Presenting OTP Tuesday! Each Tuesday I will introduce you to a new One True Pairing! Tune in each week to find out which fictional couple you need to agonize/squee over next. I finally finished Agents of SHIELD, so sorry, not sorry I’m going to be gushing about it for awhile. This week: Mackelena!
Who Are Mackelena?
Mackelena refers to the pairing of Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie and Elena Rodriguez. I’ve also seen the ship referred to as “YoYoMack,” from Elena’s nickname of YoYo (given to her by Mack, thanks to her Inhuman powers). While I like YoYoMack, I’m going with Mackelena because 1) it sounds/looks like Macarena, which is fun, and 2) it’s easier to type.
Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie
Mack was introduced in season 2 of Agents of SHIELD. Although he was not part of the initial team from season 1, he very quickly became an integral part of the team. By the end of season 5, Mack is not only one of the major characters in the show, he is actually chosen as the new director of SHIELD.
Our first introduction to Mack is very low-key. When season 2 starts, Mack is just… there. After the dissolution of SHIELD, Mack joined Phil Coulson’s ragtag group. He is a good ally. However, we later learn that Mack is working for another SHIELD group, actively working against Coulson. Mack’s group also includes Bobbi Morse; they are working for a more democratic, transparent SHIELD.
The rival SHIELD saga shakes things up, even pushing Mack to swear that he is going to leave SHIELD. In the end, though, his dedication wins out. He sticks around at SHIELD, even becoming partners with Daisy Johnson. As they work to find, index, and protect new Inhumans, Mack provides the grounding point Daisy needs.
While the rest of the team goes through drama after drama, Mack remains a steady presence. He does his job, maintains his relationships, and lives a quiet, simple life. However, when the Framework comes into play, things change for Mack. In the Framework alternate universe, Mack has a daughter he loves. He refuses to leave the Framework and lose his daughter. In the end, he escapes, but it leaves a mark.
Mack is still reeling from the Framework in season 5. He worries that they will lose themselves in space like they did in the Framework. So, he focuses on keeping everyone grounded. Mack becomes the moral center of the team, which leads to Daisy naming him Director when Coulson retires.
Elena “YoYo” Rodriguez
Elena Rodriguez joins the show halfway through season 3. At the end of season 2, terrigen crystals entered the water supply, creating waves of new Inhumans. One such individual was Elena, who underwent terrigenesis after eating fish tacos. Her powers of enhanced speed and metabolism gave her an edge in combating the corruption in her native Colombia.
However, Elena catches SHIELD’s attention when some weapons go missing. Thinking she is a criminal, they pursue her. Elena, who speaks no English, works to tell them her side of things: she is protecting her people from a cruel government and corrupt police force. In the end, they decide Elena is an ally, and she becomes an asset of SHIELD.
Elena doesn’t stay but is eventually called up as part of Daisy’s Secret Warriors. By this time, she has learned English and is eager to see SHIELD again… particularly Mack, who nicknamed her YoYo. The chemistry between Mack and YoYo leads her to stick around, though Mack takes his time making a move.
Eventually, though, they get together. This makes it all the more devastating when Mack refuses to leave his daughter in the Framework. Desperate to save the man she loves, YoYo enters the Framework to convince him to leave. When he refuses, she agrees to stay with him, even knowing it will mean her death.
They make it out of the Framework at the last second, but YoYo is now afraid to lose Mack again. When they are in the future, she takes risky steps to ensure his safety. This leads to YoYo committing some grave acts, like killing Ruby Hale, in the hopes of preventing the future. Mack is unhappy with YoYo’s actions, but in the end, they patch things up. YoYo is at Mack’s side as they move forward.
Why is Mackelena OTP?
To be honest, I tend to go back and forth on Mackelena. At its best, Mackelena is a really good ship. These two characters mesh well, with each having unique strengths and weaknesses that the other balances. They’re also super cute together, and it’s nice to see someone on the show have a relatively healthy, non-complicated relationship.
At times, though, I struggle with Mackelena. A lot of this comes down to Mack. I never know how to feel about Mack. Sometimes, he’s my favorite character. He’s a giant teddy bear. Other times, though, he gets a little too self-righteous for my tastes. When he starts to act like he’s better than YoYo, I cringe. This happened a lot in season 5, as YoYo took what she considered necessary steps to save the world — and Mack judged her for them.
However, in the end, Mackelena just works. YoYo is probably the best-suited person to deal with Mack. She can handle his judgment because she is doing what needs to be done — and saving him from having to make the hard calls. They always gravitate back to each other, no matter how many times they clash. That kind of love is inspiring, and nice to see on AoS.
