December 19, 2018

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 13 Review: Principia

Coming off a major landmark episode can be rough. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 13 follows the show's downright awesome 100th installment, which ended with the long-awaited FitzSimmons wedding.

While "Principia" doesn't necessarily rise to the heights of excitement and nostalgia of "The Real Deal," it definitely has a lot of charm to it.

Starting off with Mack and Yo-Yo. They've formed one of the best-loved relationships on this show, hands down, full stop. Even after all the trauma they've been through, physical and emotional, they are still they're for each other.

Here, we got to see Mack literally risk his life to spend a few extra seconds to drag away one of Hale's android mechs to supply Fitz with the necessary raw materials to craft Yo-Yo new arms.

And he also assured Yo-Yo that despite any robotic parts, she still has the heart and soul he loves. Plus there's this gag, when Mack got a littler too solicitous:

Mack, enough. Seriously, if I had arms, I would strangle you right now.

Yo-Yo

Good old Mack played a huge role here in this story, and it was fantastic. Sure, it was definitely convenient plot-wise that the guy they were looking for just happened to be an old friend, but it was worth it.

I confess that I spent much of the episode waiting for Caine to be revealed as an evil double-agent or just otherwise turn on the heroes, so it came as a very pleasant surprise when they actually gained a firm new ally in him.

One of the funnier moments came when he expressed his wonder at seeing the flying ship, and the whole team just reacted like it was just another Friday for them. Which it really rather was.

Caine not only moved the plot forward, he provided a window into Mack's past, not to mention an outside observation on Mack's character development over the years.

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In the meantime, Deke continued to prove a valuable addition to the cast, and not just in the realm of comic relief. While we the viewers were already privy to his relationship to Fitz and Simmons, he put things together himself here.

If I have a complaint about this episode, it probably rests here, actually. Deke's mother pops in, delivers the particular profound words of wisdom about moving forward, and then Simmons just happens to make the same quote within Deke's earshot?

This would've been less on the nose if Simmons had previously displayed some sort of obvious affection for said quote in prior episodes, but as far as I can recall, this is the first time I've heard it.

I understand that they might have been going for some sort of big reveal here, but the revelation is all internal; we the viewers already know Deke's the FitzSimmons grandson. So it falls a bit flat.

That said, I'm not unhappy that Deke put the pieces together. And the look on his face was priceless. And he was the one to realize what had happened to the missing ship, the Principia.

With the addition of backup (such as Agent Davis and company), the writers need to continue to find relevance for Deke beyond running errands. It would be all to easy to focus on his character as (1) the fish out of temporal water and (2) the grandson of Fitz and Simmons.

I'm *sorry* I've never seen an *ocean* before, because where I was born, you guys already blew up the planet! So, thank you very much for your service!

Deke

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Finally, I wanted to spare a few words for the Alex/Ruby/General Hale plotline. It is a fond hope that at some point sooner rather than later we learn more about Hale and her motivations.

She referred to Hydra as a boy's club, but has repeatedly used dirty methods that wouldn't be out of place amongst those power-hungry Nazis (yes, yes, I know, not technically Nazis. Ish.).

Just when you think that Hale can't get more despicable, she surprises you by doing something worse.

The only problem is that we don't know what makes her tick. Normal American military officers do not execute subordinates for failure (for reasons outside their control, no less!).

Normal human beings do not turn their daughters into ruthless killing machines. (Thanos is not normal, thank you very much!) Nor do they order said killing machine daughters to seduce emotionally vulnerable people with violent tendencies.

So, please, Marvel, if I ask nicely, could you please give us a clue, a hint, something as to explain why General Hale is a total and complete psychopath?

A few assorted thoughts before I turn the discussion over to you:

  • General Hale has the bulk of the gravitonium. Will it come into play in the End of the World?
  • The episode's title references the ship transporting the gravitonium. Principia translates as "beginning." The beginning of the end, perhaps? Little bit ominous, if you ask me.
  • Speaking of ominous: May and Daisy privately promised to try to save Coulson, despite his very, very, very specific instructions otherwise. Caine's promise to look into Deathlok did not help matters.

What did you think of "Principia"? Were you surprised that Deke discovered his familial connection to Fitz and Simmons? Will Ruby and Alex throw a monkey wrench into General Hale's plans?

Let us know in the comments section below!

Here's the preview for the next new episode, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 14, "The Devil Complex," which is slated to air Friday, March 23, 2018 at 9/8c on ABC.

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