Agents of SHIELD Season 6 Episode 1: Missing Pieces Recap

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Welcome back, fellow agents! After a year long absence and the loss of Director Coulson, SHIELD has reinvented itself again. This time, they are officially headquartered in the Lighthouse, the scene of much of the action in season 5. Mack has become Director Mackenzie, standing strong and steady as he watches over operations, with Coulson’s insights, projected from Fury’s cube, guiding him.

May and Yo-Yo are at the lighthouse with Mack, along with numerous new agents. It’s been a year in SHIELD’s timeline, as well, and in that time Melinda has buried Coulson and recruited talent, mainly of the muscle/field agent variety. Two in particular stand out: Keller, who has a chiseled jawline, a flirtation with Yo-Yo and a dumb idea about their current case that proves true; and Fox, who is his nerdy sidekick and possibly a single episode red shirt.

The current case is a series of anomalies reality warps distortions [name to be determined later] which have yet to be explained. When one of these events occurs, aliens arrive on Earth through a breach. By the end of the episode, their leader arrives, a character with a very familiar face.

Melinda is also trying to recruit a new science department, starting with Dr Marcus Benson, a former colleague of her ex-husband/inhuman Andrew Garner. Dr Benson is crusty and jaded, but finds a spark of hope at the thought of working on space-spy cases (spy-space cases?).

A new science department is needed because, as the team keeps saying, their two brightest minds are currently in deep space. After the death of the Fitz who rescued the team from the future and helped break the time loop, Daisy, Jemma, Piper and Davis have spent a year looking for the Fitz who was still frozen at the end of season 5. They’re running out of leads, and Daisy, Piper and Davis are ready to take a break. But Jemma’s ruthless, determined side rises to the surface. Nothing and no one will keep her and Fitz apart.

In the neverending search and rescue for Fitz or Simmons, it’s Simmons’ turn to save her man from near-certain death. We get a peek at formerly frozen Fitz’s current location at the end of the episode. He’s alive, awake and functioning, but seems like he’s been through some trauma of his own.

Fitz is changed, but the show gives us evidence that the most epic lovers in the MCU are still on the same wavelength. The dream of a happily ever after remains, even though Deke, their grandson from the future, is nowhere to be found, in universe, in the opening episode, nor is he mentioned. He is, however, a regular this season, so someone who looks like Jeff Ward still exists in the MCU.

Agents of SHIELD began their time and space shenanigans early last season, which the film part of the MCU has embraced in Endgame. Before we get to the detailed recap, there are some issues with time and time travel in the MCU that really, really need to be cleared up. Everyone on the internet has their own explanation for how it works. Of course I have my own version, too.

There are spoilers ahead for Endgame and the Spiderman: Far from Home trailer, because I’m trying to create a unified theory that encompasses both of those, AoS and the rest of canon. I don’t however, put much weight on what the producers, showrunners, writers, etc say when doing promotion, because they purposely mislead the audience at times in order to avoid giving away spoilers. The MCU is well known for this and admits it freely. It’s one of the important rules of media analysis: Producers and showrunners lie. Only canon counts.*


Let’s Talk About Time Travel!

First, let’s note, the “previously” for this episode reminds us that AoS has had Time-Space travel for years, with time machines in the form of Kree monoliths. The Kree have understood Time-Space travel for millennia.

I hope someone finally explains and/or figures out how the monoliths work this season. They’re too dangerous to figure out by simply messing around with them, the way FitzSimmons normally would. But if the team had one and knew how to use it, imagine how useful it could be. The Fitz who died had enough of a working understanding of the technology to use a piece of one in his single-use time machine last season, but he, that monolith and that time machine are all gone.

The monoliths must essentially be large, unwieldy versions of Tony’s compact Time-Space wrist GPS. The monolith has the advantage of being able to move multiple people at once, being durable and difficult to lose. But, it’s not as portable as the wrist GPS. I’d put the fact that the programming isn’t obvious in the neutral category: Sure, anyone can quickly figure out how to use the GPS, but that means ANYONE, friend or foe, can use it. Monoliths are secure.

Still, given what Fitz accomplished last season, it’s possible he could use monolith technology to create something similar to Tony’s device.

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Next, let’s recall the rules established already for time and time travel on AoS. In the early days, Fitz insisted on living according to Einstein’s theory of space-time, with a single, unchangeable thread. Time travel would involve jumping to different parts of this timeline. Any changes the traveler appeared to make had actually always been part of the timeline.

In season 5, Enoch sent the core group, other than Fitz, 70 years into the future, to a cracked earth dominated by the Kree, where Robin had prophesied that they’d help save the world. The prophecy turned out to be much more complicated than anyone understood until the end of the season, involving a long-term time loop, multiple timelines, Fitz going into cryo for 70 years, and Deke traveling back to the present day with his grandparents, FitzSimmons.

