We are continuing our series of looking back on the best episodes for the characters of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to celebrate the season six lineup. Today we will be focusing on Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie, played by the wickedly talented Henry Simmons!
Mack was introduced in the second season of the show, but quickly became a fan favorite. Mack is the most level-headed member on the team, and isn’t afraid to call his teammates out on their mistakes. He was promoted to Director in the season five finale, due to his charisma, strength, and ability to inspire hope in the team.
#1 Episode 5×22, (“The End” by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen)
Although the season finale left the fandom rather disgruntled due to its ending, the episode was probably one of their best: as Chloe Bennet said in a tweet, “you don’t need a big budget to make people cry.”
The End proves that fact splendidly – while there is some amazing fighting sequences, it’s the heart of the episode that makes it so amazing, and that is in no small part due to Mack. The team has been fractured; friendships shattered, relationships broken up, and the team is now faced with the decision to save the world, or one of their most beloved members – Coulson, who spends majority of the episode at the brink of death.
In a heartbreaking scene, the team argues over what they should do – the fight gets ugly, until Mack calls them out, and gives a rather poetic speech on hope, and how even if they’re not sure who to save, they still have a duty to protect the innocents. Cue a montage scene of the team rushing into harm’s way and evacuating people, and rendering me into a weeping mess.
After giving us a red herring that Mack could die, Fitz is fatally wounded when part of a ceiling collapses on top of him. Mack and May are the only two members present during Fitz’s last moments, and their reactions are so raw and real that it takes the breath out of your lungs.
And if you think I’m not still haunted by the image of Mack sobbing over Fitz’s body, clutching and then pressing a kiss to Fitz’s hand as he finally died (two episodes after they had a fight)? You’re wrong. God, someone give me some tissues.
#2 Episode 5×4, (“A Life Earned” by Drew Z. Greenberg)
It would have been easy for the writers to sweep the trauma the team endured in the Framework under the rug – instead, they tackled it several times, although perhaps not as head on as the audience would have liked.
The fourth episode of the fifth season dealt with Mack’s trauma of losing his child – and also shed light on how wonderful the Lighthouse is (note the sarcasm).
In an attempt to gain the trust of Grill – a delightful dude that works people overtime for small exchanges such as not getting killed by the Kree – Mack accepts a job to retrieve a package that another worker named Gunner stole.
As Mack soon finds out, to his and Yoyo’s horror, the package is a baby. The Kree has slowed down birthing rates by spiking the food to make everyone infertile, thus resulting in less of those pesky humans to feed, and artificially creating their own (presumably to create more Inhumans to enslave). Fun times, amiright?
To add to Mack’s really awful day, Gunner shouts at him that he should never be a father. Mack punches him, and bails. Later, we get a tender scene between Mack and Yoyo, where he finally opens up about losing Hope again – the daughter the Framework restored for him, since she died shortly after she was born in real life.
Mack admits to feeling guilty for being more heartbroken about losing the version of his daughter that never truly existed, then losing the daughter he actually had in reality. Yoyo reminds him that this time he had a lifetime of memories with Hope, and that what truly mattered was that he loved Hope – and what he felt was even if that version of Hope wasn’t.
#3 Episode 5×09, (“Best Laid Plans” by George Kitson)
While the rest of the team fights to survive the trip back to the Lighthouse, Mack, Yoyo, and Flint team up to stick it to the oppressive Kree warriors, and start a revolution.
It’s a beautiful episode filled with rebellion, hope, ass-kicking, and shippy goodness for those of us who ship YoyoMack. Plus you have that meme worthy shakey-cam zoom in on Kasius as he flips his lid because these two humans actually thwarted his plan to blow everyone up. Quick, someone cheer him up – he’s looking a little blue.
In my honest opinion, there just isn’t enough stories about hopeful rebellion, and this episode does it absolutely beautifully – and seeing Mack and Yoyo free what’s left of humanity from slavery is nothing short of inspiring (and will definitely tug on a few heart strings).
#4 Episode 3×14, (“Watchdogs” by Drew Z. Greenberg)
Between all the world-saving and angst, it’s rare to get an episode providing insight on a character’s past, and focusing on them for majority of the episode – the first episode to truly focus on Mack by himself would be season three’s Watchdogs.
In the aftermath of losing Hunter and Bobbi, Mack takes some much needed vacation time, by going to hang out with his brother in their family home. Things quickly go awry when Daisy brings Mack in on a case revolving around the Watchdogs – a terrorist hate group with the goal of eliminating Inhumans.
Although the episode focuses a great deal on Daisy – and the lines she crosses – the portion that focuses on Mack are superb, giving us a glimpse at his family life, his relationship with his brother, and giving us more of my favorite two friendships on the show – Mack and Fitz, and Mack and Daisy.
Plus – we had the birth of the shotgun axe!
#5 Episode 3×19, (“Failed Experiments” by Brent Fletcher)
I can still remember the fandom’s reaction after this episode aired – my dashboard was filled with screams, crying, and heartbreak.
After Daisy is brainwashed by the Inhuman creature known as Hive – who’s jaunting about in Grant Ward’s body, with the memories of about five different people in his head – Mack refuses to believe that his partner is truly gone, even after she did her best Darth Vader impersonation on Fitz the week before with Force choking him, and killing Gideon Malick before that.
His belief that Daisy is still Daisy grows even firmer when a photo of Daisy is caught by a satellite, revealing the location of Hive and his goons. Mack believed this was intentional, and that Daisy wants them to find and rescue her.
Flashforward a bunch of attempts to make Inhumans from scratch later, during a showdown with Hive and the Kree, Mack tracks down Daisy to try and bring her home. The two have a heartbreaking argument, which quickly turns physical, and Daisy almost kills Mack using her powers before May shoots her to save Mack.
Despite this, and his brief loss of faith in their ability to bring Daisy back – quickly restored by Elena in the following episode – Mack is one of the first characters to forgive Daisy, in an absolutely beautiful scene in the season finale.