This review contains spoilers for Agents of SHIELD.
Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Episode 2
Agents of SHIELD has always had a solid grip on well-paced storytelling, and season 6 is shaping up to be an adventure that will keep us guessing but never floundering. In “Window of Opportunity,” we certainly get more details about the dimension hoppers and their mission, but while we still hunger for more, it’s clear we’re only going to be fed enough to keep our appetites whetted. And while Fitz’s situation becomes clearer quite quickly, his story is just beginning as well. Even Mack’s investigation leaves us unwilling to blink for fear of missing a key bit of insight, even as the show makes time for moments of emotion and introspection.
This week’s episode Agents of SHIELD begins by skillfully presenting the death of Fox as a humanizing moment for Keller, a character who needs to win the audience over if he’s going to be part of Yoyo’s life. The episode spent very little time on the reveal that Mack already knew about the couple, but it was just the right amount to have its effect. Plus when May realizes Yoyo and Keller are already together, she cautions her friend about getting too close to fast, which says more about May having to deal with the reappearance of a Coulson doppelgänger than it does about any real concern for Yoyo’s feelings. It was a nice bit of character exploration inside the larger caper.
Similarly, the reaction to the death of the dimension-hopper Tinker inside the concrete wall immediately paints a picture of inner conflict within Sarge’s group, as Pax’s frustration at his friend’s death not only gives us a sense of the varied worlds from which the team members originate but also of the total destruction they leave in their wake. Off-handed comments about paper currency, the air quality, and combustion engines serve to develop an understanding of the group of high-tech scavengers who don’t really value the lives of the inhabitants of any reality they might visit.
By the time everyone has a chance to admire the cleverness of the portal (straight out of the Valve game, Portal) that allows them to raid a jewelry store, we all have a pretty clear grasp of who Sarge, Jaco, Pax, and Snowflake are. But part of the remaining mystery is, of course, why Sarge looks like Phil Coulson. Because Dr. Benson has verified that the DNA left at the convenience store is a match for the former SHIELD director, the idea of parallel worlds with different versions of everyone is not out of the question, but what is surprising, enticingly so, is that Sarge only vaguely recognizes the name Coulson as something that “rings a bell.” Whatever comes of this, we’re all in!
Benson himself hasn’t quite settled into a rhythm with Mack’s team yet, and although this certainly makes sense two episodes in and his annoyance at being sidelined is understandable, his quiet moment of understanding with Mack as he shares the history between May and Coulson doesn’t exactly ring true, nor does his alcoholism. Like Keller, it may take awhile for viewers to become invested in Benson as a character, even though he’s the one to discover the video of a flying scourge that destroyed whatever world the interlopers previously visited. And there’s still the question of which failed SHIELD mission caused this phenomenon, if Benson’s theory is correct, and what put Mack on the trail of these invaders to begin with?
Elsewhere in the episode, Agents of SHIELD wisely chose to put Daisy and Simmons on hold and instead checked in with Fitz in deep space. Although it may seem that a storyline involving his cover being blown while working alongside xenophobic slug-herders was completely disconnected from the main story, it does appear as though Simmons was correct in thinking he would return to the planet where his cryochamber was made in order to re-freeze himself, and it’s good to see that Enoch is along for the ride. How painful it was, though, to see Fitz gain his freedom only to miss Jemma’s arrival in the sector by mere moments!
Interestingly, Fitz’s journey is more about his personal redemption, which makes sense given this version of Fitz is still feeling the guilt of what he did in season 4’s Framework. Whereas Enoch with his strong survival instinct and lack of emotion is perfectly willing to let the Controller turn them into slaves and jettison his own inept crew out an airlock, Fitz is constantly evaluating his actions based on whether he would be able to look Jemma in the eyes afterwards. Putting his 72-year sleeping mission aside to save a few souls seems only reasonable for a man looking for a more morally grounded life.
Add in a stealth tractor trailer, a great fight scene for May in tight spaces, and gravity-bending portals, and we’ve got ourselves a winning formula for a near-perfect episode of Agents of SHIELD. Although there’s still some character development to work on within Mack’s team, the efficient manner in which we met and got to know Sarge’s group was impressive. Hopefully by this time, viewers have moved past the missing consequences of “the snap” elsewhere in the MCU, and they’re simply enjoying this show for its own merits, which are plentiful.
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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 voices much of our video content.