In this apocalyptic, time-looping future, the first half of the loop involved the team jumping forward 70 years, learning about the broken future, then jumping back to their present day. In the second half, they and their descendants lived through the entire 70 years of the apocalypse. Yo-Yo was captured early on by the Kree and held hostage, then taken in and out of cryo repeatedly over the decades to have new information tortured out of her, since she’d already seen the future.

When our version of the team is sent to the future, the captured version of Yo-Yo is still there, though the rest of the team is long dead. Older Yo-Yo tells our Yo-Yo that over the course of going through the loop hundreds of times and giving advice to herself in this moment, she’s tried everything. It always comes down to the fact that the team saves Coulson instead of stopping Gravitron. Even knowing that they have to let him die, they always think they can find another way, so the loop continues.

But this time, in the crucial moments, between the actions of Coulson and Daisy, they choose to kill Gravitron and let Phil go. The loop is broken. Everyone expects Deke to disappear, but he doesn’t. He’s now a time remnant, an orphaned time traveler whose timeline is presumed to no longer exist, since the team has changed the future.

SPOILERS FOR AVENGERS: ENDGAME AND FROM THE SPIDERMAN: FAR FROM HOME TRAILER!!

In Endgame, we’re told by Bruce and the Ancient One that the past can’t be changed. Instead, changes to the timeline will cause branches that form multiple realities. Bruce tries to convince the Ancient One to let him take the time stone by telling her that he’ll return the stone to its point of origin, assuming that will make it as if he never took the stone. The Ancient One doesn’t budge on her decision.

She only changes her mind when he namedrops Dr Strange and says that Strange gave up the time stone for the cause. It doesn’t really make sense, because giving the stone to Bruce and giving it to Thanos are 2 different things, but I guess it was all she had to go on.

The Ancient One didn’t change her mind about giving Bruce the time stone because she thought returning the stones would get rid of the branched realities, because you can’t change the past. Bruce was the one who told us this rule. Those branched realities all still exist. Once the Avengers took the stones from their normal spots in time, those timelines played out. Putting the stones back doesn’t change that. It just creates another branch where the stone was replaced.

The Ancient One only changed her mind because Bruce convinced her it’s what Dr Strange wanted her to do.

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The flow of time also has nothing to do with the Infinity Stones, which is a concept I keep reading in articles. Most of the time travel and the movie take place after the stones are destroyed, so how can the flow of time and time travel be dependent on the stones’ existence? This doesn’t even make sense.

The next Spiderman movie is going to deal with the issue of the branched realities (aka the multiverse) created by everything that was done in Avengers: Endgame. Between the snaps, removing the stones, replacing the stones, all of the people who are out of place, whatever the heck Steve did while he grew old, and whatever Loki’s doing with the Tesseract, the multiverse is now a disaster.

Ever since Age of Ultron, General Ross, who just happened to be at Tony’s funeral, and the rest of the world governments, have been complaining that the Avengers don’t clean up after themselves or think about the consequences of their actions. Now we’re about to see the payoff for that thread.

The multiverse is going to have some anger issues happening with Earth and the Avengers for a while over the lousy timelines they’re stuck in, thanks to this timeline trying to save itself and various characters doing whatever they wanted. For example, there is no way Steve went back and lived with Peggy for decades without a) creating a new timeline and b) creating anomalies or distortions or whatever because there were two Steves in the timeline. Look at what this timeline did with two Fitzes.

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This is what Agents of SHIELD began showing in season 5 and is continuing to show in season 6. Using the extension of AoS’s rules that we were given in Endgame, now we can see that Deke didn’t cease to exist because his timeline didn’t cease to exist, because nothing changed in that timeline, because you can’t change the past. That future is Deke’s past.

Instead, a new branch of the timeline was created, wherein the earth was saved. We are watching that new branching timeline of the multiverse. They aren’t going to officially confirm that right now, because they’re saving some surprises for Spiderman and later.

Each time through season 5’s time loop was technically a different branch, but they all end the same way, causing them to stack up and merge. The scenario/timeline that the team left behind when they returned to the present, with Flint and the other survivors in what was left of the Lighthouse, continued/continues on in that timeline, while the timeline we’re watching now is on a different path.

So early Fitz was right about some things. We live in a multiverse instead of a single timeline, but, as he believed, an individual timeline can’t be changed. Instead, new timelines are created to accomodate what appear to be changes in time. As Fitz believed, points on a timeline can be visited as if all times exist at once, but using the quantum realm instead of Einstein’s theories.

At some point at the end of season 5, the AoS timeline also separated from the MCU film timeline. I suspect those film references were purposeful, to highlight that the separation happened. They just aren’t ready yet for the team, or us, to figure out exactly when and how it happened. It could be because of the Avengers’ actions or it could be because of SHIELD actions.

