Agents of Shield Season 5 Episode 10: Past Life Recap

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This week, the Agents of SHIELD finally return to our present day, but it’s a difficult, winding journey to get there, of course. We say goodbye to the characters we’ve gotten to know over the future space arc, and learn more about the time loop, before the cliffhanger monolith jump at the end. Loyalty, the importance of making the best choice of who to align oneself with, and when to let go, always a focus on this show, continue to be major themes. Those themes are set up to affect the rest of the season, perhaps the series, in game-changing ways.

Also in this episode, Coulson proves he’s not the greatest leader when he treats Daisy like she’s his property to control. He may think he’s acting like a leader or father, but he takes Daisy’s choices away to the point of rendering her unconscious, while others risk being left behind without a word of complaint from him. That’s not the kind of caring he, or the writers, think it is. Overly possessive misogyny doesn’t stop being wrong because you convince yourself it’s for a good cause.

When the Zephyr pulls into the landing bay of the Lighthouse, Kasius and his guards are waiting for it. The first thing they see when the doors open is Sinara’s body, still hanging, impaled on the balcony railing. Kasius brain melts down. The lead guard orders the rest of the guards to search the ship.

While the Zephyr is acting as a decoy, the inhuman containment pod docks on one of the other floors with all of the good guys inside. Except Enoch. He’s hiding inside the Zephyr and has no life signs which the Kree could use to track him. Once he’s clear, he checks in with Coulson. The plan is for Enoch to guard, then activate, the time travel machine after Flint builds the monolith.

Deke asks for a “How Monolith’s Work” recap, which is a good idea for all of us:

Deke: So, one more time- the machine uses the little piece to trigger the bigger piece through space?

Fitz: Yeah, or time.

Jemma, for the advanced class: It mirrors the harmonic resonancy of photons which can exist outside of space-time.

The ever-practical Daisy interrupts to remind them that the mission is to find Flint and show him how to re/construct a monolith. The why and how it works doesn’t matter. Unless you’re one of the people in charge of making sure the thing works properly, that is. May says she has faith in Robin’s prophecy.

Tess is with Flint, Mack, and Elena, worrying that not enough people, human or inhuman, have been saved. She tells them that Kasius was torturing an inhuman in the next room when she was brought back. Elena volunteers to save the inhuman, while Tess gets to the trawler, so that she can fly the inhumans to safety once Coulson’s team rescues them.

Coulson sends FitzSimmons and the monolith shard to meet Mack and Flint, so that they can give Flint monolith building lessons. Coulson, Deke, Daisy and May will rescue the remaining inhumans. Deke is distressed that “kill Kasius” isn’t anywhere on the list. Coulson promises that they’ll get to it before they leave.

Let’s go over that again:

Enoch- guard and operate Monolith controller

Elena- rescue Kasius’ pet inhuman, likely his seer

Tess- get to the trawler and pilot it once it’s full of inhumans

Coulson, Deke, Daisy and May- rescue the last of Kasius’ inhumans

Mack and Flint- find FitzSimmons so Flint can build monolith

FitzSimmons- find Mack and Flint so that they can teach Flint to build a monolith

Everyone- watch for an opportunity to kill Kasius, and any other Kree they come across

I’m sure that having the team split up into so many small groups will go fine.

They will all met at a rendezvous point when the plan is complete. Tess says a hopeful goodbye to Flint. Mack worries about Tess. Coulson gives a commanding speech.

Sinara is still dead, and Kasius is really, really not okay with that. The TAHITI cure doesn’t work on Kree, which seems unfair until you remember that it’s the Kree we’re talking about. Kasius’ personal physician explains over and over that he can’t bring Sinara back from the dead, but Kasius won’t accept it. He shoots the doctor in the head, telling the doctor to examine death from a closer perspective.

