After getting stuck in a time loop last week, the team is finally back on track this week — though they’re still stuck in the 1980s. Good thing, though, because Malick and Sybil have teamed up to completely derail the time stream. Let’s get to work.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for “Stolen,” the latest episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Wednesday, July 29, 2020 on ABC.**
The team has headed back to the Lighthouse as a base of operations, with Deke’s makeshift team of agents off getting trained to become legit S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. With the time drive seemingly busted (at least for now), the team turns its attention to Nathaniel Malick — the shady new baddie who should’ve died ages ago in the new time stream. But now he’s leapt ahead of HYDRA’s old Inhuman experimenting and figured out how to steal the powers of Inhumans with blood and organ transfusions. After stealing some of Daisy’s superpowers a decade or so ago, he’s since perfected the process — and has gotten quite handy with his own Quake powers.
He’s now building his own team of superpowered baddies, stealing the abilities of Inhumans and passing them off to mercenaries and his own hand-picked soldiers. One of those turns out to be a familiar face: John Garrett, who was played by the late Bill Paxton early in the show’s run. Back then, he was a longtime S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who turned out to be a HYDRA double agent. But Malick reaches him when he’s still a star recruit at S.H.I.E.L.D., and lures him to the dark side with the promise of superpowers. Malick is also making full use of the time stream device with Sybil inside, and even shows Garrett his future life in the original time stream. Which is, yeah, kind of weird.
Thanks to the time stream, Malick can anticipate pretty much any attack S.H.I.E.L.D. can muster, and captures the teleporting Inhuman Gordon and transfers his powers to Garrett. Malick wastes little time taking full advantage of those teleporting skills, and jumps into the Lighthouse to kidnap Simmons. The reason? In every timeline where S.H.I.E.L.D. triumphs, it’s because of the intervention of the long-missing Fitz. So Sybil wants Simmons to help find her husband, so she can snuff them out once and for all. Here’s hoping that means we’ll finally get to find out what Fitz has been doing all this time, assuming they can get past that mental block Simmons had installed of course.
This episode also featured the long-awaited reunion between Daisy and her mother Jiaying, though technically it happens before Daisy’s been born (confused yet?). As suspected, the Inhuman who went rogue and joined Malick is actually Daisy’s sister and Jiaying’s first daughter, who committed suicide before Daisy’s birth in the original timeline. But now she’s alive and evil, helping capture other Inhumans to siphon away their powers.
We get a sweet moment or two between them, though it’s brutally cut short when Malick snaps Jiaying’s neck — killing her before Daisy is ever born. So she’s definitely an anomaly in the time stream now, much like Deke.
We also get a bit of ‘ship vibes between Daisy and Sousa in the wake of that surprise kiss in the time loop last week. Simmons is definitely picking up what they’re throwing down.
Fun Easter egg alert: When Garrett is catching up on his future life in the time stream, he also gets to watch a few of Coulson’s deaths to make him feel better (since, if you’ll remember, Coulson killed him in the OG timeline). His favorite? When that horned guy stabbed him from behind — a reference to Coulson’s first death in The Avengers movie. Gotta love the callbacks.
Though the team does manage to rescue most of the Inhumans from Jiaying’s old commune (and Coulson captures Daisy’s sister, as well), Malick takes advantage of their absence (and Garrett’s teleportation) to capture the Zephyr. That’s right — the bad guys have stolen the ship now. Thankfully Deke is still on board, unbeknownst to Malick’s forces, because he had headphones on and was below deck working on the ship. Here’s hoping he can pull a Die Hard and take back control.
It was already becoming clear this season would take a “Greatest Hits” kind of approach to the S.H.I.E.L.D. canon, but it’s turning into one heck of a ride. We have Inhumans, HYDRA, and now Garrett in the mix. What’s next? Is someone bringing the Framework online a few decades early? Ending the series with this time travel adventure has been such an effective way to play in the sandbox this show has spent six amazing years creating. Let’s just sit back and enjoy the ride.