Only time will tell. 😘


Agents of SHIELD S6Ep1 Angelic Fitz

Recap

The episode opens on a positively angelic close-up view of Fitz in the cryo chamber. Someone in the writers room has been reading fan fiction again. As the camera pulls away, it becomes clear that Enoch’s ship, where Fitz was meant to spend ~70 frozen years, is under attack.

Enoch is there with Fitz, explaining their current situation to him. The Chronicom was all set to hang with Fitz and the cryo chamber for the next 73 years, 261 days, as bros do, but their time together has been rudely interrupted. Now, Enoch has to do some difficult calculations regarding Fitz’s chances of survival, and he has to do them fast. There’s an energy weapon, that looks like a buzz saw, headed their way.

Enoch looks out the window of the ship. Moments later, the ship is sawed in half.

Cue the title card and a one year time jump.

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Behind the the time jump announcement is a cool, if inhospitable planet. The visuals in the space sections of this episode make me want to turn the recap into a graphic novel using screencaps. Attempting to practice restraint.

The Zephyr comes flying in for a landing on the alien planet, with Davis as the pilot and Piper providing backup. She’s currently manually spraying coolant on the drive lines while also keeping track of whoever was chasing them. As they approach the landing pad, she warns Daisy that the action is about to start.

After they touch down, a message quickly appears, irately informing them they’ve “violated galactic ordinance and entered D’Rillian atmosphere, without clearance.” They’re about to be boarded.

Daisy meets the D’Rillian welcome party at the back door, letting them know she’s unarmed. Sort of. She also doesn’t have the authorization they demand. The guards try to send the team away, but Daisy insists they’ll give her fuel and everything else she asks for. They scan her face, and discover she’s Quake. Her reputation precedes her.

She quakes their weapons apart with precision before they can attack. Two run away, leaving the leader alone. Daisy brings him down quickly. She’s been practicing her melee skills. He promises her whatever she wants, as expected. Simmons appears from the shadows and says they’re looking for someone. They just want to bring him home.

Quick change to the picture postcard view of the Lighthouse. Down in the command center, Mack stands in the middle of ops, watching the main board. The music is tense and there’s an ominous clicking. Mack tells “Runco” to stop clicking his pen. The ominous clicking stops.

They’re monitoring some sort of low level energy that they’ve seen before, but can’t explain yet. There are four teams on four quinjets, spread out across hundreds of miles, prepared to intercept whatever might come of the expected energy surge, as it grows. When it comes, it’s in a basketball court, in a park in Indiana. May’s team is closest.

In the park, the basketball some kids are using turns into glass, then shatters, then the pieces become crows who fly away. The basketball court’s cement backstop wall glows, then becomes soft and fibrous, then a large man in Mad Max regalia emerges from it. A second man tries to follow him out of the wall, but he doesn’t quite make it before the wall hardens back into its normal state, with only his head and one arm having emerged.

May’s quinjet hovers over the park and tells the alien, Jaco, to surrender or they’ll fire on him. Her co-pilot, Keller, has a shot lined up, but there are kids close by and he’s not confident that the blast would miss them. Jaco has no such qualms, and fires his giant gun up at the quinjet, sending it into a tailspin. The quinjet crashes, while Jaco walks away.

In the mission post-mortem, Mack tells them they should have landed and confronted Jaco on foot. Yo-Yo reminds Mack that he’s been focusing on speed and catching up to the energy events in real time, so until now it made sense for them to stay in the air.

They briefly discuss what to call these disturbing energy events 😉, but can’t settle on a name. They’ve already used up all the good ones on other disturbing phenomena.

This is the first time they’ve gotten to one of the energy events in time to catch a person emerging, so they made some progress this mission, and didn’t lose any agents or civilians. But they need to start generating theories, even stupid ones. They really miss FitzSimmons.

A new agent, Fox, who’s already spoken up several times in the meeting, mentions that Keller has been working on a theory. He’s not ready to share, but they make him do it anyway. Fox has been helping him look for a pattern that fits this incident, the city bus with the holes torn through it, and the lake that froze solid in the middle of the desert.

Fox: “They all sit on ley-lines. Energy lines that crisscross the earth in a sort of pattern.”

Keller: “Multiple cultures have believed in some version of this. Aborigine, Native American. Maybe we can use that to narrow the search.”

The crowd is skeptical, but Mack tells them to continue working on their theory. He orders Yo-Yo to step up her fight training with May, since these aliens seem like monsters. He sends everyone else back to their regular assignments, then leaves for his regular morning check in.

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Once he’s in his office, Mack watches an inspirational TED talk from a Coulson hologram. Coulson advises him to take things one step at a time, remember to delegate, and build good teams who he can trust with the tasks he delegates to them. As a bonus, Coulson throws in his favorite Nick Fury quote, a callback to the Hydra storyline of season 1: “A man can accomplish anything, once he realizes he’s a part of something bigger.”

Those were the days.

May stops in and notices Mack watching Coulson. She tells him Phil would be proud. Mack says he’s not the director Coulson was. Mays says he’s a different director, but the job suits him, and everyone in SHIELD can see it.

