A lot of familiar faces returned to the screen on Tuesday night’s Agents of SHIELD, including old allies, enemies and an unexpected resurrection.
“Afterlife” was a terrific follow-up to last week’s game-changing episode. Marvel’s trademark has always been its ability to balance emotion and action with a necessary splash of humour, which Agents of SHIELD has in spades. Another Marvel staple that really came into play this episode? Plot twists. Between the return of Deathlok and the mystifying resurrection of Skye’s mother, Jiaying, Agents of SHIELD certainly left our heads spinning.
After being whisked away by Gordon, Skye found herself in a place called Afterlife, a place for people who have either gone through Terragenesis or are being prepped for the chance to do it. We were finally introduced to a new Inhuman named Lincoln, played by The Tomorrow People‘s Luke Mitchell. While Lincoln became a fast friend, Skye knew when she was being lied to. She quickly discovered that Raina was also being kept there, causing her to lash out at Raina, blaming her for Trip’s death.
In the midst of her angry outburst, she was interrupted by a very much alive Jiaying. It’ll be very interesting to find out why and how she’s still alive, considering Cal told Skye that she was completely dissected by Whitehall so he could harvest her organs to obtain immorality. Speaking of Cal, he’s already aware that his wife is still alive, asking for permission to see his Daisy for himself. I have to assume he found out about her recently, otherwise his revenge mission against Whitehall was entirely pointless.
I’m eager to see how Skye and Jiaying’s relationship grows in the next couple of episodes, depending on when she drops the mother bombshell on Skye. Considering how secretive they’ve been up to this point, it’s hard to really trust the Inhumans. Still, a mother-daughter reunion is something we’ve been hoping for Skye since day one, so it’s hard not to get a little excited at the prospect of Skye actually bonding with a parent.
On the SHIELD civil war front, Coulson and Hunter became the dynamic duo we never knew that we needed. Watching the banter between two of the most sarcastic and quick-witted characters on the show was one of the true joys of the episode. With little resources at their disposal, Coulson and Hunter had to figure out a way to save Skye and evade SHIELD 2.0. Going off Hunter’s advice, which is really never a good idea, Coulson decided that the best course of action was also the worst: find Grant Ward.
While I know Coulson is working off of very limited information, it’s hard to see what Ward can really bring to the table at this point. After killing his family, is Ward even capable of redemption? More importantly, does he deserve it? At this point Ward would be far more compelling as a serious Hydra threat than as a wary ally.
Meanwhile, Gonzales was doing his best to recruit the remaining members of Coulson’s team over to his side. In spite of his new, democratic SHIELD 2.0, it definitely feels like Gonzales is the one running the show. He accused May, Fitz and Simmons of being far more loyal to Coulson than they are to SHIELD, which prompted May to bring up Fury’s words from the season finale: Coulson is SHIELD.
The show has done an excellent job keeping Bobbi and Mack as sympathetic characters. We can see their side of things and, more importantly, they still see Coulson’s side as well. Bobbi wasn’t afraid to stand up for Coulson and Skye to Gonzales, which is a good sign that she’ll stick with the team at the end of the day.
Last but definitely not least, the best part of the episode was the genius scheming between Fitz and Simmons. Throughout the episode Gonzales urged Fitz and Simmons to find a way to open Fury’s toolbox. While Fitz refused, Simmons seemingly gave in, causing a very public rift between the two, which led to Fitz leaving SHIELD. The final moments of the episode proved that it was all a ruse, giving Fitz a chance to take the real toolbox while Simmons tricked Gonzales into thinking the decoy was the real thing. The execution of their plan was flawless (Simmons has truly become an excellent liar), but the real kicker was Simmons sending Fitz off with his favourite sandwich, a call back to their relationship in Season 1. It’s been a rough season for these two, but this last episode proved that FitzSimmons is finally back on track.
Five lingering “Afterlife” questions:
Lincoln mentioned that Skye’s transformation was done the “old school” way–will we get to see the new way?
What did Gordon mean when he said Cal had sealed both his and Skye’s fate?
Will May take Gonzales’ offer to become a member of the board?
What is Raina’s mysterious power?
Seriously, where has Deathlok been this whole time? We missed you, Mike!
Were you shocked by last night’s episode? Share your thoughts in the comments below and watch the trailer for next week’s episode, “Melinda.” It looks like we finally get to learn why they call May “The Cavalry.”
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on CTV and ABC.
Associate Editor Kelly Townsend always had strong opinions on TV growing up, so it was only natural to evolve from couch musings to online journalism. She can't ever choose a favorite series, so please don't ask. Her writing has also appeared on IndieWire and Tribute.ca. You can find her on Twitter at @kellybtownsend.