Two Fake-Outs That Totally Tricked Us In Last Night's Agents of SHIELD

Last night's Agents of SHIELD was mostly about getting the pieces in place for the final episodes of the season — but "Afterlife" did contain a couple of clever misdirects, that totally pulled the rug out from under us. Spoilers ahead...

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The main part of last night's "Afterlife" was about the Real SHIELD hunting down Coulson and his new bestie Lance Hunter, while also trying to open the toolbox that Fury left for Coulson. And meanwhile, trying to win over the members of Coulson's team who are left at the base.

The two big misdirects that completely bowled us over were:

1) You think that Fitz and Simmons are once again having a falling out.

Gonzales and the rest of them want Fitz to help them open the toolbox, using his gadgety know-how, but Fitz refuses. Simmons, meanwhile, seems to think that she can spoof the biometrics (which are keyed to Coulson's DNA) and get it open. She seems to believe the incredibly non-convincing claims that once they have the box open, Gonzales and his people can prove Coulson's secrets are harmless, and "everything can go back to normal." Even by Simmons' recent standards, that's really dense.

But Fitz asks to leave the SHIELD base, and SHIELD altogether — and somewhat surprisingly, the new bosses agree. He's allowed to resign from the organization peacefully, to prove that the people who gassed the base and nearly blew everyone up last week aren't so bad. Fitz sadly walks out of the base and gets a taxi... and then we realize that Simmons has slipped him the real toolbox and is "trying to open" a fake. She's even given Fitz one of her trademark prosciutto-and-mozzerella sandwiches (with a hint of pesto aioli)!

That's a nice fake-out, and a neat twist in the recently rocky Fitz-Simmons relationship.

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2) You think that Coulson's reinforcements are Grant Ward

It's pretty obvious that Coulson is going to have to reach out to Grant Ward for help, because he's out of options. And for most of this episode, Coulson's in a tight spot. He can't even steal a truck from a used-car salesman without nearly getting arrested thanks to Lance's shenanigans. When he goes to the cabin where Skye was holed up, he deliberately trips an alarm so that SHIELD will come for him, hoping to steal their quinjet — but it doesn't go that smoothly. First they get trapped in the cabin and only escape thanks to a hologram, and then their "wear enemy soldier uniforms" ploy fails and they get captured.

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The whole time, Coulson keeps insisting he's got reinforcements on the way, and I sort of assumed it would be Ward. But no — it's Mike Peterson, aka Deathlok, who takes out a bunch of SHIELD goons in a beautifully choreographed sequence, and then flies the quinjet. And then, they're off to find Ward, since he can help lead them to Skye. Why is finding Skye Coulson's top priority at this point? Maybe because he feels like he dropped the ball with her, plus he knows he can trust her to help take back SHIELD.

One intriguing thing about Mike Peterson's arrival: He's spent the past six months tailing List, the Hydra head that Coulson didn't manage to cut off. And List is busy experimenting on superpowered people (like Skye.) Hopefully this is a plotline that's going to become more major in the remaining episodes of the season, especially as we see the results of Strucker's experiments in Avengers: Age of Ultron. My main complaint about Agents of SHIELD lately has been "not enough Hydra." When Melinda May points out to Gonzales that they should all be chasing Hydra instead of taking part in some witch hunt, this would have more impact if we'd actually seen Hydra posing much of a threat lately.

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Which leads us to a third, somewhat smaller, misdirect:

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3) It looks like Gonzales is going to try and break Melinda May

At the start of the episode, the large casualties as a result of the botched mission to capture Skye have Gonzales in an especially hard-line state of mind. He wants to take down anyone with powers or any alien DNA, and keeps referring to Skye as a "thing." Plus he's paranoid that Coulson is collecting an army of superpowered people to make war on him (which, actually, is what's going to happen now, but it's Gonzales' own fault.)

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So it looks like Gonzales is going to play hardball with Melinda May, who helped Coulson escape — and at first, he does try, until the rest of his "board" outvotes him and tells him that he's going about it the wrong way.

Instead, Gonzales plays nice, even offering May a loaded gun (a family heirloom) to shoot him with, if she really sees him as a threat to SHIELD. He offers her a chance to join the board of the new SHIELD, and help shape their direction. If she really believes that Coulson is doing the right thing and Skye is harmless, maybe she can convince the others of that. We don't actually get to see what May decides, but this is clearly an attempt to co-opt or control her.

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Speaking of which, the other big storyline in this episode...

Welcome to the Tomorrow People, Skye!

Skye wakes up, somewhat pointlessly half-naked and stuck with magic acupuncture needles, and finds that she's in the mysterious Inhuman citadel known as "Afterlife," which only the teleporting eyeless guy, Gordon, can take people to or from. (And he delivers pizza.)

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Skye's guide to this awesome new place is Lincoln, who somewhat distractingly is played by Luke Mitchell from the Tomorrow People. It's only distracting because he's giving her more or less the same orientation that he gave Robbie Amell — we're different than everyone else, we have special powers, they're not a curse, we're safe here in our little sanctum, we need to stick together. Except no "three Ts," because everybody has different powers — Lincoln's involve controlling electricity.

