This review contains spoilers for Agents of SHIELD.
Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Episode 8
As the link between the space storyline and the action on Earth becomes clear, the flood of information now coming in increases the excitement in an episode of Agents of SHIELD that seems specifically designed to work towards the collision referred to in the episode title. In a sense, the continued secrecy of Sarge’s team becomes a frustration as a result since it seems counterintuitive to discourage cooperation against a such a formidable common enemy. However, the overall effect of their stubbornness in the face of Izel’s purported mission to reclaim the monoliths, no matter how insidious, is to create a new question in our minds: who are the real bad guys here?
Plus there’s still the lingering question that Daisy thankfully gives full voice to in this episode: why is Sarge identical to Coulson at the molecular level? Although this persistent mystery necessarily takes a back seat to the shrike problem, it wasn’t until this week that we’ve even received a hint that an explanation was attainable, no matter what line of questioning Mack plans on using to get to the bottom of things after the crisis passes. Izel gains sympathy from Fitz and Simmons concerning the man who murdered her crew by saying, “I know what he really is,” immediately bringing into question whether her monstrous methods might be justified, depending on your point of view.
It’s that ambiguity that carries through this episode all the way to its massive cliffhanger that intrigues us the most even though we, like Mack, are “not fluent in vague” and are in fact ready to be done with Sarge’s evasiveness. Sure, the fake Coulson knows they’ll object to his explosive solution that will kill innocent people in a nearby town, but why not deceive rather than obfuscate? They’re clearly too late to stop the converging shrike hosts from forming the crystalline tower that will unleash a planet-killing scourge, so desperation can make for strange bedfellows. But perhaps trust is in short supply since Sarge doesn’t even trust Pax with the full mission.
Obviously there’s more to Izel than her charming smile since Benson discovered her appearance in ancient Incan drawings near the Yucatan monolith site, but it also gives her desire to get back what is hers a larger context than Sarge’s personal quest for vengeance. Obviously the destruction of Chronica-2 and Izel’s subsequent zombie takeover of her hired ship’s crew show the lengths she will go to, but that doesn’t necessarily mean violence is the answer. As a result, the “collision course” of which this episode is merely the first part, takes on several levels of urgency.
Mack thinks destroying the approaching ship might be futile because Izel might not be on it, but we know that Fitz and Simmons are. Obviously he’s not going to take the other option of destroying the truck while sacrificing Daisy and May, so the danger definitely feels very real heading into the credits. Some parts of Sarge’s plan are still enigmatic, such as how the sword will come into play or why Deke had to keep repairing the sonic shrike repulser, but the return of the portal device was a cool way to remind viewers that there are still hidden aspects of the overall strategy. This time, that’s actually a good thing.
The humor felt more natural this week as well, especially with Fitz and Simmons. Although their jump to Earth seemed a bit too easy, Izel’s slow takeover of the ship allowed the pair to revisit Fitz’s misgivings about having missed his own wedding in a less confrontational way than when they were in the cerebral fusion machine. Jemma’s delivery of the line, “Are you jealous of yourself?” was particularly on point, and Fitz’s complaints even when she tried to placate him were the perfect punchline while they awoke to their dilemma of having no way to communicate with their colleagues. Deke had his share of funny moments, too, both with Mack blackmailing him into helping out and with his misunderstanding of Snowflake’s flirtations.
As expected, there’s still a chance that Enoch and the Chronicoms have a role to play, and although the anthropologist might have other plans for rebuilding his race, it’s surprising to see that Viro apparently wants to enter the brain scan of Fitz and Simmons to continue with the time travel strategy or gain some other knowledge. As epilogues go, this one has been the most intriguing of late, returning one of Agents of SHIELD’s greatest strengths to its true form. There may be plenty of questions left to answer, but they’re all pretty damn enticing.
That being said, we, like Jemma, are “sick of space,” and we’re equally as tired as Mack of vague answers from Sarge. Fortunately, Agents of SHIELD has now turned our attention to more important matters like the imminent threat of the shrike as well as keeping us focused on enduring mysteries like the Sarge-Coulson resemblance. Earlier episodes may have felt like the show was treading water, but no one can accuse “Collision Course” of lacking excitement. With the guaranteed payoff in this two parter next week, the story is definitely back on track.