Agents of Shield Season 5 Episode 7: Together or Not at All Recap

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The Future of SHIELD

This episode sees the reunion of almost all of the agents, plus the remaining sympathetic future characters (~ish, in the case of Deke). Grown up Robin reveals herself to May, and Gravitonium makes a stunning reappearance after disappearing for four seasons. The future is full of dangling plot threads, from the remains of the Framework to one of the first mysteries the show ever tackled, last seen in the hands of ruthless billionaire Ian Quinn, who stole it from HYDRA. Everything on this show comes full circle eventually.

The episode picks up moments after Fun and Games left off, catching up with the daring escape of Han, Leia and Luke from the evil empire Fitz, Jemma and Daisy from the Kree. They make a quick stop to let Jemma change out of her flowing white Princess Leia garb, which, while fun, is too conspicuous for an escape. Fitz checks Daisy’s condition after her fall to the crater floor. She asks why he didn’t join in the hand to hand fighting, and he replies, with his usual dry wit, “Wouldn’t be fair. I do push ups now. Double digits. So…”

Jemma and Fitz make enthusiastic plans for storytelling, pints and gin when the crisis is over. Jemma’s ear implant let’s out a dizzying high pitched whine. Fitz looks for tweezers so that he can remove it. He finds clamps, and does a delicate removal procedure on the love of his life’s ear canal while Daisy fights a Kree warrior next to him. I’ve missed having these three together, so so much.

They run into the next corridor, where Fitz’ waiting escape ship can be seen. It blows up in a spectacular ball of flame, with giant pieces flying toward the window. You’d think this was a 3D movie. Fitz is stunned and almost has to be dragged away by Jemma and Daisy.

Kasius can’t stop touching and obsessing over his new cheek scar. I understand that Jemma’s very good with scars, too bad he wasn’t nicer to her. Faulnak tells him that scars are badges of honor. His concern for his unblemished countenance is misplaced. Faulnak is the big brother from h#ll.

Faulnak takes control of the search for Quake, sending his best warrior, Maston-Dar, to find her. He allows Sinara to join the search, as long as she only uses Terran weapons. Maston-Dar prefers to use the weapons of the primitive people he kills to keep the hunt interesting. Sinara looks to Kasius for confirmation, and he nods in acquiescence.

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The Vicar cleans up Tess’ body, with the threat that the other humans will end up the same way if they continue to hide Flint. Coulson and Mack realize that the human level isn’t safe for them any more, even in hiding.

Kasius is pacing in a corridor, waiting for Sinara. As she approaches, he positions himself so that he’ll be on higher ground. He tries to act as though nothing is wrong, then tries to convince her that he let Faulnak take charge as a way to keep both Faulnak and their father happy. It’s irrelevant in the long run. Soon Kasius and Sinara will have their freedom. Sinara questions whether Kasius is really working for her freedom along with his own, and notes that Faulnak is the one giving the orders now.

She continues down the corridor, putting them on the same height level. Kasius rushes to keep up with her. He explains that he understands that she’s resentful that he put her in a death match against Quake, but she survived, as he knew she would.

Kasius jumps in front of Sinara, now putting his head lower than hers, an exact reversal of their starting positions. He proves his real skill. It’s not warfare, it’s reading and manipulating people. Sinara knows this, but she allows it this time, because he’s building up to giving her what she needs.

Kasius: Your strength has never let me down. And now, I ask for you to lend it to me once again. We’re so close, Sinara. To freedom from this place. Restored to glory, together.

Sinara: You’re begging. It’s repulsive.

Kasius: I’m imploring you to think. (He grows impatient, but dials it back.) To use reason. I must appease my brother, and I cannot allow him to steal my reward. I will keep him entertained. We’ll let his man chase her tail, while you figure out what’s in her head. (He steps up to put them on even footing again, as the wheels are turning in Sinara’s mind.) Where will she go?

She’ll go straight for the elevators, as it turns out. Maston-Dar does the obvious, and pulls the wires out of the control box, stopping the elevator. Daisy opens the ceiling hatch and has Fitz give her a boost. Good thing he’s been doing those push ups. Jemma says that it’s good to be on the run instead of standing still. Fitz adds in, “Together.”

The camera pans up though the elevator hatch to the surface, so that we can check in with May. It’s a cool bit of editing. She’s alive but in a horror movie, albeit one with fantastic camera work, CGI and lighting. She’s also still in a lot of pain. All of the fighting is making her leg worse instead of better.

