It’s taken a while to get here, but the band is finally back together on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Sure, they’re still basically lost in space in a post-apocalypse, but there’s something to be said for at least having your friends beside you on the way down.
Spoilers ahead for “Together or Not at All,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Jan. 12, 2018.
As Fitz makes clear, he took the “long way” to catch up with his friends in the far-flung future, but he’s the exact catalyst they needed to finally kick the story into overdrive. Coulson and the team are basically on the run, and all the cards are on the table after Fitz makes his move to try and free his friends — a well-laid plan that goes up in smoke within the first few minutes once his escape ship is blown to bits mid-getaway.
This show has always thrived on momentum and chaos, and “Together or Not at All” brought it in spades. The creative team did an excellent job of slow-rolling the setup to this arc by establishing the world and rules in the first several episodes, but now it’s time to start kicking up dirt in this Kree-ruled sandbox. The team has been trying to put pieces of a plan together all season, and now that push has come to shove, it's time to execute. The gang steals the trawler to head for the surface, and the closing scene finds Coulson basically crash-landing on what’s left of the barren, gravity storm-plagued Earth.
Though the journey was a fun one, the real story of this episode is the final act reveal of who is leading this mysterious group of survivors on the surface. As some fans likely predicted, the answer is someone we’ve already met: the Inhuman Robin, the young girl who prophesied that Coulson and his team would eventually arrive in the future and save the world. In a bit of cause and effect, it seems Robin made sure this happened so her adult self could eventually enlist Coulson and Quake’s help in the future. There are obviously still more than a few questions left to be answered, but tying Robin back into the story will clearly provide a narrative through line for whatever story they’re going to tell over the next few weeks. What is she doing on the surface? Are these survivors trying to find a way to set history right and save the Earth?
The real question is how the heck the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return to their own time when this story is over — or whether they will at all. Telling a story so far in the future has given the creative team enormous freedom, and they’ve taken full advantage. Five seasons in and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is telling some of the most ambitious stories on television. If this week is any indication, it won’t be slowing down anytime soon.
*Enoch remains an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a creepy alien, and we’re still waiting for another shoe to possibly drop. At this point it seems he’s clearly working for Robin (something we already gleaned a few weeks ago) in some capacity, and has been taking out roaches on the surface to help protect May until they could be picked up by Robin’s forces. But what’s his story? Where did he come from? Is he connected to the comic-based Watchers (a group we already peeked in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)? Something else entirely? Does this all begin and end with Robin, or is she just a player in some larger plan?
*The power dynamic between Kasius and his brother took some big twists, with the shifty Kree leader of the Lighthouse the last man standing following some (literal) backstabbing. We haven’t gotten to see much of the wider Kree politics, but it stands to reason Kasius’ actions will have some major repercussions.
*We finally know how the Kree are keeping simulated gravity in the Lighthouse, and it turns out the answer is a major blast from the past. Fitz and Simmons run into the control room and find a machine powered by Gravitonium, a rare element featured in Season 1. The last time we saw the element, HYDRA had acquired some after raiding a S.H.I.E.L.D. storage facility. It seems in the intervening decades, the Kree got ahold of it, though.
*After going MIA for a few weeks, Deke returns just in time to save the day and help the team escape. He’s also along for the ride down to the Earth (presumably to search for his father). Deke has proven to be an interesting character, and it’ll be interesting to see where he ends up once this story comes to an end. They’ve already cleaned house on some of the future cast members, but Deke has been just shady enough to survive. At least to this point.
*The team decides to split up after Mack vows to help Flint fight back against the Kree, and it seems a full-fledged rebellion could be brewing, especially in the wake of Kasius’ own insurrection. It also keeps at least part of the story grounded back on the Lighthouse. If nothing else, it should be one heck of an adventure to see Mack and Yo-yo track Fitz’s supply bag on the roach-infested third floor.