Last week on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., we finally got to see a confrontation between Coulson’s crew and the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. and even a stare-down between the respective leaders of the different sides of this organization. This led to Coulson being forced to flee and his eventual team-up with his last free ally, Hunter. Skye became a target of the S.H.I.E.L.D.-on-S.H.I.E.L.D. madness as well, resulting in her blowing shit up with her super powers and calling on the blind teleporter guy, Gordon, to come take her away. This week with ‘Afterlife‘, we get more on what happened to Skye and a look at what the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s are doing in their struggle against one another.
We begin with Coulson and Hunter stealing a car. They’re on the hunt for Skye, so it’s back to the safe house that was the last place she was seen. They find some video footage and discover that her powers went wacko. They also see Gordon teleporting her away in the nick of time. With little to do but drink and play cards, Coulson decides to let the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. know where he is. The goal of such a rash move? To lure them in, defeat them and eventually steal a jet. It looks grim at first, but with a little help from Mike Peterson (AKA Deathlok), they manage to pull it off. So off they go to find Skye. Unfortunately, their best lead appears to be former-Agent Ward.
As for the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D., we enter into their world via an argument between Bobbi and Edward James Olmos (his character’s name is Gonzales, but I shall continue to us his real name because he’s awesome). Olmos is very anti-super power but Bobbi is defending Skye and her “outburst” during the capture attempt.
Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.0 is also still trying to break into Fury’s toolbox. The best bet in that regard is either Fitz or Simmons (or both). Unfortunately, they don’t really want to cooperate. Both quit, though Simmons does end up sticking around. But… what’s that? Oh shit, it’s a ruse. Simmons uses her spy skills to let Fitz know what’s really going on and when he leaves, he just happens to have the toolbox in tow.
And when Olmos finally gets crazy with frustration over the constant failed attempts to bring Coulson in, he turns to May. May wants nothing to do with the man, naturally. But when he offers her a loaded gun and the chance to off him if she’d like, it sways her a bit. Furthermore, Olmos adds even more to the pot when he tells May that she can become a member of the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D.’s voting board.
So what’s been happening with Skye all this time? She’s been whisked away to a city in the mountains of China. Or at least that’s where she thinks it is. No one there seems to actually know where they are. It’s Gordon’s safe house, so to speak, and there are people there that are willing and able to show Skye how to control her rampaging powers. It also happens that Skye is one of the only people to have powers who didn’t go through some sort of ritualized undertaking. There’s a whole tradition in place, but she just skipped the basics. Even her new guide, Lincoln, proves to have a super power – electrical control. And he was born and trained at the mountain retreat. Which means he knows what he’s doing.
The mountain city has a few secrets, however. Raina is there, of course. As is Skye’s dad, but he isn’t exactly well-loved so he’s been locked up in a cage without any doors. Also, Skye’s mother happens to be alive. When she has a chat with Skye, the daughter does not recognize her, of course, but that’s a secret that can’t last forever.
This episode was mostly a transitional one. We got to see the steps the two S.H.I.E.L.D.s are taking against each other. We were introduced to some of the folks that run Skye’s hideaway. Some new characters showed up and some old ones returned to help out. It wasn’t a major barn-burner of an episode, but it was a necessary link in the chain.
And that is primarily what I liked about ‘Afterlife’. Too often, writers will try to make every single episode bigger and better than the ones before it. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. suffered from this problem as well, though they seem to have outgrown it. Since the beginning of the second half of season 2, the writers appear to be taking their time and concentrating on pacing more. So we might not end up with explosions and super-battles every week, but we do end up with a much more cohesive story.
I also very much enjoy the way the show is choosing to use Fitz and Simmons in recent episodes. They’ve become the two-person spy team amongst the spies and nobody ever seems to suspect. The brains behind the two are finally getting a chance to shine instead of just being used as some sort of techno-comic-relief as was the case throughout the majority of the first season.
The one thing I am having difficulties understanding is – Why doesn’t anyone seem to think that the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. and Eddie Olmos are all just HYDRA in disguise? If they’ve addressed that subject at all, they’ve done it so quietly that I can’t remember. But it seems to me as if the characters, particularly after dealing with the whole Ward thing in season 1, would think “HYRDA!” before all else. They’ve tried to explain that away with Olmos’ amazing record for loyalty and his stellar reputation, but if I were being attacked by a rival version of S.H.I.E.L.D., I’d immediately assume they were HYDRA, or at least HYDRA-led.
Next week, ‘Melinda‘ is a May-centric episode that finally promises to reveal her much hinted at back-story. Also, there’s some stuff with Skye’s training in there, but we’re all probably going to be watching mainly because of May’s story. Here’s a trailer to whet your appetite a bit.