Well, “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” answered whether it will be doing frequent crossovers with the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies pretty succinctly in its second episode, “0-8-4.” After including Cobie Smulders’ Agent Maria Hill in the series premiere, Samuel L. Jackson‘s Nick Fury showed up at the end of episode 2.
Nick Fury, like Agent Phil Coulson, is one of the main connective tissues between all of the MCU projects. He’s Coulson’s superior, so it makes total sense for him to show up at the end of “0-8-4″ and reprimand Coulson (and Coulson’s team) for destroying their new SHIELD plane a mere six days after it was given to them. Fury’s appearance was something of a surprise, but it added some welcome comic relief at the end of the episode. After all, of course Fitz and Simmons would want to include a fish tank in the plane’s remodel.
But Fury wasn’t the only connection that “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” episode 2 had back to the movies that precede it. Like the premiere, there were constant references to the other Marvel superheroes (in this case, Tony Stark’s Iron Man, Thor and Captain America) and the various types of energy found in the Marvel universe in “0-8-4.” The titular 0-8-4 of the episode — an “object of unknown origin,” for the uninitiated — was filled with gamma radiation, and was something that would have been found during the “Captain America: The First Avenger” time of HYDRA.
Coulson constantly makes references to his former superhero team members, noting that Skye being a consultant instead of an official agent of SHIELD isn’t strange because “technically [Tony] Stark’s a consultant.” He also makes sure to note that the last 0-8-4 he was called into investigate ended up being Thor’s hammer (as the movie fans will note, that happened at the end of “Iron Man 2″).
But despite all of the great nods to the Marvel movies that are there to convince audiences that “Agents of SHIELD” is part of the MCU, there was a lot of great development on the television series’ front too. If the pilot was all about bringing Coulson’s new team together — Melinda May, Ward, Fitz, Simmons and Skye — then “0-8-4″ was about them actually becoming a team. They’re still not entirely functional, but the episode allowed the five agents of SHIELD to come together and live up to the potential Coulson originally saw in them.
Of course, Skye hasn’t completely left behind her Rising Tide roots. She might be ready to train with Ward to become an agent (the next episode, “The Asset,” is about her first mission) but she’s also still involved with Rising Tide. Nick Fury notes to Coulson that Skye is a risk, and though Coulson says he understands that, let’s hope that he actually does.
Chloe Bennet was used less as comic relief in this episode, which was a nice shift from her character in “Pilot,” while Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker continue to get some of the best moments in this series thanks to their hilarious “FitzSimmons” dynamic. Here’s hoping “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD” continues on its great track record as the show heads into episode 3.
“Agents of SHIELD” airs Tuesdays on ABC at 8 p.m. ET.