Mack mentions that tomorrow is the one year anniversary of Phil’s death. He wants to honor the day by officially starting work on May’s proposal, but they still need to decide on a department head. May tells him she’s working on it, and she’ll have a name for him by the end of the day. He says she’s doing well with recruiting new agents, they just need more brainy types.

As May’s leaving the office, Mack says it’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year, but he’s glad she and Coulson had some time together. Melinda responds, “We got more than we thought we would.”

Meanwhile, on the Zephyr…

The head D’Rillian is hanging upside down in the cargo bay, while Jemma channels the Framework version of her husband.

Simmons: “Your planet has 68% of the gravity we generate on this aircraft. While that makes it easier to lift ore out of the ground, it makes your cells gelatinous, your bones porous. Now I’m not an expert in D’Rillian anatomy. When I cut into your corpse, I will be. But, I assume, enough time under this pressure, your brain will hemorrhage or the weight of your organs will collapse your lungs.”

Jemma is curious as to which outcome will occur first. The guard asks what they want. They tell him they’ve found one half of Enoch’s ship, which contained the manifest. They’ve visited every supplier on the manifest. They’ve been to the O-2 oceans of Trinawa and the rusted moons of Pyree.

Jemma: “Someone must have tracked the ship and given that information to whomever attacked it.”

Daisy: “And you, sir, have a reputation for selling traceable fuel.”

The guard insists that he had nothing to do with what happened to the ship. He wouldn’t bother to put traceable fuel in it, since it was basically unmanned. He offers to show them the fuel lines to prove it to them. He bought the other half of the ship for parts, not even knowing it had been attacked.

Daisy and Jemma had no idea it was so close. They go straight to the half ship.

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While they practice hand to hand, May tells Yo-Yo that she also needs to practice her poker face. May can tell that she’s trying to hide her attraction to Keller for Mack’s sake, but she’s trying too hard, which makes it obvious.

Plus, May tells her, there’s no reason why Elena can’t move on and see someone else. She doesn’t have to protect Mack’s feelings. He’s an adult. He walked away from Elena, using the new job as an excuse to run away from his feelings, even though Elena tried hard to make their relationship work. The last year has taught Melinda that, “Life isn’t meant to be lived alone.”

All four agents search the other half of Enoch’s ship, worried that the loss of cabin pressure will have been harmful to Fitz. Davis finds the cryo pod. When Jemma opens it, Fitz is gone. There are bloody finger smears inside the viewing window. Otherwise, they’ve hit a dead end.

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Agent Keller pulls Yo-Yo aside to request permission to use the main computer during off hours to work on his and Fox’s ley-lines theory. Yo-Yo approves, then tells him that Agent May suspects that something is going on between them. As it happens, something is going on between them, with the code name “Night Shift”.

Keller turns out to be a decent guy, who immediately asks if she wants to take a break so they don’t get found out. Yo-Yo does, though she emphasizes that it’s not to protect Mack, it’s for herself, so that she feels ready when their relationship goes public. Keller is patient and understanding, adding that he respects Mack and doesn’t want to mess up the relationship he’s building with his new boss.

Poor guy. He has “midgame” written all over him. I hope he at least survives the season.

That evening, May finds Mack at the local townie bar, going over paperwork. It’s become one of his regular haunts and a way to stay grounded. Coulson told him to find ways to keep his feet on the ground and maintain contact with the people they’re fighting for. So he comes to the bar most nights, reviews Coulson’s advice each the morning and goes to the Baptist church on Sundays. May thinks he just likes the beers the bar carries.

She’s there on business. Her top candidate for department head keeps telling her no, so she needs Mack to get a yes from him. He here, sitting at the other end of the bar. The potential new addition, Dr Marcus Benson, is the latest in SHIELD’s long line of cantankerous, older, mad scientists, and currently the Director of Natural Sciences at Culver University. He’s highly intelligent and a former teacher, colleague and friend of May’s late ex-husband, Andrew Garner. Garner turned into an inhuman and died in the fight against Hive.

Benson only showed up for the meeting because the university has cut back on his course load, and he wants to know if that’s SHIELD’s doing or if they’ve noticed his worsening alcoholism. May admits to doing a background check, but nothing more. Benson admits that he’s been drinking more since the love of his life died, leaving him alone.

Mack explains that they recently lost their leader, who was also a teacher. They’re trying to rebuild, slowly, but they need more brains. They want Benson to restart SHIELD Academy, in Coulson’s name. They expect it will take him a year or two to get it up and running. It would be SHIELD’S, and Benson’s, second chance.

And, coincidentally, a great idea for a spin off, right around the time season 7 ends and Disney’s streaming service gets going. Agents of SHIELD: Coulson Academy, Coming Fall 2020. You heard it here first. Cast to include the darling baby daughter of FitzSimmons, of course.

