After last week’s pretty momentous episode, I suppose it was inevitable that ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ would need to slow down a step. You can’t have a game-changer every week, right?
Shangri-La La La
After having been teleported away from the scary S.H.I.E.L.D. agents by Gordon, the no-eyes guy, Skye wakes up half-naked on a table with a bunch of magic acupuncture needles stuck all over her body. That’s kinda creepy. Who undressed her?
A handsome studmuffin introduces himself as Lincoln, her “transitioner” who will help her to discover and adapt to her new post-transformation life. Skye still seems to think she can get rid of these new powers she’s acquired, and is very disappointed to learn that they’re permanent.
When Skye asks where they are, Lincoln admits that he doesn’t know. They’re in what seems to be a small, tranquil Asian village in the mountains (presumably the Himalayas), but only Gordon knows for sure exactly where they are, and only Gordon can enter or leave. Lincoln describes the village, which has a Chinese name that roughly translates as “Afterlife” (also the episode title) as a way-station for the chosen special people as they either wait to be transformed by the Terrigen Mist or have just undergone the transformation. Lincoln’s own power is the ability to control electricity. He also tells Skye that she makes everyone else in the village nervous, because she essentially “jumped the line” and was transformed the old-fashioned way with a Diviner, rather than the normal ritualistic process. They fear that she will bring attention to them, when they’d prefer to remain hidden.
Skye asks Gordon to deliver a message to her friends, but he says that he needs to ask permission from the Elders and that it isn’t likely. Skye gets furious when she realizes that Raina is also in the village. Suddenly, her mother Jiaying (Dichen Lachman) arrives. Of course, Skye doesn’t know who she is. The last we saw her, she’d been chopped into tiny pieces by Whitehall, but I guess her power allows her to recover from anything. (A few discrete scars on her face are the only sign that her entire body had been dismembered.) Jiaying insists that Raina deserves protection and the right to discover her new form just as much as Skye does. When Skye asks to leave, her mother offers to train her how to use her powers if she’ll stay.
As all this is happening, Skye’s daddy Cal remains locked in a windowless room. He grows more and more furious that he can’t see his daughter. Eventually, Gordon brings Jiaying to him. She thanks him for finding their daughter, but still won’t let him see Skye.
The Cabin in the Woods
Coulson and Lance are now rogue agents. They steal a Jeep from a used car dealer (kind of a dick move) and drive to the cabin to search for Skye, but only find the aftermath of her telekinetic event. S.H.I.E.L.D. (the new S.H.I.E.L.D.) has cleared out, but Coulson intentionally trips an alarm to bring them back. He tells Lance that they just need to hold down the fort for a little bit until “reinforcements” arrive.
When Lance grabs an assault rifle, Coulson insists that they only use icers, because these are innocent S.H.I.E.L.D. agents just following orders.
A S.H.I.E.L.D. team eventually busts down the cabin door to find Coulson and Lance playing cards. Oh, wait, they’re holograms! The real Coulson and Lance ice them from behind. Stupid S.H.I.E.L.D.ies…
Coulson and Lance put on the S.H.I.E.L.D. uniforms and trek back to the quinjet in disguise but are quickly discovered. A second, cloaked quinjet full of more agents unveils itself. Coulson seems unperturbed by this. As they’re captured, Coulson’s “reinforcement” (singular) arrives. It’s Deathlok, in full cheezeball Laser Tag regalia. I was kind of hoping we’d seen the last of him. Oh well.
Deathlok straight-up murders an entire plane full of those innocent S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that Coulson didn’t want harmed, yet Coulson is strangely OK with this. They commandeer the remaining quinjet and Coulson announces that their best course of action now will be to find the traitor Ward for some reason.
Meanwhile, at S.H.I.E.L.D.
Commander Gonzales insists that S.H.I.E.L.D. is still S.H.I.E.L.D. and has just had a change in leadership. He tries to woo Coulson’s people to join his team. May and Fitz don’t have much interest, but Simmons agrees to help unlock Fury’s Toolbox thingie.
Gonzales offers May a seat on his Board, explaining that he’s a reasonable man who values differing opinions, and that Coulson will need an advocate once they capture him. Fitz is still not having any of this, and resigns. Gonzales lets him go.
At episode end, Simmons announces that she can’t get the Toolbox open after all. However, we soon discover that’s because she swapped it out for a fake and gave the real one to Fitz, along with one of those prosciutto sandwiches of hers that he likes so much. Aww… Season 1 callback!
This isn’t a terribly exciting episode, and some of the plot twists (the hologram fake-out, the Toolbox switcheroo, etc.) are very predictable. No big revelations are discovered here. It’s more about moving the storylines incrementally forward and shifting the pieces around for the inevitable season finale. In other words, it feels like a filler ep. As far as that goes, it could be worse, but it isn’t very memorable.