On Agents of SHIELD S6Ep4, Deke is back, and he’s making his fortune as a tech genius, which totally makes sense for the grandchild of Fitzsimmons. The space team is still out there, recovering from their hangovers, but we don’t check in with them this week.
We spend the episode alternating between the Lighthouse centered B team, made up of Benson, Keller and Yo-Yo, and new gal Diaz, and the A team of Mack, May, Deke, plus several very welcome new guys, who visit Deke’s new company to stop NotCoulson and his team. It pains me to add Yo-Yo to the B team, but she made some serious mistakes this week. FitzSimmons were missed in the science/med lab more than ever. Yo-Yo could’ve picked up some of the slack with her powers and experience, but she didn’t.
I blame the writers and director. Yo-Yo is better than this.
The episode begins with a music cue that sounds like it’s going to be the Mission: Impossible theme song, but then it isn’t. The episode’s first visuals are of Deke and new guy Trevor Khan, who’ve gotten stuck in an ’80s scifi action movie. No worries, Deke has learned his clichés, both verbal and physical. He’s got this covered.
Trevor goes down, but Deke’s reward is an, ahem, enhanced Daisy appearing to breathily tell him how much she missed him.
If I had more time and brain power, I’d figure out every movie they stole lines, snippets of music (definitely Back to the Future), and moves from. I don’t think Deke had an original line in the entire Framework segment. 😘 He’s caught up on late 20th century media, at least the important parts.
Deke and Daisy are interrupted by an annoyed female voice from the beyond. He tells the Framework to end, and the scene around him morphs into an office with several yellow bean bags chairs. Deke has started his own company, with a new, game-oriented version of the Framework. He and his best friend/second in command, Trevor, were on a test run of a game called Remorath Rumble. The voice belongs to Deke’s girlfriend, Sequoia, who’s ready for their Boba tea date.
As Deke, Sequoia and Trevor leave the game testing room and walk through the building, we see they’re in an office building that’s open plan, with lots of glass to let light in. It’s the anti-Lighthouse, cheerful and bright, but with hidden, maze-like spaces to get lost in as well. Deke is a busy entrepreneur, but he still has his survival instincts.
He summarizes his philosophy: “Deke Shaw is not just about virtual reality. I want to change the world in real reality.”
Deke has a dream that he’ll feed the world with his biodynamic mushroom pellets. The kitchen just has to get the taste right. His head of R&D, Kaya, wants him to try out a communication device that’s worn on the left wrist, but Deke won’t allow anything on his left wrist, ever.
Still traumatized by his past, then.
R&D is also working on a gravity belt (Where did they find gravitonium?) and a prosthetic arm with an energy shield. Kaya asks where he comes up with these amazing ideas. Deke gives the camera a knowing look.
Somebody must have told him about Howard and Tony Stark, who combined saving the world with profiting from cool inventions, and did it while living very public lives. They didn’t have to spend their lives in a dark basement or a secret base.
Back to the secret base in a dark basement. Mack gets the latest surveillance report from another newcomer, Agent Diaz. There’s been no sign of NotCoulson and his team since they lit up the sky in last week’s tag. May is in charge of NotCoulson’s case, so Mack tells Diaz to make sure she sees the report. Diaz assures him that May is already all over it.
Mack returns to his office to find Keller nervously waiting for him. Keller’s ready to disclose his relationship with Elena, in accordance with SHIELD protocols. Before he can finish that sentence, Mack stops him and gives him a hypothetical situation that just happens to match Keller and Elena’s own situation. If two agents were in an interpersonal relationship, Mack would have to separate them onto different teams, to make sure they wouldn’t be compromised in the field. That’s SHIELD policy, and Mack plans to enforce it. But it means that sometimes he’ll have to break up teams that work well together.
Mack asks Keller if he feels that his theoretical judgement is compromised. Keller does not. End of discussion.
Mack is practicing don’t ask, don’t tell with the romantic relationships.
Elena joins them with the analysis of NotCoulson’s night sky activities. Nothing stands out, except the trace amounts of statically charged particles which were suspended in orbit, forming a grid. Elena thinks they made a map to help them find something.
Jaco and Pax track down the first of their targets, Harold Simcoe, at a bus station in Reno. He sees them coming and tries to hide behind a dumpster, but runs into Snowflake, then NotCoulson, instead. Coulson says he’s been looking for Simcoe, and pulls out a knife. Snowflake gets excited.
