it will all be taken care of shortly. Creel is still freaking out when he’s visited by… RAINA. Oh girl in the flower dress, I have missed you. Not to mention Ruth Negga’s new haircut is divine.
Raina tells Creel that she’s a big fan and that she has a solution to his problem if she turns over the Obelisk to her. She even offers him a rare stone made from a meteor as a bargaining chip. However, Creel turns her down and takes the stone anyway. Too bad for him.
After a brief hack of HYDRA’s communication lines and Skye making comments about how jacked Creel is (Coulson being uncomfortable at Skye’s comments is my new favorite thing), the team ends up getting a hold of Raina. At that point, she makes it very clear that she’s a third party and that she wants to help the team find Creel. Coulson is skeptical since Raina still believes everything Garrett said after being injecting with GH-325, but there really isn’t much of a choice there.
Long story short, Hunter double crosses May, Skye, and Trip on the mission to obtain the Obelisk. Which goes terribly wrong because Creel sees him coming and blocks his shot and he almost kills him too, but Coulson saves the day with the device Fitz designed that Mack modified. After Hartley’s funeral, Coulson offers Hunter a spot on the team? Why, you ask? How can he trust him after that stuff he just pulled? To be fair, Coulson admits that he can’t but he’s at such a shortage of people that someone doing the wrong things for the right reasons is an asset. I guess we’re stuck with him, huh?
During the chaos of Hunter ruining everything Homer Simpson style, Raina makes off with the Obelisk. She returns it to the man only known as “The Doctor,” but I’m going to call him Mr. Mayor until we know his character name because he’s played by a very grizzled looking Kyle MacLachlan. Yes, I could call him Dale Cooper, but this is my recap and he’s Mr. Mayor here. Mr. Mayor tells Raina to pick it up, which she does after some hesitation. Instead of turning into stone, the Obelisk glows and shows the symbols Skye saw earlier. Wait… HOW? Mr. Mayor doesn’t say how, but he promises that if she returns his daughter, he’ll show the both of them the secret. Yep, Mr. Mayor is Skye’s daddy/possible alien. If Jed and Mo tie this back to Guardians of the Galaxy somehow, I will be hella impressed.
Back at HQ, Skye is worried about Coulson and expresses her concerns to May. She asks her if there’s something wrong with him, which May denies. Two seconds later, May asks Coulson what the hell is wrong with him. Nice editing, team.
Still, May knows what’s up and tells Coulson that she knows when he’s stressed and asks when his last “episode” was. Yeah, as you can guess, May is the only one who knows what’s going on with Coulson and the weird symbols. Apparently, he’s carving them out every few days now. Well that’s… concerning. At least we get some pretty BSG-esque music here. Thanks Bear!
At the end of the episode, Coulson meets up with Talbot, offering him up Creel in return for some breathing room to work. Talbot doesn’t quite buy it since his current intel says S.H.I.E.L.D currently has some artillery issues, but Coulson assures him that’s not a problem. The Bus and the Quinjet uncloak and Director Coulson rides off into the sunset. I think Talbot’s going to yield eventually, but I have to admit, the back and forth between Coulson and Talbot is way too much fun to watch. We need to get Pasdar in a movie as Talbot at some point.
Despite my issues with Hunter’s storyline, “Heavy is the Head” was a great episode building on the momentum of the premiere. We start to see new relationships forming (seriously, I think I walked out of this episode with at least three new ships) as well as the mysteries of HYDRA and whatever third party Raina represents. There’s lots of confusion and feelings right now and I love it.
Which those confusion and feelings probably only be made worse over what we have in store next week. Fraaaaaak.