Well, this was quite the exciting episode. When we left off, each part of the team was pulled into dire straits, and all seemed lost. Is all, in fact, lost? Well of course not, we’re only halfway through the season, but this was still quite the emotional ride. Let’s begin, shall we?
1. S.H.I.E.L.D. vs S.H.I.E.L.D. vs Chronicoms
Previously, Coulson and May had to infiltrate the Lighthouse in order to stop Project Insight from taking off. It didn’t go as planned. Instead, they’re captured and locked up by Stoner, who still doesn’t exactly believe what Coulson says about the Chronicoms.
Then, of course, the Chronicoms take over the base. They initiate lockdown and launch missiles at the Zephyr, but even then it seems hard for Stoner to accept that there’s anyone infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D.
Just wait until he learns about Hydra.
All the while, the Chronicoms are continuing to steal peoples’ faces and identities, this time with the technology to copy minds and personalities as well. This makes them even harder to spot, at least until we discover that May’s ability to read emotions upon contact means she can tell who’s actually an unfeeling robot in disguise with just a touch.
I also like how quickly Stoner was to admit “I believe you!” as soon as he’s rescued. You have to give the man credit for being able to admit when he made a mistake.
And heck, I can’t stay mad at Patrick Warburton.
2. Meet Nathaniel Malick
Wilfred Malick had two sons. One of them, Gideon, grew up to become a major antagonist in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. while the other, Nathaniel, was sacrificed to Hive.
Then the Chronicoms changed time.
Now we get to meet Nathaniel Malick, at least more than through flashbacks and his Hive-possessed body. While the version of him we saw in flashbacks was a willing participant in the ceremony and was sent off to Hive (albeit due to Gideon’s cheating), the version we see how is less interested in the “space octopus” as he calls it, and more about Inhuman powers in general.
The show’s writers gave him a good amount of personality this episode. He first entered the scene with the usual dramatic timing of showing up right when Daisy calls him a psychopath, but then he comments on how perfect the timing was. When Daisy dramatically threatens him, he comments on the vibe she’s giving and how cool the line was. It’s a bit of levity we don’t often get from villains, much less those in Hydra.
At the same time, that doesn’t make him any less of an evil bastard. He tortures Daisy and drains plenty of blood from her in an attempt to steal her powers. Surprisingly… it works, which leads to a very satisfying “hoisted by his own petard” moment.
Remember how Daisy had difficulty controlling her powers at first? She basically broke her arms every time she tried to quake until she could get it under control. Well, copying her powers did not give this Malick any more control over them, so he pretty much wrecked himself.
Now that he’s dead again, we can begin wondering how history will have changed with him not being sent into space and possessed by Hive.
3. Coulson Lives, He Dies, He Lives Again
As comic readers, we’re used to characters dying and coming back. That’s less common in the Marvel cinematic universe (not counting everyone who got brought back from the Thanos snap), unless your name is Phil Coulson.
Coulson has died more than a few times, and the show acknowledges it. As he and May are tied up, they argue over her attitude about him being back and what his current existence means. May reminds us that she’s mourned for him repeatedly, but he always comes back, and she’s tired of going through those motions. It’s hard to deny what she’s saying there.
So then Coulson gets to speak with Sibyl, the Chronicom Predictor. Their conversation is a highlight of the episode, where each one explains what they see is the difference between Chronicoms and humanity. To Sibyl, the difference is that humans are short-lived and fear death; by her logic, Coulson should be working with the Chronicoms, not against them.Continued below
But Coulson gets a speech backed up by a dramatic soundtrack about humans being willing to make sacrifices and their refusal to give up. Then, to demonstrate the point, he sacrifices himself to take out a base full of Chronicom Hunters.
This was, of course, right after he said how dying is basically his super-power, so I’m sure we’ll see him again in the next episode.
4. Mental Trauma for Mack
Oh god, poor Mack. This episode really put him through the ringer.
Last episode, we saw his parents were captured by the Chronicoms and stored in the S.H.I.E.L.D. base to be used as leverage. So of course he has to go on a rescue mission.
Sure, it creates some awkward moments as he hugs people who don’t recognize him, and introduces Yo-Yo as his girlfriend as if they were meeting together for dinner. But then we get a nice almost bonding moment as he and his dad work together to figure out how to get the blast doors open. It seems like everything worked out in the end, right?
… Hey, so remember how Chronicoms have begun copying memories and emotions?
The build-up to the moment is nicely done. When Mack’s father taps May’s shoulder, we get the first ominous hint that something is up. May quickly confirms our suspicions, and the moment grows more tense. What happened to Mack’s father? Was his mother replaced too?
In the end, it turns into a fight scene on the ship that looks more emotionally painful to the characters than physically. The Chronicoms first taunt Mack about wearing his parents’ skin, then the one wearing his mother’s face begs for help before he has to toss her out the airlock.
Now that’s some emotional trauma for the character, it’s no wonder he needed to get some time to himself after the team jumped ahead in time. That also raises the question of how this will impact Mack and his present – was his history altered by the untimely disappearance of his parents, or is that still a ripple that could get course-corrected? When the team returns to the present, will he still be the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., or will that have changed too?
Those questions will have to wait, though, as there’s more pressing concerns at hand.
5. Missed the Ship
As previously established, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team has no control over their time jumps. They get sent through time when the Chronicoms do, so they’re basically trying to catch up each time. Sometimes the Chronicoms can change their plans and jump ahead sooner than expected. Anyone not on the Zephyr when that happens is out of luck.
That wasn’t much of a problem for Enoch, since as a Chronicom, he can simply wait it out. But for mortals like, say, Deke and Mack, it might be a bit more of an issue. So when the ship gets pulled into the future while Deke is still out trying to find Mack, we now have a team split between time as well as distance.
What year are the two left in? What year will the rest of the team get sent to? We’ll have to wait and see in the next episode, but this causes some interesting complications that will be fun to watch unfold.
Personally, I’m hoping for the 90’s, but let me know what you think in the comments, and we’ll see who’s right next time.