NotCoulson stabs the knife into Simcoe’s abdomen, just under his ribs, pointing upward. Clear and black crystals grow out of Simcoe’s body as he falls to the ground, dead. Snowflake says he’s definitely not a butterfly. NotCoulson asks for the next target.
Deke is juggling responsibilities, trying to get the taste of mushroom pellet out of his mouth, and in need of the right #hashtag when NotCoulson and friends find him. Sequoia still hasn’t gotten her Boba, so, thinking the people he’s about to meet are potential investors, Deke asks her to bring Boba back to the office for them both.
Then he goes to the conference room where some of his prototypes are stored and discovers (Not)Coulson waiting for him, with a knife. (Not)Coulson says, “I’ve been looking all over for you.” Deke is happy to see him, and starts trying to fast talk himself out of trouble for stealing SHIELD’s ideas.
NotCoulson holds off on stabbing him. Deke moves the conversation toward catching up on each other and their mutual friends. NotCoulson gives vague NotAnswers. At first Deke thinks they TAHITI’d Coulson and wiped his memory in full. NotCoulson tries to take advantage of this, and asks Deke to fill him in on himself.
The Reno police called SHIELD, so May already has Simcoe’s body for Benson to examine.
In the elevator down to the lab, Elena and Keller talk about their relationship and Keller’s conversation with Mack. Elena wishes Keller hadn’t gone to Mack without talking to her first. She’s already figured out that Mack doesn’t want to officially know about their relationship so that he doesn’t have to put them on different teams.
Keller tells her that’s part of it, but he also thinks that Mack isn’t over Elena yet. Elena asks why he’s telling her that. He thinks she should know how Mack feels before they take their relationship further. But he wants her to know that he’s committed to their relationship. He’ll fight in some unspecified, non-physical way for her, if he has to. But physical fighting against Mack is absolutely out, cause Mack’s arms are each the size of a tree.
Benson has already started his examination of Simcoe, while exclaiming that it’s another first for him. Simcoe’s entire body is encased with the crystals he grew when he was stabbed. He had a bus ticket to Sioux City, which happens to be where three ley-lines converge, so Mack and May will investigate that area and NotCoulson. Benson, Keller and Elena will investigate the body.
NotCoulson is still deflecting Deke’s questions. Deke just finished talking about his own heroics in the Lighthouse. Then he asks how his grandparents are doing. NotCoulson says they’re, “Slowing down, but still hanging in there.” Deke figures out that NotCoulson is a fake. He asks about May, and then a made up Agent Doug, to test his theory.
Deke tries to leave the room, but NotCoulson holds his arms and puts the knife in Deke’s face.
NotCoulson: “You’re a real talker. But you’re not from here and you shouldn’t be here, so I’ve got to take you and make you sing.’
Deke takes a pointed glass object from the table and stabs it through Not Coulsons hand, into the table. The hand bleeds. Deke says, “Real hand. Not Coulson!”
Deke runs. NotCoulson says, “You know you’re already dead, right?” Deke runs straight into Jaco. Ray, Deke’s elderly security guard, goes to shoot Jaco. Deke tries to stop him. Pax shoots ray from across the room. Deke tries to stop to take care of Ray, but they’ll kill him if he does, so he runs.
Jaco tells NotCoulson and Pax that the, “tracker says he’s not from this world but his signature’s different from the others.”
NotCoulson: “That’s strange.”
Jaco: “If you consider the infinite complexity of nature, maybe “strange” is the norm.”
They look at Jaco with awe for his deep thoughts, but agree that Deke is a target and a talker, so they have to catch and torture him until he sings.
Benson marvels again at the strange work he’s doing, then the ID on Simcoe comes into SHIELD. He lived a normal life in California, then went AWOL a week ago.
Benson asks Keller to help him spread Simcoe’s ribs. Once his chest cavity is open, they can see that NotCoulson’s knife has pierced a large gray bat that’s attached itself to Simcoe’s organs.
Deke is hiding in a room of office cubicles while NotCoulson villain monologues a bit: “I’ve been hunting your kind my entire life. And let me tell you, there’s no use hiding, in this world or the next. We’ll always find you. So why don’t you come on out and make things easier on your old friend Coulson?”
Deke: “You are not Phil Coulson.”
