Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is inching its way closer to the finish line with Episode 10 of Season 7, “Stolen,” and we’re here to break down all the action for you! After last week’s Groundhog Day episode, things have settled back into a normal course of action as the team is stuck once again in 1983 still mourning the death of Joel Stoffer’s Enoch and trying to figure out their situation with time travel and the Chronicoms.
This week’s episode title was almost a little bit too spot-on given the amount of theft and loss in the most recent plot. I’ll get into more detail about this later on, but I’ve never seen such an accurate one-word title for an episode of this series until this latest one.
Another big theme of this week was numerous look-backs into the MCU’s past, which the series has done a fantastic job with all season thus far. This episode in particular gave more depth to the Nathaniel Malick-villain-storyline, used Afterlife from season 2 the setting for most of the episode, and explored how different Dichen Lachman’s Jiaying was before Hydra destroyed her. All of these have their ups and downs in relation to how good this season has been so far, varying from a little boring to some really insightful storytelling.
Firstly, even though it’s an interesting change of pace having Nathaniel Malick leaving the Hydra path set for him by his father, he isn’t making a great name for himself compared to some of the show’s past villains, although Thomas Sullivan’s performance shouldn’t be singled out as the reason for it. Malick’s whole need for anarchy is just seeming like the all too familiar generic TV villain trope seen so many times in the past, and I just really hope his goal in the end is more than just taking over the world or turning it into ruins. Maybe it will be explained better once we find out exactly what his deal with Sibyl is, along with how exactly their screwing with the Time Stream is messing everything up.
The way Malick worked on his power-stealing tech for his evil plan was shown quite well this week as he took Li’s knife-forming powers and even stole the powers of a young Gordon long before he ever meets Daisy. It will also be something to look out for when we find out where exactly Dionne Doan’s Kora’s loyalties will lie after Coulson and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team take her hostage.
Even with that considered, this week had some incredibly deep emotional moments, largely provided by Chloe Bennet and Dichen Lachman. It made me so sad seeing how hurt Jiaying was to find out about Daisy’s past, and the way it absolutely crushed her soul knowing she was responsible for it made me wish we could have seen more of this version of Jiaying. Even after putting forth her best effort to stop Malick, her death in Season 7 hit even harder than her villainous end in Season 2 knowing she truly was a good person that would have been the mother Daisy was hoping for her entire life. (Side note: Sousa may be square, but he’s as good of a dude as you’ll find, especially pushing Daisy to open up to her mom.)
With Malick being a little bit lackluster of a villain, it was such a relief to see him get some backup in the form of a younger, newly-superpower-infused John Garrett from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s debut season. This performance was given so brilliantly by the son of the original John Garrett actor, James Paxton, who embodied his late father Bill Paxton to absolute perfection. It was so fun to see how crazy and maniacal he was as a younger man even before he went full Hydra, and the excitement over his new powers and new tech available was portrayed as well as could be expected.
It feels like the time travel theme of this season is finally starting to get really confusing, and there’s no way of telling how exactly it will work itself out in the end. There seems to be a slim chance that Daisy could cease to exist with Jiaying dead 30 years early (Gordon as well), and it’s hard to predict how Coulson and friends are going to save themselves and stop the young Malick and Garrett.
The main interesting point as the episode ends is that the two Hydra baddies have now taken Simmons hostage thanks to Garrett’s new teleportation powers. With Deke left behind on the ship as well, I’m pumped to see how things come to a head as the final three episodes start up next week.
4 BILL PAXTON TRIBUTES OUT OF 5
Even considering this as one of the lower points of the season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been on one crazy run for it’s final year. Next week will hopefully, FINALLY, bring the return of Iain De Castecker as Garrett and Malick force Simmons to tell them where Fitz is, and I’m as curious as ever to find out what exactly their endgame is for our beloved team of agents. The final three episodes are on their way!
- This is the absolute closest we’re getting to Fitz coming back! 10 episodes without him, and he has been sorely missed even with how good this season has been.
- With how important Fitz seems to be in stopping Garrett and Malick at every turn, he better have some shining moments as the season comes to an end.
- Coulson’s reactions to a young Garrett were some of his funniest moments all season. It’s clear that he’s just done with it before it even starts in that timeline.
- This season again had some nice nods to the larger MCU, highlighted by the subtle shots of Deke with a Walkman a la Peter Quill/Star Lord.
- I hope young Garrett turns out to be a more compelling villain than young Malick, or at least more fun to see in the story. So far, James Paxton is nailing it and I can’t wait to see more.