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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and The D - Review

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and The D” was written by Brent Fletcher and was directed by Jesse Bochco. Fletcher clearly has an encyclopedic knowledge of 80s movies – from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure to Short Circuit to the Karate Kid to… well better than me. There’s no way that I got every reference in the episode even though I lived through the 80s. Just FYI? I never saw Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure as I was never interested in the Three Stooges either. Frankly, this episode felt a bit like filler to me. Yes, it gave Mack (Henry Simmons) some time and a reason to get back on track, but otherwise, it felt rather pointless. Regardless, this is our last season (more reason to be upset with seeing so little of the rest of the team), so let’s dive in for a closer look.

The episode picks up with May (Ming-Na Wen) debriefing Deke (Jeff Ward), so there’s no real tension that Deke and Mack aren’t going to reunite with the team by the end of the episode. Given that Deke isn’t wearing aging makeup, we can also assume that they haven’t spent too long apart.

        We then jump to a typical computer nerd – Russell (Austin Basis) – who is clearly into robots. He’s built on to bring him his candy – which I’m pretty sure were Milk Duds. He’s interrupted by Chip Womack (Karl Girolamo) – a typical 80s yuppie – bringing in his hard drive to be fixed which was fried in the previous night’s “power surge.” The two went to high school together, but Chip doesn’t recognize loner nerd Russell because of course, Chip ran with the popular crowd. As soon as Russell plugs it in, the hard drive starts pumping out odd characters and then talking with him directly. It’s not long after Russell asks who it is, that a dot matrix picture of Sibyl (Tamara Taylor) prints out. I loved the old computer font of the title card this week – though it should really have been in that ugly old orange!

We then jump to right where we left off with Mack and Deke being stranded in 1982. At first, Mack seems distressed that he “just needed a minute” and he’s actually abandoned his post. Mack is then distracted by the fact that in 1982, he would have been 10. He’s also convinced that Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) explosion would have taken out all the Hunters and ended the mission. They’ve won. Deke disagrees – why would they have pitstopped in 1982 for five minutes? Mack agrees that nothing makes sense. But that just reinforces Mack’s belief that no one should ever mess with time. The past is sacred.

Deke sees that Mack is hurting over his parents and tries to comfort him, but Mack seems to blame Deke for not following orders and killing Malick. They were supposed to cause ripples – not waves in the time stream. Deke doesn’t rise to the bait and reminds Mack that he lost his parents too. He’s willing to talk when Mack wants to. I actually really did like how Deke just kept being there for Mack, taking care of him – both his adult and child versions. Deke points out that the Chronicoms might still be there – maybe that’s why they were there, but Mack is done. He gets on his motorcycle and tells Deke to figure it out as he rides away.

Mack goes to his parents’ graves and then is about to go and visit his 10 year old self with a car model, but in the end can’t go in. Mack then gets an apartment – or maybe it’s just a motel room – and wallows in beer and building models with Deke dropping off food and trying to get Mack to engage. New Year’s Eve passes – and now it’s 1983.

Meanwhile, back at Russell’s he’s had his computer repair store closed for a week – being Sibyl’s hands and building her a voice. He’s thrilled that she sounds like an actual woman. She tells him as she’s always been and will be again – uh oh…. He also tells her that her blueprints are light year’s ahead of anything he’s ever seen – also uh oh. I loved the Farah Fawcett picture on the wall behind him too – lots of cultural references there too – I love the detail even in the sets!

For whatever reason, when Deke invites Mack to come to Swayze’s Bar to see the band, Mack decides to go – maybe just because he’s out of beer anyway. This was clearly a shoutout to Roadhouse, the classic 80s movie starring Patrick Swayze as a bar owner….

      Meanwhile, Russell brings Sibyl red roses – because they match her eyes. She’s grateful, calling it a truly human gesture. She looks like a cross between the robot in Short Circuit and the Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica (technically a 70s show). Her red “eyes” even sound like the Cylons! Of course, there is also an echo of the Daleks from Dr Who later in the episode when one of them declares “Exterminate!” when attacking the Lighthouse.

