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Heavy Is the Head

For the Zac Brown Band song, see Heavy Is the Head (Zac Brown Band song).
"Heavy Is the Head"
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode
File:Kyle MacLachlan 2011 Shankbone.JPG
Kyle MacLachlan's appearance in the episode was greatly anticipated and, though brief, was received positively by critics.
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 2
Directed by Jesse Bochco
Written by Paul Zbyszewski
Produced by
Cinematography by Feliks Parnell
Editing by David Crabtree
Original air date September 30, 2014 (2014-09-30)
Running time 43 minutes
Guest actors
Episode chronology

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List of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes

"Heavy Is the Head" is the second episode of the second season of the American television series Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or simply Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., based on the Marvel Comics organization S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), a fictional peacekeeping and spy agency in a world populated with superheroes and numerous supernatural phenomena. It is set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), sharing continuity with the films of the franchise. The episode was written by Paul Zbyszewski, and directed by Jesse Bochco.

The episode revolves around the character of Phil Coulson, with Clark Gregg reprising his role from the film series, and his agents, played by regular cast members Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, and Nick Blood, as well as several guest stars, as they fight Hydra and the U.S. military for a powerful artifact. Regular cast member Elizabeth Henstridge also stars.

"Heavy Is the Head" originally aired on ABC on September 30, 2014, and according to Nielsen Media Research, was watched by 5.05 million viewers. The episode received a mostly positive critical response, with much of the praise going to the development of both old and new characters, and to the brief appearance of guest star Kyle MacLachlan.


Following the events of "Shadows", mercenary Lance Hunter is captured by Brigadier General Glenn Talbot, who offers him $2 million and a proper burial for late S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Isabelle Hartley, in exchange for selling out Director Phil Coulson. Agent Melinda May meanwhile follows Carl Creel, who can absorb the properties of anything he touches, and has absorbed the abilities of the mysterious Obelisk, which causes him to accidentally kill a waitress. After losing May, Creel is confronted by former Hydra associate Raina, who tries to bargain for the Obelisk. When this is unsuccessful, she contacts Coulson, and gives him the location of a meeting between Creel and his Hydra superior.

Hunter returns to the team and reveals his deal with Talbot, but explains that he wishes to work with them to take down Creel, who killed Hartley. Realizing that Coulson would rather take Creel hostage than kill him, Hunter turns on Agents May, Skye, and Antoine Triplett, and attempts to assassinate Creel. A fight breaks out between Creel and Hunter, ended when Coulson uses a refined version of the Overkill Device, created by Agent Leo Fitz and Mack, to turn Creel to stone. During the fight, Raina steals the Obelisk from Hydra, and delivers it to Skye's father, "The Doctor". She discovers that she is able to hold it without dying, and "The Doctor" promises to reveal its secrets once Raina brings Skye to him.

At the Playground, S.H.I.E.L.D.'s headquarters, Coulson has another 'episode', carving symbols also found on the Obelisk into the wall, with May documenting the process. After Hartley's funeral, Hunter agrees to join S.H.I.E.L.D. permanently, though Coulson asks him to follow through with Talbot's deal.

In an end tag, Coulson and Talbot meet, but Talbot refuses to negotiate. Despite this, Coulson remains open to working with the U.S. government and military, and reveals that S.H.I.E.L.D. now has both a quinjet and carrier plane with operational cloaking technology among their arsenal.



In September 2014, Marvel revealed that main cast members Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, and Nick Blood would star as Phil Coulson, Melinda May, Skye, Leo Fitz, Jemma Simmons, and Lance Hunter, respectively.[1] It was also revealed that the guest cast for the episode would include Kyle MacLachlan, B.J. Britt, Ruth Negga, Henry Simmons, Adrian Pasdar, Simon Kassianides, Brian Patrick Wade, Wilmer Calderon, Carolina Espiro, Cutter Garcia, and Danny Pierce. MacLachlan, Espiro, Garcia, and Pierce were introduced in the episode as "The Doctor", waitress, bartender, and soldier, respectively. They all received co-starring credit in the episode, except MacLachlan.[1] Britt, Simmons, Pasdar, Negga, Kassianides, reprise their roles from previous episodes as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents Antoine Triplett and Alphonso "Mack" MacKenzie, General Glenn Talbot, Raina, and Hydra member Sunil Bakshi, respectively.[2][3][1] Main cast member Brett Dalton, who portrays Grant Ward in the series and is credited for the episode,[1] does not appear in the episode.[4]


"Heavy Is the Head" was first aired in the United States on ABC on September 30, 2014.[5] It was aired alongside the US broadcast in Canada on CTV.[6]