A Vrellnexian sneaks up on her, but Enoch kills it before it can attack. He lets May know that he’s killed three that would’ve killed her, not that he’s bragging or anything. May, being May, isn’t impressed. She wants to know why he’s not being eaten. He tells her that he doesn’t have tender insides to attract them. He assures her he’s not a robot either, after she assumes that Fitz built another LMD for the occasion. He begins to list the agents who’ll save the day, and when he gets to Coulson, she realizes that he’s the one who sent them through the monolith. She’s really not okay with that.

Her righteous attack is cut short by her injured leg. Enoch says that she shouldn’t even be standing with an injury like hers. May says she’s a fighter.

Enoch: It may be time for a career change.

Enoch tells May that a gravity storm is approaching. The Vrellnexians run away. Enoch says they ride the gravity storms (they are super tough), and they aren’t afraid of him. Just then a human swathed in typical Star Wars desert gear arrives and anchors May and Enoch to the ground without saying a word. It’s just in time, as the gravity storm was about to carry May away.

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Coulson and the team realize that it’s time to get to the surface, since the Kree won’t stop killing humans until they’ve found Flint and his accomplices. While they’re talking, Flint wonders why it’s been so long since he’s seen Tess. Mack, Elena and Coulson admit that the Kree killed her. Flint takes a minute to be alone and assume that everything is his fault.

Maston-Dar is still searching for Daisy, since he was on the wrong floor when he pulled out the elevator wires. He dramatically kills one person, which inspires the next to show Maston-Dar that Daisy and friends escaped through the top of the elevator. He’s all about the brute force, not so much about the reasoning or detective work.

Kasius and Faulnak have a little heart to heart chat over their weapons preferences and fighting styles.

Kasius: You were always more interested in the power behind the weapon. The ability to kill.

Faulnak: (He’s holding a rifle with a bayonet.) The craftsmanship is what caught my eye. once again, misplaced priorities.

Kasius: These particular tools from earth seem a nice cross section of our areas of interest.

Faulnak: Firearms are fine for those who need the safety of distance. (He turns and fires past Kasius’ head without warning.) I prefer a blade, feel the warm blood on my hands as the life drains from my adversary’s body.

Kasius: Spoken like a true child of our father.

Faulnak: Maybe if you’d bothered to sound more like him, you’d be less of a disgrace.

Kasius: A disgrace? Who with no prior training was placed in charge of his own fleet. A disgrace who fought as you did against our enemies.

Faulnak: You lost a strategic outpost and thousands of lives in the process.

Kasius (entering storyteller mode): I was put in an impossible situation. (Faulnak: Excuses!) I was cornered, outmanned and overrun. (Faulnak fires again, inches from Kasius’ head.) Two of my trusted generals dead at my feet. Enemies closing in.

Faulnak: So you ran.

Kasius: What option did I have?

Faulnak: Glory! Drink the odium. Fight and die like any of the Kasius family name would have, rather than fleeing with your low born subordinate. I wonder, is it her beauty you admire, or her ability to kill?

Kasius: Sinara defended me. She cut down my would be attackers.

Faulnak: And you were both exiled for abandoning your posts.

Kasius: She saved my life! She’s been by my side ever since. You call me weak? My strength comes from surrounding myself with loyalty.

Faulnak: More platitudes. The only thing that runs deeper than the river of blood from your fallen soldiers is the shame you bring on our family. You’re like this planet, brother. Once full of promise and father’s hopes, to be molded into something magnificent, but now just a broken speck of dust, confined to the darkest edge of the galaxy. I’m eager for my man to find the Destroyer so I can take leave of both.

He hands Kasius a handgun, aimed toward Faulnak. The wheels are turning in Kasius’ head. That last part was a challenge. Kasius looks like he’s been handed the keys to the kingdom, if only he can figure out exactly which door to use them on. I suspect he’s realized that Faulnak completely underestimates him, and that’s just where he likes to be.

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Daisy may be the Destroyer of World’s, but it’s Jemma’s face that’s reflected between the two tubes of Gravitonium. Was Daisy trying to intervene in a situation Jemma was involved in?