At the bar, Mack reluctantly asks the bartender (Azalea Davila) if she knows Deke – The D – and she asks if he’s joking. Everyone is there to see The D – and lucky for Mack the band is about to do their encore. Deke is up to his old tricks and comes out singing the Simple Minds classic “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” – made famous by The Breakfast Club. Ward is actually a pretty good singer! Mack is pissed off – and then Deke reveals to the Director – that his cover band is in fact cover for his S.H.I.E.L.D. squad! And this felt a whole lot like The A-Team to me – complete with music and font from that show.

Roxy Glass (Tipper Newton) is covert ops and is the brains, Tommy (John Yuan) and Ronnie (Matt Yuan) Chang are masters of disguise (and honey pots), Olga (Jolene Andersen) is Russian and a demolitions expert, and Cricket (Ryan Donowho) is really just a drummer. There’s also a nice connection here between The A-Team and Battlestar Galactica as Dirk Benedict was in both… There’s even a tie in to the Pepsi/Coke wars of the 80s as Deke thinks that Cricket’s steady job is selling Coca-Cola – but of course, it’s actually that Cricket is a drug dealer….

Mack tells Deke that this is terrible spy craft – it’s too high profile. Deke maintains that it’s perfect. They move freely from town to town with high tech equipment and any strange behavior can be chalked up to drugs. And please explain to me that Deke doesn’t understand that “coke” means cocaine – that makes no sense and is really just lame and lazy writing. The joke just falls flat. Deke tells Mack that they need a leader – especially with all the enemy chatter they’ve been picking up. Mack asks if the Chronicoms are back – and Deke takes Mack to HQ…

Mack is pissed that Deke’s turned the Lighthouse into a party pad for his friends. And then Deke says that Coulson was fine with it – and Mack is stunned – I simply cheered! But I knew that Coulson couldn’t be dead. In fact he was completely saved to a hard drive. It’s pretty hilarious that Coulson spends the episode as Max Headroom – again complete with green background and semi-glitchy picture. Coulson fills Mack in on Sibyl. He’s pretty sure that she’s still out there, and he tells him about her using the time stream to predict the future. Coulson found evidence that Sibyl slipped into the River’s End power supply – hence the surge that launched her into Chip’s hard drive. Coulson thinks that Sibyl is building new Hunters.

Meanwhile, Russell is still running errands for Sibyl. Including sending him to an Ammo Emporium. Russell returns and catches Sibyl building more robots. Russell is devastated – he had waited his whole life for her. He tells her that she can’t leave him – they’ve shared too much. She agrees – he knows too much… and we’re back with Mack’s killer robots! Russell is killed in very bloody 80s style horror mode!

We get a great scene between Mack and Coulson as Mack pushes Coulson’s tv/VCR body. Coulson is happy to see Mack – the last YEAR (!) hasn’t been easy. Coulson tells him that the hardest part has been not having the team around. He comments that Mack must really miss YoYo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), but Mack is just as happy not to have her see him “like this.” Coulson tells him that isolating himself just isn’t healthy. You need others around you, especially in the tough times.

Deke has gathered the team to run them through the “Gauntlet” training session for Mack. This is a reference to a popular 1985 video game. The team is a disaster. The Chang gang shoot their other team members and Olga uses live explosives! Mack isn’t impressed, but Deke asks him not to give up on them yet. Deke then shows him the beautiful shotgunaxe that he’s made for him. Mack isn’t having it, but Deke’s had enough of coddling him. He tells him that he’s been on the bench for long enough. The team needs him and Mack needs to get it together! Mack is harsh as he tells him the team is a joke and it’s lead by a “Peter Pan in constant need of attention.” Deke doesn’t get angry for himself, but he does tell Mack not to talk about his team that way. Mack accuses Deke of falling into the same old patterns, surrounding himself with a bunch of sycophants. Deke tells him that they have his back – the way he had Mack’s = and Mack didn’t have to ask. It’s just what friends do. Mack walks off, telling Deke that he’ll leave him with his….

But the Chronicoms have already infiltrated the Lighthouse. Cricket definitely had a Kurt Russell, Big Trouble in Little China vibe going on. He’s also the most expendable, so according to 80s horror logic, the fact that he’s having sex with a groupie means he has to be the first to die.