YoYo and Turtleman
Mackelena is a fairly playful ship, for AoS. While everyone else is having crisis after crisis, long-suffering pining, or straight up death, Mackelena is just calmly in the background, enjoying a quiet, simple relationship. A lot of this comes down to the straightforward nature of the characters.
The nicknaming shows this. Mack has a tendency to nickname characters (Fitz is Turbo, Daisy is Tremors), so it makes sense that he gave Elena a nickname on first meeting her. YoYo comes from her powers; she can move super fast, but always bounces back to her starting point. Elena complains later that everyone calls her YoYo, but doesn’t seem to actually mind it much. And she gets her revenge: she dubs Mack “Turtleman.”
This is because of her opinion about Mack’s slow and steady persona. Elena’s all about moving, doing, taking action. Mack is more hesitant. He’s of the opinion that slow and steady wins the race. When Mack moves slowly through life, YoYo starts calling him Turtleman. While that one doesn’t catch on as much, it’s a nice way for Elena to tease Mack in return.
It’s also fitting because Mack’s slow and steady persona is most exasperating for YoYo when it comes to the two of them. YoYo knows she’s interested in Mack, and she’s fairly certain he’s interested in return. Yet he never makes a move on her. Mack argues that there are regulations against involvement with assets. YoYo doesn’t care. Mack needs to stop being a hesitant turtle and live a little.
Mackelena may be about Mack and Elena (duh), but when it really comes down to it, they’re YoYo and Turtleman. There’s a nice balance there, a sort of tortoise and the hare. They even each other out.
Faith and Language
Mackelena isn’t all fun and games, however. These two characters are probably some of the more mature, grounded people in the show. That maturity probably contributes heavily to why their relationship is so peaceful and healthy.
One of the things that bind Mack and YoYo together is their shared faith. Both characters are Christians, and their faith is an integral part of who they are. That shared connection — especially in a career like SHIELD, where you are constantly facing things that might shake a weak faith — allows them to connect to each other.
Faith is actually one of the ways that Mack and YoYo first connect. Mack is the first person to deal with YoYo when SHIELD thinks she is a criminal. He has a hard time getting his point across with her because she doesn’t speak English and his Spanish is limited to “pescado.” But he does understand when YoYo says that her Inhuman powers are a gift from God. That helps him see that maybe YoYo isn’t a bad person — maybe she deserves a closer look.
The language barrier is also one of the sweeter things about Mackelena. Their first interactions are stilted — it’s hard to communicate properly when you don’t speak the same language. But after YoYo is released from SHIELD custody, she works on learning English. This is ostensibly so she can help SHIELD — but she notably practices saying hello to Mack.
For his part, Mack works on his Spanish. When they come face to face again, they are able to communicate much more smoothly. Later, when they are captive, they communicate in Spanish. While Mack’s Spanish improved from his time in the Framework, it’s important to him because it’s an integral part of the woman he loves. It’s a sweet touch.
What’s Next for Mackelena?
Throughout season 5, Mackelena was facing some serious issues. Mack’s experience in the Framework shook them both, and they had to readjust their relationship for the new memories Mack had of his alternate life. But, at the beginning of the season, they agreed that they could move forward and maybe even start a family together.
When YoYo starts to take desperate measures to prevent the dark future they saw, Mack is unsure of how to handle it. He worries about YoYo. For her part, YoYo wants most of all to stop Mack from dying. She takes action; it’s who she is. They clash over differences in opinion, and Mack is upset that YoYo may be losing who she is.
In the end, though, Mack and YoYo always find their way back to each other. So much else has happened, that they rely on each other to be the grounding point. Especially after watching their teammate’s relationships crumble in spectacular ways, they appreciate the quiet strength of their bond.
AoS season 6 is a bit up in the air. We know a few things: Mack is a director, and they are going to space to find Fitz. Otherwise, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. One thing we do know, though: Mackelena is built to last. Despite all their differences, they still came back together at the end of season 5. As Director Mackenzie moves forward, he’ll have YoYo by his side to help him be the best he can be.
Is Mackelena Canon?
Yes! Agents of SHIELD is terrible for creating drama in their ships, but Mackelena is mostly smooth sailing. They took some time to come together, sure. But not because of miscommunication, or a lack of desire, or some world-ending situation that keeps them apart. It’s solely due to rules and regulations: they want to be together, but Mack follows the rules.
It doesn’t take long, though, for YoYo to convince Mack that he needs to just ask her out. They’ll be together and damn the rules. Once they’re together, they stay together. Even though all their issues in season 5, they never broke things off. It’s nice to have a simple, smooth(ish) ship for once.