Agents of SHIELD: Afterlife Review
In the latest Agents of SHIELD, secrets from Skye's past are revealed while the Inhumans mythology continues to build around the MCU.
In a week where Marvel’s next big TV event is beginning on Netflix (Daredevil, natch!), Agents of SHIELD delivers a loaded episode that finally sold me on this whole two SHIELDs thing.
The greatest thing about this current storyline, which admittedly has kind of dragged the past few weeks, is the shades of grey that it explored. Agent Gonzales, the leader of this new SHIELD faction, is a good man; he’s a man who in another life could be as great a leader for SHIELD as Phil Coulson. He believes in everything SHIELD stands for and is even giving his chosen target, the aforementioned Coulson, a fair shot at defending himself. He is not a big bad HYDRA agent in disguise; he is not a fallen hero and a man doing his duty, walking that razor’s edge between hero and villain. It seemed Agent May believed that Gonzales came down more on the hero side of the equation. When the wise Gonzales gave May a loaded weapon and permission to shoot him if she really thought he was the enemy, May hesitated and joined Gonzales’ high command as Coulson’s advocate. This showed that Gonzales was not on some Ahab like quest for vengeance against Coulson. No, he truly wants what is best for his vision of SHIELD.
That didn’t make life any easier for Coulson this week, who was on a mission to retrieve Skye. Along with Agent Hunter, Coulson went to the Hulk Cabin from weeks previous to get his charge, but as we all know, Skye was far away with some very Inhuman company (more on that in a bit). Coulson and Hunter made a great buddy cop pair, with Hunter as the cocky hot shot and Coulson as the collected mastermind.
Together, the duo escaped Gonzales’ hunters and managed to even steal a quinjet in the process. Yeah, Coulson and Hunter were outgunned but they did manage to use some old Howling Commandoes tech to escape for a little while. Eventually, Gonzales’ elite caught up with them, which was when we learned Coulson’s Plan B (since Coulson always has a Plan B).
Thus with this episode, we got to not only experience a SHIELD vs. SHIELD conflict and learn a large piece of Inhumans history, but we also witnessed the surprise return of TV’s version of Deathlok! That’s right, Michael Peterson was back and this time, he was firmly on the side of the angels as he easily saved Coulson and Hunter, allowing Coulson to use his quinjet. Now that Agents of SHIELD is building its own mythology, we can have surprises like this, and it is always great to see J. August Richards back in any capacity on any series.
Gonzales had a reluctant May, but now Coulson had a very loyal Deathlok on his side. But that’s not Coulson’s only asset. Inside Gonzales’ SHIELD, Coulson had the loyalty of Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons. Since this season began, there has been an indelible fault line between Fitz and Simmons. The cutesy duo was not so cutesy anymore since there was now a history of doubt and pain between them. This disconnect has caused some drama between the once inseparable geniuses, and it did not seem like anything could repair this rift—until Coulson needed them to work together.
Simmons has been trying to open Coulson’s treasure chest, that tiny cube that contained something that Gonzales and company greatly desired. Well, for a brief moment this week, the old Fitz and Simmons were back and used this rift to con Gonzales into believing that they were still fractured. Thanks to this deft sleight of hand and subtle emotional manipulation, Fitz now has the cube (and a sandwich!) thanks to Simmons’ long con. This was some of the better spy genre moments in the series’ history and it made for a very fun episode.
But somehow, with some skillful plot juggling, a very gripping installment of the continuing saga of the Inhumans was featured this week too. Enter Lincoln, a young and handsome Inhuman who helped Skye try to control her quake powers.
Lincoln was a gentle soul who was exactly what Skye needed to help ease her mind, but he also might be a bit too good to be true. Lincoln knew a great deal about the whereabouts of Skye’s father and Raina but wasn’t letting Skye in on the information. In fact, Zabo and Raina were in the same mysterious bucolic Himalayan (at least I assumed they were in the Himalayas) setting as Skye.
I don’t think Lincoln was adapted from any comic book character, and I’m pretty down with Inhuman history. He has some sort of generic lightening powers, and his purpose was to ease Skye into the world of the Inhumans. He kind of screwed up rather quickly by letting on that Raina was alive and nearby. This caused a conformation between Skye and Raina where Skye almost killed the newly transformed hedgehog woman.
It was then that the real brains of the operation revealed herself. Deathlok wasn’t the only startling return this week as Jiaying, Skye’s mother, was shockingly unveiled as alive and living in the Inhuman Village. Yes that Jiaying: the same mother who we thought to have been slaughtered by HYDRA years ago and the same woman whose death began Zabo’s descent into madness. Boy, for a woman once believed to be an orphan, Skye certainly has a ton of parental figures, huh?
So, we have Skye learning to master powers in a village where the increasingly unstable father is very close by, May reluctantly joining with Gonzales, Fitz and Simmons finally on the same page, and Coulson and Hunter out in the wild with their very own Deathlok. Of course, Coulson wants to find Skye and must make a deal with the devil to find her, because it seems only Grant Ward can lead Coulson and company to Skye.
But with Coulson going to Ward for help, does that prove Gonzales is right about Coulson being compromised?
That’s quite a cliffhanger. How will I ever get through the week? Perhaps 13 freakin’ episodes of freakin’ Daredevil will help!
Life is awesome and so was this episode.
Could that mysterious Chinese themed Inhumans’ stronghold be related to the mystic city of K’un L’un? As Marvel fans know, K’un L’un is the land where Danny Rand received the power of the Iron Fist. Iron Fist will be joining Daredevil on Netflix in the next few years. Was this Marvel’s way of easing K’un L’un into the Marvel landscape?
If you want to bone up on your Inhumans history, Marvel is currently publishing Inhuman and Uncanny Inhumans, two comics that make nice thematic companions to Agents of SHIELD. Inhumans really delved into the origin of Gordon in case you were wondering about the eyeless Inhuman’s history along with some other young Inhumans that could pop on TV.
Another mention of some elite Inhumans who seemed to be pulling the strings of our band of Inhuman players. Seriously, I better be seeing a teleporting dog or a dude with goat legs very soon.