I don't know why ABC didn't air this episode and 'Shadows' back to back and have themselves a nice two-hour premiere?
This season will air in two of blocks of eleven episodes that will air uninterrupted in the autumn and spring, with Agent Carter airing in the show's time slot during the winter break. This means that the show can fully embrace serial storytelling without fear of month long interruptions. So we jump right in where we left off with Xena and Red Shirt dead, Hunter in custody, Creel getting away with the McGuffin, and May in hot pursuit on her fancy new cycle (minus helmet, because Melinda May does not need to worry about her head hitting the ground, the ground needs to worry about Melinda May's head hitting it).
The title of this episode comes from a common misquote of a line from Act 3, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Henry IV Part II. The original line is "Uneasy is the head that wears a crown", said by the king, now old and approaching the end of his life, as he is having trouble sleeping and basically comes to the conclusion that being in charge sucks. With a title like that you'd think this episode would focus on Coulson, but instead it focused on reckless new boy, Lance Hunter. Which is rather appropriate when you think about it. The Henry IV plays were never really about the troubled king, they were about his delinquent heir, Hal, and how unsuited he was to rule. For this episode the role of Hal will be played by Lance Hunter, the role of King Henry will be played by Philip Coulson, and the role of Falstaff will be played by Glenn Talbot's mustache.
Hunter is here to replace Ward in practically every way. He's the new male operative, a new project for Coulson (yeah, because the last one turned out so well), and a potential new love interest for Skye. That's what Hunter's role on the show is, but just who is Lance Hunter? He's ex-SAS (because all British mercs are ex-SAS) and fiercely loyal, but only to those he chooses to give his loyalty to, such as Hartley. Although we didn't see much of their relationship (which is a good reason for lots of flashbacks so Lucy Lawless can return), Hunter and Hartley were obviously very close and had a long history together.
Everything he did in this episode was to honour her, from making a deal with Talbot to get her the funeral she deserved, to betraying the team so he could kill Creel himself, a dumb move that would've got him killed if Coulson hadn't shown up at the last second. In days gone by that move would've marked the end of his working relationship with S.H.I.E.L.D. But as Coulson said, their resources are so limited now they can't afford to lose a single agent, even reckless, cynical British mercs who are stupid enough to shoot Melinda May in the back. Big mistake, buddy. Big mistake.
Coulson may not have been the focus of the episode, but we did get a peek inside his troubled head and see how he is adjusting to the role of leadership. Like Henry IV, Coulson is not someone who sought leadership, but sort of had the role thrust upon him. He's trying his best not to show it, but he's struggling to adjust to his position, and it doesn't help that every 17 days or so he is compelled to write strange alien scribbles on the wall. I'm relieved that he has decided to share his secret with May, rather than do the really stupid thing and keep it all to himself.
I'm not sure yet how I feel about Coulson's visions, the obelisk and Skye's father (hello there, Special Agent Dale Cooper) all being connected. It just feels like a coincidence too far. Connecting the obelisk to Coulson's visions is fine (did anyone else spot the blue T.A.H.I.T.I. alien in last week episode?), but linking it to Skye's papa as well feels like an unnecessary way to bring him and Raina back into the orbit of the main storyline. Still, it was nice to finally put a face to those bloody hands. We still don't have a name for his character yet, but he's credited as "The Doctor". Hmm, no. That won't do. Too confusing. I'm going to call him... Bob.
Intel and Assets
--No Ward or Koenig this week. And Simmons is still a hallucination.
--We got to spend more time with the team's other new member this week, Alphonso "Mack" MacKenzie. He's a mechanic and tech expert who enjoys singing in the shower and is good with Fitz. I like him, although we didn't really learn much about him. Is he former S.H.I.E.L.D. or a freelancer like Hunter?
--sunbunny was live tweeting this episode on our official tweeter feed (which you should all totally start following) and one of her tweets was retweeted by none other than Ming-Na Wen.
--Coulson is a lot better with the holo tech than he was last season.
--There are no levels now. Coulson got rid of them.
--Bob implied that the obelisk is alive in some sense since it "chose" not to kill Raina.
--Who is the senator with big pockets that Talbot mentioned? This bit of casting news might give us a hint.
Coulson: "I don't, but the reality is I don't have a fleet of Hellicarriers, or Quinn Jets or thousands of agents at my disposal anymore. We're lucky we still have our George Foreman grill."
Skye: "Fitz would be crushed if he saw this. He's been working on cloaking since before Simmons took off."
Triplett: "Still can't believe she abandoned him like that."
Skye: "She abandoned all of us."
Coulson: "May, that doesn't sound covert."
Three out of four lean mean fat-reducing grilling machines.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.
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