Fitz, Jemma, and Daisy find their way to the life support monitoring hub of the Lighthouse. As they investigate, Fitz rolls back a panel, and discovers that the artificial gravity is being provided by Gravitonium. Gravitonium is a volatile, unstable, fictional element that probably also causes the gravity storms, holds the shell of the earth and the remaining atmosphere together, and should move to the number one spot on the list of candidates for who/what really destroyed the world. The last time we saw it, it had also swallowed a scientist alive, so there’s a chance Dr Hall will show up in some form.

The three agents are looking at the Gravitonium, trying to figure out how it got there, when Maston-Dar comes around the corner shooting at them and the Gravitonium chamber. Say what you will about Kasius and Sinara, at least they use their brains.

Fitz is shot in the side, so Daisy engages Maston-Dar, while Jemma helps Fitz escape. Daisy follows as quickly as she can, losing Maston-Dar in the steam released from holes he’s shot in pipes. When they stop for a moment to tend to Fitz’ wound, a lighted mask appears in the shadows, setting them on alert again.

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It turns out to be Deke, wearing his pressurization helmet. He broke a window in order to escape the room he was welded into, used his antigrav device to find another entrance, then followed the dead bodies and gun shots to find them. There’s a brief debate about whether to kill him for selling Daisy to Kasius. He explains that he got her to Jemma without the craziness she was going to cause, which was my reasoning. You’d think Daisy would understand pirate reasoning, being a former pirate herself. Anyway, he swears he’s Team SHIELD now, salute and all.

Deke and Fitz seem to think alike to some extent, but don’t have time to explore it, or the goodwill of Jemma and Daisy. That bromance will have to wait.

Mack follows Flint to offer a bit of comfort, using the daddy skills he learned in the Framework. Flint continues to feel that it’s his responsibility to save everyone, even the agents. He’ll make an excellent Agent of SHIELD with that hero complex.

They hear pounding on the door, and Mack goes to investigate. It’s Daisy and co. There are heartfelt hugs all around, especially between Coulson and Daisy, and Fitz and everyone. No one is glad to see Deke. Everyone misses May. Simmons won’t let Fitz tell Mack how he got to the future, because she’s practicing to be a strict English school marm. Someone’s gotta keep the kids on task.

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Flint leaves while no one’s watching him, and finds the Vicar in the public square. The Vicar and a second Kree try to arrest Flint, but he has a pocket full of rocks. He pulls them together to form a spike, and stabs the Vicar through the eye. Before he can kill the second one, Sinara knocks Flint out. She plans to use him as bait to catch Daisy.

The team has discovered that Flint’s missing, and followed him to the square. They figure out Sinara’s plan. Daisy pretends to turn herself in, and Coulson starts shooting with Grill’s gun. Mack slams Maston-Dar with an oxygen tank and a sledge-hammer, while Coulson knicks Sinara’s arm with a bullet. They barely escape.

Maston-Dar and Sinara follow them back to their hide out. It has a shaft that leads up to the trawlers, so they use Deke’s antigrav device to take them to the top, one or two at a time (Fitz and Simmons go first together, aww). Flint moves boulders in front of the door, so the assassins begin to break down the wall.

Just as Maston-Dar breaks through the wall, Sinara uses her psychically controlled balls to kill him. She follows the team alone.

No one in the group is a pilot except Flint, but he’s staying in the Lighthouse to protect his people. Mack and Elena decide to adopt him and stay too. Fitz tells them about the weapons he hid on level 3 (the roaches’ floor). They are ungrateful that he didn’t hide the weapons in a better place, and he calls them on it. He feels like he’s not getting enough credit for what he went through to get to them, and what he brought to the table. Mack relents and thanks him.

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Coulson decides to be the pilot. He has a flying car. How different can it be?

Sinara returns to tell Faulnak and Kasius that Daisy and the rest have escaped to the surface. They’ve been communicating with friends who live there. Kasius is taken aback, and says it’s impossible. Sinara holds up Virgil’s tiny radio.

Faulnak: So the Destroyer of Worlds has escaped, and willingly makes for your land of exile, where apparently others have survived. Your incompetence is almost admirably astounding.

Kasius: There must be some…

Faulnak: Ready a ship for Maston-Dar. If humans can survive the perils of this planet, it will be just fine for him to pursue.

Sinara: Maston is dead.

Faulnak: By whose hand?

Sinara: My hand.

(Sinara stares ar Kasius during most of the following speech.)

