Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.16: "Afterlife"

“I lost her.”

“Afterlife” saw our S.H.I.E.L.D. friends choosing sides in the fight between Team Coulson and the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. We also learned more about Skye’s abilities and the Inhumans in general. I don’t think this will go down as one of my favorite episodes of television ever, but it was an interesting enough way to spend an hour. I’m expecting the last few episodes of the season to really wow me, though. You hear that, Jed and Mo?! I also appreciated the FitzSimmons developments in this episode, although I am sad that while they are becoming closer together emotionally again, they are going to be more separated by distance. What can I say? Sad FitzSimmons makes me sad! As always. Mostly I’m just ready for cranky Gonzales and his team to go home. I was intrigued by the concept of the “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. at first, but now I pretty much just think Gonzales is a paranoid jerk.

When we first see Skye, she’s lying on a table with what look like electrified acupuncture needles throughout her body. She wakes up, and she is understandably upset by her situation. She is wherever Gordon took her when she asked for his help in the previous episode. She is greeted by her “transitioner,” Lincoln. Her job, as you can probably guess from the title, is to help Skye with her transition into full Inhuman life. He’s going to evaluate her powers and set her on the path of being able to control them. He says that where they are is a sort of waystation or refuge for Inhumans, and they call it Afterlife. Once Skye has healed a bit more (that’s what the acupuncture needles were for), she and Lincoln go for a walk around the main village in Afterlife. Everyone stares at Skye, and Lincoln explains that she is one of only a few who have gotten to transition. Most of the folks in Afterlife are going through rigorous training and evaluation, and even then they may not be able to transition. She is also the only person in many years who has transitioned using the old school method of a diviner.

I never realized before the end of the previous episode how fun Coulson and Hunter could be together, but the fun definitely continues in “Afterlife.” Their first task this week is to obtain a car. Coulson is negotiating with the salesman for a practical used SUV, but Hunter rolls up in something a bit flashier, and they steal that car. Eventually, Hunter and Coulson arrive at a safe house, and they are able to see video of what happened to Skye at the Retreat. Coulson is devastated when he sees Gordon take her away, because he has no hope of finding her. Later in the evening, Coulson and Hunter have a strategy session. They try to go through their options for taking down Gonzales and his crew of “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but they are at a loss for ideas. They come to the conclusion that there are no good options, but they’re going to have to try to do something anyway.

At Team Coulson HQ, Gonzales tries to recruit Fitz to help open Fury’s toy box (which, you’ll recall, Gonzales thinks contains information on all the scary stuff that could destroy humanity). Fitz remains loyal to Coulson, and he refuses to help Gonzales. It really struck me in that particular scene how super paranoid and annoying Gonzales is. I love Captain Adama and all, but Gonzales just isn’t doing it for me. Gonzales next interrogates May, but she refuses to say anything about Coulson or his plans. Gonzales wants to know where Coulson is, but May says he doesn’t need to know. Coulson will come to him when he is ready. Since Fitz isn’t helping, Bobby tries to get information on the toy box out of Simmons. Simmons seems to be playing along, genuinely concerned about the alien influence on S.H.I.E.L.D., and she tells Bobbi that the solution is “a lab solution, not a tech solution.” She starts running experiments on the box in her lab.

When Hunter wakes up, he is pretty freaked out to find that Coulson has decided on a “bad option” course of action. He has called up “real” S.H.I.E.L.D. and offered to have a meeting. We learn that Coulson has an ulterior motive, though. He wants to steal their quinjet. Coulson and Hunter are still in the safe house, but the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have a battering ram and are trying to use it to bust down the door. Coulson estimates they have only an hour to plan their strategy before the battering ram eventually breaks through. Coulson’s got a bag of all sorts of special gadgets, including some playing cards that seem to project holographic images of Hunter and Coulson when the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents finally break in. Hunter and Coulson head for the quinjet in S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms, but they are quickly discovered, and they are outnumbered when some cloaked quinjets appear. Deathlock, however, is apparently now working for Coulson, and he saves the day and helps them capture the quinjet for real.

Back at Team Coulson HQ, Mack tells Fitz that Simmons is helping crack the toy box. Fitz gets on his computer to confirm this, and he seems to be very upset at what he finds. Fitz confronts Simmons about his feelings of betrayal, and they end up getting in a huge argument. Fitz has been cleared to leave S.H.I.E.L.D., and Simmons tells him that if he doesn’t want to be loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D. as an entity over Coulson, maybe it’s time for him to go. Fitz agrees. As you might expect, though, all is not as it seems. By the end of the episode, we see Simmons tell Gonzales and company that the toy box can’t be cracked and is useless. At the same time, Fitz in is a cab. We see him open up his bag, in which is the real toy box. Also in his bag is his favorite prosciutto and mozzarella with pesto aioli sandwich (which sounds delicious, by the way), made for him by Simmons of course. It’s so nice to see them working well together again!

In Afterlife, Lincoln takes Skye to a remote hill that is safely far away from the village. He wants her to demonstrate her power so he can see what he’s working with. Skye freaks out, so Lincoln ends up showing her his power instead. He can manipulate electricity, and he uses it to make Skye hover briefly above the ground. Back in the village, Skye and Lincoln talk to Gordon, and Skye asks if he can get a message to her friends so that they will know she is okay. Gordon says he can’t make any guarantees, but he will ask the elders for permission. He’s not especially optimistic. Skye also asks about what is behind a particular door in the village, and she is told it’s an unused transition room. There are many secrets in Afterlife, though. Cal is in one of the buildings there, and Gordon pays him a visit. He tells Cal that he (Cal) has risked all their lives, and he has sealed his and Skye’s fate. It almost sounds like Gordon wants to kill Skye at this point.

In talking with Skye, Lincoln slips up in something he says and Skye realizes that Raina is at Afterlife, too. She uses her quake powers to open the door to the “unusued” room, and Raina is indeed there. Skye attacks Raina for all the trouble she caused, and she almost kills her. The only thing that stops Skye is the sudden appearance of Jiaying, Skye’s mother (although Skye doesn’t know that). She offers to take Skye on as her trainee personally. Skye’s going to take some time to think about it. Jiaying then pays a visit to Cal and acknowledges that yes, Skye is definitely their daughter. I am wondering how the heck Jiaying is still alive. I definitely hope we get more of an explanation in the next few episodes!

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