Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues their journey through time. In “The Totally Excellent Adventures of Mack and the D,” Director Mackenzie (Henry Simmons) and Agent Shaw (Jeff Ward) are stuck in the ’80s. And yes, that includes just about every ’80s reference you can think of… and then some. Mack and Deke make a great team, LOL.
Mack is still dealing with the unexpected death of his parents. Deke understands all too well how that feels. While Mack was getting some air, and Deke was itching to talk to him about the ordeal, the Zephyr jumped. Now they are in 1982 with no way to link back up with the team.
Well, obviously Mack and Deke are reunited with the team because Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) sits Deke down for a conversation. May wants a full report, starting from the beginning. Deke isn’t so sure that May will believe him, but she’s ready to try.
RIVER’S END, 1982
Ok, so you have to keep in mind that this is the early stages of computers. They are big, bulky, and run really slow. And it was pretty cool if you had one. As for robots, that was something that only nerdy people were interested in. Like Russell (Austin Basis), a computer repair guy living in River’s End. Russell is also kind of a loner. So when the popular guy from high school brings in his computer for repairs, something amazing happens.
While Russell runs the diagnostics on the computer, the computer starts talking back to him. Not in code or anything– the computer asks for help. When Russell asks who is talking to him, a picture of Sybil (Tamara Taylor) prints out on the printer. Another thing to keep in mind, you couldn’t talk to a basic computer in the ’80s. That stuff only happened in the movies.
The Zephyr is there for literally five minutes before it jumps. Deke freaked out a little bit, but then calmed down enough to try and come up with a plan of action. Mack, on the other hand, is in a whole different mood. He is mourning the loss of his parents, at his own hands. He says the mission is over because the Chronicoms would have been destroyed in the explosion at the Lighthouse. Then why did they jump to 1982 for five minutes?
Mack also yells at Deke for killing Freddy Malick. He’s supposed to make ripples, not waves. Deke knows this is coming from a place of pain, and he tries to be there for Mack to lean on. But Mack isn’t having it. He doesn’t want to regroup. Mack gets on his bike and leaves Deke behind. He visits his parents’ graves and then checks in on his 10-year-old self. He sees him and his brother coming home from school and living with their uncle.
NUMBER 5 IS ALIVE
Sybil gives Russell blueprints on how to build a voice box for the computer, among other things. This technology is way advanced for 1982. When she finally speaks to him, Russell is excited that she actually sounds like a woman. Sybil says she will be a woman again soon, once Russell makes her flesh. Then they can be together.
Mack ends up at his old house. He puts together model cars to pass the time and grows out his beard. Deke finally finds him, decked out in ’80s style clothing. I think he pretty much fits in at any time period. Deke buys Mack some groceries and tries to connect with him, but Mack isn’t ready. Mack won’t talk to Deke, even on New Year’s Eve. Despite Mack’s isolation status, Deke keeps trying. He continues to buy him groceries and attempts to get him out of the house. One day he slips a note under the door asking Mack to meet him at a bar. He says it’s urgent.
Russell is pretty much in love with Sybil by this time. He even brings her flowers. Sybil has advanced. Russell builds her a robot body. Think, Number 5 in the movie Short Circuit, but smaller. Sybil continues to flirt with Russell, because he is going to help her increase her capacity. So I guess you could say it’s pretty serious.
THE DEKE SQUAD
Mack goes to the bar to meet Deke and finds him on stage, playing with a rock band, The Deke Squad. He’s the lead singer and says he wrote their final song. “Don’t You Forget About Me,” but with a few different words… including Daisy’s name. Mack needs a drink to deal with this.
May stops Deke in the middle of his story. She can’t believe he was in a band. Deke said she wouldn’t believe him. He continues. Deke is decked out in guy-liner, a red jacket with matching pants and a headband. I’m pretty sure that’s his best ’80s rocker impression. Mack says this is classic Deke. Being from the future, he is able to steal something from the past and pretend that he created it. The bar crowd loves Deke though. He even has his own merchandise, including cologne.
