Friday, June 19, 2020

Agents of SHIELD S07E04: Out of the Past

A beautiful Noir adventure
by Brandon Coulson

Right out of the gate I have to say this week had style, in major ways! Going full Noir with black and white, dramatic voice overs and great camera work, this episode was a ton of fun and great to look at. They really nailed the lighting and movements in this episode to capture that old Noir feel while still feeling completely at home inside of the usual SHIELD style. Making the whole thing a result of Coulson’s damage from the EMP, not seeing color and having his thoughts as a narrative in his head was a stroke of genius. Even threw in a little Sunset Boulevard for good measure too!

Lots of fun touches were all over the episode like the return of our man Enoch, or rather the team’s return to find him still slinging drinks and becoming a high tech phone operator for the team. The multiple calls all leading to the inevitable sad Enoch were set up and delivered with just the right amount of dry humor. We’ve already seen him rejoin the crew in next week’s teaser but I loved the way this thread played out.

My biggest complaint, and frankly it's not that big, was Deke and Yoyo discussing and then deciding to change the future. I think we all knew there would be something along these lines and we can already see where it’s gonna head. They will do something small that ripples and actually makes everything terrible and the team will have to fix it, pretty basic stuff.

The team's focus this week is helping Agent Sousa deliver a package to Howard Stark and fulfill his destiny of being the first agent killed in the line of duty. Of course Chronocons and Hydra get in the mix and Deke ends up captured while the team ends up with the package that was old school McGuffin as we never find out what the damn thing is or what it does.

Coulson uses his wits to get Sousa to believe he’s a contact for the drop and the two head off on a train for some old school spy stuff including a mysterious woman who turns out to be an enemy agent, and after a bit of fun they end up on the Zephyr with the rest of the team.

Simultaneously Deke is finding out who is pulling Hydra’s strings from within SHIELD as his captor is none other than our buddy Wilfred Malick, twenty years older and much more cold-blooded now. I did like showing the line of repercussions from their actions in the last episodes and getting to see Malick in his full blown villain mode. Though having him let Deke go because he saved Malick’s life only half worked for me. The idea a Hydra head wouldn’t think twice about Deke not aging for twenty years rang false. What would have worked is if he let him go but had him followed. A small gripe but it just felt odd to me.

We finally got answers on what’s going on with May. It turns out her time in that other dimension made her emotionless as a base but also able to feel the emotion of those around her, especially if they touch her. I’m still unsure of where this story thread is heading but I’m willing to give them some leeway to see if it leads somewhere interesting.

What was interesting was Mack’s decision in the end to kinda sorta change history but not really as the team switched Coulson out with Sousa to take his bullets and make his “death” appear real, cementing his place as a legend but then bringing him along to the future as what I can only guess is the show adding him as a regular for the rest of the series.

It makes perfect sense as the criminally underwatched Agent Carter was beloved by the few who did watch (this fella right here) and Sousa’s character was a favorite amongst those fans. Already Sousa has been more engaging than Mack or Yoyo have this season. By the way, someone get Mack his Axe Gun please! With the team moving into the 1970s and the tease of the Chronocons helping 1950s Malick, the season continues to be a joy to watch full with surprises!

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