This was a rather tame episode for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. if you ignore that Deke almost died, May told Coulson she loved him and Ruby finally met Quake. Jokes aside, it was a rather calm episode if you compare it to the past rest of the season that rushed through many plot points per episode. This episode slowed down the pace a bit to continue building up towards the final act of the fifth season. We got a lot of small character moments that highlight the team’s struggle with their new situation, as they still try to avoid the earth from cracking apart.

The episode continues where we left off last time, as Coulson and Talbot are on the run in the middle of an unknown snow-covered forest. Here, Talbot confronts his unlikely friend on the fact that he was left behind and no one ever tried to find him. S.H.I.E.L.D. had a good reason, as they were too busy returning from the future and being hunted by the now-revealed HYDRA. It was depressing to see the now-mentally disturbed General fight with the fact that he might have lost his family.

Not too long after, Ruby figures out how they escaped and chases after them only to be stopped by her hero/self-proclaimed rival, Quake. After a short but fantastic action sequence, Deke ends up getting shot which ends up letting Ruby escape. As she chased after them on her own accord, Hale locks her up to make her think about what she did. This ends up backfiring as one of the most important HYDRA lessons is to let go of the things one values most, which they are to each other. Ruby decides the best action would be to lock up her mother in her room, as Strucker takes over the base.

Daisy, on the other hand, tries to talk to Talbot. This is a small story arc in the episode but one of the strongest. Talbot was heartbroken that no one looked for him but still believed in Coulson to one day show up. Now, he was confronted by the last face he saw before getting shot but knew immediately that it was not the real her. It is an incredible thing to think that he once hunted them down believing they were all part of HYDRA to now trust them with his own life. That he ends up being a sleeper agent is not a good sign for everyone, as I doubt they’ll just shoot him down. Hopefully, this does not signal the end of Talbot, as he truly deserves a break.

Another major character moment came between Coulson and May. May pulls him to the side to tell him he is being reckless. Knowing he will die, he has instantly decided that Daisy is ready to lead and is risking his own life without a second thought. In a surprise twist that made Philinda fans everywhere happy, May told him that she loves him. This is a sentence she could not even tell the man she married.

There is also the renegade team consisting of Fitz, Simmons, and Yo-Yo. They still believe that they cannot be killed, so they try to track down the base of the new HYDRA. We get the return of Ivanov, who reveals his own interest to receive a power upgrade to truly become the “Superior”, which is a nice callback to his code name from the last season. The team finds HYDRA’s super soldier pod and try to destroy it. We get the reveal that Yo-Yo’s new arms are not made for her speed but she still manages to take down the bad guy. Fitz and Simmons get stuck in a bullet hell and once again manage to survive. In the end, they still get caught by Ruby and Strucker, who will force them to fix what they broke.

The other major plot point involves Deke fighting with his life. He gets shot during the outing to save Coulson and without Simmons, the team lacks a doctor. So, it is up to Mack and Piper to save his life. In the end, they naturally manage to save him only to get a short comedic bit of a drugged up Deke telling them he loves Daisy. However, there is an interesting symmetry between the events involving Deke, Fitz, and Simmons. No matter what they did, something new seemed to try and kill him, such as a ruptured vein. All this is shown shortly after Fitz and Simmons could actually end up dying. It is an interesting concept to avoid the cliché of Deke simply fading away if his grandparents die. If they continue to risk their lives, they may break the loop but end up killing Deke in the process.

VERDICT

3 out of 5. A good and quiet episode that pulls a bit back for some strong character moments. Deke’s operation was an interesting idea and hopefully is used to highlight the consequences of Fitz and Simmons’ actions, but felt a bit predictable. The renegade team storyline was interesting but the whole thing felt more like a build-up towards a larger storyline, which we already had last week. Talbot’s own internal struggle was the highlight of the episode and it will be interesting to see how it ties into next week’s episode.

ONE-SHOTS

  • Does it make any sense for the Ivanov wanting Gravitonium grafted on an LMD? I mean, he’d have one strong LMD but if that one is killed he has to go through the entire process again. Doesn’t the machine need organic material anyway, so Hale was just making a fake promise to start? I think he is being played here.
  • Still, liked the fact that the brought back the “Superior” moniker from last season.
  • Deke is already funny sober but drugged up Deke is just adorable.
  • I think most Philinda fans are quite pleased with this episode and I wonder how her confession will change Phil. Maybe he will have a change of heart so he can change his destiny?
  • At this rate, Piper seems to be heading towards becoming a series regular next season, as her redemption arc is still ongoing.
  • Yo-Yo confessed that saving Coulson will end the world but we still have no idea how that ties into the overall story.
  • Strucker finally was able to do something again, the guy is a pretty good shot and boy was he pissed when he recognised the people that stuck him in the memory machine.
  • Love how Talbot being a sleeper agent was tied with the “Your compliance will be rewarded” from the second season. We haven’t seen this old HYDRA mind-manipulation technique in quite a while.