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Kasius begins an episode long Hamlet-like discussion with Sinara’s body, speaking to her and touching her as if she’s alive and about to get up. After killing the doctor, he has the head of his guards bring Tye, his inhuman trainer. At the same time, the captain of the guards brings Robin’s drawings from the Zephyr. Kasius sees her drawing of the monolith, and realizes where they are in the time loop. This version of the team hasn’t destroyed the world yet.

Kasius explains that his father called earth a hidden blue gem and he and his confederacy wanted it for their own. He orders Tye to take the remaining inhumans and attack SHIELD. With them dead in the future, his father will be able to conquer earth easily.

Tye cautiously reminds Kasius that the remaining inhumans are barely trained. Kasius speaks of his family’s tradition to die with honor, when all is lost. They drink a poison called the Odium, which burns through the body, giving strength while suppressing pain, allowing the warrior to go out in a final blaze of glory. He forces the Odium into Tye’s mouth. It’s a black liquid, and it makes black run from his eyes. Kasius sends Tye off to fight, as Tye growls and shakes with rage.

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As Mack and Flint search for FitzSimmons, Mack offers to have Flint live with him and Elena if he wants to come back to the 21st century. Flint is worried about building a time machine. Fitz and Simmons enter, with Fitz saying it’s a portal instead of a time machine, and Simmons telling Flint he’ll use the monolith shard.

Coulson’s group easily dispatches with the Kree guarding the last group of inhumans. They’re using the icers Fitz hid in the Lighthouse wall. Deke is excited about how easy the icers make things: “Guns, man! It’s like cheating! They shouldn’t give these to anyone who’s not a really, really good person!” May responds, “You’d think there’d be a law or something.”

Tye shows up just as they finish with the Kree. The Odium makes him impervious to icers. Daisy and Coulson fight him, eventually winning. Something happens to Coulson’s chest. He claims it’s a wardrobe malfunction and sticks a scarf inside the top of his jacket. He tells Daisy that he’s fine, otherwise.

They meet up with Tess, who Deke hasn’t seen since she’s been revived. That smooth talker tells her that she looks great, only a little dead. Coulson shares that he’s been where she is. It changes a person. Tess says that she keeps questioning what’s real. Coulson points to the inhumans loading onto the trawler, and says that they’re real, and worth the cost.

How much of that was Coulson saying to himself?

Everything is ready for Tess to take the inhumans to the human levels. On her way out she stops to say that she’s realized the agents were right. They can fight back.

The captain of the guard tells Kasius that they failed to stop the inhumans from escaping. The guard asks for a plan, but Kasius is busy lamenting the failure of everyone around him with Sinara’s corpse. He decides that he too will go out in one final burst of glory, and hopefully take SHIELD with him. His seer has misled him, but he has a better use for her.

Elena has found the other inhuman, who is also Kasius seer. It’s an older version of herself, the one who went to fight Kasius alone in the flashback in episode 8, The Last Day. Young Elena is shocked when she sees Older Elena, but Older Elena remembers living this moment. Since her capture, Kasius has killed and revived her, over and over, taken her DNA, and taken her blood.

Older Elena tears up when she remembers that Young Elena’s version of Mack is still alive. She tells Young Elena to hold him as long as she can. She tells her counterpart that she’s practiced what to say, to try to change the outcomes, but now none of it seems to matter, The loop always repeats, no matter what.

Seer Elena: We make it back in time. But then, we bring everything that’s to come.

YoYo: I don’t believe that.

Seer Elena: I know. I don’t think I did either, until I was on fire, reaching for Mack, and then there was nothing there.

YoYo: But you can tell me how to stop it, right? How do we change it?

Seer Elena; I’m not sure you can.

A Kree finds Enoch, and attempts to open the lab door. Enoch shoots the Kree through the door and let’s Coulson know that his position has been compromised. More Kree will come soon.

Deke volunteers to help Enoch: “I’ll go. I’ll secure the machine and save the weird robot.”

Daisy: “I’ll come. It would be better if we take the plane together.

Deke: Yeah, no duh. But none of the time travelers can go, because you need to be at the rendezvous when it’s turned on. So do the math.

