In “The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and The D,” Agents of SHIELD offers up a totally excellent cross between Back To The Future and Yesterday. While Mack (Henry Simmons) mourns the death of his parents in the childhood home his younger self has vacated, Deke (Jeff Ward) cribs from future chart-toppers as a cover to start his very own SHIELD team.
The episode pulls double duty by giving Mack the time and space he needs to grieve without becoming a plot point and also adds layers to Deke’s character that may have been forgotten in the wake of his comedic relief.
A Peter Pan With A Constant Need For Attention
From the moment the Zephyr strands them in 1982, Deke proves himself to be a more thoughtful friend and agent than anyone could have expected. He is ready to support Mack through the loss of his parents and continue the hunt for the Chronicoms in case the fight isn’t over, while the SHIELD Director is actually the one who balks. Mack needs to recover from his grief, but he also holds his subordinate partially responsible for not following orders and shooting Freddy of his own accord in 1976.
Of course, Deke isn’t really to blame, but it’s heartwarming to watch him simply shrug off his friends’ accusations and refuse to stop dropping by. In the meantime, he’s been plaintively singing “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” with his band The Deke Squad like he invented it instead of Simple Minds. But not to worry, he’s not in it for the fame – but rather for the unfettered access to travel and perfect cover story for high-tech equipment and bizarre behavior. He’s been training his own SHIELD squad alongside a “head on a UHF channel,” AKA the latest iteration of Coulson (Clark Gregg) after the explosion burned up his body.
The team are actually a lot of fun, including Roxy the level-headed tactical genius, Olga the demolitions expert who can’t speak English, the Chang brothers who hate lasers and love cowardice, and Cricket the… drummer. They may not be highly skilled in spy work or combat, but they are extremely loyal to Deke and patient with Mack while he shuns them due to his own hang-ups. Coulson even manages to track Sibyl’s energy transmissions enough to figure out that she’s looking to create her own army of hunters, which means they’re almost ready when their SHIELD base is attacked by a crew of killer robots.
You Have Served Your Purpose
Running parallel to the Mack and Deke show was the story of a man named Russell who ran into the computer program of Sibyl while doing some routine maintenance. Excited to hear a real voice come out of the hard drive, he tinkered her back to life – in the form of an old-fashioned metal robot, no less – and devoted his life to pleasing her.
Unfortunately, her plans extended far beyond him, as we all know. She killed him as soon as she had the ability to make her own robots, and then it was back to the SHIELD base to retrieve the time stream that would allow her to control the future of humanity and Chronicoms alike. This was where the episode went from buddy comedy to slasher film, as members of the crew were picked off one by one while Mack and Deke got their act together.
Thankfully, the Dalek-esque invasion (complete with an “Exterminate!”) also served a purpose: helping Mack see Deke in a new light. He learned that his carefree friend had actually been checking in on his younger self, making sure he led a good life after his parents’ death. That piece of information, along with the imminent threat of danger from robots, helped the men work together with their new team to defeat Sibyl once more.
Of course, she’s still not dead – but at least they aren’t either. Instead they manage to whip their team into shape by the time May (Ming-Na Wen) and Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova) come to their rescue and return them to the Zephyr. The Mackelena reunion was soft and fluffy beyond compare, but May actually being glad to see Coulson – and even hinting he may get his body back – was nothing to slouch at either.