This review contains spoilers for Agents of SHIELD.
Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Episode 10
Is it possible to enjoy an episode of Agents of SHIELD and also be ultimately unsatisfied having watched it? Apparently so, as “Leap” contains both a compelling shell game and answers to the greater mystery that leave us scratching our heads. Even for those with rock solid memories of the exploded monoliths and the fear dimension from season 5, the connection that’s drawn between that occurrence and the creation of Sarge from Coulson’s DNA is tenuous at best, and the dimension of disembodied entities seeking vessels adds to the unfocused picture. This episode is sure to invite speculation but only in the sense that viewers will want to establish their own sense clarity rather than hatch exciting fan theories.
Although most of us figured out that Izel may have hitched a ride inside Davis last week, especially after the trailer for this week’s episode frustratingly revealed that May shooting Coulson was not as it seemed, that didn’t diminish the enjoyment of the cat and mouse game that ensued. It was fun to shout at the TV when Agent Diaz left May’s cell, subtly taking Izel with her, and there was practically an audible cheer from the audience when Mack wisely put the base on lockdown, creating a closed circle mystery that Agatha Christie would have been proud of. The Deke misdirect was particularly effective since he was likely to argue his innocence whether he was possessed or not.
And the entertainment didn’t end there. We applauded when Mack chose to lock up the Inhumans, Daisy and Yoyo, and we reluctantly admired Izel for her strategy of hopping around unpredictably when her presence was revealed. The death of Davis smacked of emotional manipulation, especially after this minor character has survived so much in previous seasons, but it effectively communicated the stakes SHIELD was dealing with. Even Izel-as-Mack handcuffing himself and knocking himself out showed that the queen of the shrike was no amateur. Unfortunately, her quest to find the monoliths is where the internal logic of the convoluted connections began to break down.
Why, for example, would a shrike fragment act as a compass leading Izel to the secured monolith rift, even within the show’s own sci-fi narrative reasoning? Why would Coulson having been near the rift to seal it last season have created the copy known as Sarge without having done the same to Mike “Deathlok” Peterson, who was right there next to him? Why would the creation aspect of the monoliths be better for the shrike than taking the bodies of the inhabitants of the planets they conquer? These questions may have legitimate answers that will eventually satisfy, but at the end of this episode, the confusion is likely to be widespread.
Perhaps it wasn’t that surprising that Sarge recovered from his gunshot wounds given that we knew there was something different about this 100-year-old doppelgänger, but the fact that his “family” ended up being residual memories of the SHIELD team from Coulson’s essence was a nice touch that was creatively depicted by his subconscious flashbacks. Izel’s assertion that Sarge as Pachakutiq could stop her if he wasn’t afraid to use his full power combined with Fitz’s Ghost Rider comparison lends a hefty amount of gravitas to the epilogue in which Sarge’s hand fades briefly to a suggestively blackened form. That sort of mystery is much more enticing than the seemingly incomplete explanations we get elsewhere in the episode.
That being said, we can’t help but be enticed by the possibilities of Izel-as-Yoyo allowing Mack to come with her as she takes a quinjet out of some misconception that he suffers from the “conceit of love and ownership.” Mack showed great leadership in this episode from start to finish, and although Daisy may worry that he’s sacrificing himself, especially coming so quickly on the heels of Davis’ death, May is more correct in her assertion that “he’s trusting his team.” This scene not only illustrates Mack’s growth as director this season but also May’s indispensable skills as a mentor, advisor, and trusted lieutenant.
So while the episode was filled with great moments like the guard giving Deke a hard time about stealing SHIELD tech or Daisy admitting to sending part of her paycheck to Lincoln Campbell’s sister, it’s strange that Izel’s explanations, which should have brought more clarity, are more dizzying than her body-switching shenanigans. With a two-hour finale coming in only two weeks and the revelation that season 7 will be Agents of SHIELD’s last outing, we’re certain to be treated to exciting action and emotional peaks, but whether a sense of completion awaits us remains in question.
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Michael Ahr is a writer, reviewer, and podcaster here at Den of Geek; you can check out his work here or follow him on Twitter (@mikescifi). He co-hosts our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast and coordinates interviews for The Fourth Wall podcast.