Deke is not okay with someone stealing Coulson’s face. And, even though whoever this is, it’s NotCoulson, he still tells them that SHIELD stole most of the tech he’s replicated from aliens in the first place. It’s not theirs either.
Which might be part of why they didn’t stop him.
Trevor sneaks up from behind Deke to whisper that he has an escape plan and he’s called for extract. Deke can count on him. Deke asks who Trevor really is. Trevor rolls a flashbang toward NotCoulson, and without even blinking says, “Trevor Khan, Agent of SHIELD,” while it goes off. They run from the room.
Trevor might be cool enough to replace Trip, if we really can’t have Trip back.
Benson has gotten the results of the Simcoe’s blood tests back. His blood contains a neurotoxin that’s an inert but highly toxic accelerant. It’s similar to a neurotoxin found in Cordyceps fungus seen in Amazonian ants. It’s a parasite that takes control of the ants’ bodies and controls them, turning the ants into zombies.
Elena and Benson assume that NotCoulson implanted the bat parasite inside of Simcoe using the knife. Benson pulls the knife out without warning and sets it on a tray. He’s not even wearing gloves.
The bat comes back to life and flies around the lab, trying to find a way out. It goes through the air vent, into the duct system.
Trevor gets Deke outside the building. Deke is reliving every moment of their friendship, realizing that it’s all lies and Trevor either let him win, or could have made things way cooler. He was even letting Deke win in Remorath Rumble.
A quinjet lands in front of them. It’s the final blow. Deke can’t believe his best friend would tattle on him to Mack.
Once they’re in the quinjet, everyone ignores Deke and listens to Trevor’s report. As soon as he tells them that NotCoulson is there, they gear up and go after him, leaving Deke alone in the quinjet with the pilot. He wants to know if anyone will protect him, say, Daisy?
Once he figures out that Trevor could have been passing him SHIELD gossip all this time, he’ll be even more pissed.
Elena, Keller and Diaz search the hall for the escaped bat, which they call an alien zombie bird. Anatomically, it’s clearly closer to a bat. Why are they calling it a bird?
Elena has Keller lift her up so she can check inside a duct. While he’s holding her, the alien zombie bat flies straight into his mouth. It takes several seconds for the whole thing to work it’s way into him. He doesn’t grab it with his hands and try to stop it. Elena, who has superfast speed, doesn’t use her powers to take it out, then stomp on it or lock it in a safe place. She just stares at him. Diaz is too far away to get to him in time.
They rush Keller back to the lab, where Benson… does nothing. Keller begs them to make sure he doesn’t turn into something like Simcoe. Benson tells him, “We got you.”
Meanwhile, May is angry that Deke’s been running a start up for the last year. She asks Mack if he knows they lost Fitz. Mack says it wasn’t his call to tell Deke.
As we’ve already seen, Deke doesn’t know Fitz died or that Daisy and Jemma are in space. Either way, he has the right to go on with his life. They lose people constantly and go on as if it didn’t happen. That’s the way it was in the Lighthouse, too.
Mack also tells May that Fitz may not be gone for good. I’ll give him credit for that. I’m rewatching season 4 now. Back then, he was the voice of doom, trying to convince the team that May and others who went missing were dead. It’s good to see he’s learned to “hope” again.
Deke gets a call from Sequoia, who unknowingly brought the Boba’s in through the backdoor and is now in the middle of the op. Deke has to go back in and rescue her.
Benson tells Elena that the alien bat is growing and attaching to Keller’s vascular system. Elena asks him if he can detach it. He says he can try, but he’s never done it before, and neither has anyone else. There’s no time to take him to a hospital.
Benson gives Keller a sedative through his IV. Keller seizes, then flatlines, then tries to strangle Benson. Using her speed, Elena stops him and straps him down. Somehow, Benson didn’t know that Elena’s an inhuman and is stunned when she uses her speed, while she’s trying to get him to start surgery. He’s worried because Keller’s conscious, but that hardly seems to matter now.
Deke finds Sequoia and the Bobas in the ladies room. He tries to explain the situation to her, but she accuses him of trying to make everything about him. He tells her he’s an expert at running away and surviving, so she just needs to stay close to him. But they have to leave the Bobas behind. 😢
May and Snowflake find each other, trade quips, then fight. Snowflake has a knife, but May wins anyway. May is still standing over Snowflake when NotCoulson puts a gun to her head.