Before Mack can leave the Lighthouse, he’s stopped by Glass who gives him a well-earned dressing down. She tells him how much Deke looks up to him. She also gives him crap for not even looking after his own kid – looks just like him, has the same name…. She tells him that Deke looks in on him every couple of weeks and brings schools supplies, toys and even a drum kit for him and his brother. Mack shakes his head saying he didn’t know – and it’s clearly given him pause. They are interrupted by a robot. Glass looks like she’s about to buy it, but Mack just says, “not again!” and pulls her to safety.

Deke is commiserating with the Chang brothers. They tell him that they don’t need Mack anyway, but Deke tells them that every team needs a good leader – and that’s not him, he’s too much of a dreamer. They suggest they concentrate on the music, and Deke admits that he didn’t write those songs – not even “Walk Like an Egyptian”! Tawni (Lynden Orr) interrupts just long enough to announce that Cricket is dead before being murdered herself – off camera with a blood pool of 10 people!

Mack realizes – and tells Glass – that Deke was right. He also tells her that these robots killed his parents. Mack has an opportunity for revenge now. Mack tells her “Somewhere, somehow, someone’s gonna pay” – and that’s a direct quote from 1985’s Commando.

Olga is losing against the robot, when Glass and Mack come to the rescue. Mack tells Deke he never should have left and we get the hero handshake. Olga suggests that they robots won’t stop until they kill the leader – she’s not wrong. Mack is ready to lead the team – who are willing to have him – and he suits up – like Rambo – and grabs the shotgunaxe.

After Coulson gets himself included in the planning circle, he tells them that he’s figured out that Sibyl is attacking the base because it must be where the time stream is. And he’s not wrong.

The team takes out one of the robots, but when Sibyl shows up, she’s got lasers and takes out Olga! That’s it for the Chang brothers who admit to being cowards and run away. Deke, Glass, and Mack work together to take out Sibyl. Mack even calls Deke, D! It’s hilarious when Deke tries to call Mack, Mack-Daddy and Mack immediately says, “Nope.” And Deke rogers that!

Meanwhile, however, the very first little robot that we saw Russell with makes off with the time stream.

The team celebrates. Ogla makes a pass at Glass – who doesn’t get it. The Chang brothers return and apologize and Deke welcomes them back. Mack and Coulson have realized that Sibyl is still alive somehow and got the time stream.

Mack and Deke go to see his younger self. Mack sees that his uncle’s car is nice than he remembers – and knows that’s because of Deke. Mack asks how he and Reuben are doing… and Deke says it’s hard. He knows first hand that that pain never goes away completely. Deke assures him that his Uncle Marcus (Marcus Jordan) has been great and that young Mack and Reuben are even closer in this timeline. Mack has brought another model car, and Deke tells him to do it – it will help. Deke is going to introduce him as a member of the band – the sax player…

And then we’re back on the Zephyr. Simmons (Elisabeth Henstridge) tells May and YoYo that they have 27 days to rendez vous back with the Zephyr. We get another nice scene between May and YoYo. May assures YoYo that Mack is ok – they have his location. YoYo points out that there is quite a difference between being alive and being ok – it’s now been 20 months. She is upset that Mack had to go through losing his parents alone.

YoYo rushes immediately into Mack’s arms when they get into the Lighthouse. She tells him she was worried about him, and he tells her that she’s getting better. May arrives and says hello to Deke and Coulson. Coulson is a little upset that she isn’t at all surprised to see him. She tells them that Simmons gave specific orders to find his hard drive. May does agree that it’s their most important asset though – nice of her to throw him a bone, right? I loved the banter between the two as always. She teases him with whether or not Simmons has a new body for him – of course she does! Mack tells YoYo that it helped that he had time and friends. And it looks like the others have become reasonable Agents.

The final scene has the robot deliver the time stream to Nathaniel (Thomas E Sullivan) who has Max-Headroomed Sibyl. How is he NOT dead??? And this is not a good team up! At least, it’s not good for our team.

If you are a fan of the 80s, this episode was for you. However, with such a short season, I really wish that we’d had a more team centered episode – and again, WHERE IS FITZ????? There were some good moments in the show – and I do like having Mack-isodes, even if I do find Deke annoying in large doses. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! And definitely add in all the 80s references that I missed!!!!!!!!

Max Headroom....e

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