Agents of SHIELD Season 2 Blu-ray Review
They're on their own now.
Season 2 Review
Following on from the game-changing impact of Winter Soldier, Season 2 maintains the dark and ominous tone of HYDRA on the loose and SHIELD on the run.After the slow start with its initially overtly lightweight, super-discovery-of-the-week format, Agents of Shield did the almost unthinkable. It got good. And when it hit Winter Soldier – airing concurrently at the time of the film’s release – things got great. Unmissable. With the last few episodes of the first season rocking the world of these characters through betrayals from all angles – HYDRA spies crawling out of every corner and into the limelight and SHIELD agents left scurrying desperately into the shadows – by the time of the climax fans previously ambivalent towards the show were well and truly gripped. Season 2 follows suit with the agents on the run, reeling from the betrayals and revelations, with Coulson’s now-Director of the SHIELD remnants still increasingly –and obsessively – carving alien symbols. It's a habit which leaves him wondering just how long before he flips out and turns against his own, and sees him tasking loyal companion Melinda May with 'dealing with him' if it becomes necessary. His mission priority is to put SHIELD back together from the ground up. But this is not as easy as it seems.It's hard to know who to trust, and who to recruit, and harder even to get to them before HYDRA, who will kill those they can't brainwash into the fold. And they're not SHIELD's only problem; the even more clandestine group are on the run from their own too, evading the dogged General Talbot, who wants to see SHIELD disbanded once and for all. Recruiting new members to their group – mechanic Mack, double (or maybe triple) agent Bobbi Morse and her ex-husband, mercenary Lance Hunter – Director Coulson also has to deal with the fractured fall-out from prior events, with Simmons and Fitz particularly struggling to regain their prior chemistry, and Skye’s quest to uncover the secrets of her parents threatening to lead her down her own dark path. All this with previous traitor Ward locked up underground, causing chaos from his cell like SHIELD’s answer to Hannibal Lector. As characters take flight, others betray, and the stories eventually parallel - and deal with the aftermath of - Ultron, laying the foundation towards the endgame, SHIELD’s answer to The X-Men: The Inhumans, and hitting us with a stunning 2-part conclusion.
Picture QualityFollowing suit after the first season’s impressive release, Season 2’s UK Blu-ray maintains Marvel’s near-undefeated run of demo titles, promoting the series with an excellent 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation, framed in the original broadcast ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. Clarity resounds, with often striking detail and impressive fine object work, highlighting skin textures, clothing weaves and background flourishes; all without any signs of digital defects or anomalies.
With a bigger budget and a darker tone, season 2 of SHIELD fits right into Marvel’s current path.
The colour scheme generally suits this darker and more ominous tone, although there are still some striking vibrant primaries, and healthy skin tones and gorgeous backdrops remain present. Blues and greys dominate though, whilst black levels are deep and strong, allowing for generally very good night sequences, although not always perfect. Still with almost no signs of any digital issues, and very few reservations indeed (although the flashback sequences produce some slightly variable layers of supposedly intentional grain, much of this was also apparent on the original TV airing of the series) this is another great looking digitally-shot TV series and another striking Marvel presentation.
It may not be as grand on the aural front as its bigger cinematic siblings, but it’s pretty impressive nonetheless.
The show’s accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is also an engaging offering. Dialogue comes across clearly throughout, dominating the fronts and centre channels and rising above even the most frenetic background maelstrom. Effects are well-prioritised, expanding across the array with strong directional sense to the bigger flourishes, whilst providing a little bit of nice observation and sound design even for the more atmospheric touches. The score maintains the darker and more ominous tone of this stage in the Marvel gameplan, and leaves the threat pervading beneath, giving the surrounds yet more to do. With a healthy dose of LFE input, it’s a strong audio component.
ExtrasPerhaps the only disappointing part of the disc comes in the extras department, with just some Deleted Scenes and a Blooper Reel adorning this second season.
Season 2 Blu-ray VerdictDespite losing some of its viewers along the way, Marvel’s flagship TV series – Agents of SHIELD – continues to go from strength to strength, laying the foundation for not only the proposed future theatrical ensemble piece, The Inhumans (although that’s no longer set in stone), but also furthering the links between the existing and concurrent movies (from Guardians to Ultron) and the further Marvel spin-off shows (Agent Carter and Most Wanted).
Despite the seemingly infinite expansion of the Marvel Universe, Agents of SHIELD continues to build inwards, becoming a strong independent show in its own right.
As with the first season, Season 2 is released with a strong Region Free UK Blu-ray package – both in a deluxe limited edition digipack, as with the first, or just a standard amaray – boasting largeny excellent video and audio. Despite the disappointingly scarce extras, fans should consider this a must-have addition to their Marvel collection. If you gave up on SHIELD a few episodes into the first season – back when it was a bit hit or miss – then it’s recommended you give it another shot. You’ve got a lot to catch up on in this engaging show.
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