The Agents of SHIELD are running out of time on many levels. We’re in their last season, the Chronicoms are trying to retroactively erase them from history, and now the Zephyr isn’t working right. Time is very much on everyone’s minds as they try and get their ship, and Yo-Yo, back in working order. Still in their own pasts (except for poor Sousa), they go meet a future enemy in “After, Before.”
As we saw in a past episode, Deke goes after Mack, shaken by the new loss of his parents, but the Zephyr jumps unpredictably, leaving Mack and Deke in the 80’s for over a year. Returning from the unplanned jump, May and Yo-Yo go after Mack and Deke, finally reuniting the team to face their new technical difficulties and a very Tron-like title sequence. The current danger is explained, a new plan hinging on Yo-Yo getting her powers back emerges, and Sousa gets even more confused by the strange group he’s fallen in with. Coulson, being rebuilt from his stint as “Phil Headroom” gets reactivated early, and isn’t thrilled about it. Yo-Yo and May go off to Afterlife, the Inhuman refuge that will cause so much trouble in the future, to see if they can help SHIELD’s resident speedster. May gets in a great line about thin plans and the alternative.
Arriving near the really exclusive community, May tells Yo-Yo about some of the difficulties of May’s own un-asked for powers, and it’s an entertaining scene. They decide to try and go in on foot, and end up getting caught up in some internal strife between resident enforcer Li and Kora, a young woman trying to leave. Having already agreed to not having a cover story, the two agents get lucky, if that’s the right word, when Gordon the teleporter brings them to the refuge to meet Jiang. They tell a version of their story, offend Li by their existence, and pass a test to prove at least some of what they say. Later, Li makes a pointed remark to Jiang which doesn’t bode well for May and Yo-Yo’s future. Or past. Tenses are hard, sometimes.
Jiang does, at least, seem to be making an effort to help, running all sorts of tests on Yo-Yo. Jiang and Yo-Yo talk while Li and May glare at each other and argue about prisoners. Later, in their room, Yo-Yo is impatient and wants to leave, while May suggests they need to stick around, since there’s a lot riding on solving Yo-Yo’s power problems. There’s another disturbance centered around Kora, and May advises that, “It’s not their fight.” On the Zephyr, things are continuing to deteriorate, both with the drive and Sousa and Deke. After another great line from Enoch, Sousa starts making preparations for things not having a happy ending.
Jiang comes to May and Yo-Yo with surprising news. Even more surprising, she’s figured out May’s current issue and wants to use it to help. May is resistant, to say the least, but finally agrees. The initial set up for this procedure doesn’t work for either of them, but May comes up with a better idea that’s very her. Yo-Yo starts getting some flashbacks, and they finally start to unravel what’s going on with her. Things are still not looking great on the Zephyr, as Coulson rebuilds, Daisy worries, and Simmons gives Sousa a gift as he prepares for the worst. Simmons casually refers to some of her past, further perplexing Sousa, and the ship jumps again.
May and Yo-Yo talk about her past, and a very traumatizing childhood incident. Yo-Yo shares her story, and it’s a grim one. Then, there’s yet another Kora disturbance, and May learns more about what’s going on with the young woman and what Jiang hopes to learn. Kora has her own solution in mind, and is about to act on it, but gets stopped by a familiar (to us) face. That pesky Nathaniel Malik is everywhere, and he’s quite happy to use Sybil’s information to change as much as he can. The scion of Hydra makes a good sales pitch to Kora, and things take a turn for the ugly. Afterlife gets attacked, and Yo-Yo and May pitch in to help defend the place, although Yo-Yo’s powers still aren’t back.
Simmons is getting more and more worried on the Zephyr, and sends a message to Fitz, our still-missing team member. Did the actor not want to come back? I miss Fitz, and Fitz and Simmons together. Deke hears part of this, and at least has the grace to be a bit embarrassed. May and Yo-Yo do what they can, but Afterlife has been overrun and compromised. We learn a surprising connection between Jiang and Kora, and hear some of Nathaniel’s plan. With help from Gordon, a few key players escape, but things aren’t look great for the good guys at this point. The team manages to reunite, but it looks like it’s too late to save the ship. Then, there’s a sudden revelation, a last minute save, and someone will need a new nickname. Things are finally looking up, at least a bit.
The show wraps with Coulson still not pleased about being back in his strange existence, and Simmons trying to make him feel better. Deke and Enoch have an amusing conversation, and then things take a turn once again. Back at Afterlife, Nathaniel is going full on villain, and a few seem to be along for the ride.
What I liked: The May/Yo-Yo scenes were great. It was interesting seeing Jiang again, and a younger Gordon. The Inhumans played a big part in the show’s history, so it makes sense to check in with them again as the end draws near. Sousa had some great scenes, and it was so perfectly fitting that Simmons did something for him. I’m hoping the change in someone’s trademark gift stays, as I always thought there was a weird limitation there.
What I didn’t: I get he’s been through a lot, but I’m not a fan of mopey Coulson. The revelation about Jiang’s personal life seemed a bit forced. They did so much research on her before, I kind of feel like this should have come up. I’m not a big fan of Li, and am heartily getting sick of Nathaniel.
It was a decent episode with some good moments. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5.