Afterlife was another of those slightly frustrating 'placeholder' episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. where key dynamics were explored, sub-plots established and a surprise guest made a welcome a return, but everything felt secondary to a main plot that just wasn't there.
While there's plenty going on onscreen to keep your attention, the overall narrative of the show only advances in baby steps.
Skye awakes in an Inhuman refuge in the mountains of China where she eventually discovers that Raina is staying as well before, unknowingly, meeting her mother, Jiaying (Dichen Lachman); Coulson and Hunter are on the run from the 'real' S.H.I.E.L.D. until Coulson hatches a plan to steal a quinjet with the aid of an unexpected ace in the hole; the rift between Fitz and Simmons has been healed only to apparently be torn asunder again; and Gonzales shuffles about complaining about Coulson and trying to convince members of Team Coulson to come work for him.
As ever the episode is peppered with hooks and hints of things to come and possible allusions to things that have gone on in the past and while quite a lot happened in Afterlife (the nickname of the Inhuman refuge, by the way) it felt like we were mainly following the build-up to a big event, rather than focusing on the big event itself.
It's great to see Coulson supplementing his team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents with enhanced operatives - and Gonzales' diametrically opposed point of view on the subject of powered characters - but must the show really take so long to get anywhere dramatically meaningful?
After weeks and weeks of Skye learning to accept that she has superpowers are we now going to be subjected to weeks and weeks of her training to use her abilities?