Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: Blasts from the past
This episode was really lame. Sorry true believers, but I’m just getting increasingly disappointed at the level of weak sauce Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is supplying us in its final episodes.
Last week’s time loop adventure was a fun diversion from the Adventures of Nathaniel Malick, but now we’re back to having the never-before-seen brother of the main season 3 villain as the primary antagonist of the show’s home stretch in season 7. He’s still really annoying. I appreciated his annoying characteristics earlier in the season because I thought they were a good representation of the type of classic rich-kid villain that we all love to hate. But that’s not enough to justify making him the primary villain of the show’s final act. Plus, he’s even more annoying now that he has Inhuman powers. You may remember that when he first injected himself with Daisy’s blood a couple of episodes ago, he became so ill he collapsed. Well don’t worry, he’s totally fine now and suffers no ill side-effects even though Inhuman biology is notoriously complicated. In fact, he straight-up has Plot Armor this episode that protects him from anything bad for the simple reason that we've run out of literally anyone else in the show's canon of characters who could suffice as a final villain at this point.
Coming out of the time loop, Coulson tells Mack that they can’t just let Malick have control of the Inhuman sanctuary Afterlife; it messes up the timeline too much. So they go back to deal with that and quickly find themselves outmatched thanks to Sybil’s Chronicom knowledge. The blind Inhuman Gordon teleports Jiaying onto the S.H.I.E.L.D. ship, which of course makes Daisy very awkward. But the mother and daughter have to stay there together because the team worries that sending Jiaying back to Afterlife would upset Korra too much. So Gordon teleports Coulson instead...which turns out to be the worst move they could’ve made. Gordon is immediately stunned by Malick’s goons, who knew exactly when they would be arriving thanks to the unseen Sybil. Malick has even shared Sybil's knowledge with others, giving them awareness of everything that happened to them in the original timeline.
Malick gets to work hooking up Gordon’s powers to a young man named John Garrett. Credit where it’s due: Nathaniel Malick is a magnetic and compelling supervillain compared to the awful version of John Garrett we get introduced to in this episode. R.I.P. Bill Paxton, you are missed. This guy is screaming about every single thing he sees — “wow, superpowers! Wow, spaceship!” — in the screechiest possible voice. Considering that we’re all used to these things after seven seasons of the show, his dialogue is almost unbearable. His reference to a movie that came out fully eight years ago ("taunting" Coulson by telling him about "that long-haired guy who stabbed you with a pointy stick") made me rub my eyes in tiredness. Whatever they’re going for with this characterization doesn’t work at all. But the plan to inject him with Gordon’s powers does work, and he’s able to teleport Malick onto the Zephyr.
There, they run into Daisy and Jiaying, and here’s where that Plot Armor I was talking about comes into play. Considering that we’ve watched Daisy learn her powers for five seasons now and this guy got them two episodes ago, it’s frustrating to make him infinitely more powerful than her just because a few years passed off-screen for him. But what’s really goofy is when Jiaying attacks Malick, using her powers to drain his life force away. We literally see his skin turn gray; he looks like he’s on the edge of dissolving into dust. Then he hits Jiaying in the leg, blasts her with one flick of his newly-acquired powers, and the most powerful Inhuman in history is suddenly dead, and Malick looks as if nothing even happened to him. Ridiculous.
Mack and Yo-Yo are able to rescue all the Inhumans that were being held captive, but Malick and Garrett don’t even care. By teleporting onto the Zephyr, they’ve achieved their true goal: capturing Simmons. Sybil has instructed them to use her to find Fitz. I’ll admit that lots of my frustrations with this season come out of the simple fact that we have yet to see Fitz, one of the most important and beloved characters on the show. As Elizabeth Henstridge told EW’s Chancellor Agard last week, "Simmons will always be FitzSimmons in my eyes, so it was really difficult." I agree, Elizabeth! The fact that we're maybe, finally, going to see Fitz is good, but this better be one of the greatest plot twists of all time to justify leaving one of the show's central characters out of the entire final season and crippling the show's most compelling relationship in the process.
Guess we'll find out soon enough. Feels like we're running on fumes here. Time to get across the finish line already.