The Agents of SHIELD get a fairly ominous episode title this week as they live through, “The Last Day.” It’s actually several days, as the story jumps around in time a fair bit. At times that can be a tiny bit confusing, but overall I’d say it works. And they manage to show a truth that a lot of people know: even in a world with real monsters and killer aliens, some of the worst stuff is done by plain old people who are scared, think they’re doing the right thing, or both.
The show starts in 2018, with a desperate crew flying the Zephyr. It’s clearly at a point in time after the agents came forward in time, since they are dealing with gravity storms and other perils. As Robin, the Seer, talks, the scene shifts to them in the future. A lot of the episode travels up and down Robin’s timeline, making for some interesting transitions. As a new player in this story, Sam Voss, tells May about Robin, “Her life is deck of cards shuffled out of order.” To illustrate the point, he tells May the rest of her team will survive the crash they’re about to endure, and he knows this because Robin told him… a decade ago. Time travel and prophecy can both be very confusing.
There are happy reunions and bad jokes about the “airline” that brought them here. Not only do the agents get to see each other, but apparently Voss and Deke are old friends as well. Deke admires the durability of the Zephyr, as it’s the refugees’ home and still largely intact. Fitz takes some pride in that as he designed it. We also get a bit more of a hint about some of Deke’s background.
Back at the Lighthouse, Kasius is fuming. Nothing is going to his plan, but, to his credit, he grudgingly grants that Daisy is resourceful. He and Sinara make more plans for dealing with SHIELD and their allies. Down a few levels, as the power gets cut, the mob starts blaming Flint for everything going on. Mac steps in and ends that conversation quickly.
Coulson talks to Robin, which proves to be frustrating. She’s not enigmatic to tease the others, it’s just hard to relate to someone who experiences time so differently than the rest of us. Coulson learns that he’s the one to bring the pieces together, which is good, but she also says something else and that’s ominous for the future (or past) of the agents. She tells him that this is the day when it all ends. Daisy gets sent to Fitz and Simmons to see if they can get her inhibitor out to give her access to her powers, and Deke and Daisy compare notes on their relationships with their fathers.
Mac, Yoyo, and Flint get to Level 3, the very dangerous place where Fitz hid their weapons. They creep along and Flint has a lot of doubts about what to do next. They also see a Kree up to something, but no one quite knows what. They make a lot of use of Yoyo’s powers: it’s hard to beat superspeed for reconnaissance.
Fitz and Simmons are both pleased to be back in familiar territory on the Zephyr. Fitz would be happier if it was in the right time, but Simmons points out that at least it’s not slave quarters. Ah, perspective. They find a new gadget which may be the way home, eventually, and are told it was built off “some old schematics.” Then, as others go about tasks, Fitz and Simmons get to enjoy at least a few minutes alone, something that rarely happens for our resident star-crossed lovers.
Coulson tries to get some useful information out of Robin, but that’s next to impossible. May appeals to Enoch for help, but he doesn’t have any suggestions they can make use of. May has a fit of pessimism, launching into a list of their many liabilities at the moment. Robin tries to help by showing her a picture, and that triggers another shift in scene and time.
In 2022, the team, or some of them, have an argument over the nature of time. It sounds like they’ve already been through a lot, and suffered some losses. Sensing the tension, Robin tries to help, but her picture (which is, of course, the one we just saw) isn’t what they need at the moment.
Finding the supply cache, Mac has a happy reunion with an old friend. Yoyo comes back from another scouting run with some disturbing news: the “roaches” are all gone. Mac quips that the Blue Man Group must have sent them someplace else. On cue, screams echoing up the air shafts tell them what’s happening.
As Voss shows Coulson the armory he’s gathered, and a surprising object, Simmons works on freeing Daisy. Unfortunately, the inhibitor is a well-designed and carefully placed piece of tech, to prevent exactly what they’re trying to do right now. The team makes a discovery about an artefact, Deke has an unpleasant revelation, and May wonders if they can prevent any of this from happening in the first place.
While Mac and company go roach hunting, we get another trip to the past. May and Yoyo argue about what the right thing to do is, and I see both points. We also hear about more losses. That timeline isn’t going well for a lot of SHIELD, or the rest of humanity. Robin keeps talking about Flint, who of course none of the others have met yet. Poor Robin. As frustrating as it is talking to her, can you imagine it from her side? She has information they need, but can’t manage to convey it clearly.
Deke and Voss argue, and we learn a bit more about what’s going on with them and Deke’s dad. Mac fiddles with the air supply and the gas that drives the roaches back, as part of his master plan. The man is brilliant, you have to give him that. They come up with a really slick way to solve the Lighthouse’s pest problem, and at least something goes smoothly for the good guys.
May is dealing with Robin the best of the team, which is a bit odd in some ways. Daisy regrets she wasn’t able to protect Robin better from everything that has happened to her. After another frustrating exchange, Robin hides under her blanket. Voss, who seems to be everywhere at once on the Zephyr, says she has important things to say, just can’t always say them at the right time.
Fitz and Simmons work out some of how the new gizmo functions, then get a different surprise. Their yells alert the others, and we see fear come into play. The human refugees aren’t quite what you’d hope for in allies, and things degenerate quickly. A general fight breaks out, and there’s a surprise casualty, and another trip to the past where different tensions mount.
Both now and in the past, we learn more about May’s relationship with one of the survivors. It’s a softer side of May we almost never see, and Ming Na does a great job on the acting. The only part that’s a bit odd is May seems to know a good bit of the future in her conversations. I can see how that may have happened, but it’s still a bit odd at first.
In a series of short scenes, we learn what the title meant. Yoyo starts a form of revolution on the Lighthouse. May finds out what they need to do, but doesn’t know who a key player is. Daisy and Deke talk about the past and future. And Kasius gives orders to Sinara, who is hunting our heroes.
What I liked: Mac was brilliant this episode. I think he’d make an excellent Director at some point, if SHIELD is ever allowed to get back to doing its job. May had a lot of really good scenes here. They actually made Deke kind of likeable. They clearly show how frustrating Robin’s life has been on so many levels.
What I didn’t: I’m not sure we needed all the scenes in the past. While I get Voss’ actions, I’m disappointed in him and his followers.
This was a good episode, but I’m ready to end the trip to the future. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5.