In the United States the episode received a 1.8/5 percent share among adults between the ages of 18 and 49, meaning that it was seen by 1.8 percent of all households, and 5 percent of all of those watching television at the time of the broadcast. It was watched by 5.05 million viewers.[5] The Canadian broadcast gained 2.33 million viewers, the third highest for that day, and the ninth highest for the week.[6]

Critical response

James Hunt of Den of Geek thought that "the problem with this week's episode was that it was broadly the second part of last week's, rather than its own thing. As well as picking up seconds after that one finished, it also continued (and resolved) many of the plot threads it introduced, establishing the show's operating status quo in the final minutes. If it wasn't intended to be the back half of a feature-length episode, it does a very good impression of it." He called MacLachlan's appearance "The biggest moment of this episode", and felt that "it's tempting to say that his appearance was anticlimactic, but there's got to be more going on than we're shown, so I'm willing to reserve judgement."[7] Eric Goldman of IGN scored the episode an 8.5 out of 10 and praised the development of the Hunter and Mack characters, feeling that "Hunter especially was given some good material, as we learned of his military-turned-mercenary background [and] we got to understand more about Mac being a mechanic ... asked to do a job he’s not quite qualified for and who’s confident enough to admit that." Goldman felt that the episode "continued to show off an improved series, boasting better pacing and a stronger overall tone", and praised the single-scene appearance of MacLachlan.[8] Alan Sepinwall of HitFix stated that "The show hasn't reached peak capacity yet, but right now we're in the introductory phase in terms of story arcs and characters, and "Heavy Is the Head" did a fine job at that, particularly on the character end, while also offering up more cool Absorbing Man action." He praised the character development, especially the changes to those from the first season, but criticized the focus on non-character related story arcs, saying "The one lesson I had hoped the creative team had learned from last year is that character arcs are a lot more interesting when they're about who the characters are rather than what they are."[4]

Oliver Sava of The A.V. Club graded the episode a B-, but gave a negative review, specifying the episode's focus on Lance Hunter, who he called "a generic role that needs more personality and specificity in order to captivate." He did, however, praise the slow motion shot of Lance Hunter shooting at Carl Creel, saying "That kind of directorial flair is what this show needs more of, and I would love to see this show’s camera and design crews work together to create a more visually engaging experience. There needs to be more color and personality in the environments and costuming, and taking more chances with the camerawork will bring more excitement to the action and heighten the emotional beats of the script."[9] Kevin Fitzpatrick of Screen Crush stated that "we’re thrilled to see “Heavy is the Head” taking the ball from last week and running with a very confident start to the season thus far." He particularly praised the characters of Hunter and Creel, and noted that while MacLachlan's appearance "didn’t particularly deepen our understanding of the mystery to have the obelisk “spare” Raina its death touch, nor necessarily to have Coulson scratch out another board’s worth of equations, it’s nice to see the writers keeping the alien aspects in play as often as possible."[10] Joseph McCabe, writing for Nerdist, felt that "So far this season, the show has kept what worked best in its first year, that Whedon-patented propensity for pairing end-of-the-world melodrama with the most mundane of concerns ... The line that lingers, however, is one uttered in last week’s season premiere. Coulson again instructs his people to “Go dark.” Just how dark is the question this season of S.H.I.E.L.D. poses. I’m happy to give the show as much time as it needs to answer it."[11]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Strom, Marc (September 9, 2014). "Declassifying Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Heavy is the Head". Archived from the original on September 9, 2014. Retrieved September 9, 2014. 
  2. "Learn How Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Begins Its Second Season". September 8, 2014. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2014. 
  3. "Declassifying Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Ep. 105: Girl in the Flower Dress". October 7, 2013. Archived from the original on August 20, 2014. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sepinwall, Alan (September 30, 2014). "Review: 'Marvel's Agents of SHIELD' - 'Heavy Is the Head': Hunter's fortune". HitFix. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bibel, Sara (October 1, 2014). "Tuesday Final Ratings: 'Selfie', 'Manhattan Love Story', 'The Voice', 'Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.', 'New Girl' & 'Forever' Adjusted Up; 'Chicago Fire' Adjusted Down". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 1, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Top 30 Programs (September 29-October 5, 2014)" (PDF). Numeris. October 15, 2014. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  7. Hunt, James (October 31, 2014). "Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 episode 2 review: Heavy Is The Head". Den of Geek. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  8. Goldman, Eric (September 30, 2014). "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: "Heavy Is the Head" Review". IGN. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  9. Sava, Oliver (September 30, 2014). "Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Heavy Is The Head”". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  10. Fitzpatrick, Kevin (September 30, 2014). "'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Review: "Heavy is the Head"". Screen Crush. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 
  11. McCabe, Joseph (October 1, 2014). "MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: “Heavy is the Head”". Nerdist. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved December 4, 2014. 

External links

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