Coulson: You’re one guy, against the Kree. You’ll be massively outgunned.

Deke: I’m kind of trying to do the whole hero thing here, man. Is that your pep talk? You guys get killed, who saves the world then? I told my parents not to believe in this roach-trap fairy tale, and they went and they died for it anyway. I’m probably next in line. But there is no way that I’m going to let some blue kreeper destroy that machine before I get to see whether or not that d*mn thing was worth any of this.

Daisy: You put up a good fight, but if my ride home depends on that machine, I’m going to secure it myself.

Deke: You drive me out of my skull, this part of you, this impetuous, bull-headed, squab…(Daisy: I was offering backup, genius.) When the other side is a friggin’ hero who can’t help herself but do good, then be great. The world needs that person to make it home. Just try not to destroy it when you get there.

Daisy: It was almost nice knowing you.

Deke: You’re a pain in my *ss.

😭😍 And so ends another of Daisy Johnson’s non-relationships. They don’t even bother to have them kiss anymore, never mind date. We get chemistry, banter, potential and maybe even longing, then it’s all over. She and the guy are separated by insurmountable issues, like he’s got a flaming head and lives in another dimension.

Jemma, who’s become the inhuman whisperer, talks Flint through deepening his understanding of his powers. She holds the monolith shard and has him analyze its composition and structure until he’s comfortable with it. At the same time, Fitz arranges wire cable across a doorway in the background, practically humming to himself as he works.

Three Kree guards enter the room as they are about to leave. Fitz pushes a button, and the cable he installed tightens, acting as a garrote to decapitate all three Kree. Jemma is shocked, but Fitz explains that they can’t fight the entire Kree guard. He wants them to be afraid to follow. Evil genius Fitz lives!

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Daisy hacks an elevator to take her, Coulson and May to the rendezvous point, but she refuses to get on with Coulson and May. Coulson tries to convince her, even begs her to come with them, but she’s too afraid that she’ll end the world if she goes back.

Daisy: Maybe I don’t go with you. You know it’s the right move. Coulson, as an Agent of SHIELD, you trained me to fight. Now I’m making my stand.

Coulson: May trained you to fight. I need you to lead.

He ices her, pick her up and carries her onto the elevator. Before he picks her up,  Coulson’s jacket collar flops open and reveals a spider web of black veins growing across his chest.

Nooooo!!!! 😱

Seer Elena: I remember feeling helpless. I remember not being able to change people’s choices. His choices. (Yoyo: Mack?) NO, Coulson. We made it back home, and we fought to save the world from a future we knew was coming. (Yoyo: We have to fight!) Of course. But the more we fought, the closer it came. The team makes one choice, and it ruins everything. (Yoyo: A choice to do what?) To save him. Phil Coulson is dying. And you have to let him. (Yoyo: Coulson? How does he die?) It’s already begun. He’s sick and he knows it. We tried to stop it. Loyalty- it cost us the world. (Yoyo: You heard all this, and still you couldn’t change anything?) I know. Stuck in the loop.

Seer Elena starts to tell Yoyo to do things differently, but realizes she’s said and heard all of this before. Yoyo isn’t sure if she’s being warned or encouraged. They hear someone coming. Yoyo tries to get her double to run with her, but Seer Elena refuses. She stands up to show Yoyo that her arms have been amputated above the elbows. Yoyo is shocked, but understands that she has to leave.

Flint is floating in space wearing Deke’s mask and suit, gathering up what he needs for a new monolith. A group of Kree guards notices him outside the window. Flint sends the pile of rocks smashing through the window, causing the Kree to be sucked out into space. Flint floats inside, Jemma shuts the metal blast door, and the room is safe.

Jemma has rescued one of the human slaves. She takes the woman’s ear piece out, and the former slave is thrilled to be able to hear again. Flint looks very happy to see the cute girl who’s about his age.

