Welcome to the second iteration of the ALL NEW S.H.I.E.L.D. Dossiers, in which I ramble about last night's episode, and provide random factoids and comic book references that relate to the show. I hope you enjoy the new format.
The S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy - This week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gave us another look inside S.H.I.E.L.D., this time by heading to the science and technology arm of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, where someone's been setting off devices that spontaneously freezes any nearby moisture or water. Fitz and Simmons get called into consult on the case, because Fitz and Simmons had originally created the device used in the attack.
The episode also revealed that there's actually three divisions of the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy, one that trains field operatives, one to train scientists and engineers, and one to train analysts. They also mentioned that there's a bit of rivalry between the operations and science and technology schools, something that was brought up a few times, but never really factored into the story.
Bad Seeds - This marks the second time Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has given us an in-depth look at the inner workings of S.H.I.E.L.D., the first being the team's visit to the Hub. In my humble opinion, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is at its best when it lifts the curtain and shows the audience how S.H.I.E.L.D. operates. Sure, the unexplained "thing" of the week plots are okay, but Coulson and his team shine when contrasted by how different they are from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s usual operations.
Donnie Gill - As most everyone has figured out, Donnie Gill is a reimagined version of Blizzard, a C-list Iron Man villain. In the comics, Gill was a thug under the employ of Justin Hammer (who appeared in Iron Man 2, played by Sam Rockwell). Hammer gave Gill a costume which gave its wearer ice powers, and sent Gill and two other villains to assassinate the former supervillain Force, who had betrayed Hammer. During the confrontation, Iron Man came to Force's aid, and Gill and the others were defeated and sent to prison.
Unlike other supervillains, Gill is often portrayed as simple and misguided. Iron Man and several other heroes have tried (unsuccessfully) to reform Blizzard over the years, although Blizzard has assisted Iron Man and other heroes several times over his career. He also recently gained the ability to generate snow and ice without the need of a suit, a result of being exposed to the Terrigen Mists (which grant latent powers to those with Inhuman genes) during Infinity.
Gill was created by David Michelinie and Bob Layton, both of whom were thanked in the credits of this week's episode.
Blizzard's made several appearances in various animated series, including Iron Man: Armored Adventures, and The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes. He was portrayed in this episode by Dylan Minnette, who Lost fans might recognize as David Shepherd, Jack and Juliet's son in the "flash sideways" universe.
Agent Weaver - The principal of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy, Agent Weaver, was played by Christine Adams, whose appeared on Doctor Who, Pushing Daisies and Heroes. She also had bit roles in Batman Begins and Tron: Legacy.
Callie Hannigan - Agent Ward quickly identifies Callie Hannigan as a potential rival to Gill and suspects she might be behind the attacks. Hannigan was played by Maiara Walsh, who played Wichita in the TV pilot of Zombieland. She also had roles in several ABC Family shows, including Switched at Birth, which my wife watches.
On a fun sidenote, when investigating whether Callie Hannigan was a Marvel character (surprise! she isn't), I did discover that Ed Hannigan was a comic artist who worked for both Marvel and DC during the 1980s. Ed Hannigan's best known for drawing Mike Grell's Green Arrow series, which radically reinvented Green Arrow and is considered to be one of the hallmark Green Arrow stories. The only reason I bring this up is to remind people to read my Arrow Annotations columns, which come out on Thursdays.
Bucky Barnes - There were a host of movie references this week, including a Bucky Barnes name drop, as well as Fitz and Simmons' mention of SSR (S.H.I.E.L.D.'s predecessor shown in Captain America: The First Avenger), HYDRA and AIM. Bucky's death will play heavily into the upcoming Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie, and Hydra and AIM were featured in Captain America and Iron Man 3 respectively.
Professor Vaughan - Simmons name drops Professor Vaughan during their pep talk to the students. Fitz mentioned that Vaughan had advised him not to take a position in the field in "0-8-4".
Richard Lumley - While the rest of the team putzed around the academy, May and Coulson hunt down Richard Lumley, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent with links to Skye's past. Lumley reveals that Skye was an "0-8-4", and that an entire S.H.I.E.L.D. team and a Chinese village had been massacred by parties unknown to retrieve her. Lumley fled S.H.I.E.L.D. and the United States in order to protect Skye, and he also noted that Skye's continuous foster home relocations had been ordered by S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to keep her safe. Lumley also hinted that Skye had latent powers of some sort, although what they are is anyone's guess.
Coulson's reaction to this information was pretty interesting. First, he lets Lumley go instead of bringing him into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, and he tells Skye instead of keeping the truth from her. Obviously, this is all a reaction to Coulson's own mistrust of S.H.I.E.L.D. due to the circumstances revolving around his death, and it looks like this mistrust will come into play in later episodes.
Ian Quinn - Speaking of callbacks to previous episodes, it's revealed that Ian Quinn, the rich anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. businessman from "The Asset" was (sort of) behind the attacks. Quinn had manipulated Donnie and fellow classmate Seth Dormer into selling a larger version of the ice bomb technology, but only one that actually worked. When the pair couldn't figure out how to properly power the device, they set off the bombs at the academy, hoping to lure Fitz back to campus and get their help in fixing the power supply problem. A pretty far-fetched plan, in my opinion, but I guess it worked, so I can't complain.
Anyways, Gill gets cold feet and attempts to deactivate the device, which leads to Dormer's death and him getting ice powers. So, for the second time this season, Coulson and Quinn are both involved in the creation of a Marvel supervillain. It's almost as if Quinn knew this woould happen...which makes sense because the end scene reveals that he's been in contact with the Clairvoyant.
And that's it for this week. See you all in February!