Jared and Jess recap and discuss “All the Comforts of Home” from season 5 of Agents of S.H.I .E.L.D.
In our first episode of the season back in the present we meet our “favorite character,” Ruby, and we begin by reexamining some of our initial reactions and feelings about the character and what she represents. With the benefit of time and consideration Jess repositions Ruby’s writing, and sees how it was more thoughtfully, and well written character than we had originally understood her to be, and that there is a meta commentary there, about how adolescent women are demonized and demeaned across all areas of our culture.
We open on Ruby, a “stereotypical” teenage girl in a stereotypical teenager’s room, covered in posters, listening to pop music with headphones on her bed laying the wrong way on her bed with her feet in the air. We soon meet her mom, who Ruby quickly confronts, demanding to know if she’s a good guy, or a bad guy, and saying that since they’re going after S.H.I.E.L.D. that she wonders if they’re not the bad guys. Her mom, General Hale, tells her that she just follows her orders, and that everything she does is for Ruby, though Ruby incorrectly predicted she’d say everything she did was for the greater good. Here is where we learn about their weird mother-daughter relationship, and that Ruby is obsessed with Daisy Johnson AKA Quake. But more importantly, the team! Our favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents have returned from the future to the present day Lighthouse. They show up disoriented in different waves and gather together and Fitz confirms that despite their familiar location, they had made it back to their home time period. A hologram of an old school S.H.I.E.L.D. Director, Rick Stoner, played perfectly by Patrick Warburton, appears to give the rundown to the team via an outdated pre-recorded message. The base was top-secret base designed for a post-apocalyptic situation to help repopulate the Earth, so, exactly what it ended up being used for in the future. Coulson mentioned how injured Mack had gotten, and Yo-Yo turns it back on him and he brushes his injuries off, but she knows what Coulson isn’t telling the rest of the team about his own dark, crazy future sci-fi poison-filled wound. Yo-Yo, Mack and Jemma leave to get Mack medical attention and Coulson sends May to take the tour with hologram Rick Stoner, and she drags Fitz along. Daisy comes to furious with Coulson for using an Icer and taking her back to the past against her consent, and though she doesn’t forgive him exactly, she understands his decision. Fitz and May are going through a storeroom and find all three monoliths, and a douche-bro Chronicom who was in the AWFUL Paris Hilton vehicle “The Hottie & the Nottie,” Noah. Noah is the anti-Enoch, and is a dismissive, self-important robo-twit. He tells them that everyone with knowledge of the bunker is inside the bunker, and assures them that they’re safe. May has a very cheesy “small but active fan base” line that is super meta, and made us chuckle.
Jess noted that a lot of aspects of this season make us sure that they’d intended, or rather believed, it would be the final season of the show. In the Lighthouse’s monitor room they note “potential alien contact,” that will lead to the end of the world, and there’s a pretty by the numbers UFO-looking flying saucer in space on its way. They need to go check it out in St. Louis, and are still wanted for the crimes that AIDA and Ivanov framed them for. They show that they’re outside this small town of River’s End in the Lighthouse. When the team leaves the Lighthouse and has to steal a van Mack is mortified, and May, and even Yo-Yo, are a bit annoyed with how strait-laced he is, though Jemma finds it wonderful. Daisy gets more comfortable with the computer room in the Lighthouse than Noah seems to appreciate, getting under the Chronicom’s skin. Noah is a dick, and he’s ineffective, but he’s not actually against the team, he’s just really bad at helping them. The team goes through all the bad things they’ve lived through before to assure themselves. As a River’s End cop shows up Fitz seems almost ready to shoot him, which is super dark and messed up, but Mack diffuses the situation. At this point Deke shows up suddenly outdoors and falls in love with being outside, and hugs a tree. An old white lady of River’s End thinks Deke is high off his ass, but she’s also pretty cool about it. Deke is super good at being a silly in this scene, and almost ate ice cream out of a trash can, until he sees a dive bar and discovers that he doesn’t love beer, but he *does* love Zima! Deke has a fantastic time in the bar, eating cheeseburgers and onion rings, and drinking more and more Zimas. Deke tries to run out on his tab but is too drunk, and flips over a pool table. The team leaves the van on the side of road to be returned to owner and gets to the Zephyr so that they can get to St. Louis. Jemma figures out it’s not from space, but the light came up *from* Earth, Hydra’s way of calling the Kree to Earth. Yo-Yo and Mack are in the cargo hold and Yo-Yo is still more worried about the time loop than anything else. Daisy’s gamer-ing it up, with her feet up on the computer eating cereal from the box, and Noah is so uptight he mentioned that everyone knows that Enoch was always reckless. Deke has showed up on police records and Daisy has to get him, so she dresses up in Noah’s suit to go incognito to the River’s End police station.