Enoch is about to lose his battle with a Kree when Deke arrives and shoots the Kree. Deke is still pleased with the guns, asking where they’ve been all his life. Enoch replies, “In a wall cavity on Level 3.” Enoch is injured beyond their ability to repair him under these circumstances. The time machine doesn’t look much better.

Flint gets to work building the new monolith. Fitz remarks to Mack that Flint is a good kid, and he apologizes for decapitating the Kree in front of him. Mack says he’s glad Flint’s creating something instead, for once, and says that killing the guards via rocks and space wasn’t great, either. Fitz replies that wasn’t his idea, it was his fiancée’s. Mack does a doubletake at the reference to their engagement.

Coulson, May and Daisy (still unconscious) join Mack, Flint and FitzSimmons. Mack is worried that Elena isn’t with them, so he’s goes to search for her. Flint has finished his inner prep and uses his powers to construct the monolith. Everyone watches in awe as it takes shape. No one is upset that Daisy is unconscious.

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Mack follows the sound of Elena’s cries of pain to the crater, where Kasius is holding Seer Elena in the viewing section. Mack stands below them, on the battle floor. Mack is shocked when he sees how Elena looks, especially her missing arms. She tells him to run, to get out, but of course he doesn’t listen. She drinks in the sight of him. Kasius babbles more self-important threats, then swallows the Odium. He slits Seer Elena’s throat, and jumps down onto the battle floor, intent on having Mack serve as proxy for everyone who’s injured him.

Mack’s grief throws him into a blind rage. Kasius orders his guards to take the Orchard and kill everyone else in the Lighthouse. Mack uses his trusty shotgun axe to gun down all of the guards. He shoots Kasius, too, but the Odium lets Kasius keep fighting, disarming Mack. They end up in hand to hand combat, with Kasius threatening to beat Mack’s body with his own skull, because Kasius never does things halfway. Lord, I’m going to miss him and his ridiculous speeches.

Deke is working to put the time machine back together, but Enoch announces that the Zephyr is now too damaged to power it. They’ll have to use Enoch’s own battery to power it instead. It will kill Enoch, consuming him in an explosion large enough to take out several levels of the Lighthouse. Deke notes that it won’t be great for him, either, since he’s flipping the On switch.

Coulson radios in to ask about their progress. Deke tells him they’ll be ready soon, but will only get one chance. Everyone needs to be ready, and he can’t give them a time. Coulson understands that the time machine is going to cause an explosion. He tells Deke that his parents would be proud of him.

Coulson lets Flint know that he can come back to the 21st century with them if he wants to, but if he doesn’t, he needs to get to the trawler right away, before the explosion. Flint says to tell Mack and Elena that he had more work to do, grabs his new girlfriend by the hand, and leaves. Nobody ices him to make his choice for him, even though he’s an orphan with prospective parents who’d like to adopt him and give him a better home in a nicer neighborhood.

Jemma, worried that Elena and Mack won’t make it back to the monolith in time, goes to search for them. Kasius has beaten Mack badly when she finds them, and is shouting about killing the SHIELD team so that they can’t go back in time. Then the world will remain intact and his father will be able to conquer the round, lush blue planet he wanted, rather than the cracked eggshell Quake left.

Jemma approaches Kasius from behind and sends the ear device that she removed from the enslaved girl into Kasius’ ear. He tries to attack her, but stumbles with disorientation. Mack grabs his shotgun axe, flips out the axe, and sends it through Kasius’ chest. Both Sinara and Kasius died the same way, run through by a sharp metal piece, with a little a little help from a distraction.

Mack begins to tell Jemma about Elena when young Elena appears in the doorway to the crater. She throws herself into his arms and tells him that it wasn’t her who died. Then they have to race to the monolith.

Enoch is starting to fail and Deke can’t hold the explosion back much longer. Fitz gives Enoch a pep talk while Jemma, Elena and Mack run toward the monolith. Deke says he always knew working with them would blow up in his face, but it’s about to get literal. Then he paraphrases Han Solo, and asks Enoch to hang together. May tells Coulson that Daisy will never forgive him. Coulson says he has to hope she will.

