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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Sign & New Life - Review

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought its sixth season to a close with a double episode. I didn’t love this season, but I didn’t hate it as much as some people did. It definitely wasn’t their most successful season in terms of the story really coming together and gelling. In some respects, I’ll put all the blame for this on Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) shoulders. Not Clark Gregg, who was really terrific in the season! But the storyline. They never should have continued after killing Coulson. The proof to that is just how delighted I was to even have an LMD Coulson back – just that mischievous twinkle in Gregg’s eye and I’m dead. But I’m getting ahead of myself…. Let’s take a look back at those final two episodes…

“The Sign” was written by the team of Nora and Lilla Zuckerman and was directed by Nina Lopez-Corrado. The episode begins from a very confused Flint’s (Coy Stewart) perspective. He quickly realizes that Izel (Karolina Wydra) is the danger, but of course she thwarts his attempt to kill her and takes over Flint’s body to re-build the monoliths herself. I know the shrugging shoulders are supposed to indicate the effort needed to pull together the fabric of the earth to build the monoliths, but it just looks silly. I see nothing wrong with just being still with a look of concentration on your face…

May (Ming-Na Wen) preps Sarge (Clark Gregg), who tells her that all he feels is rage and that she doesn’t want to be around when he lets it out. May tries to explain about Ghost Rider and Robbie Reyes. She tells Sarge that Robbie was able to control it, but Sarge doesn’t think that he’ll be able to. May tells Sarge that she’s going with him to help him let the rage out to defeat Izel and then, more importantly, she’ll help the other part of him rein the rage back in by reminding him of that other part.

Meanwhile, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) has taken over leading the team and briefs them on the plan of attack. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) unveil their latest gadget prototype that will keep them all from being possessed – except they don’t have enough for everyone. Then Deke (Jeff Ward) jumps in with a case full of them! I did love Fitz’s admiring “You’re like a wizard!” Even Daisy is pleased! I also loved the proud Grandma, Grandpa looks on Simmons and Fitzs’ face. They’ve also made shrike-killing bullets, but Sarge with the sword is their best hope to kill Izel.

May and Daisy discuss whether Sarge is ready as they fly to the temple. I loved Gregg just standing stock still in the background – much more effective. May tells Daisy that Sarge thinks he’s ready, but she wished they had more time – she wants to try to separate what seems to be Coulson from Sarge’s “dark passenger.” May tells Daisy that she hopes to send the demon back where it came from if Izel gets the portal open. She also tells her that if she sees a chance to get Coulson back, she’s going to take it. Daisy looks worried.

Once she’s done, Izel leaves Flint’s body, and he collapses from the strain. Izel then goes outside and sends the 1,000s of shrikes waiting in the trees to bring her an army. Where did they come from? It’s just one of the questions that never get answered.

The team arrives and finds the Zephyr and Quinjet empty – but crippled. They check in with base, but Sarge tells them that Izel will be able to hear their communications. They’ll have to go in dark. Fitz and Simmons work on finding a distraction for Izel to help the team get in. Deke then reveals that he’s been working on some new tech. Fitz, once again, tells Deke that if Deke has a way to get past Izel, he really is a wizard. Of course, it’s Fitz’s approval that Deke has been looking for – but it goes badly sideways. Deke asks them not to be mad…. And then reveals that he’s got his start up hidden in the Lighthouse…

Flint finally revives. He asks if Izel is the Destroyer of Worlds, and YoYo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) tells him no, she’s something worse. Flint is happy that they succeeded in saving Earth – and YoYo reminds him that he saved the Lighthouse. He then frees YoYo and Mack (Henry Simmons). They tell Flint that the monoliths didn’t bring him there – YoYo and Mack made him with their minds. Flint asks if he’s even real, and Mack says he looks real to him. So now, he’s truly Mack and YoYo’s son! And who didn’t think of Pinocchio?

Once Flint breaks one cuff, YoYo can break the other without tearing off Mack’s (gigantic) arms. Flint notices YoYo’s arms and realizes that he’s missed a lot. Before they can explain or get out of there, naturally, Izel returns. She jumps into YoYo and breaks Flint’s leg, so they can’t escape. I did love how maternal YoYo got the moment she saw Izel and tried to protect Flint – and is, of course, then consumed with guilt.

