Friday, July 10, 2020

Agents of SHIELD S07E07: The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and the D

© ABC
Radical to the Max!
by Brandon Coulson

Just hit after hit with SHIELD this year as this week’s episode once again just hit every mark in stride. Starting with Deke being debriefed by May post-adventure as a framing device, we knew right away that Deke at the very least would make it through okay. I briefly worried at the start that Mack would be lost or left behind but this episode was just all about the '80s fun.

1982. Synthesizers in full force, the genre mashups were fast and furious here as we got a whole lot of '80s in one package. Sibyl is shown to be still alive and hiding inside a clunky old computer, manipulating a nerdy repair tech into building her a new body that was appropriately terrible and clunky looking. As Mack says later, they go full Short Circuit on the design.

Mack and Deke on the other hand understandably freak out having been left behind in the past, and Mack especially takes things to heart still mourning his parents. Mack even runs off, leaving Deke on his own in a strange time. After checking in on his younger self Mack becomes a recluse just sitting drinking and building models of cars while Deke, upon tracking him down, starts leaving him food and trying to bring Mack out of his depression, unsuccessfully.

Finally weeks and months later, as shown by Mack’s epic beard, Deke finally lures him out to Swayze’s Bar, an obvious homage to Roadhouse, and it turns out Deke has been a bad boy. Yes, up to his old tricks Deke has created a band to “cover” classic '80s songs but prior to their actual creation. Stealing credit and cashing in tracks completely with what we’ve seen of Deke in the past. Actor Jeff Ward looks like he had a ball rocking out as Deke in this episode and when you meet his “Squad”? Just perfection!

© ABC
It turns out Deke has been forming the squad as a cover for the band as a black ops team, a terrible one but all the same. With a very A-Team meets every straight to VHS movie ever feel to it, you get the Chang gang, twin Asian men, along with Cricket the stoner dude and Roxy the together one, and Pachinko the badass Russian woman. Just broad silly characters that in any other setting would have been terrible but here were just great.

Of course for a base we go back to the Lighthouse, this time outfitted with lights and turned into a party pad. Boy that set has paid for itself hasn’t it? We find Coulson survived the explosion here and lives on in a UHF Max Headroom style TV on wheels (love it!) and Deke attempts to recruit Mack back to service by presenting him a brand new shiny Axe/Shotgun! Everything from here on should feel cliché and predictable but I still loved it, especially when we switched genres to horror.

Yes, when the hunter bots come a calling we got shades of Chopping Mall. Poor Cricket gets a hookup session interrupted by one of the Killbots in a bloody death. Actually several extremely gory deaths happen through this section with a surprising amount of blood for ABC. We get an old fashioned suit up montage and find that Sibyl is looking for a timestream device still at the base. After knocking the new team out or running them off one by one, eventually the team managed to take out the bots and save the day! Also unfortunately one small bot gets away with the device and gives it to Nathaniel Malick, so we know who the big bad is next.

This episode was a hilarious and bloody good time. Cheesy in all the right ways. When Mack finally calls Deke “D” and Deke calls him Mack Daddy? That “nope” from Mack had me rolling. This wasn’t the best episode by any stretch but damn if it wasn’t a ton of fun.

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