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Benson is a tough sell. He says he’s too old and his brain is too foggy (totally relate, dude). Plus, he has no interest in chasing fictional boogeymen (can’t relate there). May says that he’d get to work on science he’s only theorized about. Mack says he’s their only option. He brings up, again that their 2 brightest minds are in deep space and out of touch. They’re scientifically screwed until FitzSimmons jump back.

The term “deep space” finally gets Benson’s attention. May smiles a knowing smile.

Out in deep space, Jemma examines the cryo pod, which is now on board the Zephyr. She opens it up and climbs inside, letting the lid close on her.

Daisy and Piper are gutted that they’ve reached the end of their leads and worried for Jemma. As Davis enters the room, Daisy decides that it’s time to head back to Earth and regroup. Davis and Piper are relieved. Daisy thanks them for sticking with her and Jemma for so long, even when everyone else moved on to earthbound assignments. But now, she says, they all need to go home, and SHIELD needs them.

Jaco waits under some trees for more aliens to come through another distortion. This time, the two aliens, a female named Butterfly and a male named Trok, make it through without trouble. Butterfly asks about Tinker, Jaco’s traveling companion. He tells her what happened. She’s sad for a minute, then decides he’s become a butterfly.

Someone named Sarge will be crossing to Earth soon, and there’s a museum where he intends to come through. The three aliens make plans to blow the museum up, so it won’t be in Sarge’s way.

While Jemma’s lying in the cryo pod, she notices a tag with the location of where it was made. It’s in the alien written language Aeonian, of course, which Jemma learned in her spare time. The translations read, “low temperature suspension chamber” and “Naro-Atzia”, which is a planet in deep, deep space. Jemma is sure that Fitz would go there to get another pod so that he could freeze himself again.

She’s ready to follow him, right this minute, but the others are skeptical. They don’t think it’s even a clue and refuse to help her. They argue that the ship is in bad shape and might not be able to withstand the long distance jumps, then jump back to Earth. They still want to go back to Earth, restock and refuel, visit with family, including Davis’ young son, and then begin the search for Fitz again when they’re fresh.

Jemma tries to appeal to Daisy as the commanding officer, but Piper and Davis insist that with a crew of only 4 people, it’s a group decision. They and the ship are worn thin. Jemma says that the ship would be in better shape if Daisy didn’t spread violence and destruction everywhere they go. Daisy says that with only 4 people on board, she has to make them appear as powerful as possible, so they’ll be left alone.

As their argument heats up, a Confederacy ship finds them and prepares to attack. They leave off arguing and rush to their battle stations. It’s a destroyer, which hasn’t spotted them yet, or they’d have been… destroyed. They turn off all the power to avoid detection, and watch from the cockpit as it moves over them, whispering to each other.

Jemma reminds them that they don’t need to whisper, because sound doesn’t travel in the vacuum of space. That’s why in space, no one can hear you scream. Davis says that whispering makes him feel better.

SHIELD has brought the cement backstop/alien combo back to the lab for analysis. Benson is dubious about the whole thing. During his examination, he discovers that the alien, Tinker, is made of concrete, rather than encased in it. Tinker is also cybernetic, doesn’t have a heart and has a lens on his neck.

Tinker becomes conscious for a moment and grabs Benson’s collar. He says they can’t stop Pachakutiq, it’s coming. They should just wave goodbye. Then Tinker lapses into unconsciousness again.

Tinker drops a device which has a countdown clock and location. Mack has the coordinates put into the computer. They show the natural history museum in Muncie, Indiana. Fox and Keller are happy (in an appropriately subdued way) to see that the spot is on a ley-line. The teams head for the coordinates.

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The destroyer spots the Zephyr and fires on them. They power up and escape the blast, just in time. Piper prepares the jump drive, which is General Hale’s Confederacy transporter device, while Jemma inputs the coordinates. Just as Jemma throws the switch, Daisy realizes that she input the coordinates for Naro-Atzia instead of Earth. Jemma says, “I’m sorry.” It doesn’t seem completely sincere.

Trok takes a couple of alien bombs out of his pack, just as the SHIELD teams arrive at the museum. He and Jaco place the devices, while Butterfly agrees to go distract the angry natives. She uses a knife to cut her own head on her way out.

Butterfly runs out the front door, screaming that they’ve got her son and they’ll kill him. That’s all it takes to stop SHIELD in its tracks. They stand outside at the front door. No one sneaks in a window or a back door, no one questions her, no one does any recon. They wait for something to happen, because to do anything else might make them complicit in the deaths of the hostages.

Welcome to SHIELD under Mack’s cautious leadership.

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Butterfly tells Fox that soon he’ll be a butterfly. Keller hears what she says, and thinks it’s strange. Then she covers her ears and ducks. Keller and Mack brilliantly figure out that something bad is about to happen.

