Agents of SHIELD Season 7 Episode 6: Adapt or Die Recap

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In episode 6 of season 7, Agents of SHIELD continues to celebrate July 4, 1976 in the Lighthouse. Coulson and May are interrogated by Rick Stoner while the Chronicoms quietly steal the faces and personalities of SHIELD agents. Mack and Elena break his parents out of the cell Hydra and the Chronicoms have locked them in. Deke discovers that Nana Jemma has become a cyborg. Enoch helps Nana Jemma with her malfunctioning cybernetic implant, Diana, which helps her stop thinking about her missing husband, Bobo Fitz.

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I need one of those implants. This is a fun season, but I miss Fitz. What if they can’t get back to him at the end of this adventure? Will he be lost in time and space FOREVER? Isn’t the real world bad enough without making us worry that FitzSimmons won’t find their way back together???  #BringFitzHome

Recap

We begin inside the synapses that make up the strands Sibyl manipulates between her hands when she acts as an oracle, which is just super cool. She speaks of the patterns followed by all of life, from oceans to leaves, then asks Luke if he can sense the living energy of the new world he now stands on.

I admire her optimism that’s he’s more than a soulless machine.

He’s soulless, but has the overdramatic streak typical of Chronicoms. He tells her all he feels is the death of their hopes and dreams because she failed them miserably with her bad predictions and now she’s allowed SHIELD to bring down Project Insight.

Truly, there is nothing better than a poetic but restrained soulless monster. Luke is beginning to come into his own. The Chronicoms have developed into a delightful race of Data-Spock style extremely understated over emoters, lost children forever searching the universe for the place where they truly belong. I still think the war would end immediately if each Chronicom were assigned a human best friend.

Luke is sad about Freddy’s death, too, which is sweet. Sibyl is patient with him, trying to reassure him that she sees 10 steps ahead, plus all that other stuff from Freddy’s villain monologue last episode. Luke has read the Predictor pamphlet and thinks he knows the truth.

Sibyl helps him see more clearly, reminding him that Daisy and Sousa have been captured by Nathaniel Malick, Shield was forced to reveal their location and Mack will come to the Lighthouse to retrieve his parents.

The Shield team is under pressure and separated. They will make fatal mistakes soon.Sibyl instructs Luke to begin the next phase of their plan. They must continue to adapt.

He leaves his virtual reality session with her. We see him remove his hands from 2 ports in the Chronicom time ship, then activate the wake cycle for several hunters. There are dozens of Chronicoms in storage in this room of the ship.

In the Lighthouse Command Center, Stoner’s agents discover that Insight is down. Stoner orders them to find the ship that took it out. May and Coulson are brought to him as prisoners. Coulson tries again to convince Stoner that alien robots are responsible for Insight, so it needed to be stopped.

Stoner still can’t see himself as the villain in a space age Bond conspiracy. He blames Chastity for the loss of the steak he’s using to stop the swelling in the eye she punched in episode 5.

May is forced to admit that Chastity McBride isn’t her real name, which is just a sad, sad time for all of us.

I wanted Patrick Warburton to say her full alias, with relish, everytime he spoke to her, all episode. Or all season. May could reveal her true name at the end of the episode (or season), when she tells him her rank.

Then my fan fiction begins and it’s a private session, so none of you are invited. Sorry.

In the meantime, we discover the Chronicoms gave SHIELD some futuristic space tracking tech which allows them to track the Zephyr now that it’s revealed its location once. SHIELD’s goose is cooked! So far, no one has made a move against them, even though they haven’t recloaked because the quinjet was docking, but it’s only a matter of time.

Jemma orders Enoch, who’s in the pilot’s seat, to recloak, then turns to Deke and Elena. She’s surprised they didn’t bring Malick back with them. Elena tries to cover for Deke, but he admits straight out that he shot Malick dead. Mack is on his way to rescue his parents and not okay with the idea of murder. He won’t even pause for a quick debriefing of the mission, which is part of his role as director.

Elena would have brought nuance to the story, had she told it to Mack.

He decides that there’s no possibility of extenuating circumstances and grounds Deke in the Zephyr.  Mack ignores the fact that Deke knows the Lighthouse best, which makes him a good choice for this mission. In Mack’s mind, Freddy had 2 sons who just lost their father, thanks to Deke’s impulsiveness. He’s worried the Chronicoms may become impulsive with his parents, too.

Mack is also probably flashing back to everything he never liked about Fitz’s moral judgements. Fitz always threw tough moral decisions into stark relief for Mack and highlighted the complexities, which Mack wanted to ignore in favor of harsh black and white lines. Fitz would come down on the side of the greater good for a very inclusive all, no matter the personal cost to a few individuals, while Mack would come down on the side of humans and the least violence toward them first, no matter the outside cost.

