Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Afterlife” Review

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Posted April 10, 2015 by Kenneth Rodriguez in Comic Books

If you would like to catchup on last week’s episode, you can find that here

 

Ok, it seems like AoS is finally picking up steam again, as this week’s episode was full of surprising reunions. There was lots of interesting background information that really starts to set up an intriguing reveal for the season finale in about 6 episodes. There are still three parallel stories running, but the actions of Robert Gonzales’ “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” trying to establish itself as the true heir to Fury’s empire and Coulson being on the run seem to complement each other well, creating an interesting cat and mouse dynamic. Skye’s story on the other hand, while very interesting, seems a little too removed from the action (figuratively and literally) and it seems the show is going through great lengths to bring them back together while trying to make us want more. It’s done enough to keep me intrigued, so for now, the show has hooked me back on; especially considering the Age of Ultron tie-in we know is almost guaranteed to happen sometime in the next 3-4 episodes.

We begin with a pretty comical scene where a used car salesman is trying to dissect Coulson’s brain, and decide what sports car is right for his perceived mid-life crisis. Hunter shows up informing him that they can’t buy the car without anymore and they should just take it, and Coulson ICERs the salesman, stating “The Tiger has been loose for a long time”, (Clark Gregg really does have a lot of fun with the role) and they retreat. They make it back to the safe house where Skye was held up, and discover a destroyed surveillance camera among the wreckage from Skye’s encounter with Calderon and Bobbi. They watch the tape back, discovering it was Skye that destroyed everything and the teleporting Inhuman Gordon took her away, leaving Coulson dumbfounded how he lost both S.H.I.E.L.D. and Skye in the same day. They spend the night trying to figure out what their plans are, and with no good options, Hunter suggests maybe they look into some bad ones. Without Hunter’s knowledge, Coulson calls Gonzales’ team, hoping to take them by surprise and steal their Quinjet, certainly not the plan Hunter had in mind. They arm up and figure out they have about an hour before the team breaks through the Hulk-proof cabin, setting up a diversion with Coulson’s “modern day Howling Commandos kit” (awesome call-back to Tripp’s grandfather’s WWII kit they used to survive after the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D.) until Coulson’s backup can arrive.

Deathlok's new and much improved look

Deathlok’s new and much improved look

When the door finally gives way and no backup to be found, the agents storm the room to find the duo quietly playing cards, confused, they try to apprehend them, only to discover they are very convincing holograms. Coulson and Hunter pop out from the shadows and ICER all of them, putting on their armor and heading to the mostly empty Quinjet. To their surprise, there was a cloaked Quinjet next to the other, with a bunch of agents pouring out and surrounding them. Just as they seem to be captured and hope lost, backup arrives in the form of Mike Peterson a.k.a. Deathlok (Who looks sooooo much cooler than the bad plastic-looking armor he sported in his first appearances). He pry’s the bay doors open and proceeds to take the entire agent crew down, freeing Coulson and Hunter, and taking out the other Quinjet with his wrist-mounted missiles for good measure. He integrates the system information for the jet and they take off, with no destination planned. It seems Coulson has had Mike working undercover for the last 6 months, and he has been tracking a Dr.List, the sole HYDRA head they didn’t “cut-off” during their take down of the HYDRA baddies a few episodes ago. It seems he has been capturing people with powers and experimenting on them (it should be noted here that Dr. List was the man seen helping Dr. Baron von Strucker harness the power of Loki’s staff from The Avengers to seemingly give Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver powers. So this could be the tie in to the Avengers: Age of Ultron, maybe Coulson tracks List down and has some interaction that relates to the consequences of the Maximoff twins in the movie. I would be totally ok with this).They think the only play they have right now would be to find someone who has a link to both the Cal and supers holding Skye, as well as the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.”.. And that’s Grant Ward.

 

May isn't buying Gonzales' rhetoric

May isn’t buying Gonzales’ rhetoric

Meanwhile, back at The Playground, Gonzales seems intent on catching “that thing” that nearly killed 8 agents including Calderon (referring to Skye as a “thing”,… harsh, makes you wonder how he can claim to be a good guy). He doesn’t want Bobbi to have any misconceptions about their mission and be clouded by loyalty to Coulson instead of to S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, or at least his version of it. He believes it’s his duty to bring him in and have the Board determine what his fate shall be, and we can clearly see through all the interactions with the her former team mates and Gonzales that Bobbi is definitely not on board 100% with his plans. Gonzales goes to where May is being held, and hands her a gun, imploring her to shoot him if she thinks he is a traitor. She decides to hear him out as he offers her a position on their leadership board, mostly to give Coulson “a strong advocate” when they capture him and decide his fate. Despite bringing up the seeming complications that arise when considering that Fury, Coulson himself  and even May all kept a close watch on Coulson to make sure he could be trusted, her loyalty doesn’t waver and she doesn’t back down. She seems sure that he wouldn’t have given her a loaded gun anyway, trying to expose his posturing, but he unloads it in front of her, showing he really did meant business, but knew she wouldn’t shoot him.