A powerful stream of energy flows upwards through the building to the top of the bell tower, then back to the ground, taking the building with it. The monitors at the Lighthouse lose their feed. Benson says that communications have been knocked out.

At the museum, Butterfly recovers quickly, but the humans are disoriented and have burst ear drums. May stands up, just as the countdown clock reaches 0 and a huge truck materializes, heading straight for her.

The truck comes to a stop after crashing through several SHIELD vehicles and the driver climbs out. Surprise! He looks like the Road Warrior version of Phil Coulson. This is Sarge, the traveler the other aliens were preparing for.

Like Coulson, he speaks softly and carries a big stick gun. Fox has captured Butterfly. Sarge approaches and orders Fox to let her go, warning that he doesn’t ask twice. Fox is confused, because Coulson is on their side. Sage shoots down Fox, and says he’s never heard of SHIELD. He and Butterfly get in the truck and drive away.

Melinda watches in astonishment.

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Somewhere in deep space, in a dark, cluttered workshop, Fitz is toiling away on a project. He’s wearing ill-fitting clothes and weeks worth of grime. Someone pounds on the door and shouts in an aggressive, deep voice. Fitz calls back to them, in an alien language, words that translate to, “Shut it! I’ll be there in a moment. Tell the Controller to cool down.”

He’s had his back to us the whole time, and continues that way. Fitz finishes the device he’s working on and holds it up to his neck. It’s an injection device. He pulls the trigger and flinches, then tenses up as the substance takes hold.

Fitz finally turns around to face the camera, but his eyes are closed. When he’s adjusted to whatever he injected, he opens them. They are a bright milky green. Fitz calls out, “Let’s do this!” in alien, and strides toward the camera.

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Commentary

They made a pretty clear Alien the Movie reference when the destroyer flew over the Zephyr. Are there evil symbiants in our future?

Davis calls Piper “Sidekick” when he lands the Zephyr in the opening minutes. Please, can that be her codename? Can he have one that’s equally insulting? “Second Best” or “Copilot”?

Runco, the pen clicker, is a middle aged guy with a shaved head and a desk job. I’m reminded of my beloved Agent Jasper Sitwell, but also of the dastardly Brock Rumlow, since the names sound similar. Was this the idea? Is Runco going to stick around as comic relief?

Brooke Williams, the actress who plays Butterfly, also played Hannah Jones on the late, great 12 Monkeys. She’s well versed in space-time travel.

The Confederacy was season 5’s Evil League of Evil Aliens who tried to take over Earth, destroy Earth, mine Earth and probably more.

Pachakutiq, the name in the warning Tinker gave to Benson and the others when they examined him as part of the concrete wall, was the Incan emperor from 1418-1472. He vastly expanded the empire and made the Incans more powerful. Machu Picchu was built for Pachakutiq. His name is translated as “he who overturns space and time” or, simply, “Earth Shaker”.

Pachakutiq oversaw the creation of the Incan Winter Solstice and Sun Festival, Inti Raymi’rata, and the Inti Sun Cult. Inti is the ancient Incan sun god and patron deity. The Incan royal family were believed to have descended from Inti. The emperor was the earthly representative of the god.

There are also several mountains in Peru named Pachakutiq.


The Power Struggles within the SHIELD Family Continue

Mack has had an upgrade in posture and wardrobe since he became director. He looks right, standing in the command spot. Pretty sure I’ll still disagree with most of his decisions, and I’ll never really trust him. At least he’s listening to May and Coulson, even if he did ditch Elena.

Maybe the disastrous mission at the museum will be a wake up call for him to pursue balance in his leadership, but I’m worried it will temporarily drive him to be even more cautious. He sees his belief in preserving life at all costs as his trademark, and has never truly confronted what that could mean.

The agents are already having to point out to him that he’s giving them contradictory orders. There’s bound to be frustration among the agents, like Keller, who could tell something was going wrong before the bombs went off at the natural history museum. Especially if Fox, his friend, is really dead.

I have a feeling that last season’s power struggles were only the beginning. It’s another tried and true AoS trope, after all. Mack has been on the side of the rebels (when SHIELD fell) and he’s also tried to stay out of it (in season 5). How will it go when he’s THE authority figure?

Personally, I think May should be running SHIELD. I understand why she couldn’t take over right after Coulson left, but now it’s been a year. They could have called Mack the acting director until she felt up to it, or they could be co-directors, if she doesn’t want to do the job solo. However, since Peggy, Coulson and Fury all did the job by themselves with much larger organizations, it’s insulting to say an accomplished woman like Melinda May wouldn’t be able to handle it.

Especially after they’ve already said that their other Asian woman, Daisy, also can’t handle it. Daisy can’t be that different in age and experience to what Peggy was when she and Howard created SHIELD. To pass over two talented women in favor of a less talented, less loyal man will never be okay with me.

On the Zephyr, the power struggles also continue, with the bonds of friendship and the drive of raw need blurring the lines of command. Since it’s a TV show and I can occasionally endorse bad behavior and play favorites, let me say that I couldn’t love Jemma Simmons more.

