Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S05E13 Principia
Airing Sundays at 9pm in the UK on E4
Writer: Craig Titley
Director: Brad Turner
Essential Plot Points:
- Verner von Strucker, now calling himself Alex, is having therapy, his last chance to open up before they pump him full of thorazine. He demonstrates an extraordinary memory before stabbing the shrink in the hand.
- The S.H.I.E.L.D. team need more gravitonium to plug the breach into the fear dimension, before it opens again. They have a lead on doctors from the Cybertek lab that helped build Deathlok, which sees Mack cross paths with an old friend called Candyman.
- The gravitonium was on a boat that sank, and the team have to search five miles down in the sea. It seems like an impossible task.
- Deke meets his mom, as created by the fear dimension. She tells him to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. and is then killed by a Kree warrior.
- The gravitonium might be in the sky! You know, being gravitonium. Sky ship! The team retrieve it and Mackhammer picks up some much needed spare parts.
It is important to remember that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is Marvel’s spy show every bit as much as it is a superhero show. Having fought the Kree in the future and returned home to battle fear in the modern world, there’s finally some old-school spy action to enjoy here. General Hale appears to be re-establishing Hydra in all but name, using her daughter and other Inhumans to create a team with powers.
Newly added to that team is Verner von Strucker, son of the Hydra legend, although he’s taken to calling himself Alex to get away from the family name. He’s also gained a power of his own since S.H.I.E.L.D. messed with his memories – he can remember everything that’s ever happened to him, and recall all data he’s ever heard or seen. That’s fine if you’ve led a happy childhood, but Alex’s head is filled with beatings and torture, which he relives as if it’s actually happening all over again.
Keen to unlock those memories, Hale sets her daughter Ruby the challenge of earning his trust any way she can. Ruby, clearly not a fan of being a prisoner in a grey military basement, tells Alex the truth. Yet it’s here that the spy shenanigans really come into play – is she actually telling him the truth, so they can cut mom out of the equation and take over the team, or is it a triple cross and she knows that’s the only way she can keep him by her side.
It’s not all head games, though. A well-balanced episode sees the team hunting for gravitonium on a ship that sank, but really ended up in the air. A tussle on the way out also allows Mack to collect some robot arms for the recently amputated stumps of Yo-yo. We’ll settle for that shortcut, as we want her back in the fight.
However, one other development could have waited at least a little longer to really bed in. Deke’s “Hello grandma!” moment, even if he hasn’t revealed what he knows yet, feels a little rushed.
- Mack’s class photo from the academy! And his revealed love of MC Hammer, which led to the nickname Mackhammer.
- Tony ‘Candyman’ Caine (Jake Busey) seems like a brilliant addition to the squad, and it’s good to hear he’ll do some digging for the team about the Deathlok programme, suggesting he will return later. Don’t say we didn’t warn you when he eventually double crosses S.H.I.E.L.D., though!
- It might have been nice to leave just a little more time before having future man Deke solve the riddle of who his grandparents are. It feels as if the information has come to him a little too easily after last week’s bombshell ending.
Yo-yo on the thought of prosthetic limbs…
Yo-yo: “How are you going to feel about dating someone with robo-parts?”
Mack: “Those aren’t the parts that matter.”
Mack: “What? Oh come on, that’s not what I meant.”
Coulson as Mack tries to retrieve the gravitonium from the Principia, knowing the floating ship’s false gravity will fail once it’s touched:
“Hey Mackhammer. You can’t touch this.”
Review by Matt Chapman