Deke stands up and watches the time machine activate. We see a glow on his face, and he says, “Son of a b…” The monolith melts, as the team prepares to walk and run through.

Tess and Flint float in the trawler and watch the explosion at a safe distance from the Lighthouse as they chat. They’re sure that Deke didn’t make it, since he would have been right in the middle of the explosion, but Flint is positive that the Agents of SHIELD made it home. Now it’s up to the humans left in the Lighthouse to rebuild, starting with a clean slate. Tess holds Virgil’s tiny globe out to Flint and tells him that it’s his blueprint for repairs.


 

The tag really, really, really reminded me of the end of season 3, when Lincoln and Hive/Ward chatted as they floated in space and waited for the bomb to go off. Coincidence? Or is the Lighthouse still a ticking time bomb? Flint can’t bring the water back to earth, but he could still follow Tess’ direction to repair the world by following the team back to the past. Like, say, if Kasius’ father shows up and makes things worse for the humans in the Lighthouse.

Shouldn’t the time loop have reset in the future as soon as The Agents of SHIELD got home, if they’re going to be able to break out of it this time?? Maybe they do need Flint and/or some other people to make the fix work.

Deke isn’t dead. It’s obvious from the way Flint said that he’d be in the middle of the explosion. You know, where the time travel was happening. He might have gotten sent home with the Agents of SHIELD or he might have gone somewhere else, but he’s still alive. He swore because he saw the portal opening. An explosion wouldn’t give him time to speak.

Time travel is now a possibility on Agents of SHIELD, since Fitz knows how to build the machine to control a monolith. Flint can recreate the Lighthouse monolith, and eventually more. What happened to the monolith that sent Jemma to Maveth? Can they figure out how to make more monoliths by studying a piece of that? Or they can study the Lighthouse monolith wherever 21st century Enoch keeps it.

Could Coulson have been infected with something during the fight at the end of season 4, after they came out of the framework and were fighting Aida and the Ivanov LMDs? Ivanov sees Coulson as his greatest enemy, maybe he used a poisoned weapon of some sort. Or maybe the injury on the Zephyr that Deke thought would get infected, did indeed get infected with some deadly future thing. Maybe this is a Ghostrider thing. Maybe he just got nicked with some odium.

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Mack, Elena and Jemma made it to the monolith. There’s no way Fitz was going through without Jemma. You can see him in the background of shots, watching for her the whole time. In the last shot, he’s still watching, then turns his head to start walking through the monolith. He’s just seen Jemma and the others come rushing around the corner.

Kudos to both Dominic Rains and Florence Faivre for their scenes this week. She had to not laugh during his over the top fondling and scenery chewing, and he had to do the over the top fondling and scenery chewing, then go all rage monster at the end. It was a worthy future ending for them, but I want to see the younger versions come to earth with Papa Kasius and slowly realize what happens to them in the future. If anyone would be smart enough to take off and actually leave the time loop, it’s them.

Our sweet baby lab rats have grown up and become ruthless killers who can come up with on the fly plans to kill multiple vicious aliens at once without fighting. Besides figuring out how to build time machines and life-like robots. Definitely valuable members of the team.

When he iced her, BadDadCoulson went against Daisy’s wishes and took away her agency, committing an act of betrayal. Plus, he left her unconscious and unable to defend herself during a time of serious danger, leaving her to helplessly depend on his decisions until she woke up. When he knows he’s sick and dying.

I understand the time crunch here, but I also remember everyone giving Mack right up until the Framework disappeared around him last season to leave on his own, when the real world situation was equally dire. And Elena risked her life to stay in the Framework with him, to work to convince him to leave on his own so as to limit the psychological damage he’d sustain, also risking everyone else on the Zephyr.