Objectively, when she made the jump to deep space instead of to earth, she unfairly went against the wishes of the others, who wanted a break. But, practically, she was right to do it. This was probably her only chance to go deeper into space and follow the clue she found. It was likely her only chance to keep searching for her husband in the near term, and I can’t blame her for taking it.

Last season, Fitz wouldn’t, and didn’t, give up looking for all of them and trying to save the world. They owe him the rescue. It’s not clear yet how much Mack is going to honor those ties, and how much he’s going to value objectivity and putting the mission first. But his roots are in the latter, no matter how much they’ve tried to retcon him in the last couple of seasons. He judges the people close to him harshly, while trying to save the people he doesn’t know.

If they had gone home and regrouped, Jemma may not have been able to convince anyone to go back into deep space. Mack is such a cautious leader, he probably wouldn’t have wanted to give up the resources, personnel and the Zephyr to continue searching for one person, based on so little evidence. They have battles to fight at home, and in this episode the SHIELD agents constantly expressed how hard it was to get by without FitzSimmons. If Mack could get Simmons back, even without Fitz, he would consider it prudent to cut his losses and move on.

Jemma’s switch with the jump coordinates was fantastic as a grand gesture to show that she’s as dedicated as ever to Fitz. If we’re talking about love languages, devotion is mine, and there is no more devoted couple than FitzSimmons. I will follow them to the ends of the earth, as long as they continue to love each other and put each other first. If saving each other’s lives occasionally requires mutiny or causing the apocalypse, well, as long as they’re together, they can probably fix it.

If you want their science expertise, you have to accept that they come as a matched set, along with the ramifications of that. Just like if you want Tony Stark, you have to deal with his alcoholism, mean streak and gift for almost ending the world. With great science comes great madness.

(I guarantee Tony’s not gone from the MCU. We just saw Peggy, Howard and Jarvis, who are all dead, in Endgame. Tony won’t let a little thing like death keep him out of the action for long.)

(I so wish more shows would follow FitzSimmons’ model of epic love and create couples who’ll go to h–l and back for each other. I think Outlander might be the only other show on TV that has this kind of relationship and allows the couple to actually express their feelings, rather than being all about the “potential” of a relationship or breaking up, then finding their way back to each other. (Ugh, don’t even look at me, Torchwood, Ianto and Captain Jack.) If there are other long-term, epic, devoted couples, let me know!!)


What’s Up with Fitz?

During the “previously”, we hear Future Yo-Yo’s warning speech to her younger self, saying that Coulson has to die. As she says it, we see Time Traveler Fitz die (during the battle with Gravitron), suggesting that he also had to die. Coulson and Graviton dying definitely helped break the time loop last season, but what effect did Time Traveler Fitz’s death have? That lost Fitz had been to the future and created a time machine, among other, less ethical adventures.

Losing his technical expertise will affect the future, but I believe that Time wouldn’t allow duplicates to exist in the same timeline, so it got rid of the extra. The scary part is that it tried to get rid of both, as evidenced by the destruction of Enoch’s ship, which Cryo Fitz must have barely survived. It didn’t care which one of the duplicates died, or if both died. Time is ruthless and bloodthirsty.

Speaking of ruthless and bloodthirsty beings, sorry, not sorry, but still on Fitz’s side with the whole returning Daisy’s powers against her will thing. When it comes to hurting Daisy’s feelings vs saving the world, Fitz made the right choice. No one has ever given the threat from the fear dimension/rift the weight it deserves, which makes me think it will come back to haunt them again. Possibly, it has something to do with Sarge and the evil not-agents.

Assuming the guy we saw in the tag was our Fitz and not a Skrull, clone, LMD, from another timeline, or whatever Sarge is, he seems a bit different from the man who went into cryofreeze. As far as I know, that guy didn’t speak alien or have milky green eyes.

The green eyes could be explained by a few things. The first, sadly, is that Fitz’s vision could have been affected by the ship being broken in half and his quick ejection from cryo. The bloody fingerprints inside the cryo pod show that his removal didn’t go smoothly. Being thawed too quickly could have harmed his delicate eye tissue or his optical nerve. The green could be AoS’s elaborate version of something like cataracts. Or, something else could have happened to his eyes and what we’re seeing are replacement eyeballs or the result of an eye treatment.

The second, and most probable, explanation, is that whatever Fitz injected himself with in the tag, also turns his eyes green. He could be injecting himself with something that makes him appear to be another species, as a disguise; something that helps him survive the environmental conditions of wherever he is, such as something that helps him breathe the atmosphere or helps his eyes survive in harsh lighting; or it could be a drug he’s become addicted to. The drug seemed like it might act as a stimulant.

Fitz also appears to speak an alien language fluently now. Since Jemma was able to become fluent in at least one alien language over the same time period, while living on the Zephyr, it makes sense that Fitz would quickly learn the language while stuck on a planet with aliens.

