After a long break due to a combination of a winter hiatus and the run of the Agent Carter miniseries, Agents of SHIELD has returned with “Aftershocks.” Leaping right into the midst of some new chaos, the show opens with a man who has skin grown over where his eyes should be. He’s teleporting around a blank room, looking confused and scared. The woman we’ve seen before, Skye’s mother, comes to help him as we see the caption of “1983 Unknown Location.” The man she’s with says she has guided many through their “transformations.”
SHIELD is still dealing with the events from their mid-season finale. The team is grieving for Trip, who died in a really ugly way while trying to save Skye. Skye herself is in quarantine, as Simmons tries to figure out what happened to her. Coulson talks about their losses, as the team is shown coping in their own ways: May working on a heavy bag, Simmons working with hazmat-suited teams in the tunnels of the hidden city, Fitz and Mac working on a project, and Bobbi packing up Trip’s effects. Raina is still missing. Coulson vows to crush what remains of Hydra.
Hydra has their own issues to deal with, as their board meets to discuss the death of Whitehall as seen in the last episode. They finally decide that there will be a contest, and whoever manages to eliminate SHIELD will take Whitehall’s now-vacant position. They also are rather dismissive of Whitehall’s “artefacts.”
Down in the tunnels of the abandoned city of Atilian, SHIELD agents are being attacked by a lurking monster. Eventually, this turns out to be Raina, who has gone through her own transformation. She’s a monster with some deadly weaponry of her own.
The SHIELD team is having several issues. Mac doesn’t want to talk about what happened to him when he was possessed by whatever in Atilian. Fitz and Mac are working on trying to repair Skye’s SHIELD watch to get her biometric data from when she was in the temple. Skye is getting claustrophobic, and Simmons seems to have developed an irrational distrust of anyone with superpowers. This new attitude of hers seemed to come from nowhere, and I don’t really like where it seems to be heading. Mac blames Coulson and Skye for everything that happened because of their obsession with alien stuff.
Coulson is pretty much ignoring everyone’s concerns, apparently obsessed with hunting down what remains of Hydra. He sets up a video conference with General Talbot, SHIELD’s sometime ally, sometime hunter. They stage an elaborate ruse to convince Bacshi, Whitehall’s former aide, to run to his Hydra masters. It’s a neat trick.
Elsewhere, Calvin Zabo (Skye’s dad and the villain Mr. Hyde in the comics), is still on the run. Raina finds him and begs him to cure her. Calvin tells her that there is no going back, and she’s something new now. Ever sympathetic, when she says she can’t live like this, he hints she should kill herself. Nice guy, Calvin.
Coulson’s plan against Hydra works pretty well. He knows how they operate, and the undercover operation goes about as well as it could. Skye is developing powers, and doing her best to both hide it and deny it. She’s confused and scared, not helped by being in isolation and hearing Simmons rant against people with powers.
Eventually, Fitz realizes what’s happened to Skye, and fakes her medical results to throw off Simmons. Skye has a breakdown, saying there’s something very wrong with her. It’s a really nice scene, as Fitz reassures her that she’s just different now. Fitz’ kindness is a nice counterpoint to Simmons’ irrational tirades about powers.
The episode ends with a few surprises. Raina’s suicide attempt doesn’t go as planned, SHIELD gets a surprise, and the teleporter from the first scene pops up again. Mac’s gift to Coulson, the remote control version of Lola, has a few surprises as well. Disturbingly, Mac and Bobbi seem to have some kind of secret scheme going.
What I liked: Coulson is a creative thinker, and comes up with some great plans. They are bringing more and more about the Inhumans into the show, which I presume will connect with the planned movie down the road. May, as always, is a fantastic badass. Fitz’ scene with Skye was touching.
What I didn’t: Simmons’ new attitude is troubling and coming out of nowhere. I’m liking Bobbi a lot and hope she’s not betraying the team. And I was really hoping they’d manage to capture Calvin. He’s a bit too dangerous to be running around out there.
Agents of SHIELD is a fun show, and I’m enjoying it. They’re doing a good job of linking together the corners of the Marvel Universe, such as the current Inhuman storyline, and next week’s apparent return of Lady Sif from the Thor movies.
I’ll give this episode a 3.5 out of 5.