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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Missing Pieces - Review

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned for the sixth season with “Missing Pieces” written by showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. The episode was directed by Clark Gregg – who also returns as a new character – Sarge! It’s been a year since Coulson’s death and things have changed – including Chloe Bennet’s (Daisy) hair. Whedon and Tancharoen have reinvented the show yet again, and I’m still not sure whether I like it or not.

I liked the great re-cap at the beginning because, let’s face it, a lot happened last season and it was a while ago! We begin then, with the death of Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Coulson. A year later, and the team is much larger and split apart. First, however, we are treated to a brief cameo of Joel Stoffer as Enoch. He apologizes to Fitz for failing to protect his cryo-chamber – right before the ship it’s on is blown to bits by hostile forces. The special effect of the energy weapon that blows the ship in half was pretty cool!

Jump ahead a year and Davis (Maximilian Osinski) is piloting the Zephyr around space. I thought the “banter” between him and Piper (Briana Venskus) was a little forced and flat. After landing, they’re boarded by angry aliens. I loved Daisy saying she was “unarmed” – when all the weapon she needs IS her arms. She’s clearly gotten a lot better at quaking things and just destroys their weapons. Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) has clearly had a bad year – and is seemingly ruthless. I’m not a fan of the new bang-look… I did love the move Daisy used to bring down her opponent to convince him to give them free fuel.

Meanwhile, back at the Lighthouse, S.H.I.E.L.D. is a going concern again with Mack (Henry Simmons) at the helm. They are tracking some kind of electrical activity that Simmons identified before she left – but didn’t explain. We see May (Ming-Na Wen) and Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) are part of new teams.

When the energy spikes, a group of basketball players in a park have their basketball shatter and then see birds come out of the paved court! Even weirder is the appearance of Jaco (Winston James Francis) from a concrete wall followed by Tinker (Xavier Jimenez) who doesn’t make it quite all the way out. May and Keller (Lucas Bryant) show up and tell Jaco to surrender – but he just shoots them down.

Back at base, they debrief. Keller says he had a clear shot – until May warned him about the kids in the area. Mack says they made the right call – but the mistake was engaging from the air and not the ground. I loved them trying to come up with a word for what’s happening and May saying “anomalies” was used up last year! Still some clever dialogue on this show! There is some definite tension in this scene between Yo-Yo and Mack.

Mack and the team seem to be stumped about what is going on. They mention that their two brightest minds have been MIA for months. Mack calls on them to come up with any ideas or theories. Fox (Levi Meaden) puts Keller in the hot seat by saying Keller has a theory. Keller points out that all of the incidents have taken place on lay-lines – energy lines that criss-cross the earth. Keller suggests that it may help them narrow the search. He reminds them that they asked for stupid ideas – and he’s full of them – which earns him a chuckle from the others. Of course, he also looks directly at Yo-Yo when he says it – and May notices.

Mack assigns Yo-Yo to continue training with May because if this guy is a monster – as seems likely – Yo-Yo will have to handle him. He then says he’s late for his morning check in and dismisses the meeting. Fox wonders who he’s checking in with, and Keller offers “his boss.” Cut to a hologram of Coulson, giving Mack advice – and a bit of a pep talk. For one shining moment I hoped he really, really wasn’t dead… May interrupts and Mack admits he still watches Coulson’s notes. May tells him that Coulson would be proud of him – he’s become a good leader. Mack says he’ll never be the Director Coulson was – and May tells him it’s not a bad thing to be different.

The year anniversary is the next day, and Mack wants to mark the day by putting a proposal by May into motion. She tells him that she’s still working on a department head. Mack tells her that she’s doing a good job with recruitment – they’ve got lots of muscle, but they need more brains.

Meanwhile in space, Simmons is busy torturing their prisoner. They know Fitz’s ship was cut in half and they think the prisoner sold traceable fuel to Enoch that allowed whoever cut the ship in half to find it. It turns out that he didn’t sell the fuel, but the other half of the ship is there.

May and Yo-Yo spar, and May gives her more than fighting advice. She tells Yo-Yo that she needs to work on her poker-face – she saw what passed between Keller and Yo-Yo at the meeting. Yo-Yo asks if it’s against the rules, and May actually encourages her to pursue it! Wow! Has May changed! She also points out that Yo-Yo doesn’t have to protect Mack’s feelings – he’s a grown man. Yo-Yo tells May that she tried everything with Mack – he didn’t retreat into his work, but he did shut the doors on her. May tells Yo-Yo that if the last year has taught her anything, it’s that life wasn’t mean to be lived alone! Wow again! Yo-Yo teases May that that was a lot of talking and asks if she’s ok! Then the two go back to sparing – it’s a nice scene between the two that really highlights how they’ve both changed. Does anybody really think that Yo-Yo and Mack are over each other though???

There’s a nice little throw away explication as Simmons, Daisy, Davis, and Piper board what’s left of the ship. Simmons remarks on finding out that there was a complete loss of cabin pressure that it’s times like these that she regrets changing the timeline – so that’s why Fitz’s path to the future also changed. The find the capsule – which would have ensured that Fitz survived the loss of cabin pressure – but it’s empty! Piper points out it’s not a dead body – but Davis points out that it IS a dead end – or so it seems.

