NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” are present in this review
Now that a dangerous new alien threat has been made known to S.H.I.E.L.D., Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. takes the opportunity to spotlight the new menace that the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s most covert heroes find themselves up against. “The Other Thing” also once again brought back the show’s spacefaring storyline to boot, as Enoch’s presence brings more dangerous Chronicoms to Daisy’s and Simmons’ party, which starts tying together the danger facing Earth and the Chronicoms alike, namely those weird parasitic bird-like creatures that caused so much trouble at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ during the previous episode.
All the while, May also remains captive with Sarge and Snowflake, while Mack struggles to get information out of the captured Jaco and Pax off-screen. May is thus left to face Sarge directly, as the episode cuts back and forth between May’s present encounter with Sarge, and her final moments with the late Phil Coulson, while they enjoyed some island life together. We still don’t see exactly how and when Coulson died at this point, but Sarge quickly takes the opportunity to exploit May’s mysterious fixation on his likeness. At the same time, Snowflake captures another seemingly unremarkable man, who is naturally infected with the same bird-like parasite species that took Keller’s life in the previous episode. This leads to May seeing first-hand what Sarge’s crew is after, having to take out the monster inside the captured man with the same strange blue blade, while in turn realizing that Sarge’s crew is not actually out to destroy Earth per se, but is actually trying to stop those parasites from infecting more worlds. The fact that Sarge’s team targets creatures that don’t belong in various worlds also explains why they targeted Deke, initially believing him to be among the infected, since Deke is in the wrong time period.
The interactions between Sarge and May are pretty awesome, particularly as we see Sarge being just as confused about resembling Coulson as May is. The mystery of Sarge and his appearance remains riveting, even as Snowflake ends up being shoved into the background in this case. This allows the episode to focus nicely on what May has lost however, which eventually motivates her to knock out Snowflake, and even incapacitate Sarge, whom she affectionately leaves asleep in the rig’s passenger seat, albeit still handcuffed to the door. May being able to save herself, and not rely on S.H.I.E.L.D. reinforcements, feels nicely fitting too, since she is ‘The Cavalry’ after all. I do wish that the bird creatures, who are apparently called, “The Shrike”, weren’t such cheesy and cliched parasite monsters though. Outside of the crystalline explosions when their host dies, there’s nothing separating them from any other run-of-the-mill parasite creature in modern fiction, which doesn’t really make them feel effectively scary at this point.
Regardless, S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ continues to study the Shrike, while Mack and Yo-Yo are left to try and address the emotional fallout left by Yo-Yo having to kill her infected lover during the previous episode. Mack and Yo-Yo inevitably end up once again dredging up their past break-up, with Mack once again owning up to the fact that he’s over-burdened as director, and isn’t up for a relationship with Yo-Yo at the same time, but this ends up being interrupted by more findings from Benson. It turns out that the Shrike may in fact be related to the mysterious monoliths that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been encountering on this show since Season Two, with one monolith function still being undetermined. It’s thus speculated that the unidentified monolith may be related to life and death, and that it may have some connection to the present issue of the Shrike. This is actually a pretty decent way to bring the monoliths back into Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s storytelling, though I imagine there’s a doozy of an explanation behind how the monoliths could have possibly influenced the Shrike, and by extension, Sarge’s crew.
Meanwhile, back on the Quinjet in space, Enoch is predictably brought along with Daisy’s and Simmons’ crew, where he continues to mope about being decommissioned for tampering with the universe. Around this point, more Chronicoms also fly up and engage the S.H.I.E.L.D. crew, bringing them onto what appears to be a Confederacy craft. It turns out that the craft was instead appropriated by displaced Chronicoms however, who ended up losing their world to what appears to be the Shrike, thus motivating them to target S.H.I.E.L.D.’s spacefaring agents, since they ended up surviving a trip through time after Enoch’s mission for them last season. The Chronicom’s current leader, Altarah, a former lover of sorts of Enoch’s, thus wants to motivate the captured Fitz to rebuild a time machine so that the Chronicoms can go back into the past and save their world from what destroyed it, only to find that Fitz is unmotivated and won’t co-operate.
This is where a somewhat tragic, but also somewhat inevitable turn ends up taking place. After Enoch points out that Fitz will be motivated to do pretty much anything if he believes that Simmons is being threatened, Altarah decides to kill everyone except Simmons, which eventually leads to a stand-off on the ship. It’s at this point however where Simmons realizes that the only way to save everyone is to turn herself over to Altarah and the Chronicoms, indicating that she can’t merely be a hostage, but is a necessary partner to help Fitz crack time travel. Altarah agrees to those terms, taking Simmons away, which forces Daisy to bring Piper and Davis back home to Earth with her. The sweet reunion between Mack, Yo-Yo and their formerly lost agents is really satisfying as well, particularly with word coming in at the same time that May is on her way back, with the captured Sarge. Obviously though, with Fitz and Simmons still lost in space at this point, S.H.I.E.L.D. still has some work to do before the organization’s main forces can be fully whole again.
“The Other Thing” keeps the thrills and intrigue quite high for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s consistently excellent sixth season, continuing to nicely build upon the threat of the Shrike, while also allowing at least some of S.H.I.E.L.D. to regroup, despite some of their own still being stuck with the Chronicoms in space. This is a very well-rounded and highly satisfying episode that effectively covers all of the show’s current bases, between creating a fresh predicament for Fitz and Simmons in space, keeping things interesting with the Shrike research at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, and nicely sustaining a prolonged confrontation between May and Sarge. Now that most of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been reunited though, I have to wonder what’s going to be next for Fitz and Simmons most of all, since they’re now the sole means of helping the Chronicoms save their planet. The show appears to be doing a great job of keeping its seemingly disparate, but undeniably connected story arcs moving in lockstep regardless however, providing many interesting threats for our heroes, and leaving it to speculation to decide which one of them is the worst at this point.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to effectively balance its many disparate, but connected threats in, "The Other Thing", as the danger behind the mysterious alien parasites continues to be explored.
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THE GOOD STUFF
May's extended and riveting confrontation with Sarge
Interesting connection between the Shrike and the monoliths unearthed at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ
Simmons bartering her way to Fitz, even if it means being stuck in space
THE NOT-SO-GOOD STUFF
The Shrike feel too much like cliched, unremarkable parasite monsters