Sunday, June 14, 2020

Agents of SHIELD S07E03: Alien Commies from the Future!

Laughs aplenty
by Brandon Coulson

Hopping from the 1930s to the 1950s this week, Agents of SHIELD embraced the sci-fi kitsch of the time in the opening credits and carrying through the episode. Having Area 51 as a SHIELD testing facility made perfect sense and allowed for several fun little jokes about the Zephyr as a “flying saucer” including the opening featuring a young couple “star gazing”.

We got a clearer look at the hierarchy of the Chronocons this week as we see what they refer to as a Predictor and Hunters with the Predictor clearly in charge. This Predictor named Sibyl seems poised to be our main antagonist on the Chronocon side.

Back with the team there was some fallout with Mack towards Daisy and Deke disobeying orders last week though I expected Mack to take a much harder stance than the slap on the wrist the two got here. I also got the distinct feeling that Daisy did not get the message and there will be more attempts to change history going forward.

I really enjoyed the explanation of the terms and time limits on their jumps that we got here as it is described as drifting in the Chronocons' wake, no real control but just trailing them to where and whenever they go. Still a lot of questions to be answered but a nice start.

Our main crux this week was a test at the Area 51 base of a new ion fusion engine with SHIELD big wigs from all over coming to attend the test. A prime target for stamping out what at that point was still a fledgling organization.

Now last week I complained that the time period was an afterthought and I was pleasantly surprised to see this episode took full advantage while staying thrifty on the budget. Basically keeping the entire episode on the Zephyr, the base, and a diner set. Yet still giving plenty of opportunities for social commentary and biting humor at how backwards people in the past were.

The main ways they did this were at the Diner where the looks from the waitress to Mack, as well as a look at the separated bathrooms for blacks and whites, gave some contrast to Coulson’s comments about a golden age of innovation.

Another source of both comedy as well as commentary came from the head of the DOD, a typical racist. sexist, every -ist there is kind of guy. The interrogation moments with the bulk of the team were pretty hysterical. Some more drawn out like Mack’s and then having May just walk in and drop a “he called me Oriental” line with her deadpan face, just perfect. Having them send Deke in to try and when he realizes it's because of his whiteness, just perfectly played by the whole cast.

Add to this how Coulson and Simmons go undercover to sneak into the base with Simmons passing herself off as Peggy Carter? I loved this episode! Simmons' glee at playing one of her idols and then being discovered by Daniel Sousa was a joy. He even calls her “fake” accent bad. Though it’s sad not to have the real Carter, they made the best of it here.

Another hysterical sequence was the interviews to out the Chronocons by causing emotional responses in the scientists on base. This was just such a fun and funny episode that the fact the few action scenes were a little less than impressive didn’t bother me a bit. Not that they were bad per se but definitely a little sloppy and not as well choreographed as we’re used to.

The main attack being a twist to turn project Helius into a bomb was a clever angle and gave the different groups focus as one tried to stop the countdown and the other fought the Chronocon responsible. With an EMP eventually saving the day and frying the two Chronocons as well as Coulson, for now of course.

Really just a super fun and wonderfully comic outing that fired on nearly all cylinders, giving May and Yoyo some brief but needed vulnerability while still keeping it witty and light, the writing was just on point and a perfect example of how this series shines.

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