Review: Marvel's Agents of SHIELD 2.16 - Afterlife

Damn, I thought this was another solid outing by Agents of SHIELD.  Not as action packed as the previous episodes but we were starting to get story constipation and we desperately needed an exposition dump and what a dump this was!  A lot has been happening since the season return and we haven’t really stopped to breathe since.  Last week there was a fair bit of exposition but it was exposition couched in action this episode dropped the pace down a bit and tried to tell the whole story rather than just focusing on one bit.  Here we finally get answers about Skye, Real SHIELD, the Inhumans, what happened to Raina and what happened to Mr. Hyde (Cal, Skye’s father, I prefer to call him by his comic name) and hints as to what’s to come in the final three episodes. I have to say that I’m not really a fan of Real SHIELD or Edward James Olmos’ Robert Gonzales.  It has been a pretty weak big bad for the second half of the season.  They really should have extended Whitehall and HYDRA as the big bads throughout the season and tease the total end of HYDRA before bringing them back in either movie or TV show form later.  HYDRA is just one of those insidious organizations that you can tease eliminating and then bring it back and it would feel appropriate.  But HYDRA was dropped like a hot potato and we got Real SHIELD which just hasn’t done much for me other than piss me off and make me dislike everyone involved.

My opinion of Mockingbird and Mack have dropped considerably, but they are teasing a face turn for Mockingbird which makes me very happy because Mockingbird has been fantastic this entire season.  She has probably been the best addition to the team since Tripp, rest his soul, and I hope she sticks around for the long term.  Of course it’s Joss Whedon so we’re pretty much guaranteed to have a main/supporting cast death in the finale and I’m worried it will be her.  I’m hoping it will be Gonzales and my gut tells me it will be Gonzales because it’s a big name actor and they’re trying very hard to get us to like him in the short time he’s been around.

In this episode he had a few moments with May and they are really pushing his sense of ‘honor’.  But I have to ask where his honor was when he sent people to kill an unarmed, recovering woman.  Or when they gassed their own people.  Or when they subverted their own organization instead of extending an olive branch.  They just burst in there with the intention of stealing people and tech and weakening an already ailing SHIELD.  It makes me so angry but it’s good heat, it’s not go-away heat from me yet.  It makes me angry but it makes angry in that way where I want to see what happens next.  I want to see Real SHIELD go down and I’ll be so happy when it does.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD 2.16 - Afterlife 2This week had another huge secret cameo.  I don’t know if maybe they’re spoiling these things in the previews but since Hulu doesn’t have previews for the next week I’ve had several very pleasant surprises this season.  The first was the return of Sif who I was happy to see, but that episode didn’t top her appearance from the first season.  That’s forgivable though because they didn’t have a Thor movie driving Asgardian interest.  I, personally, hope that Sif comes back every season; that would be a fun little event to look forward to every year.  This week was the return of Deathlok who looked ripped-diesel and hard as hell in his much welcomed comeback.  When Coulson teased ‘back-up’ I started marking out.  They couldn’t have meant Downey Jr. that’s a name that’s a bit too big but I thought maybe Renner could show up as Hawkeye.  Pretty much all the big name Avengers have expressed interest in showing up on SHIELD so nothing is impossible I suppose but I was ‘hopefully optimistic’.  It turned out to be Deathlok, who I kind of forgot about honestly and it was quite an arrival pulling open the bay of a Quinjet, then disabling a second Quinjet and finally taking out about dozen guys in the process.  With a heavy hitter like that on their side Coulson and Hunter might have a chance getting their SHIELD back.

Unfortunately the weakest part of this episode was Skye’s part but it was also the part that shed the most light on the Inhumans.  They still refuse to use the word Inhuman, which is frustrating.  Just say the damn word already!  They beat around the bush and use every word and description other than Inhuman, including dictionary definitions of the word ‘Inhuman’ even when the word ‘Inhuman’ would work better.  Just pull the Band-Aid off already.  Reveal the Inhumans even if it’s not the royal family (Black Bolt, Medusa, Crystal, Triton, Lockjaw, Gorgon, Karnak).  I understand you may not have your big name Marquee characters for the Inhuman movie but you could find a Crystal or a Karnak or even a Gorgon, the equivalent of Sif, someone that could do both movies and TV.  Then people can get used to them and you elevate them putting them in a main television spot ready to be in a supporting movie slot.  I just think if you want people to care about obscure characters like the Inhumans you might want to start pushing them now.  Sorry about all the wrestling terms, I’ve been watching A LOT of NXT lately, so that’s where my head is at as I write this.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD 2.16 - Afterlife 1My point is it would be cool to reveal a Karnak who could show up, his powers are cool but cheap to film (simply put: he’s a super fighter, Iron Fist without the chi) it would be a good build up to the movie and start building the incredibly complex concept behind the Inhumans.  Maybe they’ve simplified the Inhumans since last I paid attention but, man, if you think the X-Men are convoluted and confusing they’ve got nothing on the Inhumans.  The Inhumans are the Wu-Tang clan of comics, there’s a hundred of them, they all get track time, they all have backstories and they all got gimmicks.  If you want us to care about your Method Man (Blackbolt) you need to introduce us to your Rae-Kwon the Chef (Gorgon).  KILLER BEE’S MOTHER FUCKER!  You got to make us care and show us that the Inhumans ain’t nothing to fuck with.

It was a good episode that had me excited throughout.  Whether it was Fitz/Simmons teased fallout (I so want to make a Fitz Special sandwich, it sounds delicious) or Coulson’s modern Howlin’ Commando kit with its holographic card game.  Real SHIELD breaking into Bruce Banner’s cabin or Raina’s sexy porcupine lady (don't judge me, I saw Clive Barkers 'Nightbreed' at a young age and it gave me a sexy porcupine lady fetish) or even Gordon who I’m slowly starting to really like for reasons unknown to me.  They have also been really pushing Bahrain which makes me think they’ll finally tell us that story, which has me really excited.  The bottom line is I can’t really tell you if this episode stands on its own very well but I think it feeds the series very well.  If you haven’t been watching SHIELD then I don’t think this episode has much for you but it’s definitely part of the reason you should be watching the whole series.

Score: 4/5

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD 2.16 - Afterlife New episodes of Marvel’s Agents of Shield – Tuesdays 9/8C