The Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. team turn out a tour de force episode as one agent races to prevent prophesied tragedy. Head here for Doug’s review of episode 15, and read on for the biggest moments from ”Spacetime”.
1) Future Imperfect
Way back in Season 1, the team argued about whether a person possessing psychic abilities was possible. Everyone poo-pooed the idea except Skye (now Daisy) who felt it was ridiculous that thunder gods and green rage monsters and aliens were on the table but not psychics. While it turned out the Clairvoyant wasn’t in fact psychic, this week we get a similar argument about seeing the future. It’s handled in hilarious fashion as everyone states their opinion at the same time until Coulson concedes that, fine, it’s probably possible. It introduces a new element into the MCU. While it’s not the time travel of a show like The Flash, it opens the doors to the possibilties as Fitz ties it to the science of the Fourth Dimension. This connection also seems like the most plausible way for the series to tackle the events of Doctor Strange as magic popping up on the show seems unlikely. I wouldn’t be surprised if by time that films arrives, our agents are dealing with a lot more issues of time and dimension hopping.
This week, however, our team simply gets brief flashes of a possible (or fixed) set of future events thanks to family-man-turned-homeless-Inhuman Charles. Before HYDRA captures him, he touches Daisy and shows her a frightening set of circumstances, and the rest of the episode unfolds brilliantly around our heroes trying to avoid some of those. Though it plays out like many TV episodes where characters attempt to avoid a fate only to make choices that lead them to the same place, it was still interesting watching how those events played out. The highlight was the scene where Daisy tries to teach May how to take out a series of guards before they trigger an alarm. It’s an interesting approach as they’re not only replacing Daisy with May for the moments from the vision, but also attempting to outpace time and destiny.
When the moment arrives though, the alarm is still triggered, despite Daisy’s extra-speedy take-down of the guards. From there, each event plays out and we see the other side. I especially liked the reveal that Coulson shooting Daisy was actually her seeing him in a two-way mirror and he’s shooting at the guard on the other side (who triggered the alarm when Daisy quaked his comrade). The most interesting one from a time paradox perspective is also the smallest moment from the vision: FitzSimmons holding hands in the “snow.” While it naturally turns out to be ash, their action is the only one that didn’t happen because of outside circumstances. They seem to only hold hands because they know they’re supposed to. It would have been fairly odd for them to do so in that moment otherwise.
But it doesn’t end there. Charles dishes out two more glimpses of the future before he dies. The first is to Malick and that’s the one we don’t see. But if the tag at the end is any indication, it’s left him shaken and desperate for some Inhuman protection. The second vision is to Daisy and it’s the same shot that opened the mid-season premiere: a quinjet floating in space with an agent on board that then blows up. I wondered if this might feature in tonight’s episode given the themes at play and I’m now wondering if time and prophecy might more heavily factor into the events leading up to the finale.
2)The Return Of Kevin Tancharoen
I don’t often talk about the directors on here but I’ve yet to breakdown an episode done by Kevin Tancharoen. You may know him as the director of the Mortal Kombat: Legacy web-series or as the brother of S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen, but he’s also directed a number of excellent episodes of the show. He helmed “Purpose In The Machine” earlier this season (featuring the incredible sequence where Ward gives a monologue to his lieutenant while driving an Aston Martin between pillars and HYDRA recruits all with a man clinging to the hood). He also directed “One Of Us” last season which featured Cal recruiting some villains to take on Coulson and had Bobbi taking out Karla Knife-Fingers with a table. But his best work (and use of a table as a weapon) was “Face My Enemy” where May battles Agent 33 while she’s wearing her face. It’s the moment where S.H.I.E.L.D. was elevated to must-see action television and it’s that sense of choreography and visual storytelling that helps make this such a remarkable episode.
Throughout “Spacetime” we’re treated to kinetic camera work, especially as it sweeps around the agents during a debriefing and during the mock mission run. But his work really shines during the actual mission mentioned above when Daisy takes on the guards at the Transia building (another in the long line of evil MCU corporations) all in a single shot from the camera. And it’s no surprise that he chose such a sequence as he just so happened to direct “The Dirty Half Dozen” from Season 2 which featured a very similar one-shot fight scene involving Daisy (bet you thought I forgot one in the paragraph above). Chloe Bennet takes center stage once again as she twists, turns, and ducks under tables as she uses fists, legs, and gun to take out the enemies before finishing things off with the advantage May didn’t have: her tremors. Someone really needs to gives this guy his own show to run, but in the meantime, he has been announced as the director for the finale so that should greatly add to the excitement as all the events of this season draw to a close.
3) Malick’s Magnificent Mechanical Muscles
I could have written about a number of moments for this one. There’s the full reveal of the All-New All-Different Hive after his absence the past two episodes. He offers Malick real power and then gets him that power by frightening the company that helped make Coulson’s hand into selling to Malick before disintegrating them. He’s also finally revealed to be alive to Coulson and Co.
Then there’s everything with May and Andrew, who shows up out of nowhere to derail the mission (and the plot a bit). Now I love Ming Na Wen and Blair Underwood’s chemistry together, but him showing up to say goodbye before he becomes Lash permanently (and even the producers have said that permanent has a different meaning on comic book shows), just didn’t have that much of an impact. It could have something to do with the fact that this goodbye feels like it’s already happened several times before in previous episodes. This really served as one more chance to shake our heads at how terrible the Lash make-up looks. I’d love if him having permanently transformed slowly shifts his appearance to something cooler and he starts dressing in a better outfit than slacks and work boots.
Ultimately I chose to talk about Malick’s exoskeleton because it provided the opportunity for some excellent alliteration above. But seriously, it’s interesting more because it’s the only one of the elements I’ve mentioned in this section that’s unique to this episode. By the end, he’s lost his new power so this serves as a brief glimpse behind our villains mental curtain. We finally learn a bit about his motivations (that his family has worked towards the goal of bringing Hive over for generations) and that he ultimately seeks the kind of power that money and influence can’t grant him. Basically, he wants to be enhanced in some fashion. His loss of that brief taste of true power and the vision Charles gives him leave him rattled. Time will tell what he saw, but this episode gave us the first crack in Malick’s facade making him a much more interesting character and villain as we move forward
So, what did you think? Let us know in the comments what your favorite moments were and what you’re hoping to see next week. You can check out the promo for episode 16 titled “Paradise Lost” here and for all things Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., follow along here. For more MCU related news and features, make sure to follow us on Twitter.