With Jemma being the one exception. Fitz would let the world end rather than let her be hurt.

Deke is a pragmatist who chooses the method that will work best in a particular situation, but his talents are in analysis and adaptation, so his mind is open and scanning for the best solution among the available options. Like his grandparents, he’s not judgemental about who he saves or cares about. He judges “people” as individuals.

Now Mack is going into a base filled with SHIELD agents and Chronicoms who will both see him as the enemy and who he might not be able to tell apart. Mack is fine with killing robots and non humans (according to his own fluctuating definition of who is human and who isn’t), but doesn’t like to kill humans ever and hates collateral damage.

This mission is a nightmare for him, one which he’s taking out on Deke.

Elena brings up that the Chronicoms are using Mack’s parents as bait to lure him to the Lighthouse. She’s not going to let him go in alone.

Before he leaves, Mack asks about Daisy and Sousa, but Jemma hasn’t heard from them. He tells her to scan for them and for the enemy ship. He wants to bring the pain to the Chronicoms for once.

On the way to the Lighthouse, Mack worries about the rescue op and recounts memories of spending the Bicentennial with his family as a kid. He didn’t think this is how he’d introduce Elena to his parents. She says that she’ll make a heroic first impression with them. But she also says that the Chronicoms are purposely messing with his head and he needs to stop letting them.

Back in the Lighthouse, a Chronicom with a sense of humor has initiated the lockdown protocol. The Rick Stoner projection is giving safety tips all over the facility. The real life Stoner is annoyed by himself, but the Chronicoms have seized control of several systems so the projection can’t be turned off.

This is a nod back to our first encounters in the Lighthouse, when Enoch and Noah had been using it as their home base and storage facility. Though SHIELD built the Lighthouse, the Chronicoms have always known more about it than anyone, other than maybe Robin and Deke.

I’d love a visit from teenage Robin before the end of the series. She could be their oracular secret weapon.

The weapons systems have also been hijacked, while the radar has picked up the Zephyr. Coulson tells Stoner it’s the Chronicoms, but Stoner is NOT IN THE MOOD FOR SASS from prisoners ON AMERICA’S BIRTHDAY. He forbids weapons fire, but they do anyway. The Zephyr is hit.

Daisy, who was hit by an icer fired by Nathaniel Malick in episode 5, is just now waking up. She and Sousa are drugged, shackled and on the floor in a barn. When she discovers she can’t quake, thanks to the drug in her system, she calls Nathaniel Malick’s Little Psycho. He walks in at just that moment.

He reintroduces himself and makes it clear that he’s only tangentially Hydra. Nathaniel doesn’t care about the crime syndicate or squid worship sides of the evil organization. We saw this the first time through the timeline in S3, when Gideon offed his brother by rigging the Heads of Hydra pebble system that determined who was sent to Maveth to be sacrificed to Hive.

This time around, Freddy kept Nathaniel alive long enough for him to discover an interest in the inhumans’ superpowers. He wants to transfer Daisy’s powers to himself. Which actually makes Nathaniel’s first fate a good fit, too, when you think about it. As part of Hive, he also became an inhuman, in a sense.

When Sousa speaks up, Nathaniel tells him that he’s the most well-preserved 60-something Nathaniel has ever seen. He assumes Sousa is also an inhuman, since he appears to be aging so slowly, and says it won’t go well for Daniel if he doesn’t have super powers.

Nathaniel explains to them that he’s not holding them for a ransom. He plans to experiment on them, with Daniel Whitehall’s help. He loves Daisy’s whole vibe and nothing she or Daniel say threatens him. He’d love to see a demonstration of her powers, but the drugs are still in her system. He orders his goons to take her to his lab.

Stoner takes Coulson and May to an interrogation room, where their handcuffs are locked to a table. Stoner pretends to listen to Coulson when he describes the face-stealing Chronicoms for the 3rd time, but when May joins the discussion, he makes it clear he still isn’t taking them seriously.

He does say “Chastity McBride” again, though.

A junior agent brings Stoner a message. She walks over behind Coulson and May, giving a threatening speech, then tells Stoner he’s needed in the basement. She puts her hand on May’s shoulder. Stoner tells them that Malick is dead, then leaves with the junior agent.

Once he’s gone, May tells Coulson that the junior agent was emotionally dead. She was a Chronicom.

Jemma, Deke and Enoch put out the fire on the Zephyr, but then Enoch notices that the exterior cables which control the time shielding and allow the ship to jump through time safely have been damaged. If the ship jumps through time without the shielding, parts of the ship will be left behind and crushed. Since they could jump at any time, they need to fix it immediately.

