We just survived the emotional 100th episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to jump straight into the next chapter of the current season. It seems that the dimensional rift is still acting up and the team needs to get their hands on more Gravitonium to finally seal it up before more fear entities break out. Tension also rises between Fitz and Deke, as their hidden connection might finally be revealed. In an action-packed episode, we get a lot of interesting reveals, hints and some more tie-ins to past seasons. The return of a familiar face also brings some foreboding hints at an ever-growing threat.
At the beginning of the episode, we saw the surprising return of Wolfgang van Strucker (Spencer Treat Clark), who seems to have gained a new ability. After being catatonic thanks to Ward’s torture and the events involving Lash, the agents used him on the memory device to get information out of his head. The result gave him the ability to remember every single little detail that has happened in his life. As such, General Hale has found interest in him joining her team, most likely in a leading position, to help bring a band of misfit supers together. It is a B-plot that does not have a direct tie to the S.H.I.E.L.D.’s adventure of this episode but helps build on the tease of a supervillain team being formed. The big reveal of this arc was that Ruby had an end goal to overthrow Hale and is using Strucker to reach that goal.
The true meat of the story was finally seeing the return of the first seasons’ Gravitonium storyline. We got a lot of revelations on the story behind Ian Quinn, especially with the reveal that he had Cybertek researchers working on it but they started to drop dead one after another. This leads them to a man named Tony Caine (Jake Busey) who turns out to be an old acquaintance of Mack. It is always great to see a show bring in a new character that has a connection with one of our agents, as it fleshes out the history of both of them. Busey also was a great addition to the team, especially with his reactions towards the oddities that the agents face. The enthusiasm he showed watching everything that is going on made me wish he stayed a bit longer but there seems to hint at him having a larger role in future seasons.
In a surprising twist, they do find Gravitonium that is keeping an entire tanker in the air but it seems Hale was one step ahead of them. They get ambushed by more of the LMD soldiers that give us a nice actions sequence in an otherwise rather quiet episode. It was great that it took its time after the fast pace builds up towards the 100th episode that also helps bridge into the last arc of the season. In addition, we also get a nice moment that shows how much Mack as a character has changed. We have met people from his past before but this was the first time we learn about his once pacifist nature only to highlight how much he has changed.
Speaking of Mack, the saddest storyline was seeing Yo-Yo fight with her lack of arms. The way Coulson tried to connect with her was a nice touch and Natalia Cordova-Buckley gave an incredible performance, really selling the despair of phantom pain. Seeing her make a joke about her condition at the end was a nice way to show how she is trying to handle it. Moreover, Mack goes out of his way to find some arms so that Fitz can finally build the arms she needs. She has gone through a lot this season and we might get a rematch with Ruby later down as they fight to save the planet.
The last major plotline was the build-up of Deke finding out his own heritage. The nightmare or fear dimension has become quite a practical way to bring in old characters and get some character insights. Deke is faced with his mother to remember a line she learned from her mother and conveniently Simmons used that line after helping Yo-Yo get into her bed. It was a bit convenient but made sense given the involvement of people’s biggest fears becoming reality, especially how tragic it was that he had to see his mother killed by a Kree. We also got a lot of similarities between Fitz and Deke but also Fitz treating him like an annoying child.
3.5 MC Hammer references out of 5. It was a very light-hearted episode with some dark moments splashed throughout. Yo-Yo’s fight with coming to terms was an incredible performance and the callbacks to previous seasons were a great addition. Still, the episode focuses more on building up plotlines for later episodes as both main storylines felt a bit disconnected.
- I hope that the team continues calling Mack “Mackhammer” from now on. Also, the “Can’t touch this” joke was just hilarious, especially because it felt so much like a classic Coulson line.
- The return of the Ian Quinn storyline was my biggest wish for this season and SHIELD is finally building up to Graviton making his appearance. The post-credit stinger was quite an evil twist as it seemed like they would reveal Dr. Franklin Hall but it was Creel. It was a nice callback to him being created by Strucker but still such an evil tease.
- Deke saying “Grandpa” was quite a nice character moment. He is a con artist but also very honest towards people he trusts so they might find out sooner rather than later. There was also a nice moment of both Fitz and Deke placing their hands on their backs the same way.