As the episode title might suggest, Agents of SHIELD manages to to be fun and wacky throughout “Alien Commies From The Future!” even as the lives of SHIELD’s most prominent scientists are at stake.
Directed by Nina Lopez-Corrado from a script by Nora Zuckerman and Lilla Zuckerman, the ladies craft a glorious peek into the MCU during the 1950s. They get the outfits and the lingo down-pat, but they don’t forget about the blatant racism and sexism either. Meanwhile, the Marvel Television Universe becomes more interconnected than its been since the pre-Winter Soldier days of the show, and it’s all for the better.
Stupid White Privilege
The mission in this week’s Agents of SHIELD was to infiltrate the top-secret SHIELD base on Area 51 (conspiracy theorist Skye was right!) and stop the Chronicoms from using Project Helius to destroy the fledgling program in 1955. One of the main things stopping the team from accomplishing their task, aside from not knowing exactly where to find Helius or what was wrong with it, is that they are made up primarily of non-white agents.
While Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Simmons (Elisabeth Henstridge) manage to slip right into the base by pretending to be other white people – because apparently no one in SHIELD carried a photo of Peggy Carter around – Mack (Henry Simmons) and Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova) stay behind to question their latest prisoner.
The prisoner in question is arrogant and loud-mouthed Gerald Sharpe, a pencil pusher from the department of defense who unwittingly possesses the details they need to stop the Chronicoms. Only problem is, he’s a bigot who’s not about to give them any information after he’s already deemed them “commies.”
With some logic and a few great one-liners, they send Deke (Jeff Ward) in to trick him instead – hoping that the Caucasian camaraderie will get him to spill. While it doesn’t work quite as intended, Sharpe does reveal that the ion reactor Helius doesn’t work because nothing on Earth is strong enough to power it. Nothing but the Chronicoms currently infiltrating the SHIELD base, that is.
That’s when Yo-Yo and emotionless killbot May (Ming-Na Wen) must come to the rescue and try to trap the Chronicom themselves before the actual killbots set off the reactor and kill everyone on base. Unfortunately, Yo-Yo still can’t access her speed and May starts regaining emotions at just the wrong time – meaning success is far from assured.
You Don’t Look Like Federal Agents
While the rest of the crew was working behind the scenes, Coulson and Simmons strode right through the front lines and began questioning every member of the SHIELD science team. Their attempts to determine each agent’s humanity were among the most hilarious parts of the episode, with topics ranging from Casablanca quotes to John Wayne’s importance to the word “moist.”
And they almost got away with pretending to be Sharpe and Carter, too, until Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) unexpectedly showed up to rain on their parade. He could never rain on my parade, though, seeing as he’s one of the greatest SHIELD agents to ever grace the screen. And the perfect man for Peggy Carter, thank you very much. I would love to tell you how much Endgame broke my heart by erasing his love story with her, and how Agents of SHIELD stomped on those broken pieces by showing his excitement at the thought of seeing her again… But I digress.
Sousa saw right through their facade and promptly had Coulson and Simmons arrested, which would have thrown a major wrench in the episode’s plans had Daisy (Chloe Bennet) not shown up and cleverly passed herself off as CIA. Bennet and Gjokaj has some fiery chemistry in their few short scenes together, but more importantly Daisy learned that Sousa also believed there were double agents in SHIELD. Too bad they couldn’t chat longer about it because she had to break her friends out.
It was then that both teams of Agents merged in an all-out war between SHIELD and the Chronicoms, with a prolonged action sequence that Lopez-Corrado made even more exciting with some great directorial choices. Even Sousa got in on the fight, giving Jemma enough time to use Chekhov’s EMP to shut down all electronics in the area. Alas, those electronics included EMP Coulson, whose eyes were creepily flickering at the end of the hour for as yet unexplained reasons.
The episode concluded with the namesake, as Mack and Deke convinced Sharpe they were indeed “Alien Commies From The Future” and sent him back out into 1955 none the wiser. And as a side note, there was a very crucial conversation between Deke and Daisy about one life being sacrificed for thousands, but I was too distracted by how utterly gorgeous she looked to fully comprehend its significance.
Thankfully, Agents of SHIELD has made its importance known with this final season. Not only is the storytelling tighter than ever, but the jokes land even more impressively and the stakes feel real. Hats off to our superiors!