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I’ve said it before, but it remains true: much of this last season of Agents de SHIELD felt like a victory lap, a chance for the creative team to come off and have fun as they made their way to the finish line. And while it didn’t exactly lead to the most convincing season of all time, it was quite entertaining to see it unfold. As with most installments in the first part of this season, the halfway point of the final arc in show time is very similar to the writers who watched a few episodes of Legends Of Tomorrow and thought, “Hey, that sounds fun, let’s try that. This is how you end up with Deke transforming his new wave rock band into a group of budding SHIELD agents while he and Mack wait for the Zephyr to reappear in their time. It’s very silly; it’s also a good time.
The most remarkable elements of “The Totally Excellent Adventures Of Mack And The D” are also the ones that sound the most. Of course, it’s fun to do all the whipping zooms and the intentionally cheesy single-seaters, the exaggerated prep montages and the abrupt pivots from idle to regular normal speed. But pay tribute to Sam Raimi Evil Dead style and ’80s genre touchstones like Shopping center to cut feels pretty dated in 2020, so while it’s hard not to smile at fairies, but sympathetic tributes to the tropes of retro horror comedy, it’s also not exactly daring or original. It mainly elicits known laughs, a breezy and pleasant episode that folds the format of the series in a large way and sometimes too cute in half. It reminds of last season’s casino capers in space, silly and light – and far from the best work of the show.
What is most surprising about the absurdity of the episode is what change in tone it is from the first act. Despite the humor injected by Deke’s first visit (“Oh, you accidentally threw the ball outside”), the majority watched Mack’s depression consume him. After visiting his parents’ grave and checking his young age, the director of SHIELD (what does that still mean? He is nothing but the leader of this particular team) settles in a hermetic existence of construction of model cars and drinks. Leaving Deke was already an unusual turning point, but the loss of his family seems to really break something for Mack. Even when Deke attracts him, it is only when the guitarist and budding agent of SHIELD Roxy (the delightfully unexpected guest star Tipper Newton) calls him to ignore his own family (she thinks that young Mack and his brother are of Mack’s grown children) that Mack realizes he’s literally hurting himself in many ways. And even then, it is only when the killer robots attack that the big guy accepts that Deke is right, the Chronicles are always a threat and assume his responsibilities again.
To be fair, almost anyone would roll their eyes on the team Deke has built up. They may be able to make passable interpretations of 1980s pop hits, but their SHIELD training leaves much to be desired. (It mostly seems to be useless somersaults from one defensive stance to the next.) Roxy, Olga, Cricket and the Chang Gang don’t even have a lot of heart – Ronny and Donny flee at the first sign of danger— Cricket is mainly there so that he and his date can be classic cannon fodder for evil robots. Deke’s plan was his usual combination of completely ridiculous and strangely logical: being a rock band, they could travel from city to city with vehicles filled with unusual material and never arouse suspicion. Of course, in his mind, it is only the icing on the cake that he obtains the merit of having written “Walk like an Egyptian” and “Do not forget yourself (forget me)”, the benefits of travel in time a bit like his technological start-up from last season. It is therefore a small miracle that in the end, Mack abandons them and welcomes them as new recruits for the agency. May isn’t the only one finding this strange, though she doesn’t blink when she finds out that Coulson died 20 months after his last appearance as Max Headroom in a TV / VCR.
The most interesting part of the episode is actually the confrontation that follows after Deke tries to show his team to Mack by making them run his dilapidated “gauntlet”. Here there are valid character beats and a glimpse of these two men. Mack is not wrong to point out that Deke falls back into his old tricks – creating a selfish situation that steals from others in the future and pretending to be his, in order to bask in the reflected glow of his false achievements. But Deke isn’t wrong either: he’s trying to grow and evolve, and the simple fact that he stayed by Mack’s side – that he did nothing but try to bring back his boss to reality by creating a plan that he believes will make Mack proud – shows that there is a found loyalty and generosity that is eroding this old selfish survival instinct. This is one of the reasons why the character went from comic relief to a note to … well, comic relief which is no longer so exasperating.
It turns out that defeating the Sibyl-bot and his minions doesn’t really do the job in the end. The dart sees its Timestream crystal returned to it (it is now also in a television), thanks to the efforts of Nathaniel Malick, who survived this collapse of the ceiling last week and is now working with the predictor Chronicom. Assuming he also has the powers he stole from Daisy, we could finally start seeing superpowers again in this ostensible superhero show. This assumes that it does not just turn into Agents de la Deke Squad, This is.
- Although there was even less window dressing appropriate to the era than usual, with the exception of the bar scene, it was fun to see some type of 80s preppie villain in the footage opening (he even had a nasty 80s prepie name, Chip Womack), as well as clumsy robot nemesis.
- Speaking of these charming murderous robots (and their big slogan, “I seem to be lost”), I know there will be references to the original Battlestar Galactica in their bright faces, but it was immediately the most loving plunder of Shopping center to cut I think I have never seen it.
- According to Deke, Cricket has a respectable job selling coke: “Even if I’ve never seen him drink. “
- At least the whirlpool, string lights, and various other accessories helped liven up the dull setting of the lighthouse.
- Ronny, after Deke detonated the killbot: “It was so hard! Deke: “I know, Ronny … I know.” “
- Deke is right: Classes Mack was playing the sax in the group.
- We’re officially over halfway through the season, which means that at best we will have very little time to spend with FitzSimmons when Fitz finally returns. Above all, it bothers me because this couple has been the biggest emotional investment the series has ever created, and they’ve just messed it up in the past two seasons.