Agents of SHIELD: Brand New Day

It’s very near the end of the road for the Agents of SHIELD. After this, there’s a two hour special finale, and that’s it. So, a moment of silence for the passing of a show I’ve really enjoyed with some great characters.

That to one side, pieces start falling into place as the stakes are raised higher and higher for the finale. It’s an ugly episode with nasty developments on many fronts. The team has lost Enoch, Fitz has been… wherever the hell he is all season, and now they’ve lost the Zephyr, along with Simmons and Deke. They’re running out of options as they try and find a way to best the Chronicoms, although one big revelation rocks them all in “Brand New Day.”

Moving back to her roots, Daisy is at one of the computers, tracking the Zephyr as it leaves and then vanishes. May tries to reassure her while Daisy regrets some of her recent decisions. Yo-Yo radios in that she’s almost back with the quinjet, which has the identification number 616. In the comics, Marvel’s main Earth in their multiverse is designated 616. Coulson, Yo-Yo and Kora walk in, and Daisy isn’t playing anymore. She attacks Kora, demanding answers. Mack talks Daisy down, and for some reason, the team seems to be listening to Kora’s rather unlikely claim. Far away, the Zephyr has found an unexpected place to hide. Deke gets in a few Diehard jokes before showing he’s really not John McClain. At the Lighthouse, some prisoners are secured, Mack tries to find something Fitz used at one point, and there’s some discussion of the current circumstances.

The team keeps up their interrogation of Kora, who is hard to get any decent answers out of. She’s very much a true believer in her cause, and mixes questionable statements with general weirdness. Then she pops out a shocking statement that rattles everyone except Coulson, who had already figured this one out on his own. Kora and Mack debate the philosophy of SHIELD, and she makes a strange offer that Coulson compares to something we’ve already seen. Twice. At an impasse, Daisy decides it’s time for a one on one chat with her half-sister. Daisy asks some hard questions, and I, at least, don’t really buy Kora’s answers. I’m not sure why any of the agents are even considering listening to her. They talk about childhood, family, and some of Sybil’s predictions.

Aboard the hijacked Zephyr, Nathaniel is being very thorough in his examination of Simmons. He had tech that lets him sift through her memories, but he’s not finding what he wants. Being the son of an influential criminal and then getting powers hasn’t done wonders for Nathaniel’s patience, and he’s immensely frustrated at his lack of immediate results. Ruthless and smart, which is never a good combination, Nathaniel quickly comes up with another way to push for her cooperation. Also frustrated and doing desperate things, Daisy decides to take matters into her own hands. However, it’s hard to do things on your own when you have a good team and people who care about you, so she gets intercepted. That leads to a very entertaining conversation and Daisy making a disturbing confession. Fortunately, someone else joins them who can handle a few things better than Daisy. They have talked about the importance of being unpredictable to mess with Sybil’s prognostications, and this series of events would mess with anyone’s probability timeline.

Two of the team end up back at the Lighthouse and comment on the actions everyone else is taking. After some discussion, they decide on a course of action and take steps to work with what they have. Nathaniel steps up his interrogation game, and then discovers something important that’s not good for the heroes. He also shows his propensity for casual violence and vengeance. Daisy’s team takes a desperate chance and gives a new experience to one of the team. Back at the Lighthouse, Kora matches wits with a veteran agent and spars about how events in Kora’s future but the agent’s past play out. They argue, Kora loses her temper, and something she “accidentally” does opens up a way in for a serious bad guy. The very diminished team at the Lighthouse has to figure out how to hold them off, and gets unexpected help when someone discovers a new ability. That seems to be happening a lot this final season.

Daisy’s team has some time to kill while on their journey and there’s a lot of talking. It’s family-like banter, worry about the future, and some entertaining riffing on codenames. A lot of this is foreshadowing the imminent end of the series, and some of the characters seem to be getting in pre-emptive goodbyes. Nathaniel continues to be a ruthless foe, and pushes matters with the captive Simmons. He ignores her warnings, and it sounds like bad things are in the near future. The Lighthouse team keeps resisting the incursion there in new and surprising ways, especially surprising to the one doing most of it. There’s also an attempted jail break, a discussion about changes, and some straight-up murder. Trying to understand what’s going on, there’s some discussion about an earlier proposal. When specifics are finally brought up, the first concrete reference they hear causes some of them to really think about it, even after it gets brought up that some key influences are no longer in place.

While Daisy gets some rest, the rest of her team talks about her, but in a good way. It’s heart-warming, and clearly the talk of people who care about each other. Nathaniel’s determined questioning starts showing some results, and we see a familiar face. There are some interesting discussions about ways to take advantage of time travel, and some ominous hints about what might be happening with someone. At the Lighthouse, the remaining agents decide to show Kora some tough love and shock her with what Nathaniel has done. Even confronted with the harsh reality of Nathaniel’s actions, Kora has seriously drunk the Kool-Aid and can’t face facts.

Sifting through Simmons’ memories, Nathaniel (and the audience) get to see some difficult decisions that clearly are still having effects in the present (for whatever that term’s worth). Enraged at not getting what he wanted, Nathaniel comes back into the real world and storms off, intent on further villainy. Simmons comes around a few moments later, and starts to help Deke, but says something truly shocking as she does.

Kora’s denial changes to violence and she ends up fighting with the Lighthouse team. It’s a nasty fight powered by rage and denial. Before it can reach an end, someone pops up and removes one of the combatants. Elsewhere in the Lighthouse, there’s a very disturbing revelation about what the Chronicoms and Nathaniel are actually up to. It’s a really wrenching reveal and a hell of a set up for the finale. The future of SHIELD, and so much more, is very much up in the air, and I don’t, at the moment, see how they’re going to win.

What I liked: The stakes here were impressive, and the big reveal at the end was terrifying. Nathaniel is a very worthy opponent and very good at what he does. I liked the personal scenes with the agents; they were well written and very believable. The evolution of a few of the characters’ abilities made a lot of sense to me. There were several big surprises in this episode, which were all well executed and I didn’t see them coming.

What I didn’t: The end is almost here, and I’m going to miss this show. I’m really starting to think some of the ones I had hoped would get a curtain call in the final season aren’t going to make it after all.

I’m giving this a 4 out of 5. I’m both looking forward to and dreading the next, and final, episode.

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