He’s also putting his skills to use, back in a workshop, fixing and maybe inventing things. Did he have to give up on getting home, in exchange for a way to survive? Does he have a long-term escape plan? Does he have amnesia?

Fitz seemed in reasonably good spirits, though that could be aided by the drug. There’s also the question of his current status in society. Is he a slave? Working class, but a free man? Has he now been through space experiences that are close matches to what Jemma and the rest of the team experienced in the future Lighthouse?

And what part has Enoch played in all of this?


What Are Ley-Lines? 

Ley-lines were named by the amateur archaeologist Alfred Watkins in 1921, who had noticed that many of Britain’s ancient monuments and megaliths seemed to be purposely arranged in straight lines. He saw them simply as the remnants of ancient roads, and eventually dropped the name ley-lines, in favor of archaic tracks or old straight tracks. Later, others picked up on the name ley-lines and continued his research, with more open minds and in broader directions.

The phenomenon known as ley-lines in Britain and America has been observed since ancient times and is called “Heilige Linien” (Holy Lines) in Germany, “Fairy paths” in Ireland, “Dragon Lines” in China, “Spirit Lines” in Peru, “Spirit Lines” by the Inca,  and “Song Paths” by Australian Aborigines. Archeological evidence of ley-lines has been found at Ancestral Puebloan sites in the Southwestern US and Mayan sites in Mexico.

The phenomenon is global, with each culture’s definition providing variations on the theme. Ley-lines are absolutely straight, as if drawn using precision instruments. They travel over a long distance, further than the line of sight, without trail markers that can be seen from the previous stop. They channel some form of energy and are thus associated with religion, the supernatural, dreams or unexplained phenomena.

The modern belief is that ley-lines are connected to the Earth’s own electromagnetic field in ways that science doesn’t understand and doesn’t have the proper tests to measure for.  Ley-lines form an energy grid around the Earth. In places where ley-lines cross, the energy is particularly powerful. These spots tend to become especially sacred places, such as churches, holy springs, stone circles and burial sites. Some lines also follow astronomical events across the sky, such as the path of the sun on a particular day of the year.

It’s also believed by some that the energy where ley-lines cross can be good or evil. Negative energy can result in hauntings or a vortex opening. It can also attract UFOs, which would be where AoS’s use of the lines comes in.

They are clearly going with a model that involves powerful, untapped energy flowing along Earth’s ley-lines. When the bombs went off in the museum, they set off a stream of energy which Sarge used to cross over into our dimension.

Sources:

Ancientwisdom.com – Ley-Lines

BBC.co.uk- Gloucestershire’s Ley-Lines

VortexHunters.com – What is a Ley-Line?


Markus and McFeely Address How Time Works/ More on Space-Time in the MCU 

Markus and McFeely, writers on Endgame, Infinity War, all 3 Captain America movies and others, acknowledged in an interview with the NY Times that when the past is tampered with, the newly created alternate timelines play out and don’t disappear when the past is repaired. They use one of the more benign scenarios, in their estimation, taking Mjolnir from Dark World Thor. As is pointed out in the film, removing some of the Infinity Stones results in much darker timelines being created, but Markus and McFeely sidestep addressing that possibility for now.

NYTIMES Thor recovers his hammer, Mjolnir, by taking it from an earlier timeline. So that raises the question —
McFEELY Does that screw that other Thor?
MARKUS Is he killed by Dark Elves?
McFEELY I think we’re leaning on, when you just take a baseball mitt, you didn’t ruin that kid’s life. When you took Mjolnir, we accept that that movie happened. Because time is irrefutable.
MARKUS You can make any number of what ifs. The Dark Elves would have arrived, intending to get the Aether. It’s what they came for and it was no longer there.
McFEELY So they build a paradise together.
MARKUS They all got married. [laughter]

*The writers and directors of Endgame have contradicted each other in interviews with their explanations of what happened while Steve grew old. What happened wasn’t explained in canon because the MCU/Kevin Feige wants to leave it as a mystery for a later date.

By creating the Space-Time GPS, normalizing the kind of time/space/dimension hopping that Dr Strange and the Ancient One are capable of, and introducing the concept of nearly identical timelines, the MCU is now open to myriad possibilities due to its multiverse. They can recast roles, create alternate histories, have as many duplicates as they want, tell stories in dimensions that have nothing to do with earth and never will, etc. The possibilities are endless, just as they are in the comic books.

It would have been too much to introduce those concepts in Endgame on top of everything else, so Far From Home will explore the new world of the MCU multiverse, for better and worse. I have a feeling Agents of SHIELD will, too, and began last season with the fear dimension/rift in Space-Time that threatened to swallow the Earth, starting with the Lighthouse. That was foreshadowing for Far From Home.


 

Images courtesy of ABC/MCU.

 

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