I don’t know about you all, but this is an episode I’ve been waiting all season for. It’s not just the return of Lance Hunter (although that is very much appreciated), it’s that this episode finally shows us what Fitz has been up to after he was let out of the initial time travel — and how he might be able to reconnect with his friends very soon.
The episode is called “Rewind,” and that’s exactly how it begins: By rewinding to the day of the season 4 finale, when Fitz’s friends were all abducted and sent into the future without them. When the bald alien and his henchmen first stormed the diner where the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents sat, Fitz was among those who thought they were U.S. military agents coming to bring them to justice for the death of Jeffrey Mace and the shooting of General Talbot. He offered to accept full responsibility for the crimes, but could barely get the sentence out of his mouth before all his friends mysteriously vanished. As it turns out, the military did show up slightly afterward. Finding only Fitz, they arrested him.
The military detectives assume Fitz used his super-science skills to whisk his friends away to safety somehow, but they couldn’t have been more wrong if they tried. Not only does Fitz have no idea where his friends are, he actually wants to find them even more badly than the military does. Eventually he’s able to convince them of this, and offers to help them track down Coulson and the others. He only asks for three things: paper, pens, and a TV to watch soccer.
After six months of this, Fitz only has one theory as to where his friends might be. He assumes they must have been abducted by aliens — which is, of course, correct, but is laughed out of the room by the military brass. He’s also been sending a lot of angry letters to soccer fanzines, which eventually pays off with a much-needed visit from Fitz’s “lawyer.” Lo and behold, Lance Hunter has returned! It’d be nice to have Adrienne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse back as well, but Nick Blood’s sarcastic humor (deployed throughout the episode to denigrate his less-than-competent criminal accomplices) is still a welcome return to this show all on his own.
Hunter is able to break Fitz out of the prison momentarily, and they immediately set about trying to find their missing friends. Their only lead is a beer truck that parked outside the diner right before everyone disappeared and vanished immediately afterward, but it turns out that’s all they need. Following that clue leads Fitz and Hunter to the home of the bald alien from the beginning of this season (the one who swam in his pool to the tune of “This Must Be the Place”). The bald alien, who gives his name as Enoch, is actually surprisingly helpful. He informs Fitz and Hunter that Coulson and the others are currently in the year 2091, and he even shows Fitz video of the white monolith taking them there. Unfortunately, he can’t send Fitz the same way, because the monolith can only be opened from the other side. He knew that the portal would be open then, and so he sent S.H.I.E.L.D. through. How did he know the portal would be open then? The answer involves a callback all the way to season 3. (Recap continues on page 2)
Enoch takes Fitz and Hunter to a nearby park, where he introduces them to a young girl named Robin. Remember Charles Hinton (Bjørn Johnson)? He was the Inhuman from the back half of season 3 who was able to give people visions of the future by touching them. Robin is his daughter, and she’s inherited a similar ability. She too has visions of the future, but since she’s only a little girl, she’s not always able to make sense of them. She depicts them through her childish drawings, and sometimes gets past, present, and future mixed up.
It was Robin’s visions that told Enoch to send Coulson and the others to the future, in the hopes of stopping an extinction-level event for humankind. Enoch, who has been on Earth for thousands of years to observe humans like an alien anthropologist, only allows himself to interfere in human affairs when the stakes are that high. He sounds a lot like Uatu the Watcher, actually. Anyway, Robin is also the one who instructed Enoch to leave Fitz off the initial list. Why? Because he needs to be the reinforcements, to get there and help save them.
Luckily, the spaceship that brought Enoch to Earth thousands of years ago is capable of making such a journey. The only problem is, it’s contained back at the military base Fitz and Hunter just broke out of. So the two of them break Hunter’s cardinal rule of espionage (never go to the same place in different disguises) and infiltrate the base disguised as repairmen coming to fix the hole in the wall they created in their escape (brilliant!). With the help of some ferrets, they’re able to cause enough of a distraction to make off with the ship, including a fun role reversal where Fitz holds off the attackers with gunfire while Hunter pilots the high-tech spacecraft.
Lacking a monolith, Fitz has to go to the future the hard way: by freezing himself cryogenically for 80 years. After an emotional goodbye with Hunter, he seals himself up. When he wakes up in 2091, Enoch informs him they’re about to go up against the worst mobsters, monsters, and mercenaries in the galaxy.
Oh, also, the head military woman who replaced the injured Talbot is definitely evil. When her detectives fail to apprehend Fitz and Hunter, she shoots them both in the head. So expect her to rear her villainous head again if the team ever makes it back to the present.
I’m really satisfied with this episode. Without the crazy new sci-fi setting, it felt a bit like classic S.H.I.E.L.D., and it was awesome to see Hunter again. Fitz is one of my favorite characters on this show, and I was really missing him the last couple of episodes. Glad to see he’s back, especially since he’s still clearly wrestling with his actions in the Framework. I’m expecting a good arc ahead, and of course can’t wait for him to reunite with Simmons. Together, they form the beating heart of this show.