This season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has sent the team to the far-flung future, where they are having to grapple with a world they don’t understand that has been literally blown to pieces. It’s been so busy, it’s easy to forget the team is missing one critical member — so what’s been up with Fitz?
Spoilers ahead for “Rewind,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Friday, Dec. 22!
“Distance is our curse.” - Fitz
True to its name, “Rewind” tracks back the story a good 74 years to pick up last season’s cliffhanger in the moments after everyone vanishes from the diner. Except for Fitz. Just a few moments after the team is grabbed, a military unit shows up and arrests S.H.I.E.L.D.’s lone remaining agent. He spends six months trying to figure out what’s happened, while also processing his PTSD in the wake of his Framework experience. Thankfully the action ramps up when Lance Hunter comes out of the cold to help bust him out (of course, the two send coded messages through letters to the editor while complaining about soccer teams).
It’s an interesting direction to take the story, covering such an extended amount of time so quickly as Fitz stews in a 10x10 jail cell with nothing but books and soccer to keep him (at least a little) sane. Sending the team through time presented an interesting opportunity to approach Fitz’s mission to save them, and they absolutely go big with the ideas. Fitz uses a cryochamber to travel through time the “long way” to reach them, while waiting on Enoch’s ship safely hidden away from Earth. He also hides a box of supplies within the Lighthouse (the site that will eventually be the last remaining human base on the broken planet), complete with a hand upgrade for Coulson.
For the nerdiest among us, it also begs the question of time paradoxes and alternate universes, since Fitz doesn’t technically disappear through time. He jumps in a cryochamber and spends more than 70 years floating on his own, with no real escape plan to return to the present. It’s bold, to say the least. So did life go on without the team all that time? Did an alternate future Fitz eventually return to present-day Earth while the “younger” version of himself is still frozen waiting to fix the future? Or are we simply going to create a completely different reality by whatever the team does (or doesn’t do) to possibly prevent this cataclysm? So many questions.
As for the personal stakes: Despite the time, it’s clear Fitz is still grappling with the darkness inside him. We see him put a gun to Enoch’s head with no hesitation while pushing him for information, to the point it even takes Hunter by surprise. He might’ve spent 72 years on ice, but the version of Fitz that wakes up in 2091 (thanks to Enoch we finally have a year for that future date) is still damaged and reeling. He talks about his relationship with Simmons as if they’re cursed to be torn apart by fate, and at this point it’s hard to argue. It’s become a trope unto itself in this show, so when that reunion does happen, it better be worth the wait.
*With General Talbot apparently still in a coma and recovering from that shot to the head, there’s a new general in charge of this post-S.H.I.E.L.D. military outfit: General Hale (played by The Shield alum Catherine Dent). She seems like an upper-level bureaucrat at first, but after putting two bullets into her flunkies that let her down, it’s clear she’s not to be crossed. With Talbot sidelined, it seems Hale will certainly be causing more trouble — especially when/if the S.H.I.E.L.D. team makes it back to the present day.
*It was great to have Nick Blood’s Lance Hunter back, especially since his proposed spinoff series Marvel’s Most Wanted was axed in development. Hunter and Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki, who was MIA this episode) brought some great chemistry to the cast, and even if it’s just for a one-off, it was a great nod to fans to bring him back to help bail out Fitz.
*There’s a whole lot of lingering mystery related to Enoch and his role in these grand prophecies, which stem from the young Inhuman girl Robin, first introduced back in Season 3 after being helped by Daisy. if you’re a little rusty, her father was Charles, the Inhuman capable of predicting a person’s death after making physical contact. That reference came a bit out of left field, but it still shows just how deep this series’ mythology has evolved over the years. As for Enoch, he’s apparently been here for centuries studying humanity. So he’s like a Watcher of sorts? Kind of?
*This was a heavy episode, but Hunter’s return brought some much-needed humor. R.I.P. Rusty.
*Fitz and Hunter have reacquired their old S.H.I.E.L.D. plane! Might the team hook back up with Hunter once they return and go on the run?
*Fitz packed Mack’s shotgun axe in the supplies. Shotgun axe vs. future Kree warriors? That should be fun.
*It seems Enoch has spent all that downtime developing a plan to help Fitz save his friends, which is apparently where that bizarre mask he’s wearing comes into play. The next installment should be future-set fireworks.