Our agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sure know how to make a mess of things. In their weeks stuck in the future Lighthouse, they’ve left a trail of destruction that includes human and Kree bodies, and essentially brought an end to the oppressive society that they briefly inhabited. And ten episodes in, we’re finally leaving all of this behind.

Well, sort of.

I’ve been questioning why S.H.I.E.L.D. had to come to the future—and it seems like the only answer (that we know of) is because Robin said that it would happen. The future was written (or drawn, in Robin’s case) and it cannot be changed. These are the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. rules of time travel, and we’ve established by now that our agents are in a time loop. We are reminded by Fitz (in that timey-wimey episode) and convinced by future, armless Yo-Yo in this episode that their efforts will be futile.

Speaking of which, future Yo-Yo is Kasius’s seer, eh? That… actually makes a whole lot of sense. We wondered why Kasius was more familiar with Elena more so than the other characters, and I appreciate that S.H.I.E.L.D. continued its habit of answering mysterious questions in a  brutally quick fashion. Her entire sequence with present Yo-Yo again displayed why S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of the superior shows amongst its superhero television contemporaries. It’s a crazy and absurd scenario, but works so much from a dramatic and emotional level, with this planting the seeds for the cynical Elena that will eventually come. Not to mention, as always, this was well edited with the confrontation at the elevator between Coulson, May and Daisy.

So it’s not so much Daisy’s fault of the impending apocalypse, but rather the path that Coulson leads the team on—and we get a dramatic reveal that Coulson has been poisoned during his brief bout with the Inhuman trainer in berzerk mode from Kasius’s black goo. We are led to believe by future Yo-Yo that for the Earth to be saved, Coulson must be allowed to die. But… as we know from our implied time travel rules, this doesn’t happen at any point in the loop. “Loyalty” will bring the team (and the Earth down), from the team’s loyalty to their leader, to Coulson’s loyalty to leaving no agent behind.

The show is going to have to cheat somehow. It’s going to have to work around some of the rules it established and surprise not only the audience, but characters like Fitz who are so concretely sure that whatever happens, happens. There has to be an anomaly that takes them out of the loop. This show is not known to play any dirty tricks on the audience (a la The Walking Dead), but it does love yanking our chain—remember the “Fallen Agent” arc at the end of season 3, with the game of hot potato with the necklace? Remember every annoying commercial reminding us that someone would die? Then remember when it was just Lincoln?

I wonder if it actually will be the end of Coulson—that would actually be a greater plot twist than Coulson (and the Earth too both) being saved. Coulson IS S.H.I.E.L.D., to both the characters and the show’s fans. We’ve come to love all of the other characters in this show, but Coulson is the man who kept not only the Avengers together in the first film, but this ragtag team of agents that we learned to appreciate through the last several years.

So that’s it for space, right? As poetic as Kasius’s end with Simmons was, getting impaled by a shotgun axe felt a bit abrupt for someone who’s been gnawing at the scenery for nearly ten episodes straight. Same goes for our last look at Enoch and Deke—we get a (very) brief pep talk from Fitz to Enoch through walkie talkie, and Deke and Daisy get to have one more antagonistic (but begrudgingly respectful) exchange, but I guess they’re all blown up now. At least Flint and Tess have a slightly happier ending, but now all they can really do is wait for the agents to do their job in the past.

But… if the agents succeed, might Flint and Tess and so many other people not even exist? Wouldn’t none of this have ever happened anyway? I’m confused. I’m hurting my own brain thinking about this.

Whatever. We got a month off for the show. Watch the Super Bowl tonight. Fawn over Black Panther.


VERDICT

4 decapitated Krees out of 5. A quick, brutal and intriguing end to what I guess was the “space and future” pod, though I wish we got better exits(?) from some of the newer characters we’ve grown to like.

ONE-SHOTS

  • Someone answer me this: if Kasius actually stopped S.H.I.E.L.D. in the future, wouldn’t that render his present null and void if the Earth is never destroyed? Did he ever realize this? Why am I making my head hurt more?
  • The CGI is still baller.
  • Enoch was being a real Arrested Development Milford Man hiding in the Zephyr.
  • I really thought that it was Ben being brought back to life, after we got Tess back. Not sure if the misdirection was intentional, or if I’m just stupid (probably the latter).
  • Simmons teaching Flint how to utilize his powers was a very nice character development callback to her helping the phasing Inhuman from earlier in the season.
  • Future Yo-Yo standing up to reveal her lack of arms was an excellent beat.
  • The inner shot of Flint in his space helmet looked very, very, very much like Iron Man. Not sure why I need to point this out, when it was probably obvious to everyone.
  • I’m glad Mack at least acknowledged it, but Flint blowing the Kree dudes out into space after the last episode made such a big deal about killing was… weird.
  • Kasius with his black goo seemed very WWE. (“I’m gonna beat you to death with your own skull!”)
  • Goddamn it, ABC. That ending was classic suspenseful S.H.I.E.L.D., but the preview for the next episode pretty much spoiled it.