Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: Return to the Inhumans
The title of this episode is “After, Before.” True to that, we start by seeing how Simmons, Daisy, and everyone else on the Zephyr responded to skipping ahead in time without Mack or Deke. It’s mostly pretty boring! Their ship shook and then when they looked at the calendar, they saw they’d jumped ahead by more than a year. Once they reunite with their erstwhile teammates, that’s it for the “before” segment of the episode, and on to the “after.”
The problem now is figuring out what’s wrong with the Zephyr’s time engine. According to Simmons’ analysis, the time spent in each period is getting shorter and shorter before the jump, and each jump is covering a shorter and shorter amount of time. At this rate, the engine will be set to disintegrate in as little as two days.
The team determines that the only real way to fix this would be to remove a malfunctioning part from the engine. Only Yo-Yo is fast enough to do this without hurting herself, but for some reason, she’s experiencing a block with her powers. Luckily, since they’re in the past, that means Daisy’s mom Jiaying is still alive and leading her Inhuman commune. Since Yo-Yo’s an Inhuman, maybe Jiaying will know what’s up with her powers. So she and May pay the Inhuman leader a visit. Daisy stays on board, where Coulson tells her how awful it was to be thirsty the entire time he was stuck with Mack and Deke while lacking a body to drink from.
Jiaying is naturally a little put off when Yo-Yo and May show up to her secret society out of the blue, but agrees to help once Inhuman technology confirms Yo-Yo’s status as one of them. However, after much testing, Jiaying reveals that Yo-Yo’s block is mental, not physical, and therefore it is not within her power to heal the speedster. Thankfully, May’s new empath powers give her some emotional insight into other people’s turmoil, so she and Yo-Yo start sparring in the hopes of getting to the bottom of this.
After some blows are exchanged, the truth comes out. When Yo-Yo was a kid staying at her uncle’s house, an armed robber showed up. Yo-Yo and her cousin hid in the closet, but when the robber wasn’t looking, Yo-Yo ran out and grabbed a precious piece of jewelry. Though the robber didn’t see her, he did notice that something had been taken and shot her uncle in rage before fleeing. Yo-Yo has held herself guilty over that ever since, leading to a mental block where sometimes she freezes in place instead of running. It’s the Spider-Man/Uncle Ben origin story on speedrun, basically.
Around the same time they make this discovery, Jiaying is having trouble with an Inhuman student named Korra. Korra’s ability is reminiscent of Ted Sprague from Heroes, if anyone remembers that show — which is to say she emits powerful, radioactive energy. This is obviously a difficult power to control and a very traumatizing one to have to deal with. Jiaying’s goal is twofold: To help Korra harness her powers as well as other Inhumans, and also protect others from getting hurt by her. It’s hard to explain this to a young girl, however, especially one lacking traditional support structures. Korra has an outburst and escapes the commune, whereupon she runs promptly into stupid Nathaniel Malick again. With the help of Sybil, Nathaniel is very persuasive when he tells Korra that Jiaying wants to control her and hide her away from the world rather than let her be herself.
Nathaniel brings Korra along on his assault on the Inhuman headquarters, where her deadly powers prove very effective against other Inhumans’ more innocuous ones. The teleporting Inhuman Gordo successfully transports May, Yo-Yo, and Jiaying to the Quinjet, and there’s a brief moment where it seems like Jiaying might join the team alongside Sousa. It would be kind of fun to see the team absorb more and more players from their pasts over the course of the season, but that’s not quite where we’re going. We don’t even get a mother-daughter reunion, because Jiaying refuses to abandon her people. She and Gordo teleport back to the commune before the Quinjet makes it back to the Zephyr.
Yo-Yo manages to get over her mental block and removes the dangerous piece from the time engine. At first, Enoch seems guardedly optimistic that this has fixed the problem...until the Zephyr suddenly time-jumps again.