The Scrappiest of Doos.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
“Principia” was the type of typical “back half of the season” SHIELD chapter that made me double-check how many episodes actually remain. Because a lot happened and yet…not much happened. It was one of those running-in-place chapters.
To answer my own internal question, after “Principia” there are nine episodes left so we’re not anywhere close to the full endgame – for the season or the show (should this wind up being the final run). So there was no rush to get anywhere or pressure to do anything drastic. Jake Busey stopped by for a few laughs, as an old friend of Mack’s (who we found out used to be a huge MC Hammer fan), the crew searched a floating boat for a ball of gravitonium, and Mack found some replacement robot arms for Yo-Yo (that was actually really sweet, awwww). There was no big movement though. As in, nothing to drive Coulson and company out of their “hideout/sanctuary of the moment.” They did a basic field trip mission.
Props(?), I guess, to the writers for working in both “Can’t Touch This” AND “It’s Hammer Time!” Though, the latter worked much better. The former would have landed well if Coulson didn’t apologize for it. No regrets, Phil!
The cool callback this week involved Unbreakable’s Spencer Treat Clark returning, after a couple years, as Werner von Strucker and the reveal that General Hale has old Hydra ties. It’s interesting that SHIELD is choosing to call up the von Strucker name again since FOX’s The Gifted has been, basically, all about that and Fenris and such, but SHIELD played this particular card first so I suppose they’ve got eternal dibs.
Werner – aka Alex – is now in this “will they?/won’t they?” mini-arc with Ruby, who’s purposefully hard to read. She was tasked with recruiting him through seduction, but then she seemed to rebel against those orders by “coming clean” about her mission and promising him a seat at the top table of “Hydra 3.0” – but is this just another misdirect? Is her tactic to trick him by pretending to plot against her mother? We’ll just have to see if he’s smart enough to see a swindle coming.
What I want to talk mostly about here, this week, is Deke, and how much he’s come around as a fun character. Man, he was an absolute irritant in the future world, but now that he’s in the present, on ground level, he’s rather delightful. I brought it up last week too, but his child-like outsider perspective fits him well. And he’s actually very funny. I’m not saying they’ve dropped all intentions to eventually pair him with Daisy (though it would be wonderful if they didn’t), but I loved how embarrassed he got this week when his Fear Dimension mom brought up his crush on her.
And – hey! – we got to see his mom. Naturally, as soon as we heard her say the particular phrase her mom used to say to her, you could predict he’d hear it from Jemma by the end of the episode, but it still played out very sweetly. Bluntly, sure, but saccharine enough balance things. Deke is so wide-eyed and happy all the time (and his unabashed love of Zima is adorable) that it nicely counteracts the doomsday plot our heroes are facing. Humanity’s on the brink of extinction, and he might get blown to bits when the planet goes kaboom, but he’s still having a blast. Because Twinkies.
Also, the Scrappy-Doo comparison was hilarious. And only slightly unwarranted.
Overall, it’s good to see the show wrapping back around to the Hydra schemes from the first three seasons. I hope we find out what Hale’s actual history is with Wolfgang von Strucker before Ruby attempts to take over (if, in fact, she does try that).