Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: 'Past Life'
Well, we’ve come to the end of this stage of this season’s journey. I can’t say I’m entirely sure what happened! But let’s talk anyway.
Coming right off last week’s ending, this episode starts with the Zephyr docking at the Lighthouse. But when Kasius’ soldiers storm the ship, they find it empty — or at least, devoid of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents they’re seeking. Our team did make it onto the Lighthouse, sneaking out of the ship in a smaller compartment and onto the station. But when they meet up with Tess, she points out that they’re not done saving everybody yet. They still need to recover the dead Inhumans, so Kasius can’t keep resurrecting and torturing them like he did with her. So the mission is three-fold: Save the Inhumans, get the pieces of the monolith to Flint for geokinetic assembly, and kill Kasius. Sounds easy, right?
Of course, it won’t be. With Sinara dead and his enemies swarming the Lighthouse, Kasius reveals his final trump card, a special potion his family likes to take when their back’s against the wall. Much like the chrome spray from Mad Max: Fury Road, it kills the person who drinks it, but also turns them into a berserker as they die, so that they can lash out with rage-fueled power.
That’s not even the most horrifying revelation. Last week, Kasius teased that he had a “seer” of his own, someone who was feeding him enough tidbits about the future and past to contend with Robin Hinton’s prophetic advice to S.H.I.E.L.D. When Yo-Yo infiltrates Kasius’ laboratory seeking the final imprisoned Inhuman, she finds out the identity of his seer: Herself. Yep that’s right, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s descent into timey-wimey madness has now brought a character face-to-face with her older self. The older Yo-Yo confirms the nature of the time loop S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to be stuck in. She remembers meeting her older self, but then they went back in time and the horrible dystopian Kree future still happened anyway. So, how then, to break the loop? The older Yo-Yo has one piece of advice. Phil Coulson is poisoned, having been infected during a fight with the Kree. According to the elder Yo-Yo, when the time comes S.H.I.E.L.D. will need to let Coulson die. If they don’t, they’ll be stuck in this horrible time loop forever. (More on page 2)
Flint’s powers are needed to reconstruct the monolith, but the Zephyr’s machine is needed in order to actually activate the portal. Enoch tried to protect the machine from Kasius’ troops, but they eventually broke through and wrecked it. Since all the time travelers need to be at the monolith when the portal re-opens, Deke is the only one who can go help Enoch. His last few dialogue exchanges with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team are really gonna make me miss this character. When Coulson tells him how outnumbered he is, Deke responds that he’s trying to “do the whole hero thing here, is that your pep talk?” But his parting exchange with Daisy is best of all: “It was almost nice knowing you!” “You’re a pain in my ass!”
But the real pain comes when Deke discovers the only way to power the machine is by using Enoch’s personal battery as an energy source. That will kill our dear alien friend, but it will also create an explosion that will kill Deke as well. In his words, “I always knew working with you guys was gonna blow up in my face.”
Meanwhile, Mack goes to find Yo-Yo. Unfortunately he finds the older Yo-Yo … with Kasius’ knife at her throat. Kasius himself takes the suicide potion and brutally slits his captive’s throat, horrifying Mack (in my opinion, she probably should have tried to shout at Mack that she’s not his Yo-Yo). That leads to a brutal fistfight between Mack and the Kree dictator, which has an amazing climax. Having freed Kasius’ other slaves from their ear implants, Simmons now sneaks up behind him and silences him with his own implant. Hot damn! That gives Mack the opportunity to stab Kasius from behind with the axe-bayonet on his gun. A brutal, well-deserved end for this arc’s villain.
Unfortunately, it delays Mack, Simmons, and the real Yo-Yo from getting to the rendez-vous. Flint reconstructs the monolith, Enoch and Deke activate the machine, and the portal reopens. But with those three agents still en route, it’s unclear who made it back to the past, and why.
I admire this space story for its ambition, even if it got confusing at times. Once we catch up with S.H.I.E.L.D. back on Earth, I’m sure we’ll find out what’s going on with that evil military commander from Fitz’s solo episode, last shown shooting her own subordinates. But the thread that I’m most excited about is seeing how S.H.I.E.L.D. reacts to the revelation of Coulson’s deadly infection. We know he would sacrifice anything for his team (as seen here when he forces Daisy to come back to the past with him, despite her arguing that it will end up destroying the world). Will they do the same?
Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.