Deke takes Fitz and Simmons to his hidden start up – which is still full of lemons and yellow. He then shows them the “Shaw drive” which is just a jump drive. Fitz is NOT impressed when Kaya (Portia Bartley) informs them that the patent is pending… Fitz outs Deke as having stole it. Deke defends him self by saying S.H.I.E.L.D. stole it first and he doubts that the evil aliens have a good patent lawyer! But Fitz isn’t done – he sees – and says! – that Deke stole everything in the room! Deke points out that he borrowed good ideas – he used math and he didn’t steal that! As an Intellectual Property scholar, I loved this scene! This is the crux of IP – the protections are there to provide a limited monopoly so that creators can finance their project (whether patent or copyright) and live, but then the object is supposed to be available for others to build off. That really is how creation works!

Fitz is particularly distressed when he recognizes some of the Framework code (this will be VERY important later in the second episode). Deke tells Fitz that it’s just an advanced gaming system. Fitz is appalled that Deke is profiting from this stuff. Deke reminds him that he said that profit fuels research (Deke isn’t wrong here, but he IS profiting off of the research that someone else has already paid for….).

Simmons sees the possibility of using the small jump drive to get an Agent in the field and maybe even the temple. They ask if it actually works, and Deke tells them that most of the mice survived… But Deke points out that with all 3 of them, they might be able to get it working better. Simmons helps get him on board – and then Deke tells the team to give Nana and Bobo whatever they want.

May, Daisy, and Sarge go in. Daisy asks about the sword, and Sarge says he’s just always had it. When they’re attacked, Sarge shoots the zombie. He’s impressed with the shrike-killing bullets and says he should have thought of that, but he’d never been to a planet that was so into guns! It’s a beautiful commentary on what’s happening with gun violence in the US – and it’s just thrown in. Blink and you miss it. Daisy is distressed that there’s no way to save the zombies, but Sarge confirms that the people are already dead. We get a great fight scene with May, Sarge, and Daisy. When Sarge shoots a zombie they thought already dead, he shocks May and Daisy with his really Coulson-like comment – “Too much? Felt like over kill…”

May checks in with the Lighthouse to tell them they might have blown their cover. Simmons says they might have a fix for them. Fitz doesn’t want to get their hopes up, but Deke’s convinced the jump drive is ready to go. Fitz and Simmons want to run more tests, and Fitz points out that they don’t even know how it works – because Deke didn’t even build it! Deke doesn’t back down, insisting that they are close. I loved Fitz turning to Simmons and saying “you said our grandson was a delight!” to which she responds “he’s a work in progress…” Deke accuses Fitz of being jealous, and Fitz points out that half of “Deke’s” ideas are his! Simmons finally steps in to break them up, reminding them that YoYo and Mack need them.

YoYo – somewhat ridiculously – asks Izel to let them go. It’s an excuse to let Izel monologue. I have to say that I was underwhelmed by Wydra throughout this entire storyline. She was their least successful super villain and that’s in large part to Wydra’s less than stellar performance. She reveals that she’s keeping them as hosts. Mack points out her disdain for human weakness, and Izel counters that they’ve seen that once possessed, human bodies can’t be killed.

Fitz and Deke continue fighting. Fitz accuses Deke of being a hack. He also points out that his BS- charity doesn’t hide the fact that Deke built the company for the sole purpose of making money – not to advance science. Deke finally loses it and confesses that he built the company because nobody liked him. Awwwww. And that does shut Fitz up. Deke continues to explain that he built it because he’s never belonged anywhere, and the place he comes from doesn’t exist anymore, and all his friends are gone (but remember, he didn’t really have the luxury of having friends in that world either). Deke continues feverishly working on the drive as he also says that the woman that he loved – that he gave lemons to (and true confession, I’d forgotten about the significance of the lemons until this moment – still so brill substituting lemons for apple and the underlying resonance of lemons being a negative connotation if you are buying a car… oh show! SO CLEVER!!!) thinks he’s a loser, so he went out into the world to try to be something – and she still thinks he’s a loser, and his best friend turned out to be a spy and his girlfriend a psycho.