Even though Skye kind of managed to control her powers last week, and also discovered for herself how cool they could be, she's snapped back into thinking that her powers are a curse. She keeps saying she just wants to get rid of them, which is the sort of thing that people say on television but would never say in real life. (If I could have cool earthquake powers and make water do awesome shapes, and people promised that I'd be able to control them, I would be in.)

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Skye does raise one excellent point — she met one of the Kree, the race that created these Inhuman powers in the first place, and Vin-Tak told her that these powers were designed to turn people into weapons in the Kree's ancient wars.

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We also learn that most of the people in Afterlife are waiting for their own turn to be exposed to the Terrigen mists and transition into being super-beings — and they're kind of pissed that Skye and Raina just went and got exposed to the mists the old-fashioned way, in a Kree temple with a Diviner. Also, Gordon answers to the "Elders," who make all the decisions in Afterlife. (Does that mean Black Bolt? Probably not, sadly.)

Skye gets upset when she finds out that Raina, the season-one villain who became a hedgehog, is there too. And she refuses to accept that she and Raina could have anything in common, or that it could be worthwhile to give shelter or comfort to Raina. Also there in the compound somewhere: Skye's dad, who is still crazy and tries to throw down with the teleporting Gordon. He really, really wants to see his daughter.

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But the big surprise is that Skye's mom Jiaying, who was presumed dead after she was dissected by Whitehall, is alive and well... if somewhat scarred. And she wants to train Skye in the use of her powers, without actually revealing that she's Skye's mom. That's going to turn out well, for sure.

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DISCUSSION

By
Cool_Breeze

FITZ MOTHERFUCKING SIMMONS

Welcome back. We missed you so.

This was a STRONG episode. Like, really. It had a lot – suspense (the aforementioned FitzSimmons), drama (Mack trying to be buddy buddy with Fitz, Skye), comedy (Coulson and Hunter, come on), and action (at the house Banner built). I would rank it up there with the show’s stronger episodes, like F.Z.Z.T and Turn, Turn, Turn.

Marvel is doing an awesome job giving a balanced show now days. Sure it started rocky (THANKS A LOT OBAM - I mean, Winter Soldier) but now it has everything going for it. The show isn’t JUST grit, or JUST comedy, or JUST so much angst: it’s a healthy balance. Comic book shows are allowed to have fun (I’m looking at YOU Flash!) and embrace it. I hope WB keeps the tone with the Justice Society show they’re making, and CBS doesn’t go full drama with Supergirl.

1. As I said before: FITZ MOTHERFUCKING SIMMONS. We saw a hint at the last episode when Pointier SHIELD had them holed up in the lab, and they held each other’s hands – even thought they had their falling out and differences, they still cared for each other. FizSimmons was never really going anywhere, and I’m glad they’re back.

(This IS a Whedon production so it was scary there for a while, but they were never really a couple so in hindsight they were always safe! Whedon only screws with couples. RIP WASH NEVER FORGET).

Not only are they back, but they are able to play off of each other oh so well. The figured out pretty instantly that the cube was coded to Coulson’s biometric signature, and the only way to get in would be to hack it or have Coulson open it. Pointier SHIELD was looking at it as a Tech problem, when in actuality it was a lab problem.

And then Fitz, just up and leaving, was both harsh and hilarious at the same time. Fake Director Adama tried to give Fitz the ole’ pep talk, and it backfired spectacularly. “You’re free to go…” SEE YA. Nice. Fitz knows what’s right, and everyone at Pointier SHIELD thinks he is damaged goods, even Mackingbird. They have only known him since his accident, and don’t realize he is mostly back. Hell, I don’t even think FITZ knows he’s mostly back. Not one stutter or missed word all episode. WOOOOO!

2. Simmons did one of two things with that box: She either made a Vibranium copy (well, she DID make a copy, but how exact a copy is it?) and gave Fitz the original and nothing else, or she re-coded the biometric markers to activate for Fitz, too. When Mack dropped the whole “It’s taken care of” and Fitz looked up what Simmons was doing, he instantly realized and had to go have a public falling out to get the real box out of there. That scene was brilliant.

3. Speaking of Fitz: ANOTHER brutal mic drop (Mack drop?) this episode: When Mack called him Turbo, he replied “Only my friend Mack calls me that.” DUDE. That’s three episodes in a role dude. C-C-C-C-COMBO.

The triumphant return of FitzSimmons was what I wanted to talk about first. The other thing that I absolutely need to talk about is

4. COULSON AND MOTHERFUCKING Hunter.

God damn they are a good team. Marvel: We just learned that Whedon isn’t going to include a post-post credits scene at the end of Ultron. WHEEEDOOOOOOOOOOON! (Don’t fret, there still will be a mid-credits tag, and I bet we see Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, and Black Panther. You watch).

Instead of a post-credits teaser, give us the Marvel One Shot we need, NAY, deserve: Coulson and Hunter: The Odd Couple.

