By Christian Holub
July 08, 2020 at 11:00 PM EDT
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Well, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. took last week’s cliffhanger and had as much fun as possible with it. For that, I have to applaud them. It’s a nice counter to how heavy things have gotten recently, too. 

After killing robots who killed his parents and stole their faces, Mack stormed off to be by himself. Deke, who also lost parents at a young age, went to comfort him, only for the Zephyr to immediately disappear back into the timestream without them. This episode, hilariously titled “The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and the D,” picks up right where that left off. Mack yells at Deke for killing Wilfred Malick and possibly causing the kind of time-ripple that would sweep the Zephyr away. He might be channeling his anger over one loss into another, but in any case, he’s not in a mood to take comfort from Deke. They split off and try to make do in the ‘80s. Luckily for them, it’s a much more recent decade than any they’ve been to lately, and thus much easier to fit in. Their clothes don’t even seem out of whack. 

This goes double for the writers and creative team of the show. Clearly, they are much more familiar with the vibe of the ‘80s than the previous decades we’ve visited. Many of them probably lived through it, and trust me, as someone who was born after the ‘80s, you still spend your whole life hearing about them. It’s much fresher in the cultural memory. I think that explains why other season 7 installments were focused around one or two main references (the Sunset Boulevard schtick in one of the first Sousa episodes, for instance), and this ‘80s episode goes all over the place. We get glam rock, superteam action movies, and a little bit of Cold War flavor too. 

The fun starts once Mack finally agrees to leave his house and meet up with Deke at a bar. He soon finds that Deke has been a lot more productive in the months they’ve been stuck in the past. The time-displaced scavenger has now created a band called “The Deke Squad.” His dance moves are a hit with the ladies in the audience, as are the songs... since no one will hear The Breakfast Club soundtrack for a couple years, it all sounds new to them! Deke is doing a Marty McFly/Chuck Berry speedrun, basically. Mack obviously doesn’t approve, though Deke soon explains that his “cover band” isn’t just a band that plays cover songs; the band is a cover for the spy work that Deke wants to do with the help of Coulson (whose machine consciousness is now residing within a very '80s computer). He introduces the squad in true ‘80s action movie montage style: There’s Roxy Glass, a “covert ops” specialist; Tommy and Ronny Chang, a.k.a. “The Chang Gang;” Olga Pachinko, a demolitions expert with the kind of thick Russian accent that defined ‘80s movies; and Cricket, the drummer who has no idea about the rest of it. 

Mitch Haaseth/ABC

Unfortunately, Deke isn’t the only one who’s been rebuilding his resources. Sybil, the Chronicom leader we saw Coulson speaking with last week, has also landed in the ‘80s. She’s trapped in what is by her standards a prehistoric machine, but she’s able to entice some loveless tech nerd into helping her improve. Soon, she’s able to start building “Hunters,” though these ones look much more like R.O.B. from Super Smash Bros. than the villains we’re used to. They do a lot with a little though! When these Hunters infiltrate Deke Squad headquarters, they turn Cricket and his lover into bloodstains with nothing but a spinning blade. There’s something very Doctor Who about them. 

After the Hunter kills Cricket and overwhelms Olga, Deke, and the Changs think they’re done for... until Mack finally returns to his old heroic self and wraps it up with a chain. They destroy the other Hunters just in time for the Zephyr to reappear 21 months after it last teleported away. Mack introduces May and Yo-Yo to new S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, so I guess the Deke Squad is sticking around! So, apparently, is the insufferable Gideon Malick, who has found a new partner in Sybil. 

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Episode Recaps

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.

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  • TV Show
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  • 6
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network
  • ABC
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