Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., S2 Ep16 – Afterlife

The power struggle continues on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Coulson and Hunter stay on the run from the apparent “real” S.H.I.E.L.D., aiming to get their friends back and reclaim their previous position. Meanwhile, Robert Gonzalez (Edward James Olmos) continues to attempt to prove to Agent May, Fitz, and Simmons that he’s in the right, which leads to some new directions for certain characters. Of course, we can’t forget about Skye who, after being teleported with the help of Gordon, wakes up at a peaceful resort referred to as “Afterlife”, which holds new information regarding the Inhumans and the whereabouts of Skye’s father and Raina.

CHLOE BENNET, LUKE MITCHELL

Lincoln shows Skye the Afterlife

While I admire the fact that Marvel has been using Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to introduce the concept of Inhumans to general audiences in preparation for their Inhumans movie, the scenes in this episode which took place in Afterlife weren’t as interesting to me as the story regarding the S.H.I.E.L.D. power struggle. Still, we learn a lot of information about the Inhumans as Skye is introduced to an Inhuman named Lincoln Campbell, played by The Tomorrow People‘s Luke Mitchell. Lincoln explains that the majority of those who occupy Afterlife are only humans with the potential to become Inhumans, waiting to be proven worthy and chosen to go through the process of becoming one. Lincoln himself has the ability to control electricity.

While these scenes were mostly filled with expositional dialogue to familiarize us with Afterlife, this subplot got more interesting when Skye realizes both Raina and her father are there with her. A somewhat intense scene occurs between Raina and Skye as Skye gets to see what has become of Raina. Raina also cruelly states that her outside appearance matches Skye’s appearance within. Skye nearly loses control, almost killing Raina with her quake abilities, before a familiar and surprising face enters the room.

Jaiying, Skye’s real mother who she does not know about, appears and puts an end to Skye’s behavior. She then goes to Skye’s father, and while he’s obviously pleased to see her, she isn’t so much pleased to see him and doesn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing his daughter. But how is Jaiying alive? Last we saw, Jaiying was experimented on and murdered by Whitehall. It was definitely a nice surprise to see actress Dichen Lachman (The 100) reprise her role as the character, and I hope to learn more about how she has returned in coming episodes.

The main plot involving S.H.I.E.L.D. versus S.H.I.E.L.D. was a much more compelling and fun watch in comparison to the subplot. Coulson and Hunter have some neat character moments together in the same cabin in the woods Skye spent some time in. After leading the other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to the cabin in order to take one of their quinjets, the two of them eventually get caught. This isn’t before using a clever and humorous card trick to take down several agents.

Still waiting on the backup Coulson supposedly called in, Coulson and Hunter are taken into custody. It seems all hope is lost, until Coulson’s reinforcement comes in. Here we are treated with another surprise return as actor J. August Richards (Angel) reprises his role as Mike Peterson, a.k.a. Deathlok. It was a real pleasure seeing him back on screen as he pulls off some sweet moves against some S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, saving Coulson and Hunter in the process.

MING-NA WEN, EDWARD JAMES OLMOS

May ain’t falling for it

Back at Coulson’s old S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters we get some interesting moments between May and Gonzalez as he tries to sway her to his side. Some brief dialogue between the two hints at May’s origins and the reason people call her The Cavalry.

Meanwhile, Fitz and Simmons are asked to unlock the secrets behind the toolbox, which was given to Coulson by Nick Fury to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. At one point it seems like Bobbi convinces Simmons to join their side and help them out, leading to Fitz becoming angry and resenting her for her decision. It all ends up being a huge ploy in order for Fitz to steal the real toolbox as he quits S.H.I.E.L.D., hopefully meaning to regroup with Coulson and Hunter. While this sneaky plan by the two of them may have been obvious to some, it’s still nice to see that two of them still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Overall, “Afterlife” was a very good episode that continues to keep me invested in this show and its characters. While the Inhuman element of the series is becoming a bit much, I completely understand Marvel’s reasons for spending so much time developing the concept. The power struggle between both factions of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to become more compelling, as Simmons has successfully made herself a mole in Gonzalez’s S.H.I.E.L.D., Deathlok has rejoined the ranks, and now Coulson has a plan that involves bringing Ward back into the fold. I wonder how that’s going to play out.

Next week’s episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will have a heavy focus on agent May’s back story. Check out the official promo for “Melinda” below and feel free to let us know what you thought about “Afterlife” in the comments.