I don’t know if it happens often enough to be a trope, per se, but if you have a show that involves time travel, there’s going to be a time loop episode. I’ve seen them on Dr. Who, Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, and the Magicians, among others. This time out, we see the Agents of SHIELD deal with déjà vu, as well as Elizabeth Henstridge (Simmons) directing for the first time. There’s even a nod to a classic Star Trek movie line in “As I Have Always Been.”
The episode starts off with Daisy, recovering in the medical pod, waking up to all sorts of alarms. After getting greeted by Sousa, napping in a nearby chair, she makes her way to the command center, where nothing is looking good. They’re trapped in some kind of time vortex, and disaster is lurking. Sousa gets in a few good lines as systems start shorting out, Yo-Yo gets trapped in the malfunctioning quinjet, and Mack is injured by one of the explosions. Enoch offers to help with the malfunctioning time drive, Daisy literally puts out some fires, and…
Reset to Daisy waking up. They even went the extra mile and did the credits over again. I’m not going to go through a step by step of everything, but Daisy works out fairly quickly that something is wrong, and prevents some of the bad things from happening again. Naturally, it’s too early in the episode to fix everything, and the Zephyr is destroyed again. In the next iteration, Daisy starts trying to change things right from the start. She makes her way to Coulson, wakes him up from his recharge cycle, and he stuns her with his first statement. Coulson drops several more surprises and….
Reset. Which happens a lot, and you get the idea. Daisy and Coulson scheme and try and find a way out of this mess. They come up with a desperate idea which they bring to Simmons. She reluctantly agrees, but it doesn’t work. Nor does the next version. Coulson, apparently remembering more loops than Daisy does, develops a very entertaining detachment from seeing everyone die over and over. Other iterations include trying to solve an apparent murder and sabotage, bringing in more people earlier to work the problem, and trying to free Yo-Yo from the quinjet to help. Then Daisy tries bringing in Sousa, which gets entertaining. Down the road, Coulson has an existential crisis and Daisy is immensely frustrated, especially when they work out they don’t have infinite attempts at this. Coulson finally figures out what’s going on, or at least a major piece of it, and it’s a shocker, but it makes perfect sense.
Identifying the problem doesn’t mean they have it beat, and there are a lot of variations of trying to get past a formidable obstacle. Amid the many replays of the day, Sousa and Daisy have an interesting conversation, and the team keeps failing to find a way to win. They make some progress, and then get sidetracked by Simmons having a powerful emotional reaction to something she learns. Finally, there’s a solution, but it involves a major sacrifice. They manage to save the ship and themselves (no surprise there), but someone doesn’t make it, and there’s a very sad goodbye scene. I’m really hoping they find a way around this later. The show ends with a reminder that the rest of the world is still moving forward, despite the time issues for the team.
This is a very short review, but that tends to happen with this style episode. It can be fun and interesting to watch variations of the same thing happening over and over, but a lot less so to read them in synopsis form.
What I liked: If the writers are creative enough, time loop episodes can be fun, and they did a good job on this one. Humor, the surreality of the situation, and even some actual character progression all came out in this, and they did well. Points to Ms. Henstridge for her debut. I also liked them upping the stakes by adding the deadline, something that doesn’t always happen with these shows.
What I didn’t: I really hope the death is reversed somehow. I liked that character, and they’ve had a lot of bad breaks. We still don’t know what’s going on with Fitz, and we’re running out of show.
I enjoyed this. I’m not sure how it fit in the larger scheme of the final season, but they did well with it. I’ll give this a high 3.5 out of 5.