Plot, plot, and more plot! This week’s Agents of Shield focused on advancing the plot, and moving dangling threads closer together.
Well, this did not go the way I was first expecting!
Based on the preview, I was thinking that something was going to go near-cataclysmic really fast and Sarge was going to try to demand to be in charge, something like that, at which point I imagine Mack could have extorted Sarge, promised him that either he helps them, or this time he perishes with the planet he’s on and thus ends his fight against the shrike. Boy, I was way off!
Starting off back in space, Fitz, Simmons, and Enoch, successfully escape from the Chronicoms only to end up back on Kitson (from the frying pan to the fire). Before Enoch can modify the transportation disc, some drunk alien bum comes by, picks it up, and accidentally transports himself, leaving the three of them stranded. They make a very wise decision to try and not attract attention and leave the casino as soon as the exit is unguarded. Unfortunately, it was not so unguarded after all. They’re taken to Mr. Kitson himself.
All I’m going to say about Kitson is that it’s no wonder his little world is such a wretched hive of scum, villainy, and despair, considering how his grandfather began it, and how succeeding generations have carried on, enjoying how they’re the biggest fish in this tiny mud pool at the bottom of an abyss.
Kitson sends Enoch to the brothels and makes Fitz-Simmons two-thirds of a guillotine game of Russian roulette. Strapped down with a third offender, who tried to make off with a woman from the brothel, they have to hold the chains that hold the blades above their necks. First one who loses their grip dies, and it doesn’t look good for the Terrans.
But, fate intervenes!
A woman, whose name I didn’t quite catch because they had to make it sound alien, has a use for Fitz-Simmons. She puts a knife to Kitson’s back, and skillfully persuades him to take a payday for releasing the two of them, by use of a remote control with which he can decide the outcome of the game (House always wins because House is the only one allowed to cheat), rather than take that blade into his spine. And it’s done. Third contestant dies, Fitz-Simmons are freed. Their savior buys Enoch’s contract as well, for them.
Her goal is simple: she’s going to Earth to retrieve an artifact that was stolen from her. But she recently lost her ship and her crew, so she needs to replace both, thus, she saved Fitz-Simmons. And they, as it happens, know where to find a ship: their old friends who stole it from Fitz and Enoch and then were rather forcefully interrogated by Simmons and Daisy. That goes well, with minimal fuss involved.
And then Enoch turns and leaves. He only stops when Fitz calls after him, because goodbyes suck. The Earth is saved from the events of last season, and Fitz-Simmons are reunited and on their way straight back to Earth at last. Now he has a new mission: to find a home for what is left of his people. He leaves behind a device they can use to call him, in case of emergency. And they say goodbye, and he leaves.
He really grows on you, ya know?
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the agents have their hands full balancing Sarge, whose very appearance is disconcerting, and the shrike.
The problem is that Sarge has a century of experience at this, probably going through this exact scenario a dozen times over. With the exception of having a lookalike precede him, there’s nothing new for him in this situation. He’s done it all before, and he know what he’s doing. I mean, other than the fact that every planet he’s been on has been utterly destroyed by the shrike, which speaks to some sort of failing in his long game, he absolutely knows what to do in the short term. And he has very much demonstrated how he prioritizes results over compassion, while Shield exists to get results because of compassion.
Sarge and Mack play against each other in this episode, maneuvering, but Sarge doesn’t need to do much. He’s ahead of the game, and predicts that he’ll be in charge before the day is out. He also tells Mack that the shrike’s creator would, to them, be like a god, and not some simple pretender at such.
Jakko, if I’m spelling that right, has a moment in this episode. He talks to Yo-Yo, tells him about his family: eight brothers, and he was the runt of them. They were a family of bakers, living humble lives filled with hard work and good smells. But they’re all dead now, killed by the shrike. That’s why he’s with Sarge, and why he won’t take any help from Shield to ease his breathing. As it turns out, though, his breathing is so labored because he’s readying himself to breath fire, like a dragon. Just a little surprising, that, and it’s only through Daisy’s presence that they stop him so easily. (Snowflake seemed just a little surprised by that)
Speaking of Daisy, she and Mack really do work well together. He’s a good general, focused and determined, and she’s a strong right hand. I wonder if that might eventually change, as Daisy is still growing, but for now, they’re good together. She is what he needs.
She’s also what Deke wants. He comes in trying to impress her by being the wealthy head of a tech company and wanting to hear all about her exciting space adventures. That goes into the little bombshell of one Fitz dying and another being trapped in space with Simmons, which rightfully tears Deke up inside to hear. But Mack is able to use it, to calm and focus him on something they need: Sarge’s tracking system. Deke is able to crack that, and it gives them two shrike, both of which Shield captures easily, intending to kill them and save the hosts.
Sarge predicted all of that. Not necessarily down to the last detail, but something to that effect.
The agents apparently did not learn from Keller’s death, or May’s experience with the one she had to kill. They see a human being, alive, up and walking around, that just happens to have a shrike in their chest. What they’re really dealing with is an animated corpse that is being used like a puppet by what’s inside it. They want to save the people but, in this instance, Sarge is right: they’re already dead. Mind you, this not make him at all right with how easily he and his crew kill people, but he’s right about that one thing, at least.
And here’s the critical mistake, which I almost screamed at the screen: “No! Don’t put them together!”
The instant the two “captured” shrike are together in the containment module, they go crazy, shrieking and joining together in a mass of growing crystals. One agent goes down trying to sedate them. Sarge is brought in to help, and at the critical moment he offers to tell them what they need to do, but only if they give him his crew and his truck back. Mack agrees, angrily, emotionally, and Sarge tells them that the shrike can’t survive the cold. That leads to opening the bay door at a very high altitude, freezing the crystals, which fall apart and tumble out.
And just like that… Sarge has established a superior position. He is calm and rational and determined where Mack was emotional and had to relent to Sarge’s demands. Even more, Sarge can tell them what to do in a crisis, while Mack didn’t know what to do. He even has the same face as Coulson, a face they all looked to for leadership, for years.
Sarge played it perfectly, because he’s played this game so many times before.
So, Fitz-Simmons are on their way back to Earth, where Sarge and the shrike are waiting for them, and how much do you want to bet the lady who helped them is also going to be part of this? Sarge has basically taken over in all but name, and he did it by doing almost nothing, which is a whole other level of formidable. The shrike’s creator lurks somewhere in the wings, soon to come to Earth, which will be a whole other level of bad and dangerous for the world. As if Earth hasn’t been through enough already, now it’s the staging ground for a contest between devils.