Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 Episode 8 “Collision Course (Part I)”
Director: Kristin Windell
Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons, Natalia Cordova-Buckley
Runtime: 42 minutes
S.H.I.E.L.D. kicks off the season’s first two-part episode with a tense build-up to what looks to be an action-packed resolution. “Collision Course Part 1” does what the title implies, as by episode’s end Fitz and Simmons are arriving back on Earth but unbeknownst to them Sarge is convincing S.H.I.E.L.D. that their newest benefactor is a threat in need of termination.
If there’s a unifying theme throughout “Collision Course Part 1” it’s uncertainty. The episode is razor focused on getting all the necessary plot pieces in place before the season’s two major storylines finally come together for good. As a result, much attention is paid to the contrasting accounts of the threat facing Earth provided by Sarge and Izel, who each tell their respective audiences that the other is the mastermind behind the current danger. Sarge believes Izel to be the creator of the Shrike (something that’s at least more or less confirmed when she infects her crew with them) and is willing to detonate an explosive on the sight of her arrival (marked by a tower created through the fusion of a large group of Shrike-infected) to prevent her from destroying another planet, regardless of the nearby civilians who will be killed in the blast. Meanwhile, Izel tells Fitz and Simmons she is going to Earth to reclaim the Monoliths, which she claims belonged to her people, but she’s aware of Sarge and describes him as a dangerous monster (seemingly more in the moral sense than the more literal use of the word he employed for her). There’s reason to believe parts of what both are saying but neither is shooting straight and it seems the most likely outcome is that they’re both equally dangerous (even if one winds up being slightly more moral) and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s just caught in the crossfire.
Regardless, S.H.I.E.L.D. is doubtlessly going to continue to be more personally invested in Sarge. Daisy finally gets some strong material this week (though not really enough to make up for her previous shortage yet) when Mack assigns her, May, and Deke to supervise Sarge and Snowflake’s operation. While May grudgingly admits that a part of her can’t help but trust Sarge (and Deke’s too busy making out with Snowflake to give an opinion), it’s clear he makes Daisy’s skin crawl. The earthquake generating hero is also the only agent who hasn’t put the question of just how Sarge and Coulson can be genetically identical out of her mind, even in the face of the current crisis. That mystery is further complicated when Sarge reveals that he had a family that he claims was killed by Izel and the Shrike. It’s seeming more and more likely that the question of who and what Sarge is won’t be solved until the end of the season, which is fine, but the various clues and nuggets of information we’ve gotten so far are so unconnected and occasionally contradictory that I’m still concerned about the show’s ability to make the reveal coherent and compelling.
While it doesn’t have much in the way of character development or themes, “Collision Course Part 1” succeeds in its main task of building excitement for the surely explosive developments to come next week. By the end of the episode Fitz and Simmons are arriving back on Earth in a space ship with a crew full of Shrike hosts that Mack is seconds away from blowing out of the sky while Daisy, May, Deke, and Snowflake are hurtling towards the Shrike tower with a bomb aboard Sarge’s truck and Sarge himself is mounting a takeover of the Zephyr. If “Collision Course Part 2” is half as exciting as its predecessor promises we’re in for a heck of a ride next week. Unfortunately, the final stinger is a let-down in comparison with everything that happens immediately before. As Enoch discusses next steps with an ally, hunter Chronicom Viro prepares to enter the memory machine to learn from Fitz and Simmons’ minds how to save his people. While it seemed likely we would see Enoch again at some point despite last week’s heartfelt goodbye, having him return the next week undercuts said goodbye. Furthermore, bringing the Chronicom storyline back to prominence just as everything else comes together in a more singular plot is counter-intuitive.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 6 Episode 8
S.H.I.E.L.D. delivers an appropriately tense hour as everything is set to explode but the Sarge mystery and Chronicom storyline threaten to over-complicate things.