With the time drive malfunctioning on the Zephyr, the team has about 20 minutes — or a couple days, depending on how you look at it — to find a solution before the ship jumps itself into oblivion. So, Yo-Yo and May go on a spa treatment to save the day.
**SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers ahead for “After, Before,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Wednesday, July 15, 2020.**
Time travel is a tricky thing, and we get to see that play out to maximum effect in two parallel stories this week. After Mack and Deke were abandoned in the 1980’s for almost two years, the team is reunited back on the Zephyr — and now we know why they got ditched for so long. The time drive is malfunctioning and the ship is cutting its jump time exponentially with each effort. So, the time between jumps and the distance jumped is cutting each time. Once it reaches zero it’ll try to jump within a jump and… well, nobody is really sure what’ll happen then. But they’re all sure it won’t be good.
Efforts to cut the power to the drive fail, and it’s created a force field around itself, so they can’t reach in and pull out the core. The only person fast enough to have a shot is Yo-Yo, though her powers haven’t been working since her run-in with the Shriek last season. Thankfully, they’ve dropped into the early-to-mid 1980s, meaning Daisy’s mother Jiaying has since established her Inhuman commune. If anyone could help Yo-Yo regain her powers, it’s them, so Yo-Yo and May leave the ship and head there for assistance. They have about two days, which translates to just 20 minutes on the Zephyr.
Gotta love time travel.
We see the team on the Zephyr playing out their few minutes of scrambling, though Deke’s attempt to cut the power remotely fails. Simmons develops a new prosthetic for Sousa (no more limp!), Coulson gets a new robo-body, and Daisy does some much-needed healing. He may be new to the mix, but Sousa has made a great addition to this ensemble. It’s a shame we won’t get another season or two of him on the team. We also get a nod to Fitz, who has been MIA the entire season. When things seem most dire, Simmons records a message to him. It’s impossible to overestimate how much his presence has been missed this year. Here’s hoping there are big plans for Fitz in the back half.
Meanwhile, Yo-Yo and May meet up with the early Inhumans, and after running some tests, they can’t find any evidence of a poison that is repressing her powers. So Jiaying determines it must be something psychological that isn’t accessing her powers. Thankfully, May is still getting the hang of her empathic powers, so Jiaying recommends she use them to try and help Yo-Yo work through whatever mental block might be holding her back. They do just that in a sparring session, as Yo-Yo finally connects to the memory that has grounded her powers from the start — as a child, she tried to protect a piece of jewelry and inadvertently caused her father to be shot and killed. It’s guilt she’s carried her entire life, and as we later find out, manifested itself into the core of how her powers worked. The “yo-yo” part of bringing her back to the start when she uses her speed? It was a subconscious, self-imposed restriction, out of a deep rooted fear of fully embracing her abilities.
As they look to make their exit, the Inhuman commune is attacked by Nathaniel Malick, who survived his encounter with Daisy and has successfully adopted her quake powers. He’s recruiting his own team, and wreaks havoc on their community. He also captures most of the Inhumans there, with plans to harvest their powers much like he did with Daisy. He’s also teamed up with Sybil and the remaining Chronicom contingent, which isn’t a great combination. Give Nathaniel a few years and he could very well put together his own makeshift Inhuman super-team. That certainly looks to be the antagonistic thread to drive the back half of the season.
Back on the ship, May and Yo-Yo arrive with seconds to spare. Thankfully Yo-Yo figures out her block in the nick of time, uses her speed, and seemingly dismantles the time drive before it makes that final jump into oblivion. She also figures out she doesn’t have to “yo-yo” back anymore, and is now a straight-up speedster. Yo-Yo saves the day.
Or so they think.
Just when it seems like the crisis has been averted, the ship jumps yet again. We don’t know what happens next… but it’s probably not great.