It’s all coming to a head on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and this week we saw several lingering storylines start weaving together as the grand plan is revealed around the mysterious prophecy that sent the team to the future in the first place. But the really fun stuff comes in the nitty-gritty of how they’re pulling it off.
Spoilers ahead for “Best Laid Plans,” the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Friday, Jan. 26, 2018!
“We’re doomed to fail.” - Fitz
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. knows its way around a good trope, and that’s what makes this show so much fun when it goes full-on sci-fi. Much as the Marvel Cinematic Universe has found success by playing against expectations, S.H.I.E.L.D. has mastered the art of poking fun at the questions fans are certain to ask, while doing its best to actually answer some of them in interesting ways.
Case in point: One of the most interesting scenes came between Fitz and Simmons as they realized the upgraded Zephyr One is sporting a Gravitonium drive designed by Fitz, but never actually built — essentially confirming this really has all happened before, and the “future” versions of the team played a role in making this all happen, even after experiencing the future they would be creating by being plucked through time. It's mind-boggling, and as Fitz realizes in that moment, they might be essentially caught in a loop. They’ve seen the system, so they know how to build it, which must mean they build it anyway in the future knowing everything they know. But why? Is fate fixed? Can they change the future? Is this all a time loop, or is the future we’ve seen this year just one potential timeline that can be altered?
Part of that story was framed around Deke, who is essentially caught between the future and the past, helping the S.H.I.E.L.D. team execute its escape plan. Voss believes the only way to save the future is to kill Daisy — and he even has Deke questioning his play for a while. And hey, from a time-travel perspective, it’s a fair point. If Daisy really does cause the end of the world, taking her off the board before she can do that does make a certain type of sense. Essentially it’s the old “If you could go back in time would you kill Hitler?” question. And from that perspective, most would say yes. Of course, it turns out it might be Fitz’s gravity drive that caused part of the problem, so the “Destroyer of Worlds” might be innocent after all.
We still don’t know the answers, but this season of S.H.I.E.L.D. is having a whole lot of fun asking the questions. It scratches at questions at the heart of science fiction and time-travel stories, while having a bit of fun with just how complicated and timey-wimey it can all become. Instead of leaning too hard into the science, or the story, this season has found the perfect balance between both worlds. It’s Marvel at its finest. The MCU has already dabbled with time travel in a sense on Doctor Strange, but this is largely untested territory for S.H.I.E.L.D. to be mining. I can’t wait to see how it all ends.
“Best Laid Plans” also stuck the landing (or takeoff, so to speak) of tying the two stories back together between the team on the Zephyr trying to get the 80-year-old ship into space, along with Mack, Yo-Yo, and Flint’s burgeoning revolution back in the Lighthouse. Mack makes one heck of a rebel general, and outwits Kasius by using his own bombs against him. Humanity might be on the brink of extinction, but all it takes is a spark to rekindle that unstoppable urge for freedom.
*That zero-G fight between Daisy as Kasius’ femme fatale Kree enforcer was pretty great. Sure, it was all done on a TV budget (and looked that way at times), but it was still a clever use of the situation. Well done.
*We finally know how Flint fits into Robin’s prophecy: His rock manipulating abilities allow him to create a new monolith that can potentially send the team back in time. The exit strategy comes into focus.
*Tess is alive! Well, mostly! Kasius used some Kree tech to bring her back to life after hanging her as a warning to humans who might want to rebel. It sounds like he used a variation of the “Tahiti” technology used to bring Coulson back to life after his death in The Avengers. Here it’s called “blood of the eternal,” which sounds about right.
*We also learn how Earth can be broken apart and still stay together, complete with an atmosphere: It’s all held together by the presence of Gravitonium. Hello, McGuffin! But it makes total sense, considering the reveals in this one.
*Mack and Yo-Yo’s story back on the Lighthouse was an epic tale, and it was great to see them get a chance to spin off and be heroes outside of the core team dynamic. Mack and Yo-Yo are straight-up A-listers, don’t forget it.
*The line: “If I had a stomach, the vomiting would begin now.” Oh Enoch, you will be missed when this story is over.
*Deke’s brief fight with Kasius’ enforcer after saving Daisy was also hilarious. Dude made a hero’s decision, but quickly realized he doesn’t have the fists for Kree-punching.
*The new status quo apparently has the bombs off the table, and the Kree levels of the Lighthouse cut off from the humans. Could this alt-future timeline persist with humans rebuilding their civilization on the half-station?
*That final scene: So Kasius has his own seer? Could it be a member of the team who survived from the original timeline run? Maybe? Or someone who was with them or knew them? That seems like one heck of a twist brewing, but who could it be? From the details Kasius had about the ship’s landing, it must be someone who was very close to the situation, at least?