Agent Keller comes to unit commander Rodriguez to get approval to pursue his lay-line theory. She gives him the approval and then tells him that May is onto them. They decide to put the brakes on their relationship for the time being. Yo-Yo says she needs time for herself – she’s not worried about Mack, but I definitely warmed up to Keller when he joked about being worried because Mack isn’t small – and then clarified that he really just had too much respect for him to want Mack to find out through word of mouth. I also liked that Keller was completely fine with leaving it up to Yo-Yo on how to handle it.

May meets up with Mack in a bar. It’s one of the things Coulson told him to do – stay grounded with the people they’re fighting for. He has three touchstones – Coulson in the morning, the bar in the evening and Baptist Church on Sundays. I loved May teasing him that he really just likes the beer on tap at the bar! I’m really glad that they let May grow from her time with Coulson and that his death didn’t send her spiraling backwards. Like Simmons…

May is at the bar on S.H.I.E.L.D. business. She’s found a department head but needs Mack to get the yes. He’s dismayed that she’s invaded his “sacred space” – but the guy’s already at the bar! May has brought him Dr Marcus Benson (Barry Shabaka Henley) who was a professor of Andrew’s and then his good friend. He has an IQ of 160 and is head of Natural Sciences at Culver University. He doesn’t exactly give Mack a warm welcome, however. Benson says he’s not interested in the position – but his university is lightening his load and he’s not sure if it’s because of his proximity to May or because of his drinking – which does appear to be a problem. I really liked that they simply slipped in another important fact about Benson – that the love of his life was a man, whom he lost.

Mack actually uses that fact as a way in, telling Benson that they lost someone too. A leader, a teacher, who they don’t want to forget. They need brains to fill the hole that he – Coulson – left. The project is to re-build S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy! Benson doesn’t want to help them chase “boogeymen.” It looks like Benson is going to walk away until Mack tells him that two of their best minds are away in deep space – and that deep space comment hooks him in!

Daisy and Piper are ready to give up, and Daisy says that Simmons has never let doubt creep in. They’re worried about Simmons. Piper again looks for the brightside – maybe Fitz found an escape pod. Daisy declares it’s time to head home and re-group, and Piper and Davis are completely on board. Daisy thanks them for sticking with the mission. She says it’s time to get back to their loved ones. Simmons looks like she is losing it when she crawls into the cryo-pod and does shed some tears, but she also notices some writing on the inside of it.

I loved the offhand way that Simmons declares she learned to read alien over the last year! She tells them it says where the chamber was made, and she’s sure that that is where Fitz would have gone to re-freeze himself. Daisy says it’s a longshot and that going that deep isn’t smart. Simmons insists that they can’t let the trail go cold. Davis flat out says no. Davis pleads to see his kid. Daisy insists that the Zephyr is banged up and they need to go back.

The argument is broken up by the reappearance of the Confederacy who have somehow found them. Simmons points out that if they didn’t think they were so strong, the Confederacy might send smaller ships. She also points out that they don’t need to whisper because sound can’t travel through the vacuum of space!!!

Jaco is joined by Butterfly (Brooke Williams) and Trok (Matt O’Leary). Learning about Tinker, Butterfly declares that he is now a butterfly. They also discuss that Sarge’s crossing is not clear – there’s a museum in the way.

Meanwhile, as Benson examines Tinker, he detects some cybernetics – and Tinker suddenly reanimates and gives a warning. He also drops a time device. Mack immediately knows that they have their next location. The teams set out for the Natural History Museum of Muncie, Indiana. Jaco and the others are already there… Did anyone not love the kid’s dinosaur balloon?

Back on the Zephyr, we get some more spectacular flying by Davis once the Confederate ship starts firing on them. They have to jump – and Simmons has already programmed the jump to her coordinates.

At the Museum, Butterfly buys them more time to set bombs by cutting herself and then pretending that her son is being held hostage. The special effect that blows up the museum is spectacular! Maybe not the best ever in the show, but certainly some of the best on tv. Communications at base are knocked out and everyone is shocked from the blast at the scene. Fox tries to take down Butterfly while May checks on Yo-Yo. May is the first on her feet and just gets out of the way when a huge transport appears out of the smoke. She struggles to her feet again – even more blurry eyed. Fox attempts to shoot Sarge – but hesitates because he thinks he’s looking a Coulson! Sarge declares he’s never heard of S.H.I.E.L.D., kills Fox, and gathers up his team and leaves.

In the final scene, we see a shadowy figure working on some machine. An alien language argument occurs, and the shadowy figure tells the other to tell the Controller that he’ll be there in a minute. He injects himself with something and turns around to reveal that it seems to be Fitz – but what is he doing to himself!?!?!? And is this really Fitz?

A lot of balls got thrown in the air in this episode. Simmons has clearly been damaged due to the events of the last year, while May, Mack, and Yo-Yo have changed in more positive ways – Mack and Yo-Yo’s break up notwithstanding. I love that May and Mack are working on reestablishing SHIELD academy in Coulson’s name – and I think Benson is a cool new addition. The quirkier the character, the better the Whedon and Tancharoen seem to write them! I’m curious about these new villains and why Sarge has Coulson’s face – is he simply a cyborg based on Coulson? What did you think of the premiere? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!


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