Simmons points out that Snowflake (who’s just disappeared btw) wasn’t good for him – but he meant Sequoia. And I loved how that is so grandparent not to be able to keep up with a grandchild’s changing gf/bfs. Simmons tries to point out that they do care about him, but Deke is still hurt that she didn’t tell him that Fitz died. Simmons insists that she wanted to spare him, but he points out that he could have shared that with her and helped. He says even my own grandparents think he’s a joke. He straps on the drive and demands to know what he needs to get a little respect? Fitz and Simmons suddenly realize what he’s about to do and try to stop him, but Deke jumps. The employees just clap – they think he’s cool!

Deke jumps right to Mack and YoYo and immediately puts the Izel blockers on them. YoYo takes the opportunity to blast Izel which momentarily stuns her. Deke is thrilled to see Flint – one of his friends! Deke gives his own blocker to Flint and the four make their escape. Mack recognizes the jump drive, and Deke says he’d give it to Flint to get him out, but when they tested it MOST of the mice didn’t survive! So Deke was actually being really brave to do that jump…

They are quickly overrun by shrike-zombies. Deke tells the others to go, he’ll hold them off because he’s wearing an escape hatch. I loved that Mack called him AGENT Shaw – and clearly so did Deke. He’s not alone – he’s part of the S.H.I.E.L.D. family…. Of course, Deke’s plan doesn’t go well – and his next jump only goes a few feet. He calls the Lighthouse for help, saying the drive isn’t working, and Fitz screams at him that of course, it isn’t! Simmons calms him down. Fitz tells Deke the drive needs time to recharge – 20 to 30 minutes! Deke complains that they didn’t tell him that – but wasn’t he building it?!

May is convinced that Sarge’s joke is Coulson, but Daisy isn’t so sure. When they are surrounded by shrike-zombies, they split up. Daisy goes to try to hold back the zombies and sends May and Sarge to get it done.

Deke starts musing about coming up with a game to kill zombies – and I did love all the zombie references they are able to jam into the episode. He talks about fast and slow zombies – a perennial debate amongst zombie-afficianados and George Ramero fans – and Mack mentions Ramero by name – let’s not forget his thing for scifi and horror! Then Deke mentions using a chainsaw – that would be Ash and the Evil Dead. And further along, Piper (Briana Venskus) makes a comment about zombies, and of course, she’s also been on The Walking Dead.

Meanwhile, Izel begins singing the portal open – and was apparently hiding gigantic robes under that spacesuit. Again, we get the shakey hands to show the effort she’s using. Deke sets up a camera so that the Lighthouse can see what’s going on.

Mack and YoYo make it back to the Zephyr with Flint. Piper tells Mack that Sarge is there and has gone to the temple with May and Daisy. He is going to leave Flint with Piper to fly to safety, and head back to the temple with YoYo. YoYo tells Flint that this world is so much better than the one he knew, but he wants to know that there are still tacos. Mack assures “Pebbles” that he’ll stop at a drive through for him on the way home. Gotta love Mack and his nicknames! Piper takes the Quinjet and flies out with Flint.

May and Sarge wait for Daisy to lead the zombies away, and Sarge hears Izel singing. Sarge tells May it’s her last chance to walk away. May tells him that she’s not afraid and that he’ll do the right thing. Sarge is not so sure, but May tells him that’s who he is. Sarge tells her flat out that even if they can get rid of the alien passenger in his head, what’s left won’t be the love of her life. May tells him that maybe Phil Coulson is gone forever – she’s accepted that, but maybe there is good in him.

Deke jumps again to avoid zombies and finds himself in the jungle…. Surrounded by more zombies. He has to drop the jump drive and run for the Quinjet. Daisy makes it back to the Zephyr before Mack and YoYo can leave. Before they can get in the air, the zombies disable the Zephyr and overrun it.

The closer Sarge gets to Izel the more the rage starts to take over.

