Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: 6.05 The Other Thing
Everyone is getting captured in this action packed episode. Mack begins to doubt his leadership skills whilst heading up the hunt for Agent May who is in the clutches of Coulson look-a-like Sarge. S.H.I.E.L.D. have some of Sarge’s men in custody. Yo-Yo is coming to terms with having to sacrifice Agent Keller and also has doubts about Dr Benson's abilities and sobriety. Meanwhile out in deep space Daisy, Simmons and Enoch are captured by Enoch’s boss who wants them to invent time travel for her so she can go back and save her planet from destruction. No pressure there then.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back to its best with this episode crammed full of emotional performances and some high octane arse kicking. Ming-Na Wen proves she’s the show's most valuable player once again as Agent May gets to show off her fighting skills. First she gets to take on another parasitic alien bird infected host as Sarge sets about showing her exactly what he’s trying to deal with. Then she gets to go head to head (literally, as she absolutely nuts her) with resident lunatic Snowflake, before finally going one on one with Sarge himself.
Not only do we get to see Agent May doing what she does best but also we get to see her more vulnerable side during a series of flashbacks showing her final days with Phil Coulson. The episode's title has two meanings. It’s Coulson’s impending death that they obviously tried to ignore for as long as possible. It also refers to the love May had for Coulson, Sarge observes as much when trying to fathom out why she is fixated on him. It’s great to see Clark Gregg play the good guy again and it certainly highlights his skill as an actor when playing the dual role of Sarge, threatening to torture Agent May.
We also get highly emotional performances from Henry Simmons and Natalia Cordova-Buckley as Mack and Yo-Yo respectively. Yo-Yo is understandably grieving after having to deliver the killing blow to her boyfriend in the last episode. Mack is feeling slightly out of his depth as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and he would normally confide in Yo-Yo. But their past relationship has left things strained between them. Yo-Yo channels her anger at Dr Benson who she appears to at least partially blame for Keller's death. She questions his abilities with Mack but comes to terms with her anger when Benson tells her about the death of his husband in a car crash and his decision to switch off his life support. Together they make a startlingly discover about the alien parasites.
Things out in deep space also seem to be starting to tie back in to what is going on back on Earth. We are introduced to Altarah, leader of the Chronicoms. She dumps a lot of exposition that heavily implies that the destruction of the Chronicom homeworld is very much linked to what is currently happening on Earth. After threatening everyone several times with instant death, a deal is struck and Daisy very begrudgingly heads back home leaving Simmons behind as a hostage to motivate Fitz into creating time travel. This idea is suggested by Enoch who appears to have betrayed everyone or just doesn’t seem to understand the consequences given that he’s an emotionless automaton.
There is some nice interplay too between Agent’s Piper and Davis. Their chemistry together is good wth some funny lines running back and forth. It would be nice to see them get elevated into a more prominent role. Deke, on the other hand, after last weeks star turn, is mentioned once but not seen at all.
By the end of the episode Daisy has been welcomed back to Earth and Fitz and Simmons will soon be reunited, albeit as captives. We learn a lot about Sarge and his mission, hunting the parasites known as Shrikes. It seems he and his band of thugs might actually not be the complete bad guys we have been lead to believe. Most excitingly, the mysterious monoliths that have plagued our heroes for several seasons are back. It turns out the alien parasites have a very similar crystalline structure to them. With Agent May beginning to notice similarities in things Sarge and Coulson have said, it looks like a lot of storylines are beginning to converge in very interesting ways.
Cutting back and forth this episode between Earth and the deep space story works very well. We get a lot of information in The Other Thing that really pushes the story forward. This may to some respect have something to do with this season being a short one consisting of only thirteen episodes. If we get more episodes like this one and less filler then I’m all for it.
On a side note this episode was directed by 1980’s heartthrob Lou Diamond Phillips. He’s done a very good job juggling several storylines and crafting some well put together fight scenes. He also recently helmed an episode of Fear The Walking Dead and on the basis of what I’ve seen hopefully he’ll get more chances to direct soon.