Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: “Afterlife” (Season 2, Episode 16)


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. chased its two main stories this week by introducing some new faces and welcoming back old friends, but with this episode, the second season is now two-thirds over and the series isn’t giving up any hints as to how it will bring together all the various threads. Will the Inhumans be brought into conflict with S.H.I.E.L.D.? Will the two halves of S.H.I.E.L.D. come into conflict (a civil war?) as to how they’ll react to the Inhumans? And in the short-term, whose loyalty will go where?

To begin with, we learn that Gordon transported Skye to the Inhuman hideout that may or may not be in China, but is nonetheless called “the Afterlife” by those that live there. We’re told by Skye’s handsome new friend Lincoln that the people that live there don’t all have powers, but they all have the potential. One is chosen every couple of years to undergo Terragenesis, but Skye and Raina are now legendary for getting their powers through diviners and in a Kree temple. For everyone’s safety, Gordon is the only one that accesses the outside world. Sometimes, he even brings them back some deep dish on Pizza Tuesdays.

Introducing people into the newly super-powered world is old hat to the man that plays Lincoln, Luke Mitchell, that was more or less the function of the character in the actor’s last super-powered prime time outing, The Tomorrow People.  Despite Skye’s protestations that she wants to be normal and she wants to be allowed to return and help her friends, Lincoln is right to remind her that she was actually the one being hunted. It’s hard to say if that unassailable logic has an effect on Skye, or she just likes hanging out with Lincoln because he’s cool, easy on the eyes, and is a doctor. He also has some awesome electromagnetic power. Of course, Lincoln is hiding things though. Like the fact that Skye’s father Cal and the deeply embittered Raina are also on the premise.

While Raina isn’t taking her transformation well, Cal isn’t taking imprisonment well. Skye, in turn, doesn’t take being in the same Inhuman facility with them well, and when she and Raina finally have a post-Terragenesis confab, Skye proves that she can be just as driven to do bad things as Raina, like create earthquakes in Raina’s bones. It’s a fair point that Skye wants to go a long way to avenge Trip, but on the other hand, Skye could always use the “be careful what you wish for” argument and take the higher road. You don’t like being a monster, Raina? Well, you kind of squandered a lot of blood and capital to become a spikey-headed demon looking thing.

Which brings us to twist #1: Skye’s mom. When Dichen Lachman entered to break up Skye and Raina’s fight, I thought that S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to pull the twin sister card that Arrow used a couple of weeks ago, but nope, she was legitimately Skye’s mom Jiaying. Whitehall didn’t vivisect her after all, or he did and she recovered. Cal and Jiaying have a moment, celebrating the return of their daughter, but where has Skye’s mom been this whole time? What happened to her after Whitehall discarded her “corpse?” More mysteries…