Faulnak: (Laughs) Sinara. Holding your own against the Destroyer of Worlds. Felling my own best warrior. It seems I underestimated you and your desire to move higher in the ranks. My brother confines you to his dungeon, denying you the right to shine. At my side, you will shine more radiant than the stars we will conquer. A warrior such as yourself deserves a leader worthy of your talents. I will show you things Kasius could never…

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Kasius stabs him in the back, all the way through, with the bayonet they were admiring earlier. Sinara watches placidly.

Kasius: Sinara’s not some object to be taken.

Sinara smiles. Kasius pulls the bayonet out. Faulnak falls to the floor.

Kasius: The truth, brother. We both know father sent me on a suicide mission. Two of my generals were dead at my feet, yes, because Sinara killed them. They were preventing me from fleeing the battlefield. You see Sinara said, and I agree, the battlefield is not my place. I’m not built for it. With the bloodshed left to her, I can, and have, focused on greater things. I wasted so much time on my knees seeking your approval. No more.

Faulnak: You play God over a dead rock. But you’re just a coward who hides, and stabs his enemies in the back.

Kasius: And in the front.

Kasius viciously stabs Faulnak through the heart. He dies.

Kasius: (Looking at Faulnak) A life spent, (Looking at Sinara) a life earned.

By killing Faulnak, he’s proven himself to Sinara and earned her loyalty back.

Sinara looks gleeful at this point. He’s just given her everything she’s ever wanted- recognition, loyalty, respect, devotion, first place in his heart and schemes. Kasius closes Faulnak’s eyes and rubs Faulnak’s blood on his face. He takes both of Sinara’s hands in his own.

Kasius: Think how warmly my father will greet us when we avenge my brother’s death, and bring him the Destroyer of Worlds. Everything we’ve ever wanted will soon come to bear.

Geez, buddy, move on from your daddy issues. Think outside the box.

Back on the trawler, Fitz and Simmons strap in and reiterate that they never want to be apart again, which they’ve said a worrying number of times at this point. They start to kiss and the curse kicks in. The trawler hits a meteorite, and Coulson yells, “Okay, so maybe not exactly like flying a car.” Deke runs for the back yelling that they’re so stupid. What did the True Believers do to him that made him so jaded?

May wakes up on the Zephyr, which has survived and houses the True Believers. Elderly Robin Hinton comes out to greet May, saying, “I’ve waited such a long time to see you again.” She holds out the carved wooden robin that her father made for her.

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When Daisy goes to fight the first Kree warrior after their escape, she raises her hand to quake him out of instinct, and nothing happens. She looks at her hand for a moment, totally befuddled and betrayed, before she switches to hand to hand, and does just fine, because Melinda May and Grant Ward train their agents thoroughly, inhuman powers or no.

Maston-Dar wins for best Kree make up. The deep black around his eyes and matching black mohawk, combined with his deep blue skin and cocky attitude, make him memorable. Too bad we lost him so soon, though I don’t recall seeing anyone check the body for a pulse. His killer Sinara is obviously the second best Kree look, but the best overall Kree style.

With this episode, Sinara and Kasius rise to join the ranks of the best AOS villainous supercouples like Ward and Agent 33, Garrett and Raina, Radcliffe and Aida/Agnes, Madame HYDRA and Framework Fitz, and Jiaying and Calvin Johnson. Sinara and Kasius are two parts of the same devious whole, valuing their intelligence and devotion to each other above all else, and seeking wealth and recognition at any cost. I hope they’re alive when we go back to the past, so I can think fondly of them murdering their way to fame and fortune throughout the galaxy.

The corridor scene with Kasius and Sinara was a lovely little character piece, explaining both their personalities and their relationship in about a minute. He may be the front man for their relationship, but they are ultimately equal, and they both know it. She gives him leeway to posture for guests and servants, but once he’s gone too far, she’s ruthless in making him earn her trust and loyalty back. He depends on her as his emotional support, confidante, spy, general and assassin. He’s desperately afraid of losing her.

The foreshadowing that something is going to happen to May is just too hard to ignore any more. Last week she lost her fight against Ben, and Fitz called her an ancient has-been. This week Enoch told her it’s time for a career change, and Robin showed her the bird made by her father, Seer of Impending Death. She acted like she’d been waiting for May specifically. The last time we saw May before the holiday break, she lost her fight with Sinara and was captured.