The Zephyr arrives with the rest of the team in St. Louis where Fitz says he detects someone inside, and in the lab Piper is there, saying she was laying low waiting for them. We had forgotten about Piper being turned against the team in this episode, and though it’s justified, it’s also something neither of us care for. Jess’s Billy has a connection to Piper’s actor, Briana Venskus, as part of the L.A. motorcycle community. Daisy comes to the police station to get Deke and seems a little out of practice, and one of the cops seems to I.D. her, and makes a call that gets word of Daisy to General Hale. Daisy gives Deke a hard time for getting arrested immediately, but he’s too drunk, and too happy about being in a non-post-apocalyptic future stuck inside the Lighthouse in the cold of space, and he wants to know if she knows about Zima. Back in St. Louis we see that Piper’s beacon was actually meant to call Hale’s people, and Ruby is there in a mask with a team of robot drones, and Piper was tricked by Hale into turning on the team thinking she was helping them, and without a lot of options. Piper explains what she thinks the deal is, that they’re bringing the team in to keep them safe, but Ruby orders the robot goons to attack, and uses the same weapon as Xena, a chakram, to attack the team themselves. This makes Jared go on a little Xena rant about the absurdity/insanity of Xena, but as Jess points out, Xena’s Lucy Lawless is a S.H.I.E.L.D. vet! In the violence Ruby uses the aforementioned chakram to cut off both of Yo-Yo’s arms, and it’s gruesome, and not good. May and Mack go berserk on the robots before they even seem to know they’re robots, but they *really* lose it after that, with their past histories with robots giving them some serious anti-robot prejudice. The Xena connection re-contextualizes the violence we’ve seen in sword and sorcery and fantasy fiction, and makes one think of the trauma victims of dismemberment must endure. Daisy and Deke get back to the Lighthouse and meet up with Noah, who promptly tells Deke he didn’t think they should rescue him. Deke really comes into his own here, coming out of the John Cusack movie entitled nerdy straight white dude protagonist place he’d started from and firmly establishing himself as the comic sidekick, and excelling. Jeff Ward does very well with his comedic timing and rapport with Chloe, and this is where we fell for the character. They avoided a lot of problematic relationship tropes by changing the character’s focus from a wannabe space badass with an unrequited love for Daisy, to comic relief doofus just reasonably crushing on Daisy, or from the show’s Star-Lord, to Kramer. And total non sequitur, but they offered the part of Superman from Superman the Motion Picture to Burt Reynolds, which is nuts. We get a rad visual from the Lighthouse’s docking bay, with a platform emerging from the water on the coast next to the Lighthouse with a waterfall on each side, and it makes Jared think of Disney’s Gummi Bears, because he’s who he is. We talk a bit about what S.H.I.E.L.D. says about law enforcement and its greater failures. We appreciate that they don’t make their “super cops” out to be infallible, even though it isn’t perfect, and are critical of law enforcement agencies in general. We get a “reveal” of Ruby’s identity, and of her room being in the bottom of this big ol’ military bunker. Back at the base Fitz, Daisy and Noah are trying to turn the beacon off, but it begins to overload and he warns them to run and jumps on the beacon to absorb the blast, sacrificing himself for the team, and redeeming his douchebag nature. In the closing scene Crusher Creel is running with a hoodie on in Philadelphia and an unmarked black car pulls up with Hale to recruit him to her cause, and though he’s suspicious, he’s resigned to his fate and gets in the car.
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