Agents of SHIELD has separation issues. There’s times in every action series when important characters are in life and death situations. And it’s those moments where AOS writers make a choice and immediately want a do-over.
We’ve seen it with Koenig, Ward and Fitz. Heck the genesis of this series was because they didn’t want to keep Coulson dead. Missing Pieces brings back another staple of the series with a new character sporting a dead character’s face. AOS has been good enough to give it the benefit of the doubt, but despite some welcome new changes the underlined message of this early season is it’s too hard for the writers to say goodbye to characters from yesterday.
We’re six seasons in now and the only important character that stayed dead was Trip — Framework escapade aside. Given the nature of what SHIELD does the body count should probably be higher unless you want to count Mack and Hunter’s crew from the start of Season 2.
I like Fitz, but the writers have teased his death so often now that The Search For Fitz doesn’t quite have the same impact. Yeah it’s cool that Gemma has this darker attitude, but ultimately the writers have spent so much time over the series on the idea that splitting up FitzSimmons is the key for high drama and their inevitable reunion still has emotional weight. That’s basically been the go-to FitzSimmons plot every season since the second year.
There’s some interesting new wrinkles of course with the SHIELD expedition to find Fitz gradually losing steam. It’s down to Daisy, Davis and Piper now as they travel through space looking for their boy Fitz. There was a fun showdown with the Confederacy and a Star Wars like escape (punch the hyperdrive!), but Simmons really irritated me for basically hijacking the shop because she’s got a theory where Fitz is after ditching his cryo-pod. Not that Simmons is wrong, but because the team has been searching for a year and she could care less about everyone else’s families waiting back home on them. It’s super selfish and a bad look for Gemma.
I like the dynamic of a SHIELD squad in space to further last season’s galactic subplot, but I wish it were over something more meaningful than finding Fitz.
Back on Earth, Mack has stepped up into the leadership role nicely. Even May fully supports him and gives him the same respect she gave Coulson pre-romantic interest. Mack wants May to find some more brains in addition to SHIELD’s muscle. By my count the team still only has two metas, so they’re only so powerful. And where is Hunter and Bobbi??? May’s got an ideal candidate in Marcus Benson (Barry Shabaka Henley), a former professor who might be an alcoholic after losing his partner.
Mild rant time. Missing Parts introduced three new characters to the series and in SHIELD fashion, the extras were nicely diverse, but of those three characters with names and screen time two were white men and the third was a black man who’s gay. Clearly there are gay and lesbians of all ethnicities, but it’s tiresome when either the only or second black man on a series is gay. Representation matters, but the number of gay white guys doesn’t balance out to the number of gay/lesbians represented from other ethnic groups. End rant.
Mack wants Benson to form and head the SHIELD Academy to train new recruits. Man, Coulson dies off and Mack has gotten SHIELD back in the public’s good graces, beefed up the teams significantly to Nick Fury levels and is cranking out expansion plans. Do it Mack!
May’s noticed Elena and Agent Keller (Lucas Bryant) have some mutual interest and encourages her to go ahead and pursue it. Too much had gone down for Mack and Elena to keep their relationship together (boooooo) and a year was long enough for her to move on. When’d May become the love guru? But May is slow to catch on to Yo-Yo — see what I did there? — as Elena and Keller have already been kicking it. Now Elena is worried they need to slow things down. Keller is written likable enough as he wants to do the right thing and tell Mack before it spreads through the grapevine, but Elena thinks that could ruin Mack’s trust in him. Soap opera drama – Agents of SHIELD style.
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Mack’s Earth crew has a bigger problem though as mysterious beings are arriving on the planet through portals. One managed to shoot down a Quinjet while another got stuck in an oddly placed concrete wall at a basketball court. That seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen.
The portal escapee Jaco (Winston James Francis) connects with two more portal jumpers Pax (Matt O’Leary) and Snowflake (Brooke Williams). They’re curious about Sarge’s passage, which is not clear as it’s going to be in a museum.
Somehow the concrete portal jumper is alive long enough to drop an alien timer with coordinates so SHIELD can confront these guys again. Like the last time it doesn’t end well at all. Snowflake distracts them as Sarge arrives…in a semi. This is a little weird.
Clark Gregg directed this episode and he set up the great introduction of Sarge with SHIELD recovering from the attack, trying to see through the smoke and debris. New agent Fox spots him first and is puzzled saying he’s with SHIELD. For some reason even more inexplicable than an alien driving a semi, Sarge looks like Coulson with a crew cut. He blasts Fox with a laser gun as May looks on stunned.
I’d be way more invested in this Sarge storyline if AOS didn’t do this same storyline with Ward and HIVE. If they wanted to keep Gregg on the show here’s a wacky idea: don’t kill off Coulson! And naturally to string us along, Sarge tells one of his troops that the name Coulson sounds familiar. Yeah, from all of his traveling around space last season.
While I’m not thrilled at these developments, Agents of SHIELD has justified my faith in it even through rough storylines so I’ll try and patiently wait to see how this develops even if I have my doubts.
Rating: 7 out of 10
Photo Credit: ABC