How to Catch up on ‘AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Without Really Trying

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As the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) grows and becomes more complicated, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep track of it all.

Don’t worry.

We’re here to help.

Specifically, in the realm of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

A lot of… weird stuff is going on in AOS and not without reason. This is basically the Marvel version of the X-FILES. If you go online to try to reason out all happenings, you’ll see words thrown around like “Inhumans” and “Hydra” and “Kree.” If you aren’t a Marvel comics fan, you’re easily lost. Hell, even if you’ve read every comic, you still might be lost.

And, while I personally suggest watching every episode of AoS 9 to 25 times, I just have to admit that’s unlikely. Instead, I offer you a bit of a cheat on how to keep track of all the S.H.I.E.L.D. files.

Know the guest star.

Whenever there’s a DO NOT MISS episode of AOS, it’s bolstered with a big guest star, maybe even two.

In the first season, you had Bill Paxton in seven not-to-miss episodes. Samuel L. Jackson cameoed as Nick Fury twice, and Cobie Smolders came in for a few episodes as Maria Hill. While this might seem like a cheap bid for viewership, it’s actually much more than that. These episodes are flagged as important.

Here are the not-to-miss episodes for season 2 based on my special guest formula:

If Hayley Atwell is hanging around for an episode, you’re going to get some great background information on S.H.I.E.L.D. Hydra, or perhaps a villain (you should also check out AGENT CARTER). This is also Lucy Lawless’s first appearance as Isabell Hartley, who you should keep an eye out for. Do not miss Season 2, Episode 1 Shadows.

Season 2, Episode 5, A Hen in the Wolf House, is the first to reveal Adrianne Palicki Bobbi Morse, also known (comic-book-ally) as Mockingbird. And, oh, what a wonderful reveal it is. It’s primarily a Hydra episode, with a focus on Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and I can only call Simmons a delight.

Season 2, Episode 7, The Writing on the Wall, gets down the the nitty-gritty of the strange writing that Coulson has been possessed by. Sci-fi drama fans will recognize guest Joel Gretsch from pretty much anything sci-fi, as it seems he’s been in it all. This episode answers lots of questions about Coulson’s work with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Tahiti, but most importantly, it delves into the writing. And, this episode proves that, while AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. isn’t afraid to end on a cliffhanger, they also aren’t afraid to give you satisfying answers to those aching questions.

Hayley Atwell returns to AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. in Season 2, Episode 8, The Things We Bury, to give us the background on Hydra bad guy Daniel Whitehall.

Season 2, Episode 10, What They Become, is the mid-season finale. A lot of the bad guys we’ve grown to hate end up with bullets in them. Skye is transformed into an icon comic book agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Everyone who is familiar with who and what she has become squees like a maniac; people who don’t still get to watch an entertaining episode that sets the stage for the second half of the season.

Season 2, Episode 12, Who You Really Are, Jamie Alexander returns as Lady Sif come to Midgard (that’s Earth, for you non-Asgardians). Her guest appearance is paired with an appearance by Eddie McClintock. The episode gets into the origins of the Inhumans (you know, the group of people that aren’t Hydra or S.H.I.E.L.D. but have superpowers). It was also one of the funniest and most intense episodes of the season. Do not miss this episode at any cost. It literally explains what happened to Skye and who did it to her in the mid-season finale.

Season 2, Episode 15, One Door Opens, is nearly as important as the mid-season finale. Edward James Olmos shows up as Robert Gonzalez the leader of the “Real” S.H.I.E.L.D. and Lucy Lawless returns in flashback to show us how Olmos ascended to that position. We also find out how the team has decided to deal with Skye, and how Skye is dealing with her powers.

As Gonzalez’s S.H.I.E.L.D. confronts Coulson’s S.H.I.E.L.D. be ready to see some rumblings and foreshadowing of Marvel movies in the future. The way each side deals with Skye could be setting the stage for Captain America: Civil War. Or, it could just be it’s own dramatic self-contained story.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON comes out on May 1st. The season finale of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. is on May 19th. Be ready for tie-ins. And, don’t forget, ANT-MAN comes July 17th. There may be tie-ins there, as well. That being said, from here on out, I wouldn’t miss an episode.

And don’t forget: if you have a question, you can always ask.

We know people.

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