Last episode ended with the Zephyr making another unpredictable time-jump. A while ago, Enoch was marooned by something like this happening. Now, Deke and Mack have been left behind in 1982 for a very odd, but highly entertaining, episode that crams in as many 80’s references as it can. Mack and Deke go through a lot in “The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and the D,” itself a reference to Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Not that we didn’t know they’d all get together again, but the episode opens with a spoiler as May demands Deke explain what happened while they were away. He promises her she won’t believe him, and then launches into a fairly unbelievable tale. In the town of River’s End in 1982, an early computer repair guy gets a big surprise as he tries to fix something for a yuppie and finds a lot more than he expected. After the opening credits being in the old computer green screen format, Deke and Mack talk about their sudden new situation. Deke is trying to be supportive, but Mack takes out everything he’s been through over the last several hours on the poor guy and storms off. While he’s off indulging in the rampant unprofessionalism he was just yelling at Deke about, Mack lays flowers on his parents’ graves, keeps an eye on his family, and somehow moves into a small house. How he affords this, and what he lives off while indulging in self-pity and model cars, is never explained.
There’s a sort of Weird Science vibe at the computer store as things are progressing slowly and ominously. Mack gets a sort of time-lapse montage as he goes in for some extreme self-isolation over a long period of time while he plays with toys and ignores Deke’s repeated overtures of friendship. The hapless computer guy ends up creating something he’s going to regret with some vintage Cylon (original Battlestar Galactica) special effects. Mack is finally lured out of his cave by a note from Deke and running out of beer (how we went that long with apparently no exercise and massive alcohol intake and all that changed was his beard, I’ll never know).
How Deke has been passing the time and supporting himself surprises both Mack and, back in the debriefing, May. Deke’s story continues as he tries to explain what he’s been up to, while Mack looks dubious at best. When he sees what’s happened to the Lighthouse, Mack goes from doubtful to outraged, but his tirade gets cut short when he meets the newest version of Coulson, who has gone very Max Headroom. There’s some banter and then concern about what Coulson is worried Sibyl is up to. Russell the hapless computer guy finds his dreams dashed as Sybil’s plot advances. Deke tries to impress Mack with his new team, and they do decently enough at the start, but some screwups snowball and Mack freaks out at Deke once again. Mack really needs to switch to decaf this episode. The intro Deke does for his new team is very much a nod to the A-Team.
The gaps in Deke’s knowledge of his past lead to some odd misunderstandings, and then the shady Cricket, one of Deke’s new crew, has a really bad night. Roxy, another of Deke’s band of misfits, goes after Mack and gives him the tongue-lashing he richly deserves, which is when Mack finds out more of what Deke has been up to. Mack’s sudden surge of guilt gets interrupted when Sybil, who also has a new team, comes calling with some serious mayhem in mind. Oddly, there’s a Dr. Who reference in here, and that’s not exactly an 80’s specific show. Things start looking bad, forcing everyone to finally work together and Mack to accept one of the many gifts from Deke that he’s turned down.
Mack’s gearing up sequence is right out of Rambo, complete with overly-dramatic music. Coulson has a disturbing theory about what Sybil’s after, and this goofy adventure suddenly gets a lot more serious. The battle is joined, with a Short Circuit reference, and one of Deke’s team really seems to have a minor superpower as things go on. After some comedic bits, the team manages… well, not exactly a clear-cut victory, but they survive and take out some of the bad guys. Deke tries out a new nickname for Mack, which he quickly shoots down. There’s a victory celebration with some amusing language barrier problems, and Mack finally decides to go face up to something. Deke, who really is amazingly kind in this episode, goes with him for moral support and they argue about details of a cover story, which throws in a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band reference. Finally, the Zephyr shows up, and May and Yo-Yo go find Mack and Deke, while Simmons stays behind. Oddly, Enoch, Sousa, and Daisy never show up, which makes this the first episode in the entire run of Agents of SHIELD with no Daisy/Skye/Quake. The episode ends with a happy reunion for most of them, and a disturbing accomplishment for Team Sybil, who gains a new and dangerous ally.
What I liked: The 80’s references were great, and nicely worked in. I didn’t even quite mention them all above. He’s easy to both overlook and underestimate, but I think this episode showed some of Deke’s strengths, even if a lot of it got played for laughs. I’m not sure I need to see more of “The Deke Squad,” but they were entertaining. There was some great May/Coulson banter at the very end.
What I didn’t: Mack really needs to get over himself. Pick one, dude, you can rant about people being unprofessional or go sulk and hermit up for over a year, but not both. I’d really like to know how Mack was supporting himself, because even with Deke bringing him food, there were a lot of other unexplained aspects of that period of time. Where was the “real” SHIELD during all this? They didn’t notice someone taking over a mothballed facility?
This review is a bit shorter than many, because I was trying to avoid spoilers. I enjoyed the episode, even with some of the questions I have about it. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5.