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Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is possessed by exposition in body-hopping 'Leap'

Photo: ABC/Mitch Haaseth
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Well, say this for “Leap” — it didn’t lack for answers.

That’s the best possible thing to say about this bottle episode that treds upon some extremely cliched material, specifically the reveal that yep, we didn’t see the last of Izel in last week’s episode. Her ability to body-hop meant that she was able to stow away off her ship before Joco made it go boom real big, and after initially using Davis to get inside the Lighthouse, it was her, in May’s body, who shot Sarge a whole bunch of times at the end of last week’s episode.

Izel did so, it appears, knowing full well that the bullets wouldn’t kill him, and their adversarial relationship enters a new level of confusion as his body heals and he escapes from the morgue, tracking Izel down to confront her. But when she confronts him with a ton of backstory about their past lives together as non-corporeal beings, he’s left flummoxed, while she takes over Yo-Yo’s body, and she and Mack (a willing hostage) leaving the Lighthouse. It’s a win for the bad guys, because Izel’s got the gravitonium device, which contains the energy of all three destroyed monoliths, as well as a ship and Mack as a hostage. But S.H.I.E.L.D. has a way of bouncing back.

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While, after several weeks of drawing out the mysteries surrounding Izel and Sarge’s relationship, it’s nice to at least have some understanding of what’s going on (presuming Izel’s not lying, of course). But the portion of the episode devoted to Izel’s body-hopping (and the non-possessed agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. taking their sweet damn time to figure out what exactly is going on) is that Karolina Wydra isn’t a bad actor, but beyond calling people “sweetheart” and “my dear” a lot, Izel as a character has very little definition. This meant that the entire cast was left struggling when it came to finding ways to make it clear that they’d been possessed, especially after Izel was no longer trying to hide from them; Jeff Ward probably did the best in showing the shift, while being choked by Mack, but we’re definitely grading on a curve here.

This is entirely down to the writing not giving Izel nearly enough personality, to be clear. When shows like Doctor Who and Dollhouse played with this idea, they were far more successful, because the invading personality was always so distinct. Also, it’s a sequence which also takes entirely too long — a good third of the episode, if not more, is devoted simply to everyone figuring things out. Any genre-savvy audience member watching has seen some version of this trope a few times before; heck, they might have figured out just from watching the trailer for this week’s episode what was coming.

One nice element to all this was the scene in which a few secrets are shared to prove everyone’s identities, including the reveal that Daisy has been sending money all this time to the sister of her deceased boyfriend Lincoln (oh those carefree innocent days of season three) and that Davis stole a space pen. But it’s his last really fun moment before he dies to prove how serious Izel is about using her abilities to get what she wants, despite the fact that initially, it seemed like Davis might be able to survive this mess once Izel left his body (shoutouts to anyone who smelled a redshirt situation coming a mile away).

And then it’s time for Izel and Sarge to have a little chat, as she explains that it’s not that he hates her — it’s that they are linked. There’s quite a bit to parse in both Izel’s explanation as well as Fitz’s own theorizing, but the short version appears to be this: thanks to the explosion of the three monoliths, a copy of Coulson’s body was created and then thrust through space and time, ending up in Izel’s (unnamed) realm, where a non-corporeal spirit named Pachakutik took it over, though with enough lingering Coulson left behind to create the persona of “Sarge.” Pachakutik, a name Sarge barely remembers, was teased in the sixth season premiere, and per Wikipedia — as well the AV Club’s own Kate Kulzick — is a Quechuan concept that refers to massive change.

Whether Izel is telling the full truth, and whether there’s yet more to be revealed, is almost completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of exposition required to explain it; Wydra and Clark Gregg get through it as best they can (and Gregg’s emotional confusion hits just the right notes, given the situation), but it’s a lot. And we still have plenty more left to understand.


Stray Observations:

  • “No one saying anything makes it scarier.” Rest in peace, Davis. You will be missed.
  • THIS WEEK IN SHAMELESS FITZSIMMONS APPRECIATION: There’s nothing new to mention, really, as Fitz and Simmons are split up for nearly the entire episode as she monitors Sarge and he points at his fancy monoliths diagram. But when Mack asks Fitz if he remembers where Simmons went undercover, it’s a poignant reminder of that separation, and definitely a question the real Fitz would never forget how to answer.
  • Fitz dropping a pretty blatant mention of Ghost Rider in the final minutes ties in nicely with a not-so-vague tweet from Gabriel Luna, posted back in April. How big a role Ghost Rider ends up playing in the remaining episodes is of course unknown at this stage, but if he can help Sarge with his non-corporeal issues, that’s a good thing.
  • It’s now official that season seven of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be the last. While that’s sad news (it was impressive, how this show seemed basically unkillable for years), it is going to be exciting to see how crazy things might get, once it enters the... endgame? Am I allowed to call it that? Probably not.
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About the author

Liz Shannon Miller

Liz Shannon Miller is a L.A.-based writer who recently spent five years at Indiewire. Her work has also been published by the New York Times, Vulture, Variety, THR, the Verge, and Thought Catalog.