As always, the man gets to be in control of his body and decisions, even when everyone else disagrees and it puts the group in danger. The woman gets physically manhandled, and drugged if she can’t be controlled physically. No one even considers how she might be psychologically affected. Even May barely protested, but then her body’s been messed with more than anyone’s. I don’t want to lose Coulson, but THAT BS NEEDS TO STOP. KEEP YOUR FREAKIN’ HANDS AND DRUGS OFF WOMEN’S BODIES.

The future space arc was a great, fun, arc, to be sure. Deke, Tess, Flint, Kasius, Sinara and the short-lived Virgil are some of my favorite characters the show has created. But I keep wondering why the group didn’t take the attitude that Simmons had in the Framework: that this was an illusion, and the important thing was to get themselves out of it, rather than getting distracted with local issues.

None of what we saw in episodes 1-10 will matter when they break the time loop. That future should be rewritten. Ignoring the people in the Lighthouse might even have broken the time loop. Or maybe they need to tell Polly to burn Robin’s drawings and ignore everything she says. Her predictions seemed to be self-fulfilling prophecies rather than objective, pre-destined events.

Robin created the time loop by bringing them forward in time, but all they do in the future is stop Kasius from blowing up the Lighthouse and killing the remnants of humanity. Every time the loop brings them to the future, they repeat what they’ve done in every  previous loop.

What was the point of Robin bringing them forward at all, then? Was it just to learn about the time loop? But that’s apparently what starts the time loop. Did they do anything differently this time from the other times they’ve gone through the loop? Not according to Seer Elena, who’s the only sort of sane person to talk about it.

Will the important piece of information turn out to be that they shouldn’t save Coulson? ArmlessElena sounded like she’d told YoYo that piece of information before, and it hadn’t changed things. So, unless May is holding out new information from Robin or someone is strong enough to go against their usual pattern, they’ll go through the loop again. If all Robin wanted was to save the future people, shouldn’t she have been trying to stop the earth from breaking apart to begin with, so that they’d be born into a better future?

All of this makes me think that the world has actually become trapped in some kind of nightmare/self-fulfilling prophecy/dreamweaver scenario, possibly similar to Ursula K Leguin’s Lathe Of Heaven, where the main character’s dreams reshape the real world every night, and no one else remembers that the world used to be different. Maybe Robin can see the future, but can also reshape it.

If, when she was a small child, she could see that Kasius’ father is heading here, and wants to enslave earth, leaving it a post-apocalyptic dystopia, that could have been too much for her to handle. Robin has a hard time communicating, so Polly wouldn’t understand what Robin was trying to tell her.

With Robin unable to understand what she was seeing, and unable to fix it, her mind fractured. She started seeing too many timelines at once and couldn’t sort them out any more. She lost control of her powers and the ability to discern what she was creating and what she was predicting. The nightmare looping inside her head became the nightmare looping outside her head.

So, maybe the future hasn’t changed yet because it has to change inside Robin’s mind before it can change anywhere else. She needs to believe that SHIELD can save the world, or at least that Daisy can. Daisy must have seemed like a giant hero when she found Robin after her dad’s death. But then Daisy didn’t win every fight, and the earth was in worse and worse shape. Maybe, if Robin was afraid that Daisy would fail and that it would have dire consequences, her traumatized brain and inhuman powers made that come true.

If that’s the case (which is unlikely, I’m just playing with a theory), then the key to stopping the loop would be to have Daisy and Robin spend time together and learn to understand each other. Let Robin see how heroic Daisy is, and how many powerful people Daisy works with. Let Robin talk to people who are more likely to understand what she’s talking about when she describes her prophecies. Let the SHIELD team tell her about the battles they’ve won and the times they’ve saved the world. Huh. This would be an excellent 100th episode.

Then when Robin feels safer and calmer, work on her prophecies. Get another psychic to work with her, if possible. Try to get her to either stop shaping the world, or shape it more favorably, working with them. And to give them predictions that can help them defeat the Kree.

 

Photo Credit: ABC/Marvel

 

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