Welcome back, true believers! In our last episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Coulson and company discovered a voice in the darkness who knew about their arrival in this new dystopian future. Simmons discovered the secrets of the “Inhuman ceremonies” wherein a battle to the death was fought with the winner being sold to the highest bidder. Kasius continued his pious shenanigans of Kree evil while Deke sprung a trap on Daisy to deliver her directly into the hands of the awaiting aliens. With the ride into the future continuing to be a nightmare, is there any hope of the remnants of S.H.I.E.L.D. to find their way home? Well that isn’t necessarily answered this episode, but there’s still some pleasant reveals along the way.
To start off, Kasius is an odd duck of a villain. I find him somewhat similar to Ronan the Accuser, not simply because they both share the same race, but simply because they both are something of a blank slate. There are bits and pieces to the Kree’s character that I wish they would delve into further than they have at present, little nods that revealed some deeper meaning. When people look at the Marvel Cinematic Universe and wonder why it can sometimes be too “jokey”, I think that at a certain point, adding some levity to a character who is ultimately a foil is the right decision as it will leave a strong impression on the audience. For example, Malekith the Dark Elf was about as somber and serious as you could get, but would you rather have him as a villain or Jeff Goldblum’s madcap dictator, the Grandmaster, from Thor Ragnarok? This is the case with Kasius as he hardly holds a candle to some of the villains that we’ve seen specifically in Agents’ past. We got to know the witty, double agent in Ward, we could somewhat relate to Aida’ isolation and feelings of being an outsider with her robotic background, and who can forget Bill Paxton’s hilarious portrayal of John Garrett in the first season? Such is not the case with Kasius who simply exists and I wish that would change as the fifth season moved forward.
This episode focuses on Quake coming to terms with being a prisoner of the Kree, discovering that the ceremonies are indeed simply one on one brawls between Inhuman candidates. Daisy’s discovering the secrets of the ceremony felt a little redundant here as that big reveal was given to Jemma last week. Along her travels, she does however come into contact with a new Inhuman named Ben who has the ability to read others’ thoughts, along with being able to kick some butt on occasion though this may not be Inhuman related. Ben lays down the law with Quake though again, this is a bit repetitive and doesn’t feel like we’re making any new headway. Aside from the tour, the best scenes involving Daisy was the clever interrogation between Jemma and herself where Ben was feeding similar stories to share with Kasius via telepathy.
The real meat of the episode came from Mack and Yo Yo, delivering an emotional gut punch as they had to continue roles as servants to Grill, the junk lord of the future dystopia. Considering season five takes place simply a few days following the gang’s adventure into the Framework, it’s a welcome site to see the ramifications of that still affecting the characters. Within the Framework, Mack still had his daughter and is having trouble acclimating back into the real world, especially since the real world is now run by future aliens. Making the situation worse, Mack is designated by Grill to collect on a fee owed to him by a down on his luck citizen who is simply looking to escape the current world with his wife and child. Needless to say, Mack doesn’t realize who exactly he’s threatening and completely loses it when said victim tells our tallest agent that he should never be a parent himself. Even though the family is saved by the actions of Coulson ultimately, Mack is still shaken, especially when Grill heartily congratulates him for the work he did. Since his debut, Mack has managed to become the heart and soul of the team, and this episode really helps hammer that home.
Coulson and May meanwhile have discovered a new aspect of this “brave new world” that they hadn’t known before: humanity is no longer allowed to breed. Specifically, the Kree have taken away their underlings’ right to procreate, attempting to create new Inhuman rather than the “older models”. This of course is revealed in part as Coulson discovers that Deke, Z-List Starlord, sold out Daisy for a quick buck. With the reveal of his “origin”, which may or may not be true, Deke is pushed even further into being a dark version of Peter Quill though he’s certainly lacking in the charm department. While this genetic breeding plotline certainly adds a new wrinkle to hor dire the situation is for the team, it doesn’t help the setting from feeling a bit too claustrophobic for its own good. Dark hallways and small lighted rooms seem to be the soup of the day and it takes away something from the overall storytelling. Things can be dark while still seeming grandiose when all is said and done. The final stinger of the episode, that Fitz is alive in the future apparently, was certainly a nice touch on the finale.
Ultimately, episode four of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fifth season is a bit lacking aside from some worthwhile character beats. This season needs a real shot in the arm to get things moving.
Grade: ★★ – Fair
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– So what could be that shot in the arm that this season needs? An Avenger. Listen, the team is in a post apocalyptic future that is not going to happen when all is said and done, so why not take some big risks? Have an older Thor show up by simply casting an older gent who looks somewhat like Chris Hemsworth. Have the son or daughter of Captain America make an appearance holding their father’s shield. This is really a good time for the show to start taking some liberties with the timeline/alternate reality landscape.
– Guesses on who future Fitz may be? A descendant of his? Fitz journeyed from the past to help his teammates? A doppelganger?
– Not quite sure if Ben is supposed to be an Inhuman from the comics. My ridiculously high knowledge of all things comic book has a dark spot when it comes to the Inhumans.
– Coulson: “A little slang I picked up here, it means…”
May: “Coulson. I get crusher.”
– Grill: “Cause you’re bigger. Makes it funnier.”
– Deke: “She seems nice.”
– Mack: “I was raised to do unto others as they would do unto you.”
Yo Yo: “Yeah, you were raised in the suburbs.”
– Deke: “People don’t get pregnant anymore.”
– Deke: “Ok. Ow.”
– Coulson: “No, this is the part where May breaks your face!”
– Deke: “Oh ok, we’re fighting!”