In addition to all the space travel, it looks like the big theme on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season is going to be alternate dimensions. I’ll give the show some credit; those are pretty ambitious sci-fi concepts for a series that’s very long in the tooth and has struggled with ratings for quite some time.
This week’s episode opens with the Coulson doppelganger known as Sarge holding up a convenience store in Cincinnati. He makes reference to coming from another world that has different forms of currency and more advanced weapons than the primitive combustion-based projectiles ours uses. He steals a bunch of stuff, including sunglasses that he can put on in slow-motion to re-enact the beginning of Terminator 2, and then hops in a semi truck that turns invisible.
On board the truck, we’re formally introduced to the other members of his squad. Burly Jaco (Winston James Francis) is the muscle. Snowflake (Brooke Williams from the 12 Monkeys TV spinoff) is a psycho who believes that by killing people she’s freeing them to be reincarnated. Pax (Matt O’Leary) is a worrywart who has doubts about their mission. It’s not clear what that mission is, but apparently it will end with the destruction of the Earth, which disappoints Pax because he kind of likes the place so far and wouldn’t mind staying. We also learn that the group is low on something called “P.E.G.s” that are important.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Mack decides to keep info about the Coulson lookalike under wraps from most of the team. Dr. Benson analyzes a DNA sample that Sarge left at the convenience store crime scene and determines that it’s a 100% match for Phil Coulson. In reviewing the S.H.I.E.L.D. files about Coulson, he doesn’t like a lot of the shady business the organization has been involved with over the years.
Sarge, Butterfly, and Pax next rob a high-end jewelry store, demanding to see the “good stuff” in the vault. However, they aren’t interested in the diamonds or other expensive baubles. What they want are piezoelectric gems (the P.E.G.s), which they can use as an energy source. Confused, the shopgirl hands over some crappy-looking crystals. Sarge sprays fancy paint on a wall in the vault, which magically opens a portal directly into their truck. He walks through and joins Jaco on the other side.
May and Yo-Yo lead a S.H.I.E.L.D. team to the jeweler and peer into the locked vault with heat sensors. They’re puzzled to count one less person than went in, and to see another of the bodies inside step into the wall and disappear. While Yo-Yo and the others begin work cutting open the vault door, May leaves and tracks the invisible truck to a junkyard. She enters and fights with Pax and Jaco. (Sarge stepped outside to test the gems in a big energy rifle.) May briefly locks Butterfly in the vault by moving the portal, but Jaco reopens the portal on the floor of the truck. Butterfly comes through and tosses May into the hole. May lands back in the vault just as her team cut through and are perplexed to find her in there. Sarge’s crew close the portal and escape.
After they return to base, Dr. Benson tells the team that he discovered a video file on the body of the guy who got stuck in the wall last week. They play it and see footage of what looks like Sarge and his squad destroying another Earth-like world.
Where No One Can Hear You Scream
Out in the far reaches of space, Fitz is working as a maintenance engineer on board a pirate vessel. He uses a doodad to alter the appearance of his eyes and has learned an alien language so that he can pretend to be from another planet. Enoch, meanwhile, is being held as a prisoner. Fitz’s ruse fails when he doesn’t find some space slugs as appetizing as someone from his planet ought to. Meanypants Capt. Viro (Paul Telfer from Days of Our Lives) threatens to toss both Fitz and Enoch out an airlock until Fitz argues that they’re better engineers than anyone else on the crew and promises to work for free.
Viro thinks this is such a great deal that he lets Fitz and Enoch live, then rounds up the rest of his useless engineering staff and puts them in the airlock instead. That isn’t exactly what Fitz had in mind. He tries to save the crew by getting in the airlock with them, which would leave the ship with no engineers, but Viro has already made up his mind and won’t appear weak. He calls Fitz’s bluff and closes the airlock door on the whole lot of them. Fortunately, Fitz is a fan of Superman II and had already tampered with the ship’s controls. When Viro pushes the button, another door opens and the captain gets sucked into space himself while everyone inside the airlock remain safe.
Sadly, this little mutiny won’t go over well on the planet that Fitz and Enoch intended to go to (the one that manufactured the cryo chamber). Rather than allow the crew to be executed there, Fitz alters course to make a side-trip and drop them off on a safer planet. Not expecting to find Jemma for another 75 years in the future anyway, he reasons that he has plenty of time to take a detour now. What he doesn’t know is that Jemma and Daisy are not far behind him. They arrive at the original planet just after Fitz leaves, crossing paths without any of them knowing it.
This is a pretty solid episode, all things considered. I’m interested to find out who Sarge is and what he’s really up to. (Something tells me that he’s not necessarily responsible for destroying the worlds he visits, and has been hopping from world to world outrunning something after him.) The topsy-turvy, physics-defying fight in the truck is inventive. Even the Fitz stuff is reasonably interesting.
The season is kind of off to a decent start, certainly better than last year’s. Of course, I’ve felt that way before, only for the show to fall apart later. Let’s see how long we can go before the drudgery sets in.