TV Show Review

TV Review: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 2, Episode 16: Afterlife [ABC]

Chloe Bennet Luke Mitchell Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Afterlife

ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Afterlife TV Show ReviewAgents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 2, episode 16, ‘Afterlife,’ followed Skye (Chloe Bennet) to the other side of her rapturing, even as Coulson (Clark Gregg) added her to his mission statement, regarding his own post-career comeback.

Having established that there were no ‘bad guys,’ to the ongoing Civil War preview, Gonzales (Edward James Olmos) went to work trying to get both sides on the same page. Given the stunt he resorted to, making that point to May (Ming-Na Wen), he must be some pretty tough stuff. Like May needed a gun to kill him, when the two of them were alone.

In the case of Fitz-Simmons (Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge), however, he came up a few cupcakes short. The magnanimous intent, behind his takeover, worked against him, as Simmons took the offer at face value (at face value), but Fitz took Gonzales on his offer to let the unwilling walk. With Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) still working the soft blend of Agencies, and Mack (Henry Simmons) trying to not be the latest Ward, in Fitz’s life, the stage was set for two of the episode’s three big reveals.

The first came out of the body of the plot, devoted to Skye’s introduction to the hidden world of the Inhumans. Taking her off Gordon’s (Jamie Harris) hands, was Lincoln (Luke Mitchell), her own personal boy-band tour guide, to all things Inhuman, and being Inhuman. Okay, not all things. Among the things, that Skye’s pretty little head needed not be bothered with, was the fact that both Raina (Ruth Negga) & Cal (Kyle MacLachlan) were also residents. Despite Lincoln’s best efforts (including a power likely to make every date night end with an endorsement), Skye caught on to one of them (the other was under less hospitable lodging); necessitating a mother of a reveal, in the form of Jiaying (Dichen Lachman), to head off a confrontation.

As with Lucy Lawless, I figured Dichen Lachman as too memorable a face for one-shot use. I half-expected her character’s return, and a replay of Cal’s dance around his relation to Skye; but the forgoing of her reunion with Cal was a little disappointing. Still, I suppose it bodes well, for Skye, that her folks are at least back on speaking terms.

Every silver lined cloud has a grey center, however. Beyond Lincoln’s lie of omission, there was Gordon suggesting that Skye’s prospects, among the Inhumans, may be less than secure. You know you’re a cynic when you find shady talk, from otherwise heroic characters, encouraging.

Something that also encouraged my cynical bone: Raina’s possible turn as Sabretooth, to Skye’s Wolverine (not a complete stretch, once you imagine Jiaying in the open-arms-policy Xavier role).

As much fun as it was, watching Coulson & Hunter (Nick Blood) school some hostile Agents, Total Recall style (the original, aka only version), the highlight of the cabin battle was the second big reveal of the episode. Deathlok (J. August Richards) 2.0 cleaned clock more convincingly than that last jet dropping; with Richards seeming so much more comfortable in the role, you’d think he never left.

The last big reveal traded cupcakes for a sandwich. Could I be more cryptic about it? Certainly: “Wonder Twin powers, activate! Form of a bait ‘n switch! Form of a shell game!” I mean, c’mon – who didn’t find the yo-yo deliberations, between Simmons & Fitz, just a tad convenient?

The knee jerk reaction, to the Wonder Twin twist, would be to commend Simmons, on having come so far (since being revealed as a horrible, horrible liar) as a spook. Me, I got hung up on one minor detail.

Mack may be earnest, at heart, and basically a grease monkey; so buying into the ploy wouldn’t be completely beyond him. Bobbi, on the other hand, isn’t just a field agent – she is a first rate interrogator. Her ability to read/ see through people has been the reason Gonzales has given her such a long leash. He absolutely trusts her assessments of Team Coulson; and if that wasn’t enough, there was her breakdown of Bakshi, earlier in the season.

However improved Simmons’ game has gotten, Bobbi should have seen through the gambit. My inner optimist is holding out that Bobbi (and maybe Mack) tracked the ball, under the shell, and let it go – as part of her (and Mack’s) redemption arc. Why even bother with a redemption? The prospects of adding a sword to the shield, of course. That’s all I’m going to say about that, here.

‘Afterlife’ was more than just the name of the latest Attilan stand-in; more than just the post-mist prospects of Skye & Raina; more than a reassessment of Agents Agent prospects, in a contest of succession; and more than a look at how a dead woman has been spending her life, since dying. ‘Afterlife’ was meant to mark the point beyond the low-point, of the series. The point where Coulson begins to claw his way back to the top, maybe grabbing Skye, along the way, so that the two of them can swat at biplanes. Where the mystery/conspiracy aspect, of the season, pays out with more powers, more fisticuffs/ firefights, and characters either finally stepping up, or falling by the wayside.

Of course, I could be wrong, and at least one more major stumbling block awaits, to close the season on. At this pace, I can live with being wrong (again).

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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