Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2.16- “Afterlife”
People have been told to leave the past behind in order to have a new life. This is what’s being asked of the agents in one way or another. Gonzalez is trying to get the agents to join the “real SHIELD” while Skye is brought to a place where people like her can live peacefully. Of course, it’s not that easy.
Gonzalez (Edward James Olmos) is still trying to convince the agents that Coulson can’t be part of SHIELD anymore. He wants a SHIELD free of anything connected with Nick Fury or GH-325. For that, he wants Fitz and Simmons to open the Toolbox, the tiny cube that has all the secrets Fury kept. That request might threaten the reconciliation they had last week. Leo’s decided to go, and Simmons stays.
Gonzales is also worried about Skye, considered a major threat because of her powers. As fans recall last week, she ripped open a forest, and a flying branch nearly killed Calderon.
Morse defends Skye because she didn’t know what powers she has. Gonzales, though, doesn’t see Skye as a SHIELD agent or even a woman, refferring to her at “it”. She’s a threat, nothing more. That attitude worries Morse, but not enough to defy Gonzales.
Meanwhile, Coulson goes used car shopping until Lance commandeers a Jeep from the lot. They have to split, and that means knocking out the salesman with an Icer. They later see footage of what happened with Skye and Calderon, followed by Gordon taking her away.
As for Skye, she finds herself on a bed with glowing acupuncture needles on her (Chloe says that really happened, according to her tweet). Gordon (Jamie Harris) is there to greet her, and he’s joined by a handsome guy named Lincoln (Luke Mitchell). He says they’re at a place called Lai Chi, also known as Afterlife.
He claims to be a med student from Cincinnati, but he’s an Inhuman, too. He can harness static electricity, and make girls levitate. He also says Gordon’s the only one who can go to the outside world, which sounds a bit suspicious. Lai Chi is a way station for Inhumans and those who are hoping to be considered for undergoing terregenesis. Skye is unique, he claims, because she did it the old fashined way, in a Kree temple with a Diviner. He says that hasn’t happened a thousand years. She sees her power as a curse, and wishes to be free of it. However, it’s permanent, yet he hasn’t asked what it is yet. He also claims he doesn’t know where Raina (Ruth Negga) and Cal, Skye’s dad (Kyle MacLachlan), are. but insists Skye’s safe.
Back at the base, Gonzales and May have a very tense talk about Coulson. He wonders why she let Coulson escape when he’s a man no one trusted, not even by himself. Is May loyal to Coulson or SHIELD? Her answer is yes to both, because they’re the same. Gonzales disagrees, because everything is Coulson’s fault. Morse and Mack talk about how all of this was bound to happen. He still thinks Coulson’s been compromised, even if it means losing some friends, including Fitz.
Furthermore, Gonzales reminds May of what happened in Bahrain, and how they had to put down a “powered person”. That is why they call her the “Cavalry”. He’d rather not put down Skye and Coulson, but he also doesn’t want an all-out war. Thanks to his “everything is Coulson’s fault” belief, he’ll probably get it anyway. As May tells him, Coulson’s is not someone who can be put down.
While Coulson is upset he’s lost SHIELD and Skye, he doesn’t blame Gonzales for what he thinks about him and Skye. Lance thinks running away to Mexico is the only option, but Coulson prefers using some bad options. The first one is stealing one of the quinjets. Thanks to tripping the alarm at the retreat, and using a modern version of the Howling Commandoes kit, they bluff their way into the jet…until some other SHIELD agents show up to capture them. Game over?
Nope. An old friend arrives. He used to be called Deathlok, but call him Mike Peterson (J. August Richards). He not only has a better uniform, but he can fly a plane. Entertainment Weekly has more on Mike’s return, and how that will also decide the future of SHIELD…and whether he’ll meet Skye again.
Gordon visits Cal, who’s upset he’s stuck in solitary. He admits Skye’s been found, but Cal should appreciate he hasn’t been killed. He also taunts Cal by zapping out of the room occasionally, but tells Cal his actions and lack of self-control have sealed his fate…and Skye’s.
Simmons, meanwhile, says getting into the Toolbox is tougher than solving a Rubik’s cube. Fitz confronts her, and she says she wants to know what’s inside so that things can get back to normal. He says that can’t happen, because they’ve been gripped by fear and mistrust. He even accuses her of wanting him to leave, but she says she works for SHIELD, and has to follow its orders.
Skye and Lincoln are enjoying popcorn until he lets slip Raina is indeed at Lai Chi. Skye gets upset, causing a tremor (and letting him know that’s her power). That’s nothing compared to the confrontation she has with Raina, who has become a human porcupine. Skye says Raina got what she deserved, but she says so did Skye because she went to that Diviner willingly. Then Skye starts to use her ability on Raina, making her vibrate. It’s about to get worse when another woman shows up, someone called Jiaying (Dichen Lachman).
That’s a shock, since we thought Whitehall killed her many years ago…and she is Skye’s mother. She doesn’t reveal herself to Skye, but will be her guide to understand her powers. She tells Skye that if she doesn’t feel any connection, she can decide if she wants to leave (although whether she really can leave is still uncertain). Jiaying also thinks Raina, no matter what she’s done, can still be great and beautiful. She points out even if Raina has killed before, Skye is just as deadly with her powers.
What is more surprising is that she goes to Cal, and says she’s met Skye but he still can’t see her. His reaction is puzzling because he doesn’t look surprised to see Jiayang there. Shouldn’t he ask why she isn’t dead?
Gonzalez has an offer for May. She can join the board of his SHIELD, since Coulson will need an ally after he’s captured. He even gives her his gun and dares her to shoot him if she’s really devoted to Coulson. She doesn’t, thinking it wasn’t loaded anyway…until he takes out the bullets. He wants a new SHIELD to rise with a firm foundation, to take on new threats. May can be part of that SHIELD, but Coulson can’t.
Maybe he should. He recruited Peterson to look in to HYDRA agent List (who was last seen in “Aftershocks”), and it looks like he’s been capturing “powered people” and experimenting on them. To deal with that, they have to use the worst option yet: ask Grant Ward to help. That includes Kara/Agent 33 and a newly brainwashed Bakshi.
Finally, Simmons tells Gonzales opening the Toolbox is tougher than she thinks, and only Coulson can open it. Actually, she gave Fitz the real Toolbox…and a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich. FitzSimmons lives!
It also points out something: the female agents (and Fitz) are the ones skeptical of Gonzales’ plans for a Coulson-free SHIELD, but Mack and Calderon support him. Morse may support Gonzales, but his opinion of Skye may eventually be the deal-breaker.
The episode had a lot of twists and turns with shocking returns, and it looks like the start of a gathering storm. Gonzales’ determination to avoid a deadly showdown with “powered people” by capturing Coulson will probably backfire, especially if HYDRA comes into play. Besides, if the Toolbox does reveal where the “powered people” are, does he want to find them, only to lock them up if they can’t be trusted? That’s not too far off from HYDRA’s attempts to get them. As for Lai Chi, Skye may accept her powers, but what did Gordon mean when he said Skye’s fate is sealed? Will her power be used to keep the evil outside world away? The showdown will happen, and it won’t be Coulson’s fault.
Next week: we finally find out about Bahrain, and maybe Skye finds out who her guide really is.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesday at 9/8c on ABC. Watch full episodes online at ABC.Go.com, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video or On Demand (check with your local cable provider).