And so we get back to what passes as "normal" on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The team (minus Fitz and Jemma, and Daisy as a virtual simulation only) running around fighting this season's cause celebre, Sarge and his crew. We also find out what has been happening with Deke: he's running a start-up tech company using the technology he's "acquired" from S.H.I.E.L.D. and from the future. We get all of the usual jokes and tropes about West Coast start-up company: Deke has a girlfriend named Sequoia (executive producer Maurissa Tancharoen) who posts on social media a lot and fetches boba tea. And people scoot around on Segways because it's cool. Really.
Sarge & Co. are hunting down seemingly normal humans and gutting them. They do so with a guy at a bus station in Reno, and then go to Deke's start-up company because their tablet-sized doohickeys have detected that Deke isn't normal for the time period. Deke is busy developing a Framework-like virtual reality, complete with a virtual Daisy. When Sarge & Co. come for him, first Sarge tries to pretend to be Coulson after Deke mistakes him for the latter, but it doesn't go well. Deke runs, S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the case, and Mack, Melinda, and the usual bunch of faceless assault troopers show up.
Mack takes down Pax, and Deke lures Jaco into the virtual reality. Melinda beets up Snowflake (Brooke Williams), but Sarge captures Melinda and takes her with them.
Meanwhile, Keller (Lucas Bryant), Yo-Yo, and Marcus examine the dead bus station guy and discover there's a bat-like alien parasite inside of him. It gets loose and eventually enters Keller's body. The parasite fills his body with highly flammable neurotoxin and when Keller starts transforming, Yo-Yo slams a knife into his chest to keep him from spreading and/or exploding. The end.
Much of the humor stems around Deke and I like Jeff Ward, more on S.H.I.E.L.D. than I did on season 2 of Channel Zero. Deke has always been a comic relief character on S.H.I.E.L.D., but in the past and definitely here, he gives off the vibe he's trying too hard. I don't know how much Ward is a comedic actor and how much is him trying to act like a comedic actor. If that makes sense.
There's also a brief bit about the ongoing Yo-Yo/Keller romance, and how Mack knows about it and basically advises Keller not to tell him about it so Keller and Yo-Yo can be together rather than separated per S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol. But since Keller is apparently dead by the end of the episode (hopefully so Lucas Bryant can go do that Haven reunion: hope springs eternal!), either the relationship isn't going anywhere, Keller will still be walking around as an alien-possessed zombie and Natalia Cordova-Buckley will have lots of "shocked and traumatized" shots, or we'll never see Keller and Bryant again.
Judging from the hints dropped this week and the previews, Sarge will tell Melinda about the alien parasites and why Sarge & Co. are there to stop them. Which suggests the crew and S.H.I.E.L.D. should have been working together all along. Hopefully we won't have a season of Invasion of the Body Snatchers-style alien possession and human-zombies in high places working against S.H.I.E.L.D. That's been done before with HYDRA. I'd rather see S.H.I.E.L.D. relatively on top of things for a while rather than have to go on the run yet again as their superiors/human-zombies make them fugitives. Or the world turns against S.H.I.E.L.D. as it did when HYDRA came out of the shadows and revealed they had infiltrators everywhere.
As for the acting and directing, it was all good. It's not Tancharoen's first time before the camera, and she seems to be having a great time playing a parody of the typical West Coast social media poster. Deke is funny when actor Ward isn't going overboard. There are lots of little bits of humor, some of which are amusing (Jaco talking about the nature of reality), and some (like the Daisy VR) which are duds. Everyone acts pretty well, and the fight choreography between Melinda and Snowflake is dead. Fitz and Jemma, and the whole space-adventure plot, are nowhere to be seen as the episode focuses on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s earth-side shenanigans.
As I've noted before, there's nothing really bad about S.H.I.E.L.D. right now. The acting is still good, the directing is still good, the writing is still good, the fight choreography is still good. Jeff Ward overacting is about the worse thing the episode has going for it, and if you like Ward then that won't be too bad, either. I prefer the relatively subtle humor of Fitz, Jemma, and Sarge-as-Coulson. But to each their own.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Jun 1, 2019