On the Zephyr, Mack works to fix it. Daisy isn’t happy that Piper took the Quinjet to get Flint out and he’s not even real! YoYo and Mack are furious – Flint is real and he’s their responsibility. Mack tells Daisy that she has no right to question their judgment, considering that she brought Sarge! They’re interrupted by the arrival of the zombies. Daisy defends her decision, and as she and Mack argue, YoYo asks if they have to do it right now – it totally reminded me of Simmons trying to step in between Deke and Fitz!

I did love that they didn’t stop arguing, however, and Henry Simmons is fantastic in this scene. Daisy tells him that Sarge called her Skye – how could he know that. Mack counters that he went to Sunday school and they told him that when the Devil shows up he’ll be wearing the face of someone you trust and he’ll make you question everything you see. I love how Mack is so strong in his faith and leans on it – without it being all he is.

Fitz and Simmons tell Deke to stay put on the Quinjet and wait for extraction while they watch Izel open the portal and Sarge and May arrive.

Sarge tells May to stay back and grabs Izel by the throat and fling her to the ground. She’s shocked to see that he has the sword. He tells her that her song feels like death and he’s done with the pain. He raises the sword to strike – and then can’t do it. Izel laughs and May looks devastated.

May and Izel play tug of war with Sarge. May identifies Sarge’s pain as love. May confesses that she was afraid of it too. I loved how May takes us right back to the very first episode and how Coulson pulled her out of her cubicle and gave her a family and a place to belong. She reminds him that he loves all of them – but the problem is that this isn’t Coulson. He doesn’t love them – he loves Izel.

Sarge tells May he knows it’s love and how he’s going to deal with it – he’s going to cut it out – and he stabs May with the sword and shoves her through the portal. The sign they’ve been looking for?

The final scene of this episode takes us back to Enoch (Joel Stoffer) meeting with Isaiah (Jan Uddin). Enoch is ready to enact his plan with the other anthropologists, but Isaiah tells him that all the anthropologists on his list have been re-assigned as Hunters – including Isaiah!!! And the episode ends with Isaiah attacking Enoch….

“New Life” was written by the team of Brent Fletcher and Jed Whedon and was directed by Kevin Tancharoen. This episode picks up right where we left off with Fitz and Simmons watching May’s death in horror. Fitz tells Daisy that May is “down,” but Simmons clarifies that Sarge stabbed May and she’s gone. Daisy doesn’t want to believe it – but all the comms go down before they can discuss it further.

The Chronicom Hunters appear in the Lighthouse and start shooting everyone. Malachi (Christopher James Baker) tells the others – no prisoners!

Meanwhile, Daisy, YoYo, and Mack stand in stunned silence trying to come to terms with May’s death (or so we all think at this moment). Daisy tells Mack that he was right, and she should never have trusted Sarge. Cordova-Buckley is terrific here as her grief is powerfully expressed by a single tear. Her very restrained performance here is exactly perfect. Mack tries to walk it back, but Daisy says it’s on her. YoYo tells her to make it mean something.

Deke interrupts them when he can’t get through to the Lighthouse. Mack tells Deke he’s going to have fly to them – he’s going to have to save them! I loved YoYo’s “I’m very confident you won’t die.” Deke tries to take off with no luck – and then discovers that a zombie has ripped a piece off the plane. I’m a bit at a loss as to why Daisy is unable to quake anything in this episode until the very end. All season we’ve seen how far she’s come with her powers and now they seem to be useless…

Isaiah is with Malachi. Simmons and Fitz realize that the attack is an extermination. Fitz tries to call Enoch for back up and gets his voicemail.

Sarge appears to have finally woken up and is ready to help Izel. Meanwhile, in the other realm, May lies seemingly dead and there are three figures wearing pendants that look like the monoliths. They look pretty solid to me – if somewhat skeletal…

Fitz and Simmons follow S.H.I.E.L.D. protocol and head to the rendez vous spot only to find all the Agents there dead. Simmons wonders how the Chronicoms could now because it was a verbal command – not even in the system. Fitz realizes that the Chronicoms know because Simmons did – he realizes that they hacked their brains. Simmons realizes that they need something new – they send Agent Diaz (Geri-Nikole Love) to Deke’s lab, but can’t go with them because they are a liability.