Pax finds Deke and Sequoia, but Mack rescues them. He gives Deke an icer to hold while he fights Pax. Once Mack has finished the fight, Deke finishes it again by icing Pax several times.
Sequoia flips out a little, but is interrupted by Jaco’s arrival. Deke tells Trevor to take Sequoia and protect her. He has an idea for stopping Jaco. He runs, with Mack and Jaco following, leading them into the Framework room. Jaco walks in to Daisy slapping him, then hugging him. He’s actually unconscious on the floor.
Mack gives Deke a disturbed stare. Deke offers him 2% of the company, if he’ll keep his mouth shut.
Elena has to hold Keller down while Benson tries to operate. But Keller’s skin becomes so hot that he burns Benson. Benson is afraid that Keller’s going to explode, so he decides they need to get Keller to a containment unit. They wheel him into the hall, where he gets off the guerney and stands against a wall. Suddenly, his arms and legs shoot out crystals. It looks like his bones have become crystalline. At least one arm expands in length and tears in half. Crystals grow from the wall and floor around him.
Benson tells Elena to run away. He doesn’t move. Elena runs to the lab and gets NotCoulson’s knife. She puts it into his abdomen, the same way it was in Simcoe. The growth stops.
Snowflake drives NotCoulson’s truck. He’s brought May along for the ride. Jaco and Pax are missing, so SHIELD must have captured them.
The tag is a video chat from Sequoia of her day at Deke’s office. She loves the hunters mocap look, and is stealing it for Coachella. She’s upset that no one told her they were under attack. And she’s very appreciative that Trevor was the one to save her life. He appreciates that she introduced him to frosé. Everything is so good, you guys.
Sequoia was played by showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen, who needs to become a frequently recurring guest. As an influencer, Sequoia could turn up EVERYWHERE. Especially if the lovely Agent Trevor Khan is her new boyfriend. Imagine the variety of reflective surfaces just waiting for her to use to check her hair!
As an influencer, Sequoia avoids front doors. Shouldn’t it be the opposite? Doesn’t she want to be seen, so she can “influence”? Also, how much did Boba tea pay for product placement in this episode?
Deke’s version of social responsibility: “Our actual mission lies in the corporate social responsibility movement. Did you know that one half of 1% of all of our profit goes straight to the DSFBFF- the Deke Shaw for a Better Future Foundation?”
Deke is also trying to save the world through the distribution of mushroom pellets for all, so he doesn’t completely believe they’ve stopped the world from cracking and the Kree from taking over. Maybe they’ll make BBQ, taco and other delicious flavors we can eat as we submit to our blue overlords.
I kind of have a thing for Jaco, NotCoulson’s new NotMack. Snowflake is his NotDaisy. He appears to go through frequent NotFitzSimmons (currently- Pax, previously- Tinker). But there is no replacement for May.
Deke is Code Yellow, for his love of lemons, obvs. He’s got lemons and lemon yellow all over his company. Plus, Mack and Phil once led him to believe Daisy would like it if he gave her a bushel of lemons. Any reference to yellow and cowardice is coincidental.
Deke is so good at hiding and surviving that he’d also obviously be a good fighter, if he were trained. The show and team just enjoy using him as a comic relief punching bag, which is honestly getting old. Not only is much of their technology originally stolen from someone else, but they’ve caused almost as many giant crises as they’ve saved the world from. I can make a list if necessary. It starts with HYDRA hiding in SHIELD for decades and convincing Nick Fury to sponsor Project Insight, and continues on through leaving the gravitonium and the infusing device where Talbot could get to them and turn himself into Graviton.
I wonder if Deke was part of Robin’s prophecy, so he was taught as a child to hide, no matter what, and stay alive, because he was important to the future. Probably only a few people knew why. Virgil knew when to have Enoch bring the team from the past, and he knew to have Deke greet them. I doubt that was an accident. Without Deke to hook Enoch up to power the time machine, the team wouldn’t have been able to return to the past.
It’s sad to lose Keller, but he did always have that doomed air about him. And he may still get to continue in some alien form.
Also, called it on the evil parasite/symbiants back in episode 1:
Jemma reminds them that they don’t need to whisper, because sound doesn’t travel in the vacuum of space.
That’s why in space, no one can hear you scream. Davis says that whispering makes him feel better.
They made a pretty clear Alien the Movie reference when the destroyer flew over the Zephyr. Are there evil symbiants in our future?
