Things are getting complicated for the Agents of SHIELD as they play a sort of cat and mouse mixed with Quantum Leap type game, trying to keep their history intact. The Chronicoms have some elaborate plans to move up the worst parts of Hydra and take apart the best bits of SHIELD. Last time ended with a few different cliffhanger and surprises. Things are getting worse, and the Agents are going to need to “Adapt or Die.”
The show opens with some weird energy patterns that turn out to be a part of the Chronicoms’ oracle, Sybil. She’s very serene and unflappable, while Luke the Chroni-cop is a lot less so. After some debate that borders on philosophy, Luke decides it’s time to start bringing in some backup, which can’t be good for our heroes. At the Lighthouse, the agents from this time are enraged at the destruction of Insight, and have captured Coulson and May. General Stoner is very disappointed, and has some amusing banter with May. Coulson and May are worried when the agents from their past display technological advancements they really shouldn’t have, and are more worried when they find out where the upgrades came from.
Aboard the Zephyr, things are tense. Deke admits that he killed Malik, which doesn’t please Mack. Also weighing on the Director is the loss of communication with Daisy and Sousa, and his parents’ captivity. Making a not very tactical but understandable decision, Mack decides he’s going after his parents, and Yo-Yo isn’t about to let him go alone. They get some good exchanges about meeting the parents and first impressions. Stoner is slowly realizing he’s losing control of the Lighthouse, and is exceptionally displeased that his likeness is part of the out of control security system. He really is trying to be as fair as he can, but the hacked systems have other ideas, and launch missiles at the Zephyr. Enoch is a good pilot, but not quite as good as May. He manages to evade two of the three incoming weapons, which is good, but not great.
In a very unpleasant little room, Daisy and Sousa wake up. Shackled and drugged, the two aren’t doing well, and Daisy can’t even access her powers. Nathaniel Malik is a genial, if creepy, captor, and seems to be enjoying himself immensely. He has some good ideas about Daisy, and some wrong, if understandable, ones about Sousa. The younger Malik talks about the family business, his own goals and interests, and argues semantics with Sousa. A familiar name from Daisy’s past comes up, which isn’t reassuring. Coulson and May try to convince Stoner about what’s going on, but it’s a fairly incredible tale. When left to themselves, May also shares some unwelcome information with Coulson. While Deke does his best to do damage control on the Zephyr, Simmons is working on some more complicated repairs, and shares an odd-sounding concern with Enoch.
They’ve already been through a lot, and now Mack’s parents get more shocks as Mack and Yo-Yo cut through the wall and Mack gives an overly enthusiastic greeting. Yo-Yo covers for a few things as a very off-beat rescue gets underway. Stoner continues to fret about what’s happening to his base and organization all around him, while Coulson and May bicker about their situation and their strange relationship. May raises some good points, Coulson has an unsettling realization, and they go into action. Realizing who is the Chronicoms’ next target, they rush to the rescue.
Mack’s Daddy isn’t doing well with the pressure, and Mack comes up with a good way to keep the man occupied. Coulson and May manage a rescue of their own, and get some thanks and an attitude change from a potential ally. There’s some bad news about some of the other agents, and then they split up, with May helping evacuate people and Coulson following a new lead. Nathaniel Malik’s thugs bring Daisy back to the cell, and she’s definitely looked better. Sousa does what he can to care for her, and shares an old war story. Daisy shows that, even in her current state, she’s no helpless damsel in distress. There’s a significant misunderstanding aboard the Zephyr between Deke, Enoch, and Simmons, which happens mostly because, as on almost every other hero show, there are too many secrets floating around.
Mack’s family reunion picks up a few bumps and bruises as they keep trying to find a way out, while Coulson’s explorations bring him to an unexpected meeting. He learns a lot he didn’t know, and has what almost amounts to a philosophical debate. Mostly because she’s out of options, Simmons tells Deke her current big secret. Sousa does his best to stage an escape, and confronts a slightly changed Nathaniel on the way out. Coulson’s debate provides a nice voiceover as the rest of the team deal with their various crises, trying to get back to the Zephyr and each other. Ever the hero, at the end of the discussion, Coulson takes drastic steps to protect his friends, and history itself. After some parting words with Stoner, May gets back to Mack’s team and makes a potentially troubling statement about Coulson.
Deke patches things up with Enoch, and Simmons checks that one of this season’s biggest mysteries is still intact. Mr. Mack geeks out at the Quinjet’s technical stats, while Momma Mack chats about her sons with Yo-Yo. It’s a nice little scene until May learns something, and it all goes tragic. There’s a big fight and a very difficult decision. Things start to wrap up with the team reunited, for at least a moment. Daisy’s in the healing tube May was in to start the season, and I hope she comes out better than May did. Mack, dealing with some complicated feelings, decides to get some air and takes off on one of the motorcycles. Oddly, Deke is the one to go after him. Odder still, Mack really didn’t go that far. The repairs finally are completed, but there’s an unintended side-effect which sets up for next episodes’ big issue, after a great last line from Deke.
What I liked: There were some really good lines in this episode. Daisy showed she’s more than just her powers, which is easy to overlook. Sousa is doing a great job of fitting in way out of his element. I get why Deke leapt to the conclusion that he did. The May and Coulson scenes were great, as was the May/Stoner bit. The surprises around Mack’s rescue were done very well, and I didn’t see them coming. Nathaniel Malik was interesting and well-acted.
What I didn’t: They explained why he’s gone, finally, but I still miss Fitz. I feel bad for Mack. They’re making no progress with Yo-Yo’s power issues. Did they exceed the special effects budget or something?
The setup for next episode looks it’ll be a fun one. I’ll give this one a 3.5 out of 5.