Izel waxes poetic about Sarge’s body, but Sarge considers it a prison. He blasts her into the wall and then holds her by the neck. He wants to know what took her so long… He accuses her of wanting to steal the glory. Izel babbles some incomprehensible nonsense at Sarge and suddenly he’s on board with calling the shrike and giving their people new life. Honestly, this storyline made little to no sense….. She tells him that the shrike will arrive once the last of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been put down. But what about those at the Lighthouse? She’s clearly not in partnership with the Chronicoms, so why isn’t she concerned about more S.H.I.E.L.D. coming for her?

Deke manages to get the Quinjet ready to take off – and even fights off a zombie! Meanwhile, Daisy and YoYo run into trouble when the zombies get into the armory. And YoYo uses her power to take out three of them – right before she swallows a shrike. Mack meanwhile is helping guide Deke – who gets cocky after getting it in the air. Deke does manage to land… after a fashion – basically sliding into homeplate.

Mack goes to YoYo when she and Daisy stagger in – and we get another fantastic scene between these two. I was really beginning to worry that they were our new Fitz/Simmons – always being torn apart!

Fitz and Simmons go after what’s left of the framework to keep the Chronicoms from getting the brainscans of everyone who went in. They need to prevent them from gaining access to Coulson’s scans so that they don’t get all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s secrets – of course, there’s an earlier shot of Malachi holding the black box that Coulson got from Fury – which was totally cool to see!

Fitz regrets losing all the research that went into creating the framework – and it’s hilarious to watch Simmons get mad about it all over again. Fitz back tracks quickly, saying it was just a joke and that the framework was just silly, and Radcliffe definitely had a drinking problem! The two are interrupted by Hunters who are gathering mind tech. The two are ready to sacrifice themselves and blow up the framework. Meanwhile on the other side of the portal, the three figures start to put their pendants onto a pillar. We see that May is no longer lying in her own blood and watch as she pulls the sword out! The pendants are the last thing needed to open the portal to let in the others – who seem to have bodies.

Suddenly, while Izel is gloating, the pendants come flying out of the portal! Izel accuses Sarge of either underestimating May’s strength or maybe he didn’t want her dead.

Fitz and Simmons don’t have a timer – and there’s no way out. They comfort each other thinking they’ll be saving lives. They take the pin out. Simmons says, “Fitz…” and he says “Yeah, me too….” The chronicoms enter – and then Isaiah kills the other hunters! He puts the pin back in the grenade – and suddenly Enoch’s voice is coming out of Isaiah’s face! He discovered that bluffing is much easier if you kill your enemy and take their skin! Enoch tells them that he has a plan that can save their lives – and the lives of the other Agents, but “time is of the essence.” He also tells them that “this” will be the hardest thing that they have ever done – and you just knew what was coming, right? Simmons asks what they have to do, and Enoch tells them “change the natural course of your lives forever.” Fitz and Simmon share a long-suffering look – same old, same old!

Mack lets Deke fly the Quinjet to the temple. YoYo wants to help in the fight. Mack is clearly distraught and urges Deke to hurry up. Daisy and YoYo share a moment. Daisy suggests that if they kill Izel, maybe the shrike will die too. YoYo asks Daisy to kill her if she turns. YoYo knows that Mack won’t be able to do it. Daisy agrees, but insists it won’t come to that. Daisy is ready for revenge.

Izel goes into the portal after May. She points out that death is meaningless there. Izel also accuses May of clinging to life and dreading death. May tells Izel that humans will fight back. May asks if death is really meaningless there because the other three evaporated when she used the sword on them! Izel says that their energy will live on as something else. May says she’s heard that one and tells Izel to get ready to be reborn – and then we get some beautiful wire work as May jumps down of the platform with sword raised high! We get a great fight scene.

Mack, YoYo, Daisy, and Deke make their way to the chamber. They leave Deke behind to take out any zombies. I loved Mack telling them that Deke’s been working on his shooting skills – and they should see his video game! Deke just rolls his eyes and sends them on.

Daisy immediately quakes Sarge and quakes him right out of Coulson’s skin – which again, he seems to have a very definite corporeal body there – her powers are no match for him, however, and when he stops her quaking, Coulson’s skin reforms and he head butts her. Mack goes after Sarge and the two fight. YoYo is about to help when the shrike inside her starts to kill her. She begs Daisy to kill her. Daisy can’t do it, and Mack is no match for Sarge.

