Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has finally returned - for its second season - to UK television, but now has to fight for attention in a far more crowded marketplace.
As well as its old DC "arch-enemy" Arrow, which resumes next week, comic book superhero fans in the UK also have Gotham and The Flash to scratch that particular itch (and hopefully, one day, Constantine as well).
Off the back of the events of the superlative Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the end of the last season of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., Shadows picks up with S.H.I.E.L.D. in hiding while director Coulson tries to rebuild the organisation from the ground-up and Brigadier General Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar, now with a proper moustache) is hunting down the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA.
Being a season opener, the episode pulled out the big guns - from an opening flashback to the Second World War featuring Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Howling Commandos 'Dum Dum' Dugan (Neal McDonough) and Jim Morita (Kenneth Choi) capturing the original 0-8-4, an alien MacGuffin known as The Obelisk to the appearance of a truly comic book villain: Carl 'Crusher' Creel (Brian Patrick Wade) aka The Absorbing Man.
Among the many lessons it would appear showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen have learned from fan feedback on the first season, it looks as though we might be getting a more serialised main throughline for the season (the continuing battle with HYDRA, which is far from defeated) as well as seeing some actual superpowered villains.
Crusher Creel is a good start, with a visually eye-catching power (although I wished he'd retained his 'absorbed' forms longer) and his story continues in next week's episode.
Lucy Lawless - the warrior princess herself - popped up as a kick-ass S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and I hope we see more of her in the future, while Talbot is shaping up to be a good political foil to Coulson (although I hope, eventually, S.H.I.E.L.D. regains its legal status and doesn't have to stay working in the shadows for too long).
Meanwhile there were a couple of great character sub-plots - Skye facing down Ward in his high-tech prison cell and the heart-breaking developments with Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), whose brain-damage induced asphasia struck close to home for me (it being one of the many frustrating conditions brought on by my own stroke).
It was great to see Shadows keeping up the momentum Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. developed in the latter half of its first season and I look forward to it now going from strength-to-strength.