Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 6.07 Toldja
Coulson lookalike Sarge and his crew are all in the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet strangely it’s Sarge who still seems to be calling the shots. May and Yo-Yo go on the offensive, actively seeking out the alien birds known as the shrike. Meanwhile out in space, FitzSimmons and Enoch managed to get themselves stranded . Again. On the planet of Kitson. Again. Oh well, at least this time there’s no one getting stoned.
I’ll admit I wasn’t best pleased at first when Fitz, Simmons and Enoch used the teleportation device and wound up on Kitson again. Enoch’s unfamiliarity with the device means he manages to send them to its last used co-ordinates. It then promptly gets used accidentally by a complete stranger and voila, our intrepid adventurers are stuck once more. The previous episode based on Kitson was not my favourite but I’m happy to report this time out things are more interesting. It helps that the story intercuts with the action on Earth which is excellent and reminiscent of past Agents of SHIELD episodes featuring as it does the Quinjet and May at the controls of the Zephyr.
We get to meet Mr Kitson himself in Toldja, ably played by ’80’s stalwart Anthony Michael Hall, of Weird Science fame. He puts in solid turn with the material he’s given but I’d like to have seen a more charismatic, over the top performance. As the hedonistic leader of a gambling and brothel planet, something more inline with Jeff Goldblum’s depiction of The Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok would have been nice. It is quite fun having him force Fitz and Simmons into a game involving guillotines where the stakes are literally deadly, and then having him behead their opponent on a whim when a stranger offers him money for the Terrans. The stranger turns out to be Izel, a woman who coincidentally is heading for Earth and has a jump drive but no ship. Together they all commandeer the original vessel that Fitz and Enoch arrived on; barring any diversions it would appear we may get a big reunion next episode.
The Earthbound story this week revolves around Sarge, who still has his cool calm demeanour even though he and all of his crew have been captured. He tells Mack that by the end of the day he’ll be free and back in charge. Hence the episode’s title Toldja. Clark Gregg is excellent at playing the bad guy; early scenes showing May arriving back at the Lighthouse with him are particularly great. For most of the team, it’s their first time meeting Coulson’s doppelgänger and he plays up to all of them, getting under the skin of Daisy, Yo-Yo and Mack within minutes. He really comes across as a nasty piece of work, in direct contrast to Gregg’s usual good guy portrayal. As Deke succinctly puts it “what a tool.” Mack unsuccessfully tries to reason with him by using the Coulson hologram he occasionally turns to. The only time we actually see Sarge flustered is when his escape plan involving Jaco turning into some sort of fire breathing monster is thwarted.
Deke’s tech skills come into play and when he’s not still trying to ingratiate himself with Daisy he manages to break the encryption on Sarge’s tracking device. Thus armed S.H.I.E.L.D. go out to hunt a pair of shrikes. This ill advised course of action leads to a thrilling action sequence where the captured aliens are placed together in a containment cube aboard the Zephyr. Based on what we’ve seen of the shrikes, this seemed like an incredibly stupid thing to do and sure enough the crystalline-like structures are soon shooting everywhere putting the entire crew at risk. Mack is forced to make a deal with Sarge - his release for the knowledge of how to deal with the shrike attack.
It turns out they really don’t like the cold so Agent May is forced to open the cargo bay doors even though Yo-Yo is trapped in there along with the aliens. This whole sequence is very well put together, particularly the visual effects. Marvel and ABC obviously haven’t scrimped on this episode, the depiction of the Zephyr and Quinjet are particularly well done, as are the surface shots of the Planet of Kitson. It looks exactly the sort of place you’d expect to find the Guardians of the Galaxy hanging out, I imagine Rocket would be especially at home.
By the end of the Toldja we’ve bid farewell to Enoch, possibly for good. He bows out in style with several funny lines this episode. Fitz and Simmons appear to be finally en route back home and we even get a glimpse of a slightly less menacing Sarge. His determination to stop the shrike regardless of casualties inflicted is harsh but he seems to be operating in a more grey area than it seemed at first. I wonder if we’ll see him become more approachable over further episodes if this is the direction they want to go if he’s going to replace Coulson eventually. They made a point this episode in saying that he had Coulson’s exact DNA. I imagine this is the Coulson we’ll get permanently in the future. I imagine we’ll see Sarge and his team working alongside S.H.I.E.L.D. in some capacity, teaming up against the shrike seems very likely.
I also wonder exactly who Izel is and what her real plans are once on Earth. She states to Fitz and Simmons that there are some artefacts she needs to acquire. Could this be the mysterious monoliths that have caused so much trouble or even something related to the shrike themselves? Now that we’re just over half way through this shortened season expect answers soon.