The last episode of Agents of SHIELD ended with a bang, literally. Now, they’re trying to pick up the pieces in “The Real Deal,” as they try and see how much damage has been done by the major blast. They did lose Enoch’s short-lived successor, Noah. The helpful robots (yes, it’s an over-simplification) don’t last long in these parts. The lower levels of the Lighthouse have been badly damaged, there’s a glowing crack in the wall (which looks a lot like something from the Matt Smith era of Doctor Who), and we get a glimpse of an old foe who really shouldn’t be there.
Fitz has been surveying the scene with his “Dwarfs” the drones he’s been using for many seasons. He’s still recovering from being caught in the edges of that blast, but then, none of the Agents really do well with the concept of a sick day. They are getting back some seemingly impossible images, and Coulson reflects on how far his threshold for “preposterous” has been shifted over time.
In the infirmary, Yoyo is dealing with her recent traumatic injuries, and Simmons is caring for her as best she can. Mack comes in, prompting Simmons to leave, and the two have some banter. The fact she’s managing to do this speaks volumes for Yoyo’s strength of character. I’m still desperately hoping they find a way to undo what happened to her. Mack offers to pull them out of the fight, but Yoyo feels obligated to stay, especially given what she learned from herself in the future.
Deke and Daisy scour the storage areas for medicine to help Yoyo. Deke keeps babbling about all the great things here in the past. He shares a bit about his childhood, taunts her when she doesn’t, then feels like a jerk when she tells him about growing up in an orphanage. Their chat is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of a Kree warrior. Deke spends his time dodging, which he’s at least good at, before Daisy beats the alien and then is surprised by what happens next.
Fitz has a theory about what happened, and explains it to the others. It does sound kind of ridiculous, but no worse than anything else they’ve been through. Fitz also comes up with a way to possibly fix it, which leads to a very entertaining misunderstanding with Deke. The fix is dangerous, and might turn into a one way trip. Everyone argues about who should go, with Coulson finally telling them he’s going, there’s no choice in the matter. The heated argument, especially with Daisy, ends when Coulson suddenly passes out and slumps to the floor.
Deke, of all people, gets sent off on a secret mission by Coulson before Simmons comes and shares her findings with everyone. The nasty wound we saw on Coulson’s chest is necrotic tissue that seems to have been dead for years. Coulson finally reveals that his strange resurrection several years ago was essentially undone by hosting Ghost Rider a while ago. There’s no possible cure, and it’s spreading. No one is happy with Coulson for hiding this from them all for so long. May warns Coulson he’s putting too much on Daisy’s shoulders, and then Coulson and Daisy have a tearful heart to heart.
Yoyo wakes up from some bad dreams and has a worse encounter with someone who isn’t what they appear to be. The team comes in at the end of this, and Fitz says the distortions from the crack down below are getting worse, and they have to deal with it. Deke, on the outside, plays hide and seek with General Hale and her troops who are flooding into the town after the deputy called them when he recognized Daisy.
Coulson and May talk about his condition and what might happen. She has her own bone to pick with Coulson for keeping this secret. They talk out their personal stuff and the possible future of SHIELD. It’s interesting that Coulson is so sure SHIELD has a future, with all current evidence to the contrary. He even gets May to laugh as he prepares to go on this mission to fix the crack.
Fitz preps Coulson for what he needs to do, and warns him of the many dangers. Coulson urges Fitz to go ahead with something or other, no matter what happens to Coulson. The Director (I guess he is again, to the extent they have one), reminds Fitz that people need to believe in institutions and symbols. Fitz seems less than convinced about the importance of this at the moment, but agrees, maybe just to make Coulson feel better.
Coulson makes a good Ghostbusters joke just before they lose contact. He then encounters a figure from the past who is either another weird manifestation or a part of Coulson’s own mind with some very disturbing news. While the unwelcome guest continues to try and persuade Coulson about what’s going on, they do make the most direct reference to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in quite a while. Up above, the rest of the team debates what they should do since they have no way of knowing how Coulson is faring.
Coulson argues with his visitor, who has a lot of perfectly rational explanations for what’s happened during the entire run of the series. I never really thought they’d go that route, but I can see why Coulson had some doubts for a while. As Coulson wavers a bit, the folks up top get some much more welcome company, especially one character I’ve been wondering what had happened to for a few seasons now.
The argument ends when Coulson takes some decisive action and gets some unexpected help along the way. The immediate danger is ended, and it’s on to what Coulson was urging Fitz about. While Hale decides to leave town, the team and more gather for a special event. I won’t spoil what it was, but it’s something a lot of us have seen coming for a while. The happy (for once) event goes well, and is cut with some scenes of Hale, who learns something that she doesn’t understand but is a really big item to the viewers. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with that.
What I liked: While yet another strange new threat was something I’m not sure we needed, it was nice to take something of a break from the pressing ugly future they’re fighting to prevent. I’m happy the character I hinted at above finally returned, and did so in a kickass way. The event was great to see and a long time coming. The scenes with Coulson talking to both May and Daisy were really well done. The explanation for what’s wrong with Coulson also makes perfect sense.
What I didn’t: I’m now hoping for two miracle cures I’m not sure are coming, for Coulson and Yoyo. I’m not sure how I feel about the reveal Hale discovers near the end. I sorta get why not, but with a big gathering like this, I would have liked to have seen Fury, or Maria Hill, or maybe even a certain Star Spangled Avenger. I also still don’t see why Enoch can’t be around in this era.
It was a good episode. I’ll give it a high 3 out of 5. They’re building up to a lot, especially considering we still don’t know if this is the last season or not.