The May/Izel sword fight is epic, but Izel gets away long enough to put the pendants in and open the portal. Izel doesn’t care about winning – and May is already dead on the other side of the portal. She leaves her to be taken out by the army coming through.

Mack is losing the fight and sees that YoYo is dying. Daisy hands Mack the knife and tells him that she can’t. Before Mack can do anything, YoYo grabs him by the throat. Daisy goes after Sarge again and he tries to convince her to join them to end her suffering – but the point is that with human hosts they’ll have all the sensations of human hosts – so how does that make sense???

Izel comes out of the portal behind Daisy and is about to stab her, when May – fully knowing she’ll die on this side – comes out after her and stabs Izel – vaporizing her! YoYo immediately spits up the black goo that is all that’s left of the shrike.

May throws the sword to Mack as she collapses and Daisy turns the quake on Sarge. Sarge is totally focused on Daisy, and Mack is able to slice him in two and vaporize him! I loved the team work here! The portal reseals. Mack goes to YoYo, and Daisy goes to May. Daisy tells May that they destroyed the thing inside Sarge and that there was nothing left of Coulson. May wistfully tells Daisy that she was hoping to see him again – and that she’ll see him soon enough. May appears to die… again…. And then Suddenly Simmons is there with a completely new hairdo! She tells them that May will be fine.

A crew comes in and starts dismantling the monoliths. Simmons tells them that they all need to move quickly. They put May in what looks like a cryo chamber. They had back on to the Zephyr which looks completely refurbished. Daisy asks how they did it all, and Simmons tells her that they had help and they had time. She tells them to give YoYo her breathing apparatus – like YoYo’s always had one… And then Deke asks where Fitz is, and Simmons says she doesn’t know – and that she CAN’T know – WHAAAAATTTT?!?!?!?!?

The Zephyr now has a jump drive in it. Mack wants to know what’s going on, and Simmons tells them that the Chronicoms want to establish Earth as their new home planet. The Hunters believe that only S.H.I.E.L.D. can stop them, so they came to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. and everyone in it. She tells them that they lost the Lighthouse. She then tells Fitz that they are ready to launch – at least they can talk to each other? Fitz tells her to tell the others that he’s sorry.

The Zephyr jumps as the temple is blown up and destroyed. Mack wants to know where Fitz sent them, but Simmons has to scan the terrain to find out – she has no idea! Daisy goes to the cockpit – but nobody is flying the plane! They’re over New York. Daisy can see the Empire State Building – but it’s the only building above the clouds. Simmons says it might be the tallest building in the world. Mack immediately realizes that they’ve also upgraded the jump drive – they can now jump through time! How cool would it be if Agent Carter was in the next season????

In the final scene, Mack asks if there are any other bombshells that Simmons wants to share… and there’s a doozy! She tells them that the Chronicoms have Fury’s black box and hundreds of years of anthropological data to draw from. They needed an expert in S.H.I.E.L.D. history and Enoch had a possible solution. They’ve created an upgraded LMD of Coulson! So now we know how Clark Gregg is coming back next season. At least they didn’t leave us hanging. I loved watching Enoch laying out all of the Coulson things.

Simmons says that she was deeply against it at first, and they couldn’t ask May because she’ll be out of commission for a while. Simmons asks what they think, and Mack starts to think about it and what Coulson would want – and Daisy just hits the button! And as soon as he came online, I realized just how much I’d missed that Coulson guy too!!

All in all, this was a disappointing season. Yes, there was some great acting, fights, and special effects. Lots of great one liners – and Maurissa Tancharoen guest staring as Deke’s girlfriend was just epic. However, there were a lot of unanswered questions and fair bit of hand waving to make things make sense – not the tight writing we’ve become used to. My hope for the final season is lots of Coulson – and please, please, please – Agent Carter! Also? If we don’t get a happy ending for Fitz and Simmons – as well as YoYo and Mack, I’ll be super disappointed. And what did happen to Flint? I don’t care if Piper is disappeared, but Mack and YoYo need Flint! What did you think of the episodes? The season? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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