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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 2×16 “Afterlife”

Written by Alex Reale

Could it be? Did Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. actually have a really, really good episode this week? I think so! “Afterlife” pleasantly surprised me with its nice set of twists and turns, and its overall contribution to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But what does this mean for the future of the show as well as the films? (spoilers ahead!)

The beginning of the episode was the only part I didn’t like. Coulson and Hunter need transportation so they steal a vehicle from a used car salesman, and then knock him out during their getaway. I understand that these two are doing all that they can to complete their mission, but knocking out and stealing from an innocent (albeit douchey) civilian? Come on, now. Hunter is a prick so I didn’t expect less from him, though Coulson seemed too good to do something like that. I might just be over-analyzing stuff as usual, but it really bothered me. It seemed very uncharacter-like and out-of-place for both of them.

Skye wakes up while she’s being treated with some cosmic acupuncture and finds herself in a weird sanctuary. She makes friends with a fellow Inhuman going by the name Lincoln who gives her the rundown of what happened and what her life is going to be like. Lincoln’s powers include generating electricity, and while this is very neat, I can’t pinpoint which Inhuman he could be. However, this is not a bad thing since we want to use our imagination.

Personally, I’m thinking he is Lincoln Slade aka Phantom Rider. In the comics, Slade was kind-of an early ancestor (and I use that term lightly – see the earlier link to find out why) for Ghost Rider. It’d be odd that he would turn up in this time period, but nothing out of the ordinary in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Coincidentally, Slade actually falls in love with Mockingbird in one story, even though we watch him making moves on Skye in this episode…

Speaking of Skye, the whole sanctuary population seems to treat her with a slight contempt because they are all jealous that she has acquired her powers already. She’s a pariah of sorts, stuck in a small spot surrounded by people who wish they could be her. However, she soon discovers that she’s not the only one who experienced the Terrigenesis; Raina is here as well! Just as about Skye is to put the smackdown on Raina for all the $#%& she’s caused, Skye’s mom appears and stops her. So wait, Mama Skye is actually alive? Plot twist number one! I hope they delve into her sudden reappearance more and reveal whether her Inhuman power includes an accelerated healing factor or something similar.

As for what’s going on with the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” business, things are vanilla as usual. Fitz and Simmons are tasked with opening Fury’s toolbox (hello, MacGuffin, my old friend), but Fitz is tired of Edward James Olmos‘s $%^& (as am I) and decides to quit. He and Simmons have a bitter parting of the ways, but Simmons sneakily passes him the toolbox as he departs, leaving us with a nice little cliffhanger.

Elsewhere, Olmos tries to get Melinda May to join the board of directors for his shady little knitting circle. Don’t do it, May! The next episode is entitled “Melinda”, which means something big is going to happen to the titular character. I’m guessing that May is either going to join the board and become a sinister new enemy for Coulson and co., or she’s going to be betrayed by Olmos and shot in cold blood. Either way, I’m a little anxious to see what happens to one of my favorite characters.

And now we turn to my favorite portion of the episode. Coulson and Hunter go to the abandoned cabin where they kept Skye and review the security footage. They determine that they need to find Skye, but they don’t know how. Coulson cleverly tricks a team of “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” agents to come raid the cabin, and uses a unique hologram card device that allows him and Hunter to take down the soldiers. On their way to hijack the S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicle, they are detained by additional agents. Just as we think they are defeated, Deathlok makes a return and saves the day! Plot twist number two! This was by far my favorite moment of the past few episodes. I loved Deathlok so much and I was afraid that we would never see him again. Does this mean that he’ll show up in the films as well? I’d love to see him make a cameo in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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The finale of the episode consists of Coulson telling Hunter and Deathlok that they need to find someone who can track down Skye. Can you guess who it is? None other than Grant Ward! PLEASE, for the love of Thor, let us see Deathlok fight Ward. I’m begging for it. I have very, very high hopes for next week’s episode at this point, and a physical confrontation between these two would be like an early/late Christmas present!

Overall, it was a damn good episode. I was impressed with how the show took a huge leap forward compared to last week, and the week before that, and the week before that. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for some momentum!

Final Grade: A –

+ Deathlok is back!

+ Pacing and story development was great; I didn’t feel the show dragging on like it usually does.

+ I enjoyed finally seeing a good, clear shot of Raina post-transformation; the make-up and effects looked amazing.

 

– Coulson and Hunter stealing the car at the beginning seemed stupid and out-of-character.

– Small nit-picky stuff here and there (where did Gordon’s lisp come from? Why didn’t the cabin have more security features?)

– I’m hoping that May doesn’t fall for the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” offer; I’m afraid she’s going to kick the bucket soon.

 

Extra Thought:

– Will we see Deathlok show up in a future MCU film?

 

What was your opinion on “Afterlife”? Do you have a newfound hope for the show like I do? Give us your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!

About the author

Alex Reale

From a young age, Alex knew he was destined to be a writer. He also harbored a deep infatuation with superheroes and comics. Luckily, he was able to combine these two passions through his role with A Place to Hang Your Cape, where he works as Junior Sidekick and Social Media Hero.

When he’s not writing for AP2HYC or working full-time as a content manager for a small business website, Alex is diligently at work on other creative projects including a fantasy novel collection and an independent comic series.

You can find Alex's first book, Dodger's Doorway, on Amazon!