This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers
Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 11
As this week proves once again, some of the most intriguing and exciting episodes of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD are those shift-to-the-next-story-arc episodes. We just had SHIELD escape from the future, and now we are back home to begin the next leg of our season five journey. The first half of this week’s episode was really just SHIELD acclimating and celebrating being back home but things soon take a shocking and horrific turn.
So let’s unpack it. One of the things that pleased me this week was the fact that there was none of that forced conflict or endless recriminations between Daisy and Coulson. Before the break, Daisy wanted to stay in the future because if she returned to the present, Daisy knew she would pose a great danger to the world as she became the Destroyer of Worlds.
Of course, Coulson lives by the no agent left behind policy and iced Daisy before SHIELD made their escape from the future. I was expecting some drama between Coulson and Daisy as the Inhuman agent blamed Coulson for going against her somewhat suicidal wishes, and I’ll be honest, I’m just so tired of forced conflict between heroes in my super hero dramas (I’m looking at you Arrow) that I was thrilled that this issue resolved itself with a nod and a smile. But don’t worry kids, there’s plenty of conflict to come.
When the agents arrive home, they meet a new Recorder character named Noah who points out that the Kree beacon is active. Not wanting to summon Kree to Earth, because they just got back from a future where Kree ruled and it kinda sucked, the agents set out to shut down the beacon. Daisy stays behind and has to deal with the unexpected arrival of an old friend.
Before we talk about returning friends, let’s talk about some new enemies. When the episode opens, we are introduced to Dove Cameron as Ruby. ABC and Marvel have been hyping Cameron’s arrival, and it is worth the wait, as Ruby is an intriguing addition to the cast.
When we first meet Ruby, she looks like just another Snapchat addicted Gen Z kid. The only twist is that Ruby seems to be obsessed with Daisy Johnson. Ruby also happens to be the daughter of General Hale, the woman who was hunting SHIELD after the incident with AIDA and the Framework. So it seems that hunting SHIELD is a family affair, but we’ll get to that in a second.
Now we have to talk about that welcoming return. Remember when SHIELD made their escape from the Kree future, it seemed like Deke sacrificed himself to get his allies home. Not the case, as Deke pops into the present this week and has a grand old time living in a world with sky, ground, human rights, and Zima. Deke has a blast until he’s arrested for not paying a bar tab. He’s bailed out by Daisy who poses as Deke’s adult care worker and hilarity ensues. So Deke is with us in the present and still has a role to play in the unfolding saga.
All the Deke humor is well handled and welcome, but who knew it would serve as such a contrast to what came after? Coulson, May, Mack, Fitz, Simmons, and Yo Yo track the Kree beacon and meet up with the long lost Agent Piper. A nice reunion for sure, until it is revealed that Piper is working for General Hale. A group of robots show up led by a masked female. I think everyone thought this masked badass would be a returning or present day version of the wicked Kree ball wielder Sinara but that just isn’t the case.
The masked woman takes the fight to SHIELD and does the unthinkable. She wields one of those Xena, Warrior Princess circular glaive things and uses it to slice of both of Yo Yo’s arms at the elbows. Yes, we saw a future version of Mack’s beloved without arms, and here we learn the tragic events that led to that maiming. Of course, now Mack has a new world of pain to deal with as Yo Yo will believe that the horrible Kree future is inevitable. SHIELD escapes, but not before our new Recorder pal Noah saves them from the exploding Kree beacon. The losses pile up for SHIELD as the return home doesn’t seem like a cause for celebration any longer.
So let’s take stock of everyone. Coulson is still dying of some unknown alien disease, Yo Yo is maimed but it is her mental state and fear of the future that seems to cripple her more than her injuries, Mack is crippled himself but with rage, and Daisy must avoid the path to becoming the Eater of Worlds.
And General Hale is our new big bad. In one moment, Hale damages SHIELD more than Ward, AIDA, or Kassius ever did. She uses her masked minion to rip SHIELD to shreds and creates a potent new threat for the second half of this season. And who is that masked woman, you ask? It’s not Sinara, it is Hale’s smartphone obsessed daughter Ruby! Wow, did not see that coming!
We are now on a path to the end of the world, a path with new villains Hale and Ruby, and a path of blood and death for our beloved agents. If the rest of the season is as intense and shocking as this episode, we will be in for one hell of a second half ride.
Oh, by episode’s end, Hale recruits none other than a returning Crusher Creel the Absorbing Man, so now Coulson and company will have to deal with threats old and new. Since next week is the hundredth episode of SHIELD (which means I wrote one hundred reviews, how does time move so freakin’ fast?), it looks like SHIELD will face old enemies and new menaces without Yo Yo.
Man, what an episode.
This week, SHIELD sets up their headquarters in the Lighthouse, a defunct SHIELD base from the 1980s. In a brilliant bit of casting, Patrick Warburton appears via recording as Director Rick Stoner. In the comics, Stoner was the first director of SHIELD. He first appeared in Fury #1 (1994) and was created by Barry Dutter and MC Wyman. Stoner first met Nick Fury when Stoner had to discipline the Howling Commandoes for botching a mission. Fury decked Stoner and served jail time for the assault. When Stoner was assassinated by HYDRA, Fury got the position. This being comics, Stoner was not actually dead. He returned seeking revenge of Fury and SHIELD. Sadly, the comic book Stoner does not have the Ron Swanson mustache that Warburton sported in his recorded appearance this episode.
So do you think the whole Coulson dying of an alien illness thing is a way to write Coulson out of the MCU if gents of SHIELD doesn’t come back for a sixth season? That way, as far as the Avengers are concerned, Coulson indeed died in the first Avengers film.
It seems like this week’s episode takes place at the same time as Thor: Ragnarok as Noah mentions that there is an Asgardian in New York. Could that be Thor’s visit with Doctor Strange?