[Update: The Evolution of Deathlok's Costume.]
In last week’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC, titled "One Door Closes", we learned the history of "real S.H.I.E.L.D." and why Mack (Henry Simmons) and Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) work for Robert Gonzales (Edward James Olmos) against Coulson's team, to the point of leading an attack on his base. With Coulson and Hunter on the run and everybody looking for the now-super-powered Skye (Chloe Bennet), a civil war is brewing within S.H.I.E.L.D. as we delve a little deeper into Inhuman culture.
Skye asked the blind Inhuman teleporter Gordon for help and this week’s Agents of SHIELD episode, "Afterlife", picks up where we left off with new character Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) - another Inhuman - serving to help Skye adapt and embrace her transformation. Meanwhile, Gonzales' crew attempts to assimilate Coulson's team and use their abilities to hack into Nick Fury's mystery box to find out what Coulson is really up to.
1. The Cube
"Real S.H.I.E.L.D." still needs to get into the the Toolbox (Nick Fury's mysterious vibranium cube) and Fitz and Simmons have the answer. The problem for Gonzales, is trying to recruit them. Mack tries to connect with his ex-best-pal Fitz to no avail while Bobbi sways Gonzales into taking a different approach in chatting with Agent May.
Simmons continues to prove her loyalty by making a play to get Fitz out of this situation (with the cube). It's nice to see for two episodes in a row the once-inseparable pair, continuing to prove to be a powerful team, and more importantly, for Coulson's team to still be loyal to him.
What data is on the cube remains to be seen...
2. Inhuman Rehab
Skye is now recuperating with the help of new Inhuman character Lincoln who has the power to manipulate energy in a variety of ways. He's seemingly taken on the role previous held by Skye's mom (more on that below) in helping other Inhumans who have experienced the Terrigenesis transformation process.
Their location is a secret, but it's up in the mountains, and could be the same village (or one close by) mentioned in season one, where Skye was found as a baby, protected by "monsters." That was located in the Hunan Province of China and in the comics, for a period of time, the main Inhuman city was located in the Himalayas.
This plot point delves into the secretive Inhuman culture on Earth where it's made clear that there are lots of them living as ordinary people among society, with some taking time to live in the secret city. Only a very select few undergo Terrigenesis and transform/acquire powers, and Gordon references the "elders" who we hope are the main Inhuman characters from the comics who we'll meet in the Inhumans movie in 2019.
Michael "Mike" Peterson makes a long-awaited return and thankfully, has an entirely new costume ("upgrades"), dropping his Nerf-toy-style armor and weapons of season one in favor of something more detailed, more badass and more fitting with the improved sophomore season of the series.
Coulson wasn't kidding when he said labeled Deathlok the "reinforcements" as the cyborg ally single-handedly (yet, non-lethally) takes out two Quinjets worth of S.H.I.E.L.D. field agents. Click here for high-res image of full Deathlok costume.
For a second, we thought the reinforcements would be a cameo by Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) from certain hints by actor Clark Gregg, but it was not to be. Not this episode anyway.
4. Skye's Mom
We first met Skye's biological mother, Jiaying (Dichen Lachman), in flashback sequences where it was revealed that she possessed the power of slow-aging/healing (think Wolverine sans the metal). She was seemingly killed through experimentation and an operation conducted by Hydra officer Werner Reinhardt a.k.a Daniel Whitehall in the past that gave him his youthfulness and for that, Calvin "Cal" Zabo (Kyle MacLachlan) - Skye's father - forever held a grudge against him, and one that he transferred to Coulson when Coulson shot Whitehall.
The revelation that Jiaying is somehow still alive, although physically scarred now, changes everything. Cal should be dropping his quest against Coulson since his wife is still alive. Perhaps he already has since he's currently held in captivity by the Inhumans, many of whom wish to see him executed for jeapordizing the secrecy and safety of their species. He's only alive, we presume, because of Jiaying.
One has to wonder now: Is there any chance Whitehall could have survived the bullets Coulson put in his back?
5. The Bad Option
It's revealed that Deathlok has been working for Coulson's S.H.I.E.L.D. for the past six months, explaining his absence, and that he was tasked with tracking Hydra's Dr List (Henry Goodman) and his interest in hunting for powered people.
Their only connection is "the bad option" - Agent Grant Ward whom we caught up with two weeks ago in episode 14, "Love in the Time of Hydra," where Ward and his partner, Agent 33, captured Hydra officer Bakshi. It seems that plot thread is about to intersect with Coulson, Hunter and Deathlok.
All of this seems to be leading to a tie-in with Baron von Strucker (Dr. List works for him) and his prologue sequence in Avengers: Age of Ultron. He's the remaining Hydra big wig using captured S.H.I.E.L.D. tech (including Loki's staff) to unlock powers in people (namely, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch).
A few other observations and notes:
- This episode again references May's nickname as "The Calvary," something that was seemingly put to rest in season one. As it turns out, that event which has haunted her for years actually had to do with a super-powered individual (see description for next episode down below).
- Raina makes an appearance, also residing in the Inhuman village, but still hasn't come to terms with her transformation. She seeks death to end her pain.
Share your thoughts and theories in the comments below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with "Melinda" @9pm on ABC.
“Melinda” – The story of Melinda May’s transformation into “The Cavalry” is revealed as she finds herself at a crossroads in the war between Coulson and Gonzales. As Skye learns more about her true heritage from Lincoln, the truth about the Inhumans will send her in a new direction, on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Tuesday, April 14 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network.
“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons, Nick Blood as Lance Hunter, and Adrianne Palicki as Bobbi Morse.
Guest starring are Henry Simmons as Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie, Ruth Negga as Raina, Kyle MacLachlan as Cal, Jamie Harris as Gordon, Christine Adams as Weaver, Blair Underwood as Andrew Garner, Dichen Lachman as Jiaying, Luke Mitchell as Lincoln Campbell, Kris Lemche as Ethan, Terrell Tilford as Agent Hart, Derek Phillips as Agent O’Brien, Winter Ave Zoli as Eva Belyakov, Ava Acres as Little Girl/Katya, Brendan Wayne as Assistant, Ben Wise as Blue Jacket, Omid Zader as Burly Gangster, Hani Al Naimi as Fiasal El-Hashem, Houshang Touzie as Colonel, Branden Morgan as Tac Agent #1, Alex Paez as Tac Agent #2, and Antonio Leon as Bahranian Soldier.
”Melinda” was written by DJ Doyle and directed by Garry A. Brown.