What So Great About Being Normal?
There was a big emphasis on living a “normal” life vs an unusual life in this episode, and where the two intersect. There are those whose lives are always out there, such as the long term SHIELD agents, then there are the civilians, and then there are the in-betweens, like Deke, who’ve lived in unusual circumstances, but want to try normalcy for a change.
Deke’s whole storyline was an intersection between people who are out of place or time and people who just pretend they’re unusual. Sequoia couldn’t even wrap her head around the attacks being life threatening, or get past her desire for Boba. All of that hipness is just another way of conforming.
To work in SHIELD and survive, you have to be able to walk away from that mentality. Deke was successfully straddling both worlds. He didn’t forget where he came from or how to react to a dangerous alien attack, but he lived a safe, mainstream life most of the time.
May has the opposite problem from Deke. She doesn’t think anyone should settle down and be normal when these huge problems are waiting to be solved. She hasn’t even experienced normal in years, probably since Andrew died.
The subplot in the lab showed people who weren’t coping well when confronted with evidence of how strange the universe can be, and how extraordinary their own lives had become. Benson used no special precautions when he autopsied the body, even though it was exhibiting strange and dangerous symptoms. He didn’t even wear a mask. Elena and Keller are more experienced as SHIELD agents, but it didn’t occur to them until it was too late that they should keep the body in an isolation unit.
This episode also shows how extraordinary Fitz, Jemma and Daisy are. Fitz and Jemma made similar mistakes early on, like the Chitauri virus that Jemma caught, but they kept the virus contained to the lab. Benson is educated and experienced, but nothing in the normal world prepared him for what he’s seeing at SHIELD, as he’s said himself. His lack of experience with the type of work SHIELD does leads him to hesitate at crucial moments and fail to take enough precautions.
SHIELD Manufacturing and Design, INC
In a future era where humans couldn’t go to school or hold professional positions, Deke was able to get the Framework up and running again based on some childhood stories and a little tutoring from his barely remembered Nana and Bobo. It’s no small feat to create a profitable business in the apocalypse, based on old school technology with failing parts, and to convince your enemy overlords that they love your product, too, so that they won’t shut you down.
Deke had to hustle, a lot, just to survive the future, and he’s brought his work ethic and constantly calculating mind to this decade. Anyone who came into extended contact with SHIELD could have taken the same concepts and built the same media empire, but they didn’t, because it takes more than a concept. It takes technical know how, marketing savvy, and and an ability to hire, then inspire, good people to work for you.
Deke didn’t do this alone, and he doesn’t claim he did. He knew every employee’s name, down to the security guy. He wasn’t sitting in an office all day. He was hands on, designing and testing the prototypes. He’s approachable and visible on all media platforms, thanks to his influencer girlfriend, and he’s made sure his products and company are cool. But he also maintains a certain air of mystery, even as he and his products becomes ubiquitous.
For a guy who grew up starving, in a dangerous environment, where your connections could save your life, this all makes sense. It’s just that no one ever stops to put Deke into the proper context.
None of Deke’s products are the actual SHIELD versions. Those would probably be too expensive to mass produce. But some of them should make their way to the general public, like the technology for Coulson’s prosthetic hand or the icers.
Without Tony Stark secretly involved with SHIELD anymore, the pipeline that moved the products they created out into the world, and also patented them, allowing SHIELD to have a secret income, could be threatened. Especially with the 2 biggest inventers, FitzSimmons, lost in space, and the likely number 3, Mack, now doing administrative work.
This hasn’t been overtly discussed, but administrative characters, like Talbot, have mentioned SHIELD’s mysteriously high budget. It makes sense for a manufacturer like Tony to have a secret deal with SHIELD to bring their inventions to market and split the profits between SHIELD, Tony and the original inventor. This kind of deal would have been put in place when SHIELD was created, for Howard Stark and his inventions. It would be extended for every SHIELD scientist and engineer.
If that deal has lapsed, Mack and May might have let Deke’s company continue as a test run to see if it could become the new front for SHIELD’s manufacturing and design side. I doubt the show will overtly follow through with this angle, but there are government agencies that are expected to be self-supporting. Since SHIELD isn’t even a government agency much of the time, it definitely needs to support itself. It could also add an exciting new angle to the show, or be the basis for a potential spin off.
Images courtesy of ABC.