What did they do between that resort and getting the Jeep? WHY DOES HUNTER CARRY WHISKEY EVERYWHERE. Couslon and his shenanigans! This One Shot would rival A Funny Thing and Agent Carter.

GET TO IT.

5. The comedy this episode was on point. Mostly, Coulson and Hunter. Coulson trying to negotiate with the dealer about the old Blazer, and Hunter just TAKING the Jeep. Priceless. Hunter being blown away about Gordon and Skye and everything that happened, “I WAS ONLY GONE A WEEK!” Priceless. “This place was built to withstand a Hulk sized force…” BAMN “…lets hope they didn’t bring him.” Priceless. The look on Hunter’s face. PRICELESS.

Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman! Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman! Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman!

The tiger has been loose for a while.

6. The 21st Century Howling Commando kit from Fitz and Tripp was AWESOME. That holographic card kit was amazing. They had a better hand, indeed. (SHIELD’s hologram technology has improved a lot since Avengers. They learned a thing or two from Loki’s ability to project himself…

7. Fun movie connection (This one had a few): That battering ram was the same type as used against Fury’s SUV in The Winter Soldier. Another fun connection: The computer system counting down the integrity of the door was the same as Fury’s SUV. Very cool.

8. Mack is still a true believer, but Mockingbird is starting to crack. Last episode, she noticed that Agent Ramses was using live rounds after she EXPLICITLY said Icers only. Again, she saw agents running around with live guns, and was NOT swayed with Fake Director Adama’s speech about that “thing” (Skye). She’s right, Skye isn’t a thing – she’s an Agent. Mockingbird is beginning to realize that Coulson was the right way to save SHIELD (per Fury’s orders to save SHIELD), and not Adama.

9. I imagine that Cal is being held in the old terrigenesis chamber, right? Lincoln lied to Skye (I called it as soon as he dodged her question about Raina and Cal being there), so that must be their holding cell of sorts. Speaking of Cal, MAN he is having a bad day. WHAT DID THOSE FURNITURE PIECES EVER DO TO YOU? Not only did he get pushed around by Gordon, but his OWN WIFE told him he couldn’t see Skye. Rough.

However, telling Gordon you didn’t see “eye to eye” was kind of a dick move, Cal.

10. So Skye’s mom is still alive. That is one good healing power. This begs the question, though: Does this mean Whitehall is potentially alive? Skye’s mom was ripped apart and came back to life T-1000/Deadpool style. Whitehall was only shot. He’s gotta be out there somewhere, right?

Why didn’t she just tell Skye that she was her mom? I have a feeling Skye realized it was her by the way she reacted to her mom’s whole “See if there is a connection” speech.

11. What is the new way to transform via terrigenesis that the new kids use? Lincoln mentioned that Skye did it old school with a Diviner in the Kree temple. Do they just have terrigenesis crystals lying around? Who is on the counsel that decides what messages get out? WHO DOES NUMBER TWO WORK FOR? So many questions.

12. Speaking of Lincoln, man he was lying down the flirt in this episode. The Sky(e)’s the limit? COME ON. First you make her feel all tingly, then drop that one on her? MANNERS, MAN. She just got here.

13. DEATHLOK! WHAAAAAAT!

His entrance was awesome, his new armor and upgrades were awesome and a definite improvement, and his ability to just download instructions on how to fly a Quinjet were spectacular.

Coulson had him working on the down low, tracking Dr. List (Von Strucker’s assistant from a few episodes back and the post-credits teaser after Winter Soldier). Apparently Dr. List is now interested in people with abilities. This begs the question: How soon after the events of The Winter Soldier did that post-credits teaser take place? Apparently Von Strucker was experimenting on people trying to give them abilities.

We have learned from various interviews that the Maximoff twins VOLUNTEERED for his program. In the Winter Solder teaser, Von Strucker showed Dr. List the twins, who had been given powers. Deathlok mentioned that Dr. List had “gained” an interest in people with abilities. Had he known about the twins already, he wouldn’t be gaining an interest, he’d be Hydra deep in people with abilities.

I think the post-credits teaser happens after this episode, and closer to the events of Ultron than the end of Winter Soldier. Maybe all the commotion behind Von Strucker is the soldiers getting ready for the impending Avengers invasion that happens early in Age of Ultron?

14. Lets talk about May. Fake Director Adama called her the Cavalry, and he didn’t need another cane. I would ask what happened in Bahrain, but it looks like we are going to find out next week. So I’ll wait until then.

However, I think we just saw May pull a Carol (from The Walking Dead) on Adama. He slid the gun to her and she picked it up, and then slid it back, saying that he wouldn’t be stupid enough to give her a loaded gun. He then unloaded the gun. Like Carol, she was playing dumb to build Adama’s confidence. He thought he was playing her, but she was playing him. She’s May, for God’s sake. She knows what a loaded gun feels like. She is going to play it cool until the chance arrives, and then Pointier SHIELD is going to regret keeping her around.