This week on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the light-hearted time-travel hijinks of the first five episodes made way for harder-hitting drama that left one agent shell-shocked and another in… far worse shape.
After Deke taunted the all-seeing Chronicoms by shooting dead Wilfred Malick, Luke (which I realize is the lead Chronicom’s “name”!) lays the blame on Sibyl aka The Predictor. Au contraire, she argues. They now have S.H.I.E.L.D.’s location, they split up their team, and they know that agents will make a beeline to rescue Mack’s parents. Placated, Luke sets out to wake the Hunters currently lying dormant somewhere in rows and rows of stasis chambers.
Inside the Lighthouse, Coulson and May/Not Chastity have been cuffed, with General Rick Stoner still scoffing at their warnings about alien robots. But Stoner has bigger fish to fry, seeing as he has been gifted with the tech to track and shoot down the ship that took out Project Insight. Meanwhile, aboard said Zephyr, Mack is upset about Deke defying orders by offing Malick, and the fact that Daisy and Sousa are MIA. Worse, his mom and dad are being held prisoner in the Lighthouse, but Mack is resolved to save them by “bringing the pain” to the Chronicoms.
Shortly after Mack and Yo-Yo head out, the Lighthouse gets a lock on the Zephyr and lets fly with a buncha missiles. Enoch, as pilot, is able to elude all but one of them using countermeasures, but the one that does hit the Zephyr inflicts damage in such a way that could tear the ship apart next time it is yanked into a time jump. As they get to assessing things, Jemma freaks out a bit that she can’t remember how to fix the system. Enoch reassures her that everything will be OK, if they “act now”….
In a barn somewhere, Daisy comes to beside fellow abductee Sousa. They’re both groggy from being drugged, to the point that Daisy cannot even quake off their shackles. Nathaniel Malick shows up on cue, quickly dispelling the presumption that he is doing the bidding of HYDRA/those who worship an ancient space octopus. No, he has not kidnaped the agents as a means to get what he wants, because they are what he wants. Namely, he wants to transfuse Daisy’s powers into him, using Daniel Whitehall theories.
Back at the Lighthouse, cuffed Coulson takes a moment to express his disappointment in/frustration with May, who yes, cannot feel, but won’t even tell him what she thinks about things. “You never die. You always come back,” she observes. And having mourned Coulson before, she won’t let herself do that again. As Stoner gets led away by two agents to reclaim control of the mainframe, Coulson and May speculate that the Chronicoms have found a way to “upload” human personalities to synthetic bodies — and in fact, that is what has been done to both of the agents now with Stoner.
Elsewhere, Mack and Yo-Yo laser a hole into the room holding John and Lilla. Mackenzie. After being stopped from hugging Lilla and introducing Yo-Yo as his girlfriend, “Macklemore” assures the couple that he will get them out safely. Ultimately thwarted by a thick steel door, Mack and his dad collaborate on a way to jimmy the hydraulics and force it open.
May and Coulson get free, get the drop on the “uploaded” agents and save Stoner, who now believes their wild story. Coulson spots and descends a ladder leading to a sublevel that shouldn’t exist; at the bottom of it he finds the Hunters’ stasis chambers as well as the device Luke uses to virtually meet with Sibyl. Coulson locks his own mitts into the gizmo and comes face to face with The Predictor, asking, “Bad time?”
Back at the barn, Daisy is returned after Nathaniel extracts blood, glands and spinal fluid for his purposes, and she is looking very much worse for the wear and barely alive. Sousa lays her head on his leg, doing his best to keep her alert by relating the story of how he got injured during the war — but was carried back to safety by an otherwise dickish Mike Stevens, who wound up dying on the front lines. “This is me passing on the favor,” Sousa says, soothing Daisy. “We’re going home, Agent Johnson.” Sousa then realizes that Daisy at some point during her ordeal hid a shard of metal in her palm, which he moments later uses to surprise and stab one of Nathaniel’s henchmen. Malick shows up just then, uncontrollably quaking up a storm after his makeshift surgery, but a cave-in KOs him, allowing Sousa to carry Daisy to safety.
Aboard the Zephyr, Deke finds Enoch doing something ominous-looking to Jemma, and so he sneaks up on and shorts out the Chronicom with a debfrilator. “Deke, what have you done?!” frets Jemma, who explains that Enoch was fixing her memory so that she can fix the ship. She shares that she and Fitz found a safe place from which Fitz can monitor the Chronicoms’ moves, and she knows where that is – but she developed a bio implant (dubbed “Diana”) that suppresses that memory, to keep her safe. And it sounds like the longer they need to keep in the implant, she might forget Fitz’s location completely.
Sibyl explains to her unexpected visitor that she reads time streams, not to so much predict the future but see the past as written by a single future (or something). On the topic of “Why invade Earth?,” she explains that humans have limited time and thus act irrationally while alive. Chronicoms, meanwhile, will exist long after humans are gone. Ergo, humanity will either wave a white flag, or the clock will simply run out on them. Coulson counters her POV with a series of points — including that humans make real sacrifices that cost real blood, sweat and tears, and “we will never give up.” But more critically, he quips, “Dying, it’s kind of my superpower,” before unplugging from the VR device and using his duffel full of explosives to blow up the Hunters about to wake in the Chronicoms’ hidden time ship… and himself… after radioing to May, “I hope you’re right about this next part!”
After ordering Stoner (as his Level 7 superior, ha) to clear out the base and come up with a cover story for the explosion, May joins Mack, Yo-Yo and the Mackenzies on the Quinjet, and reveals that Coulson is “gone” — but, she offers, “He’ll come back. Always does.” Moments later, after a shoulder touch, May realizes that Mack’s dad is a Chronicom. Mack refuses to believe it, but asks John to show the cut on his arm he sustained while working on the steel door. John balks at first, but rolls up his sleeve… to reveal exposed Chronicom tech. And Lilla is one, too! A fight ensues, during which “John” taunts Mack with the fact that his real parents have been “gone a while.” Mack eventually triggers open the bay door, out of which “John” and then “Lilla” — who begs her “Alfie” to spare her — tumble. Meanwhile on the Zephyr, Enoch fixes Jemma, who 1) begs Deke to keep her secret and 2) invites him to both apologize to Enoch and hail him as a “valued member of our family.”
As the incredibly eventful episode draws to a close, we see Daisy recuperating in the healing chamber, while Sousa is asked if he wants to stay in 1976. But he maintains, “I’m where I need to be.” The ship is fixed right before the next time-jump kicks in — after which, Mack gets on a motorcycle and speeds off to get some air. Deke later goes to check on sullen Mack, when Jemma radios him to get back to the Zephyr ASAP, because it’s about to jump. But before Deke can even get Mack’s attention, the Zephyr jumps in time again… without them!
What did you think of the episode “Adapt or Die,” as we near the final season’s halfway point?