For “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” Season 2, co-showrunner Jed Whedon says that the Season 1 lesson the writers are trying to make a priority is “momentum.” It’s clear they’ve taken that word to heart in episode 2, “Heavy In The Head,” as the series continues the pace with which it swept audiences away in episode 1, “Shadows.”
There’s plenty to talk about from the episode, like Lance Hunter joining Coulson’s SHIELD team, and Coulson seemingly making peace with General Talbot, viewers learn Coulson has been having “episodes” where he has to etch that alien garbley gook that May documents and — perhaps most importantly — Skye’s dad finally showing up. But since what makes “Agents of SHIELD” great is the way it handles its core characters, perhaps the most significant moments that happened in episode 2 involved Leo Fitz.
The twist in the Season 2 premiere that Fitz’s brain damage caused him to hallucinate his former BFF Simmons was one of the hardest to stomach in the entire episode. That story arc continues in episode 2 with humorous yet sad results, as “Simmons” helps Iain De Caestecker’s character realize he can help defeat Carl “Crusher” Creel even if he can’t figure out how to fix the Bus’ cloaking system. That causes Fitz to interact with newcomer Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie more than anyone has all season.
Mack didn’t make much of an impact in episode 1, but Henry Simmons’ character came into focus in “Heavy In The Head” as the one person who doesn’t tiptoe around Fitz’s post-traumatic self. While characters like Skye and May find themselves pained watching Fitz trying to recover, Mack makes a point of mentioning that he never knew what Fitz was like before he was injured. As such, he doesn’t have the same amount of patience with him as the other characters do.
That turns out to be the best thing for Fitz, as Mack serves as an ally who can understand the “sheet music” of the technology Fitz is trying to put together. They make a great team, and it could be that Mack being upfront about it being super weird Fitz is talking to himself is just what Fitz needs to fully heal.
Elizabeth Henstridge has been knocking it out of the park with her Simmons-in-Fitz’s-head portrayal, and her acting when Mack can’t see her but Fitz can is some of her best work in the series. Keeping her around in this form is almost worth not knowing where Simmons really is because Henstridge is so good in these scenes.
But it wouldn’t be “Agents of SHIELD” without fear of a dark twist. Mack asks a lot of questions in the first two episodes of Season 2, and while that could just be him trying to get to know Coulson’s team, both the show’s central SHIELD agents and the audience have been burned by HYDRA moles before. It’s hard to trust anyone anymore, especially newcomers who haven’t vetted themselves like Lance did in this episode.
Could Mack be a new HYDRA agent trying to target the weakest link in Director Coulson’s team to get information for the evil cause? It’s a question that sets the cast and creative team of “Agents of SHIELD” on edge. During a Q&A with members of the press, the question of whether Mack or someone else new to the team could by HYDRA set everyone squirming, and offered some telling, albeit indirect, answers.
“I wouldn’t trust anybody, man,” Simmons hedges. Co-showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen adds, “As we learned last season, we can trust [no one].”
Do you suspect Mack could be HYDRA, or is he simply a welcome addition to a too-small SHIELD? And what were your other favorite storylines in episode 2?