Season 7 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes into overdrive this week with Episode 8, “After, Before,” and MCU Exchange is here to break down one of the craziest episodes yet! Last week gave a long look into Mack and Deke’s adventures stuck for two years in River’s End and defeating an army of Sibyl’s 80’s robots before reuniting with the rest of the team and trying to get their plan back on track.
Looking at this episode from an overarching perspective, this is easily the most stressful and unnerving series of events the team has had to deal with all season, and it worked incredibly well. Upon learning that the time jump sequences are getting shorter both in time spent between jumps and time periods jumped, the team’s main goals this week are to keep the Zephyr from going haywire and in a worst case scenario, having to abandon ship sometime in the 80’s.
In that same light, the beginning of this episode was absolutely perfect in showing what the team was going through on Zephyr One in Mack and Deke’s absence, going through multiple time jumps before they come back on board with May and Yo-Yo. With last week being a semi-isolated episode in the grand scheme of Season 7, this opening brought everything right back into the madness very well as the team struggled to figure out what was happening.
As has been the case all season, tonight gave a new look into past events in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. history by not only having the majority of the plot take place in 1983, but by forcing May and Yo-Yo to visit the Inhuman Afterlife home base featured in Season 2. It also brought the return of Dichen Lachman as Daisy’s mother Jiaying during the time in her life before Daniel Whitehall cut her up and left her for dead. Her story was explored to the same depths it was during her first run in Season 2, and it will be interesting to see how much further they dive into her past as the series comes to an end.
Similarly to how last week focused in on Mack and Deke, tonight was an amazing look into the increasingly difficult events happening to Natalia Cordova-Buckley’s Yo-Yo Rodriguez and Ming-Na Wen’s Melinda May. These are two characters who have only had minimal meaningful interactions since Yo-Yo was introduced in Season 3, and their bond grew so much stronger in trying to figure out why Yo-Yo was still struggling with her powers. Also, May’s new empathic abilities and Yo-Yo’s general tough demeanor made for one of the funniest moments all season when they had to do yoga together to get in touch with each other’s feelings, and neither of them could hide their substantial amounts of disdain for it. Two of the most stoic and even-keel characters in the show’s run having to get emotional and talk about their feelings? Classic!
While May’s empathic abilities are growing more potent by the week (still laughing about her knowing that Mack and Yo-Yo, you know…did it), this episode gave us an amazingly deep look into Yo-Yo’s past and exploring her mental troubles. With multiple flashbacks of both events we’ve seen on screen of her experience with death and the killing of her uncle as a young child (which brought a nice callback of her cross necklace), she clearly has had to deal with a ton of emotional trouble her entire life which contributed to her mental block. Natalia Cordova-Buckley absolutely carried this episode, and the fact that it ended with her powers evolving so much that she doesn’t have to run back to her starting spot is such an exciting development for her going forward!
Along with Yo-Yo’s evolution, we saw some exciting developments from some other core cast members too. Coulson had a new body 3D-printed, and he was hilarious as always while being brought back to life. Simmons went on to take triple life-improving duty this week by reviving her boss as well as giving Daniel Sousa a brand new prosthetic and taking away his need for a cane. Their bond grew even stronger as he took the time to genuinely apologize for being a bit of a jerk to her over the time-travel shenanigans, as well as admitting he was unfair to her and giving her the support she needed.
The events in Afterlife also gave rise to a new potential adversary in what turns out to be Jiaying’s daughter Cora (Dianne Doan) as she teams up with a Nathaniel Malick who CLEARLY was the inspiration behind Keanu Reeves’ look in The Matrix in this universe. It will be interesting to see what kind of evil this new duo will unleash as they seemingly look to gain more Inhuman abilities from the residents of Afterlife. While the S.H.I.E.L.D. team works to regain their footing during the time jumping excitement, Malick and Cora are clearly going to be a tough challenge for them to deal with after holding the Chronicoms at bay for now.
Even with so many core characters going through so many cathartic events, the time-drive save from Yo-Yo still didn’t exactly do the trick. The Zephyr still made another jump to an undisclosed time and place, once again leaving an edge-of-your-seat cliffhanger as the final handful of episodes start to come.
4.25 YO-YO MACK “REUNIONS” OUT OF 5
As this series comes to a close, this final season continues to do an outstanding job of giving both an exciting overall time-travel storyline along with some major in-depth character development moments. After getting focused episodes centered around Deke, Mack, Yo-Yo and May, all we can hope for is that the rest of the season closes out the rest of the teams’ stories in a fulfilling manner. Next week also looks to bring an absolutely maddening ride through space and time as our agents continue to fight for their own lives. Five more episodes until Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. comes to an end!
- This week had a few incredible bonding moments between May/Yo-Yo, Daisy/Coulson, and Sousa/Simmons. I’m absolutely loving the relationships that are either forming or strengthening.
- Fitz is finally mentioned again as we learn that he is trying to control exactly where and when the Zephyr jumps. Hopefully Simmons’ loving message to him means we’ll finally get Iain De Castecker to rejoin the show again!
- This season has has some of the best writing and lines I’ve heard in years, punctuated by tonight’s episode. “I’m not doing time math.” “Is that whiskey? If so, I want a lot of it.” “I’d rather have a thin plan than go through the 80’s again.”
- As mentioned above, Yo-Yo-May is one of the most unexpectedly funny and entertaining combinations this show has offered in a long time.
- I can’t wait to see how exactly Jiaying is brought back into the fold over the next couple episodes, especially during the time period before she makes her villainous turn.
- Clark Gregg continues to deliver some of the show’s funniest moments with his insights about his new Chronicom form and his adventures with it.
- This week continued on with some amazing callbacks! The Jiaying storyline, the Ruby flashback from Season 5, Simmons mentioning her two previous jumps from a plane. Hope it keeps up going forward!