Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Afterlife

Gonzalez is not the heroic patriarch of a dying Battlestar. Gonzalez is not an inspiring calculus teacher in East Los Angeles. Gonzalez is just an asshole. And a Jan Brady.

His double dealing might be acceptable if he wasn’t being so sanctimonious about it. Can he not see the hypocrisy? I railed against Gonzalez at length last week and he did nothing to endear himself to me to this week. He even tried to turn May against Coulson. May. And he referred to Skye as “that thing.” Lovely. And then he has the gall to give this speech about being united against the forces of evil because a house built on shifting sand blah blah blah. It’s infuriating. He literally invades them and then says “No one wants a war.” ARGHHH.

Okay, enough whining. I really just threw that in to bury the lede for the spoiler-phobic. Jiaying is alive! Cal knew she was alive! She knows Skye is her daughter! And she has a majorly badass scar! I’ve been trying to remember: did we actually see her die? I could’ve sworn that was in a flashback somewhere. More surprising than her being alive was Cal knowing. He said that her death and Daisy’s kidnapping drove him insane and then he spent decades trying to kill the man he thought killed Jiaying. How long has he known she wasn’t really dead? Is this a retcon or is there an expository flashback coming our way soon?

Jiaying, Gordon, and Lincoln were bound to seem shady. When you wake up days later in a mysterious place you’ve never been before surrounded by people you don’t know, it’s reasonable to assume the worst. They did earn a modicum of my trust by their keeping Cal very, very locked up. Jiaying hugged him but at the same time she refused to let him see Skye which is definitely a good thing. She is lying to Skye about a lot right now, though. For instance the words “hey, fun fact, I’m your mother” never passed her lips. She also misled Skye about Raina and Cal’s locations. Is she protecting Skye from information overload or what?

Here’s where I would put in my two cents about Raina and whether or not she deserves the second chance she’s been given but, honestly, all I can think about whenever she’s onscreen is how much time poor Ruth Negga must spend in makeup.

Hunter and Coulson’s adventure was a hoot. Coulson’s been stuck in the office far too often this season. And when he’s out in the field, he’s almost always partnered up with May and/or Skye while Hunter has almost always been with Bobbi. It was a fun boys’ night out. Coulson’s understated, deadpan humor works well with Hunter’s ability to react indignantly to everything. I especially loved Coulson not letting Hunter in on Mike just so he could see his face. Yes, in the second biggest surprise appearance of the evening, Deathlok, now known as official S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Mike Peterson, has popped back up. I’m so proud of him for becoming a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. More than I should be for a minor recurring character we haven’t seen all season. I blame Angel for it. I loved Gunn.

I spent most of the episode being righteously angry at Simmons. I mean what the hell Jemma. I totally bought into her betrayal and that’s down to good writing. Her reaction to Skye’s new superpowers, while utterly understandable, was not great. She was pretty freaked out and it makes sense for her to respond to that by gravitating towards people who are also pretty freaked out by it. I thought that perhaps she was somehow signaling Fitz through what she was doing to the toolbox but Fitz’s outrage and sense of betrayal was so real. I’m so glad she’s back on the right side. And she made Fitz a sandwich. Hopefully Ward won’t show up and destroy this one like he did the last.

Intel and Assets

-- Afterlife really overdid it on the plants. It looked like the world’s fanciest garden supply store.

Bobbi: “All we know is that Coulson and Fury both believed it was valuable enough or dangerous enough to protect with extreme measures.”
Fitz: “Maybe it was their favorite recipes.”

Coulson: “Let’s just hope they didn’t bring a…”
Coulson: “…Battering ram.”

Hunter: “At some point, you might have mentioned that backup was a lethal cyborg.”
Coulson: “Truthfully, I just wanted to see the look on your face when he showed up. Priceless.”

three and a half out of four surprise appearances
sunbunny, in this week for Mark Greig


Billie Doux said...

I really enjoyed this one. Dichen Lachman! I knew she was alive somehow. Didn't Reed Diamond have her eviscerated so that he could have her organs for himself? You'd think some Amy Acker Dollhouse-like scars on her face would be the least she'd have to deal with. Coulson and Hunter were just wonderful together. And I loved the sandwich so, so much.

migmit said...

Petersen! Shrimp, I so much hoped we're done with him. I hate this guy. I mean, the actor. Gunn is pretty much the only reason I'm stuck on Angel's 3rd season — apparently, I don't have enough willpower.

When Couson mentioned reinforcements being just one guy, I hoped it would be someone cool — like, for example, Captain. After all, if Fury makes a cameo on Agents, why can't Rogers do the same? No luck.

Moving on. I've figured out Fitzsimmons are playing their own game, and when Fitz started juggling the box, I was absolutely certain he managed to switch it with a fake. But I have to give it to them: they made it entirely believable that nobody else caught up with them. That's some real acting. They are both great.

My bullshit-o-meter was SPIKING every time this guy — forgot his name — explained Skye how things work in the "afterlife". The more he talked, the more I became convinced that every word of his either is a lie, or is twisted beyond recognition. Frankly, I expected Skye to escape the moment she was left alone. Guess she is too curious.

