Agents of SHIELD Review: “Afterlife”

Agents of SHIELD

Spoiler Review

“Afterlife” was an apt title for this week’s Agents of SHIELD, where two(!) unexpected faces return in an action-packed, surprise-filled episode that also gave us our first glimpse of the Inhuman’s compound.

Agents of SHIELDSkye awakens to ‘enhanced’ acupuncture and her orientation guide, Lincoln (Luke Mitchell), who goes on to give her a tour of the facility where both Inhumans and those-in-waiting live their days away from the scrutiny of the rest of the world. He answers some questions vaguely, but is forthcoming on a lot of little, but interesting, minutia of their lives in the beautiful mountains (Seriously, that place looks gorgeous folks). Skye’s ‘date’ with Lincoln, where he shows off his electrical abilities, starts to finally bring her around to the idea of having abilities of her own…until he makes a slip up later that leads to two big confrontations.

BAgents of SHIELDack at the base now occupied by other SHIELD, Gonzales attempts to turn May and the rush to crack open Fury’s Toolbox comes between Fitz and Simmons’ relationship. May is a tough cookie to crack and Gonzales’ quick reveal that her nickname, and partial reason for taking a desk job that we first met her in, was due to the incident where she killed a person with powers. Now that’s a story I’d kill to see, especially as a flashback. Gonzales’ first try to get her loyalty to his SHIELD fails, while his second, where he gives her a loaded gun, grabs her attention. If anything I believe she would take his offer, if only to help out Coulson when he returns to reclaim SHIELD…again.

Agents of SHIELDJust when I was hoping dealing with the other SHIELD would bring Fitz and Simmons closer together, it only pushes them apart…or at least that’s what they want everyone to think. I particularly loved these two this episode, as their connection really helps them sell Simmons’ supposed betrayal of Fitz, Coulson, and the team. A couple times throughout the episode I questioned if they really were deceiving everyone, with Simmons putting up a particularly good poker face around Bobbi, but I was happy to see they really weren’t by the end. And that sandwich she packed Fitz? It looks really tasty.

Agents of SHIELDWhat is also tasty is some good whiskey, which Hunter shares with Coulson as they play fugitives from the other SHIELD. After uncovering the video proof of Skye’s big quake and Gordon’s rescue (to which Hunter hilariously says lines like, “…did she just get abducted by aliens?” and “I’ve only been gone a week”), Coulson and Hunter have a heart to heart, as Coulson blames himself for Skye being taken and SHIELD being wrecked. Hunter’s suggestion of a bad idea leads to the first big surprise of the episode: the return of Mike Peterson, now a.k.a. Agent Deathlok! He left at the end of S1 to try redeeming himself, but in-between then and now he was recruited by Coulson to chase after List, the only surviving Hydra head not named von Strucker. Here he rescues Hunter and Coulson from Gonzales’ SHIELD and sets them on a course to meet up with Grant Ward.

Agents of SHIELDAfter Lincoln’s slipup regarding Raina and Skye’s father’s whereabouts, Skye storms off to confront Raina, whom she blames for Trip’s death. Despite her appearance, Raina’s still the same ol’ smooth talker, making conversations into a battle of their own, but her change has left her less hopeful and optimistic than she was before. She even encourages Skye to use her anger to strike her down (like the Emperor taunts Luke to do) and before Skye can completely give in and kill Raina, the even bigger surprise occurs: Jaiying breaks up the conflict. Yup, Skye’s mother, thought dead, is still alive and well, though some scars remind us Whitehall cut her open at one point. How she was able to survive that, we don’t know (or we do, see below), but boy am I just glad they didn’t bring Dichen Lachman in and kill her off as quickly as originally thought early in the season.

Jaiying has been on-screen only a handful of times so far, but I’m absolutely enjoying several aspects to her character, like her calm, measured, and non-revealing approach to meeting her daughter for the first time and how she realizes Cal’s a danger to their daughter, keeping him away from Skye, but still loving him in some way. I look forward to watching Jaiying try to bond with her daughter and how it’ll affect Skye’s relationship with SHIELD, May, and Coulson. Blood family or adopted family?

Agents of SHIELD

Here are a few other things:

  • Considering this is episode 16 of a 22 episode season, it looks like AoS will overlap with Avengers II after it drops on May 1st. We’ll have to wait and see how much of an impact that’ll have on the show, but considering AoS has done such a great job standing on its own this season, I hope the show’s story is allowed to be the more important factor for its finale, not the movie.
  • I guess we do kind of know how Jaiying survived Whitehall’s experiments: Cal stitched her back up and her ability to heal did the rest, according to AoS’s EP Jeffrey Bell in an interview with him and Chloe Bennet regarding Jaiying’s return (via THR)
  • Kyle MacLachlan nearly went all out Mr. Hyde this week and he seems to be really having fun with the role.
  • I want to see what else is in that modern day Howling Commando briefcase.
  • At the risk of sounding repetitive, I’m really enjoying Edward James Olmos in this role, as he’s kind of channeling a little of Bill Adama (which reminds me of why I loved Battlestar Galactica so much/I should rewatch it).
  • Definitely started to get a vibe Bobbi might come around to Coulson’s SHIELD.

Agents of SHIELD

Bringing back two big surprise characters was a bold move in a single episode, but Agents of SHIELD‘s second season has been full of bold choices that have, for the most part, paid off in a myriad of entertaining ways. “Afterlife” pushes all our characters down new paths I just can’t wait to see play out and is another solid notch in AoS‘s belt.

+ The Fitz-Simmons fake-out

+ Surprise returns of Jaiying and Deathlok

+ Inhuman information

Ryan is Mynock Manor’s Head Butler. You can follow him on Twitter @BrushYourTeeth. You can follow the website @MynockManor.

Season Two: 2.1 Shadows | 2.2 Heavy is the Head | 2.3 Making Friends and Influencing People | 2.4 Face My Enemy | 2.5 A Hen in the Wolf House | 2.6 A Fractured House | 2.7 The Writing on the Wall | 2.8 The Things We Bury | 2.9 …Ye Who Enter Here | 2.10 What They Become | 2.11 Aftershocks | 2.12 Who You Really Are | 2.13 One of Us | 2.14 Love in the Time of Hydra | 2.15 One Door Closes | 2.17 Melinda | 2.18 The Frenemy of My Enemy | 2.19 The Dirty Half Dozen | 2.20 Scars | 2.21,22: S.O.S.

Season One: 1.1 This is Not the End/1.2 Bridge and Tunnel | 1.3 Time and Tide | 1.4 The Blitzkrieg Button | 1.5 The Iron Ceiling | 1.6 A Sin to Err | 1.7 SNAFU | 1.8 Valediction