The final season of Agents of SHIELD has begun, with the team (well, most of them. Where’s Fitz??!!) tossed back to 1931 to prevent the Chronicoms from retroactively wiping them out. They’ve already found out time travel isn’t easy, as some of them came to the uneasy realization that, to borrow the line repeated in a lot of commercials and previews, “To save SHIELD, we have to save Hydra.” Even that isn’t as easy as it could be as the team deals with all manner of complications as they try to keep history on track in “Know Your Onions.”
The show begins with a car chase, as Mack, Deke, and their protectee, young Freddie Malik, try and evade the Chronicops. Deke shows that, whatever his other talents are, picking up slang isn’t among them, and Malik does what he can to further his own mission. While May has a confusing awakening, Coulson and company try to save the life of Malik’s never-named contact, to find out what she knows. They bring the wounded woman to Koenig’s speakeasy, which doesn’t thrill the man. The team debates what to do, incidentally dazzles Koenig with what they reveal, and Enoch gives a very understated status report about the Zephyr.
After the radio conversation, Enoch talks with May, who clearly isn’t acting right. She also underestimates Enoch, which I suppose is easy enough to do when you don’t know him. Mack and Deke keep helping Malik, trying to get more information out of him, and failing. Koenig covers for the team when the Chronicops show up, and goes to great lengths to hide evidence. The agents almost get found anyway, in part because something is off with Yo-Yo. Fortunately, the faux-cops get called away at the last minute. One of the reasons for this scene, at least as stated by Koenig during the action, really doesn’t make any sense. Simmons turns part Sherlock Holmes and part MacGyver as she starts to trace down what’s really going on. Daisy calls in to Enoch for another lack-of-progress report.
As they head to their mysterious rendezvous, Malik is fascinated by some of what he sees from Deke and Mack, but his perceptions are limited by what he knows from his time. Mack and Deke hear Malik’s story, but still don’t have enough information to put the pieces together. While Simmons continues her experiment and baffles Koenig, Daisy pulls Yo-Yo aside for talk about what happened earlier. Yo-Yo claims to not be sure, but it seems like she’s being evasive to me. Simmons reveals the results of her experiments, which have ties to a major future event and a serious milestone in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Koenig and Coulson banter about drink names while the rest of the team ponder the ramifications of what they’ve learned.
Deke and Mack continue to be puzzled by Malik, and Enoch almost manages to contact them. After this short conversation, Enoch and May have a disagreement about how to help the team, and May continues to seem way off. Daisy and Coulson argue over their new information, with Koenig trying to figure out what in the world they are talking about. Eventually, they get a lead, and Koenig becomes even more involved as the price for his assistance. Things remain tense between Mack, Malik, and Deke as they try to work out what they should do.
Things are even more tense between May and Enoch, and spill over into an impressive fight. May, naturally, gets the upper hand, but is interrupted when part of the team returns. They are puzzled by her lack of reaction to learning something new and important, both professionally and personally, to May. The others worry about their friend, Enoch brings them up to speed, and Koenig leaps to a mistaken, but understandable, conclusion. Malik ends up at odds with Mack and Deke, and there’s a lot of back and forth as we learn why Malik is so determined to carry out his task. Koenig gets more surprises as the Zephyr takes off to help the missing agents. Koenig tries to wrap his head around some time paradoxes when there’s a new alarm and Simmons reveals something fairly important she hasn’t brought up before now. A little more warning would have been good. Daisy finally manages to get hold of Deke, and goes completely rogue. Ignoring everyone else’s concerns, she gives Deke some questionable orders and tells him the important things they’ve learned. She’s really ignoring some important things here.
Deke has a truly terrible dilemma, a bit like the old, “Would you kill Hitler as a baby?” question. Mack makes his own discovery, and then notices what Deke is doing, and has a lot of questions. This is something they really need to follow up on in the future, since Mack is, ya know, the one actually in charge. Maybe he shouldn’t be out in the field playing Captain Kirk, but then, his team shouldn’t be issuing their own orders, either. It’s a very tense scene with Deke severely conflicted, Mack trying to keep everything under control, and Malik utterly lost. Then things get worse as the Chronicops show up, and the rest of the team rides to the rescue for a big gun battle. Of course, SHIELD has tommy guns and the Chronicops have high-powered energy weapons, but what can you do? Eventually, there’s a last-minute run for the ship, a timer ticking down, a sudden departure, and someone gets left behind. We do see that the stranded team member has a promising future, and that the history of SHIELD may actually be started by their own actions.
What I liked: The 30’s look really worked for Coulson and Yo-Yo in particular. The morality of time travel loomed large, and it’s a hard thing to wrestle with. I’m intrigued by whatever is going on with Yo-Yo and May. Patton Oswalt, as always, is fantastic. I’m enjoying Enoch. I felt a bit bad for both Koenig and Malik. Coulson got some great lines, as did Koenig. The nod to the greater MCU was a nice touch.
What I didn’t: I’m really hoping Fitz and Simmons don’t spend most of the final season apart. Again. I’m a bit surprised by some of Daisy’s decisions and actions. Simmons needs to stop keeping secrets.
I’ve enjoyed this show from the first episode, and really don’t want it to end. That said, this seems like a decent send-off. I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5.