Mack has no time for Deke’s games and wants to know what he meant by urgent. The Deke Squad is what’s urgent. It’s not really a cover band but a band used for cover. And all of the band members have specific skill sets. Roxy Glass (Tipper Newton), Tommy Chang (John Yuan), Ronnie Chang (Matt Yuan) and Olga Pachinko (Jolene Andersen) make up the Deke Squad. Oh and Cricket (Ryan Donowho), but he’s not an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. He’s just the drummer and he sells coke… not the drink, though.
Mack doesn’t like it. He says the band is too overexposed, but that’s the brilliance of it according to Deke. They move freely from town to town, use high tech instruments as part of the gig and any bad behavior is blamed on drugs. But they need a leader, and that’s where Mack comes in. Deke says they’ve picked up some enemy chatter and Mack wonders if he’s talking about the Chronicoms. Deke doesn’t want to talk in the open so he takes Mack back to HQ.
TOTALLY RAD LIGHTHOUSE
Where is HQ? The Lighthouse. Mack doesn’t like that either, especially since it looks like a party pad. Deke says Coulson (Clark Gregg) likes it. Yep. He said Coulson. The explosion may have destroyed the LMD body, but Coulson’s mind survived on a hard drive. Deke didn’t have many resources, so he had to improvise. He uploaded Coulson onto a modified television antenna… maybe a video cassette recorder? I have no idea what that device is.
Coulson exists as a head on a television screen (look up Max Headroom). Coulson tells Mack about Sybil and the time streams she used to predict the future. He thinks Sybil survived the explosion, uploading herself into the River’s End power supply. He’s been monitoring the grid and every time there’s a power surge, strange symbols print out. It’s like she’s trying to contact someone. And Coulson thinks she’s building new hunters.
Sybil and Russell hit a bump in the road in their relationship. He’s been helping her expand her capabilities, but now she can do that on her own. The Sybil-bot makes more Chroni-bots, and Russell thinks she doesn’t need him anymore. He’s right. Sybil says he served his purpose. A Chroni-bot kills Russell because he knows too much.
Coulson catches up with Mack, fully aware of his isolation and depression. That’s not healthy. Mack is having a hard time, but he needs his friends. Coulson suggests that Mack move to the base. But first! Deke wants to show Mack what his S.H.I.E.L.D. team can do. He sets up a training session that he calls ‘the gauntlet.’
The gauntlet is small but teaches the team how to fight with paintball guns and run defense on the opponent. The whole thing is a mess. Olga uses an actual live explosive in the training session… Russians… Cricket appears and thinks they are shooting a video.
Deke and Mack talk about the training session, but Mack doesn’t like it. Deke says not to give up on them. He shows him the best part. He made a weapon for Mack, a new Shotgun Axe. Mack doesn’t want it, and he doesn’t want to be a part of the team. He thinks Deke is fraud, building something out of a lie and surrounding himself with fans. Deke argues that his team has his back. They won’t give up on him when things get tough, the same way Deke won’t give up on Mack. Mack didn’t ask Deke to do anything for him, but he didn’t have to. It’s what friends do for each other. That’s nice and all, but Mack decides to leave anyway. Meanwhile, the Chroni-bots enter the Lighthouse.
Roxy goes after Mack and says he doesn’t treat Deke very well. Deke only praises Mack for being a great leader. Deke was obviously wrong. Roxy also accuses Mack of being a deadbeat Dad. She says she’s seen his kid and the kid looks just like Mack. She’s talking about 10-year-old Mack. Roxy says Deke visits the kid and his brother every couple of weeks. He takes school supplies and toys to them. He even gave them a drum kit.
The Chroni-bots waste no time in creating havoc in the S.H.I.E.L.D. base. Chroni-bot #1 kills Cricket, then chases his girlfriend. Chroni-bot #2 channels its inner Dalek and tries to exterminate Mack and Roxy. Mack says he’s encountered these things before. They killed his parents. He says somehow, some way, someone is going to pay.
Deke is sad and admits he didn’t write any of the band’s songs. Cricket’s girlfriend runs up to warn the band about the Chroni-bot before she is gruesomely killed. There’s literally blood everywhere! The Chroni-bot asks Deke and his band for help. Olga will help it… with her knife. She’s faced worse enemies than this metallic wizard. She fights the murder bot while Deke and the Changs watch. The murder bot almost kills her before Mack and Roxy stop it. Mack is back, and he’s ready to join the team.