Simmons and Fitz seem to be at odds with what they should do about staying on board as agents. Fitz has no reservations about leaving, but Simmons seems conflicted, unsure of her next move. Gonzales gives them an ultimatum, either they debrief and retire as agents, or they stay and help them open Fury’s toolbox. Fitz easily decides to leave, and despite pleading from Mac has no intention of staying. Mac informs him that Simmons has decided to help him and is very close to cracking it, but Fitz seems to know better. He looks at Simmons’ work and though he doesn’t state it, his expression seems to indicate he knows she is not doing what she says. He does to meet her, Fitz grabs the toolbox in desperation to try to get her to understand that what she is doing is wrong, armed agents threaten him to put it down. That is the last straw for him and he leaves, putting the Toolbox back and everyone disappointed and hurt. But, not all is lost for our former dynamic duo, as we see in the final stinger that they were in fact in cahoots, and Fitz escaped with the real Toolbox and a sandwich from Simmons (Prosciutto and Mozzarella, established previously to be Fitz’s favorite and Simmons to be the only one who knows how to make it right) in hand, while she plays dumb about being able to unlock it. It’s an interesting turn for both their relationship, which seems to be repaired in order to deal with the turmoil around them, and also a possible return to normal for Simmons’ strange actions recently. But there is always the possibility of a triple-cross, maybe Simmons implanted a tracking device with the Toolbox and will help Gonzales with Fitz thinking he has gotten away scot-free? I hope not, but I wouldn’t put it past the show.

Gordon is becoming increasingly important

Gordon is becoming increasingly important

We also got to check in with Skye after Gordon whisked her away to a place they call “Afterlife”. She wakes up full glowing acupuncture needles that her new attractive love-interest in the making Lincoln says are helping to disinfect her body and complete her “transition” into Inhuman life. She is skeptical at first, but after he shows her he is also an Inhuman himself, she begins to trust him and we can clearly see an interest growing in her. He begins to explain some details by which this cabal of Inhumans operates under, which will be familiar to anyone who reads the comics. It seems there is an elder panel that decides who will undergo Terrigenesis every couple of years, after a careful and through screening process. There are plenty of humans with the Inhuman gene at the facility (taken there by Gordon who is the only way in or out of the unknown temple which seems to be in the Himalayas), who have chosen to come and be considered for “transition”.

Skye and her mom have some catching up to do, along with Lincoln

Skye and her mom have some catching up to do, along with Lincoln

But apparently everyone is a bit, envious of Skye because she did not have to follow the same rules as they do to gain her abilities, in fact, undergoing Terrigenisis with a Diviner in a Kree temple is so rare it hasn’t occurred in thousands of years. Skye begins to understand her place in this society, and honestly, this helped clear up why the Inhumans like Gordon thought she was so special, she actually is unique. After Lincoln gives her a demonstration of his electric powers, causing her to float off the ground, they are setup for your standard romance scene when he says something contradictory to his previous rhetoric. She realizes he hasn’t been fully truthful to her, and they are taking care of Raina there as well, even though she is a murder. Skye is furious about this and go to find her, and is surprised by the extent of her transformation, but is still angry enough to begin to vibrate her molecules apart. As she is dying, she encourages Skye to kill her, knowing she will do it and end her suffering, but an unexpected visitor interrupts them, Skye’s mom Jiaying. It seems her vivisection by Dr. Whitehall was not enough to kill her, she is truly immortal after all, but is marked with scars. She doesn’t reveal herself to Skye as her mom, but calms her and insists she can train her, and we know this place has been revealed as her operation. She accepts, unwillingly and leaves, and the last scene shows Skye’s mom meeting up with Cal, still in captivity and surprisingly he does not seem surprised that she is alive (so we assume he has known for some time) and she still refuses to let him see Skye.

So, this episode set a lot of things in motion, and gave much needed back-story to the Inhuman cabal and how it relates to Cal’s operation. I really like Fitz/Simmons seemingly reuniting to become the dynamic duo they once were, and I hope it stays that way… I don’t think I can take another break-up between them. Coulson having Deathlok in his back pocket was a fun twist, and I really like how much he has accepted his place as a super-human, which is refreshing. I don’t think Coulson is in any real immediate danger from Gonzales, because his story never works, he will be revealed to have more of a sinister agenda than he portrays and becomes a villain, showing Coulson was really the “pure” version of S.H.I.E.L.D. the whole time. Bobbi is probably going to defect as well, and I can see it coming to a head in the season finale. This “Afterlife” Skye is hanging out in is definitely not Atitlan, and I am willing to bet that it is one of several operations, and the big players will slowly be revealed over the course of the next few years in preparation for the Inhuman film in 2019. I am very excited to see what happens next, and while I was skeptical of the last couple of episodes, I’m all aboard the hype train now that the show has accepted what it is and seems intent on making the coolest story they can tell.


About the Author

Kenneth Rodriguez

Kenny has been completing his pokedex since Pokemon Yellow, ever ready for his next test, comics in hand. He thinks Mass Effect is the best game series ever,.. period and loves TV and Movies dearly. Follow him on Twitter @k_rod14