After some uncertainty about their future, and a really long hiatus, the Agents of SHIELD are back for a sixth season. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has changed a lot while they’ve been away, and the tv shows have drifted further away from the movies. And, of course, as they acknowledge at the end of the episode, Stan Lee has passed on since last season. They also left Agent Phil Coulson to an uncertain fate, although the actor that plays him, Clark Gregg, is back in a new role and as director of this episode.
The show opens with Fitz, tucked away in his hibernation capsule, on his way to the future the Agents fixed last season, being watched over by Enoch and their situation going poorly. One year later, the Zephyr, modified to fly in space, is seeking the missing genius, crewed by Daisy, Simmons, and two stand outs from the new agents last season, Piper and Davis. They make an emergency landing to refuel, and have some problems with the locals. It goes badly for the fuel station crew, and shows how much of a badass Daisy is, both in her combat skills and control of her powers.
Back on Earth, SHIELD is still based out of the Lighthouse we saw last season, and Mac is the new Director. In a very tense scene, Mac paces the control center, with strike teams out patrolling, waiting for something. May’s team is, of course, closest to whatever is happening, and they get sent to check it out. Some kids are playing basketball in a park, and you know something’s about to happen. Their basketball becomes the harbinger of strangeness as someone makes a dramatic entrance, although his comrade in arms doesn’t fare that well. May and company show up to confront him, but they hold their fire because of the civilians. Their quarry doesn’t share their concerns, and shoots down their jet.
Regrouping back at the Lighthouse, May goes over her team’s failure, and we meet a few new Agents, including Keller and Fox (formerly of cancelled shows Haven and Aftermath, respectively). No agents were killed, which is good, but the bad guy got away and they learned nothing about him or the strangeness around his appearance. They acknowledge that their big brains are out in space, so they need anything by way of theories. Keller and Fox have an odd one, but it’s better than the nothing they have so far, and Keller shows he has a good sense of humor. With nothing better to go on, Mac tells them to stay with their weird theory, and goes for his “morning check-in,” which confuses the newer agents, since Mac is the boss.
Mac’s morning ritual is with a familiar face, after a fashion. He and May talk about an upcoming anniversary, Mac growing into his job, and a department head they need but don’t have. They both agree that, as SHIELD currently stands, they have plenty of muscle but are lacking in brains. Daisy and Simmons carry on a rough interrogation at their fuel stop, and learn a bit more than they thought. May and Yo-Yo train and talk about love, life, and their new Director. They even joke about how much May is talking, which she was never really known for in the past.
The Very Far Away Team finds something interesting, but it leaves them with more questions. Keller and Yo-Yo have a talk that starts off as business related and then shifts off in another directions. Keller again shows his sense of humor, and that he’s a good guy. Mac goes to a small bar and ends up having a chat with May. She’s getting a bit pushy about a choice she’s made, ignoring his preferences. They end up with a very informal job interview, and the candidate is very indifferent about his potential new job. We learn some of his flaws and backstory, and what Mac is planning. He does at least sound interested when he hears where the resident geniuses are.
While Simmons studies their only remaining clue, Piper, Davis, and Daisy talk over their options and come to a conclusion. The big bad guy enjoys a meal, gets some reinforcements, and we hear about a plan for more people coming and some preparations that don’t sound good. Simmons makes a discovery but the rest of the team aren’t feeling as excited about is as she is. Their debate about what to do next gets interrupted when a really big ship shows up and they have to go to stealth mode, with some comedic debate about whispering.
May’s new recruit studies one of the leftover bits of weirdness from the earlier scene in the park. They all get a surprise, and then a clue, about what’s next. Oddly, the new development falls right in line with Fox and Keller’s theory. Keller, Fox, May, and Yo-Yo get sent to see what’s going on. The space team gets into a brief battle and then Simmons makes a decision that’s going to have repercussions for a while.
May’s team arrives, and I find it interesting that they have marked SHIELD cars now. I guess the organization is slowly starting to redeem itself and rebuild its image. Mac paces and frets as the team starts getting civilians away from whatever is about to happen. We get a name for one of the bad guys, who comes outside to distract the team as the others finish getting things set up. The distraction works and the bad guys succeed in what they were doing, which has some really surprising results that stagger the team. Before they can get themselves back together, there’s a new arrival with a familiar face. The team is shocked and one of them takes a nasty hit. The episode ends with a hint at what’s happening with one of the missing characters. The last thing we see is a memoriam for the late, great, Stan Lee.
What I liked: They’re back, first and foremost. That was a long break and there was doubt at times they’d return. I like the new characters, and Mac’s “check in.” Mac and May’s long-term plan is very ambitious, but needed if SHIELD is going to keep going. It’s smart of them to recognize they need to start recruiting more brain power. I really enjoy Piper and Davis. Daisy is getting better and better.
What I didn’t: I’m not liking almost anything they did with Yo-Yo. We never see her use her powers, she’s not fighting that well, and I don’t like the personal changes they made for her. Simmons is standing on the ragged edge of obsession, and she’s dragging the others in with her. I’m not sure how I feel about the bad guys, what they’re doing, or what they look like. I get why to an extent, but I don’t like that the various shows are drifting further from the movies, and that they don’t tie together at all.
It was a good return for some old friends. I’m happy to see them again. I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5.