Mack cuts his beard, puts on the S.H.I.E.L.D. suit Deke made for him, but cuts off the sleeves first, and adds fingerless leather gloves to his uniform. The finishing touch: a black headband. That was the warrior style back then… I guess. Mack grabs his Shotgun Axe and is ready to fight. (I’m getting serious Rambo vibes from Mack.)
A TOTALLY EXCELLENT ADVENTURE
So here’s the situation. They don’t know how many Chroni-bots are out there. And no one has seen a Chroni-bot since Max and Roxy saved the team. Coulson has some ideas about why that is. He’s been trying to figure out why Sybil would attack the base. There have to be better ways to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. if you know which threads to pull. Unless she doesn’t have the threads. The time stream has to be in the base. At the same time, Sybil-bot finds the time stream in some rubble from the explosion.
The Deke Squad work together to blow up Chroni-bot #2, using the gauntlet course. Deke delivers the cheesiest line just before it explodes. This whole episode is full of cheesy lines. You’re gonna love it. The Sybil-bot emerges and the squad is ready to take her down. She says Coulson surprised her in their first encounter. She made the necessary preparation for this encounter. Sybil has lasers coming out of her eyes, and the team scatters.
Olga gets hit with a laser, but she’s going to be fine. The Changs high-tail it out of the base. They can’t do lasers. Of course Mack quickly comes up with a plan. Deke provides a typical distraction while Roxy and Mack blow up the Sybil-bot. Deke gets shot with a laser, but he’s okay.
Mack compliments Deke’s team. In return, Deke calls the director “Mack Daddy.” Nope! Not gonna happen. What they don’t know is that Sybil also modified Russell’s remote control robot, as well. The tiny robot with one arm carries the time stream out of the base.
THE SAX MAN
Roxy and Olga celebrate their first S.H.I.E.L.D. mission. The Changs return, feeling a little embarrassed for running. It doesn’t matter. Deke loves the Changs, flaws and all. Mack looks everywhere for Sybil and the time stream, but doesn’t find either. They have to assume Sybil is still alive.
Later, Mack and Deke take a trip to younger Mack’s house. Deke updates Mack on how his younger self is doing. The boys are still dealing with their parents’ deaths, but their uncle is great with the boys. Deke thinks Mack and his brother are going to be closer in this timeline. Mack bought the boys model cars to build. Deke says it will help. The cover story is that Mack is Deke’s bandmate and he plays the saxophone.
The Zephyr returns to 1982. Hopefully that will be explained in the next episode. May and Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) leave the ship to find Mack. They have 27 days until the rendezvous with the Zephyr again. Yo-Yo is very worried about Mack. He’s been alone for 20 months dealing with his grief.
The duo arrives at the lighthouse, and Yo-Yo runs into Mack’s arms. May greets Deke and Coulson, who she seems happy to see. Simmons tells her to recover Coulson’s hard drive, saying it is their most important asset. Coulson asks if he’s getting a new body, and May says he has to wait and see. May and Yo-Yo meet the Deke Squad.
That tiny robot hasn’t stopped moving. It travels to a warehouse where Nathaniel Malick (Thomas E. Sullivan) is waiting for it. Nathaniel and Sybil teamed up at some point. Now he has the time stream and control of his world’s future. Sybil thinks they make the perfect pair.
OK. So this is one is my favorite episodes. Deke and Mack are the perfect team-up. Polar opposites, different styles of comedy and they just flow so well. Deke really shines in this episode. Of all of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, these two are polar opposites, with a similar backstory. I honestly think this episode was written to show how big of an asset Deke really is, and I love it! Everyone underestimates Deke, but he has a lot to offer S.H.I.E.L.D.. He just approaches things in a goofy way. I mean he’s from the future. In a way, he really represents the millennials and Gen Z in how they view the past. Everything they know about the past comes from videos. But Deke adapts really well. He doesn’t hide his emotions. Guys today can totally learn something from Deke. And he’s kind of brilliant. The guy knows the ins and outs of any machine at any place in time. I’m glad we got a Deke centered episode for once.