Wow, I really missed Deke Shaw! As this season has begun, introducing us to a whole new world of shady aliens and mysterious villains much like last season did, I have noticed Deke’s absence from the proceedings. But it wasn’t until this episode, when he re-enters the show in spectacular fashion, that I realized just how much I missed his presence.
Deke is basically Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s own home-grown version of Star-Lord. The opening scene makes us think he’s back to that kind of space-faring superheroics…at least until a cleavage-bearing Daisy comes through the door to hug him for being so amazing. That’s when we realize that this whole battle sequence (including a Kree assailant) was just a product of Framework technology. In reality, Deke is currently running his own tech start-up, trying to turn the Framework into a VR simulator and market the food pellets he ate on the Lighthouse to “disrupt food.” He even has a showrunner girlfriend named Sequoia, who is played by co-showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen and makes a delightful addition to this episode.
Once all that set-up and catch-up is out of the way, Deke finds himself face-to-face with Sarge, who stormed into the building and demanded a meeting in a conference room. Sarge may not be Coulson, but he’s smart enough to play along with Deke thinking he is. It isn’t until Sarge makes the mistake of thinking that Deke referring to Fitz and Simmons as his grandparents (remember that?) means they must be old, that the facade starts to crumble. After asking about a few imaginary co-workers, Deke confirms Sarge isn’t Coulson by stabbing his hand with a glass trophy. The hand bleeds, so it can’t be Coulson.
While running from Sarge and his goons, Deke discovers that his long-suffering assistant is actually an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent in disguise. That guy calls for an extraction, so Mack and May duly arrive in a ship to get Deke out of there. But once Mack and May learn that Sarge is inside the building, they change the plan from “extract” to “assault.” Once Deke learns that Sequoia has also arrived in the building by going in through a side door (“you know, as an influencer, I always avoid front doors”), he goes back in too.
Credit where it’s due: After only a few encounters, Mack and May are really getting the hang of Sarge’s gang. Mack delivers a full-on butt-kicking to Pax, who admittedly seems like the weakest of the bunch. Deke helps take out Jaco, the strongest, by luring him into the Framework room. Once Mack sees that the VR contains a flirty version of Daisy, Deke hilariously offers him two percent of the entire company in order to keep quiet about it.
May also manages to take out Snowflake in a one-on-one duel. Maybe this is because I just saw John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum this week, but I saw something particularly John Wick-y about the way May disarmed and took down Snow using…a phone cord. Unfortunately for her, her victory is made bittersweet by the arrival of Sarge, who holds her at gunpoint and takes her captive.
While all this was going on, back at the lab Yo-Yo, Keller, and Benson were trying to make sense of Sarge’s first mission this episode, when he stabbed a random guy with a strange knife. As Benson performs the autopsy, he discovers a parasitic alien bat within the man — which, unlike its former host, is still alive! As they examine it, it even escapes and starts flying around the lab. The only thing they’re not sure about is whether Sarge put that bat inside the man, or killed him to stop it.
Things very quickly take a turn for “heartbreaking body horror” when the bat lands inside Keller and starts taking over his body. Despite Yo-Yo and Benson’s efforts, they are unable to extract the bat, and Keller’s body starts going haywire. Thinking fast, Yo-Yo runs away at superspeed to grab Sarge’s knife from the autopsy table, and uses it to deliver a fatal blow to her lover. It’s intense!
But you’ll still leave this episode with a smile on your face, because the final moments are told through Sequoia’s Instagram story. We saw her on her phone through most of her screentime, and now we see the result: An Insta story that goes from “heading to my bf’s office! He’s so smart!” To “oh my god we’re under attack” to…flirting with Deke’s former assistant. It’s a creative and very funny bit of storytelling, and I honestly wouldn’t mind if we saw more of it.
This was my favorite episode of the season so far. There was a refreshing abundance of humor, horror, and genuine emotional stakes. We’ll see if the show can keep it up.
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