When May joined the team in season 1, she had been working at a desk job by choice because she couldn’t face going back into the field after she’d had to kill an inhuman child who’d slaughtered humans. Will she save Robin and/or Flint this season, plus the world, bringing her full circle?

Aida tried to give May closure in the Framework, but the same scenario still played out at a later date. Saving the inhuman girl in the field and putting her in a school only meant postponing the girl’s breakdown, which made May even more cold as an agent. Both Flint and Robin are parentless and need help. Either could give May the positive influence on an inhuman child’s life that she needs to forgive herself. Then she could retire or choose a desk job, possibly also as mother to whichever child. (Robin is still a child in our era.)

I am not entertaining the thought of May’s death.

It makes perfect sense for the production to save money by reducing the screen time or getting rid of the movie star. She may have even asked to leave or have her hours reduced after her real life injury. There’s no reason to kill her, when she could come back for occasional guest spots for a ratings boost. She could also hang out at base and be the team’s handler, phoning in a few minutes of time at a computer a week.

Just what is Enoch made of that would make him neither a person or a robot? Is he a silicone based life form?

The Vrellnexians ride the gravity storms. Is that for kicks, or just the best way to survive the storm? Could someone who wanted to train them use it as a reward? Maybe taking rides with Deke’s antigrav device would be close enough?

Faulnak’s whole speech when he told Kasius that he’s just a coward was melodramatic, but this: “[You are] now just a broken speck of dust, confined to the darkest edge of the galaxy,” has to be one of the best Shakespeare meets SciFi lines ever. Straight out of Galaxy Quest. I want to use it on everyone who disappoints me.

When Maston-Dar finds the agents in the life support hub, I believe he says, “Submit willingly or entertain me. Those are your options.” Geez, the egos on him and Faulnak. Course, their egos caused them to underestimate their enemies badly enough to turn their backs, which was a fatal mistake in both cases.

Kasius and Faulnak had the personalities and relationship that Black Bolt and Maximus should have had on Marvel’s Inhumans. Sinara could either be Auran or a Medusa who chose the smarter brother. Faulnak and Black Bolt are both the heirs apparent, slightly stupid and overconfident, inflexible, underestimating their enemies, stuck clinging to outdated, oppressive tradition. They were easy to get rid of because of it. (Inhumans had to dumb the otherwise intelligent Maximus down over the course of the season so that Black Bolt could prevail, one of its many faults.)

Kasius and Maximus are the younger brothers who are smarter and try harder, but get no recognition. They grow up resentful and using any means necessary to get a piece of the pie that their older, less talented brothers are given for just existing. They develop a capacity to operate under the radar, read and manipulate people, draw people to them and encourage loyalty, create long term plans, and become ruthless, sneaky, and calculating. They can’t get ahead through normal means, so they have to create their own opportunities, which some see as cheating.

In an episode and a half, AOS made their fraternal relationship more interesting and developed than Inhumans did in eight. And better acted, especially by Dominic Rains as Kasius, who has endless shades of jealousy, superciliousness, grandiosity, evil, self-pity, greed, and even a bit of affection.

What kind of a long strange trip has the Gravitonium taken to end up providing gravity for the Lighthouse? Is it an element found in space? Is this from a different cache of the element than the Gravitonium Quinn and Raina stole at the end of season 1? Is the Gravitonium a clue as to who built the Lighthouse? Quinn, or Fury? HYDRA? Garrett? Ivanov the Superior? (Remember him, the disembodied brain with the army of LMDs?) Dr Hall? Inhumans? Agent Carter? Please let it be Agent Carter. We need a new flashback or two or six. Preacher has short seasons, maybe we could even get a Dominic Cooper/Howard Stark appearance. Some of the Howlies? Trip’s granddad?

Could the Gravitonium be used to aid time travel? Are its gravitational disruptions enough to upset the time-space continuum, and could they figure out how to direct and control the disruptions?

The original Gravitonium

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Swallowing its discoverer, Dr Hall

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Could the Gravitonium be responsible for both destroying the earth and maintaining the integrity of what’s left? It almost has to be causing the gravity storms. There must be more of it than that little bit we saw in the life support hub.

AOSCrustyEarth

Bonus Fitz in a cardigan, for Jemma. It doesn’t look like any of his originals survived the trip to the future.

IAIN DE CAESTECKER, ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE

 

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