Seems like Cal is being used here. He is not a chessmaster, but simply a pawn. And no, we didn't see Jiaying die. We knew that Whitehall mutilated her — but we also knew that she has some powers that help her survive (at least that she doesn't age). We saw Cal moaning over her body — but we didn't have any indication as to whether this body is dead or alive; we didn't even get a good look; so he might have been terrified by the torture she had to withstand, not by her death. I'm not even sure he ever said Whitehall killed his wife; but even if he did, he could be lying.

TJ said...

I may be imagining this. But didn't Cal say in a previous episode that "he will see his wife in the afterlife"?

Awesome episode!!!

- Deathlok
- Jiaying
- Fitz/Simmons

Three very nice surprises, superbly done. Loved it!

Anonymous said...

Hey long time lurker here. I thought that Cal might have learned about Jiaying in the episode when Gord first takes him away. At the end, Gord said something about how his fate is now in the hands of the Elders, and Cal polishes himself up before he goes to meet them. I think Jiaying might be an Elder and that's when he finally knew that she was alive.

Just a guess. I'm sure we'll know more as the show goes on :)

Marianna said...

I loved this review so much! Your rant on Gonzalez was exactly what I was thinking. (I especially liked the calculus teacher part!)

We did see Jiaying die. Cal found her missing all her organs. I guess she has crazy regeneration powers or uses the Lazarus Pits, wait... that's DC =). Like Anonymous pointed out, it's possible Cal didn't know she was alive until his meeting with the elders. She seems pissed at him though which makes me like him.

Even though I really hate Raina (and that make-up must be uncomfortable) I actually agree with their decision to let her stay. I figure part of the purpose of this place is to be a support group and support groups can only function if they don't judge. Plus if she learns to control her powers she might be less prone to killing people.

Lamounier said...

Good episode.

I did think something was up with Fitzsimmons. When Mack told Fitz that Simmons was trying to open the box and Fitz checked on what she was doing, his reaction was more curious surprised than betrayed surprised. Their confrontation later on also rang staged. In fact, they exchanged meaningful information in front of everybody, which I noticed rewatching the scene. Very good writing there. And that sandwich in the end! Awn, nice callback. Simmons is winning me back.

sunbunny, I’m so glad you keep on ranting about Gonzales. God, he annoys me. Look, if his H.U.F.F.L.E.P.U.F.F. doesn’t like the way S.H.I.E.L.D. has dealt with superpowered people, that’s valid, they can have an opinion. But this whole “Coulson’s secrets”, “he’s making it hard for us, we don’t want any confrontation” is sooooo lame. I’m glad Bobbi is having second thoughts.

Dichen Lachman! Yay! Like TJ said, it seems Cal mentioned he would meet Jiaying in the afterlife. But I’m a little confused. I thought he wanted to revenge his wife’s murder? In any case, I’m so happy to see Dichen Lachman again. Talk about range, versatility and screen presence. The moment Jiaying and Skye met for the first time was very good, even though Skye was oblivious to the importance of it. The writers and producers made a good job making me believe Dichen Lachman is the mother of Chloe Bennet on present time. I’m very interested on where their relationship will go from here.

The pairing of Coulson and Hunter worked wonders, and Hunter got several great lines (like that one in which he said superpowered people seem to be trending).

Last but not least, Mike Peterson! Good upgrade there, buddy.

Dustin said...

I strongly suspected that Fitz Simmons were working together, but when it was confirmed with the note and carefully wrapped sandwich, I nearly cried.

LOOOOOVED Colson and Hunter. In-the-field Uncle Colson is much more fun than command-the-base Father Colson. More of this please!

As for Gonzales and H.U.F.F.L.E.P.U.F.F. - everytime he's on screen, sanctimoniously preaching from his soap box, I just want to ask him what he's done to take the fight to HYDRA since the takedown of S.H.I.E.L.D. It appears that the only 2 things that they've done is recapture the Battlestar Hufflepuff and plant Bobbi with HYDRA (which still seems to be aimed more at infiltrating her with Coulson).

I wasn't expecting Mike Peterson to show up, but I was expecting a Patton Oswald or two to be the reinforcements.

migmit said...

2Dustin: I think it was Coulson who planted Bobbi with HYDRA (as a backup for Simmons), not Gonzales. So, Gonzales actually planted Bobbi in S.H.I.E.L.D (the real one — I mean, Coulson's one).

Juliette said...

The scene between FitzSimmons was great - the acting was perfect, because it was just a bit off, not enough for me to be sure, but enough for me to think 'they're better actors than this, they would be more emotional than this, this is a play'.

And yay Gunn! To be honest, Mack has been annoying me ever since he was revealed as a double agent and Trip never made that much of an impression on me, but I felt guilty about essentially wanting rid of all the non-white men - perfect solution! Bring Gunn in full time. Way more interesting character and I love him. Those Wolfram and Hart upgrades are really something...!