Except Jemma stumbles when it comes to giving exact instructions for how to fix the shielding. She sends Deke off to look at the power regulator, while she and Enoch look at the control panel. But she can’t remember what to do once they’ve opened the panel. Enoch tells her it’ll be okay, but he needs to help her now.

Mack and Elena cut a hole in the cell wall to get to his parents. He rushes over and hugs his surprised mom, Lilla, who of course doesn’t recognize him. Elena tries to cover for him, saying he’s just happy that Lilla and his dad, John, are safe now. They introduce themselves, then get moving. Mack’s parents don’t understand why they were chosen as hostages and he doesn’t want to influence the future by telling them. He tells them to take cover if fighting breaks out.

The junior agent tells Stoner that his help is needed on a problem with the mainframe in the basement. As they walk to the elevator, he remarks on how annoying it is that his face is still playing on a loop. She tells him they’ll remove his face in a minute.

Coulson argues that the junior agent, Agent King, can’t be a Chronicom because they saw her display personality. They realize that he can show personality and the Chronicoms are mimicking him. They figured out that they can copy what he does, except he’s not stealing something from a living person.

He goes on to tell May that he doesn’t appreciate her lack of attitude. He would normally turn to her after dying and coming back, but she won’t give him anything, not even her thoughts.

May: “You want to know what I think? You never die. You always come back. You know how many times I’ve mourned you? I’m not doing it again. And I’m certainly not doing it for a decoy with a simulated personality!”

Coulson: “Thank you! There she is. Don’t look now, but your emotions are coming back. Unless you just picked that up from watching me… They’re mimicking me. Adapting.”

May: “Are we done sharing now?”

Coulson breaks free from his shackles with ease, then breaks May’s. He was only staying locked up to be polite.

His says that Luke told him the Chronicoms had ways of adapting. He guesses that they’ve developed a method of stealing memories and personalities, then uploading them into Chronicom bodies, allowing them to infiltrate and take over in much the same way Hydra did.

May realizes Stoner must be next. Downstairs, he’s taken into the room where the Chronicoms keep their face and personality copy machines. They’re making copies as fast as they can.

Mack and Elena lead his parents through the corridors to the quinjet. His dad gets tense and snaps at Mack. Mack has a hard time holding his own temper in check. Mack’s mom explains that they’re worried about what will happen to their sons if they don’t make it home. That brings Mack’s focus back.

They need to get through a heavy, motorized blast door to get to the quinjet, so Mack has his dad, who’s also a mechanic, help him figure out how to get it open without the passcode. They share a family saying, “If you can’t fix one thing, you fix another.”

Stoner is in the personality copier when May and Coulson come to the rescue. One of the Chronicoms gives an order to “Bring another Hunter up for the next conversion.” May and Coulson bring him a fight instead. When they get Stoner out of the machine, he says he now believes them about the alien robots.

They explain the face and personality stealing process to Stoner. He figures out that the faceless bodies on the floor are dead friends and colleagues and that he needs to get the rest of his people out of the Lighthouse.

Coulson tells May to rendezvous with Mack and Elena. He’s going to figure out where the Chronicoms are bringing the Hunters up from. He discovers a hatch in the floor with a ladder inside.

Sousa watches Nathaniel’s experiments through a hole in the wall. When Daisy’s brought back to the barn, Nathaniel says he took as much blood and spinal fluid as Daisy could handle without dying, plus a couple of glands. He’s going to synthesize it all and inject it into himself. If this doesn’t work, he’ll “switch from needles to knives.”

Daisy tries to tell Sousa that the same thing has happened before, with her mother, Jiaying, but he doesn’t understand. He pulls her head onto his lap and tells her the story of his war injury to keep her awake.

He was hit in the fog and knocked out. When he came to, he was alone and his leg was a pulpy mess. Then Mike Stephens, a guy he didn’t like, showed up. Mike stayed with him and kept talking. He carried Sousa back from the front line. As the Germans advanced, Mike kept telling Sousa they were going home. Eventually, Sousa was in a stretcher and Mike wasn’t, implying Mike died to save him.

So Sousa is going to keep Daisy alive as a way of repaying Mike Stephens. He tells her insistently that they’re going home. She struggles to open her hand and show him that she palmed a sharp metal shard. He admires her fighting spirit.

Jiaying is, or was, basically immortal. Daisy is hard to kill, largely because she refuses to give up. But also now she has gravitron in her.

Deke finds Enoch working on Jemma’s head. The scan that he’s using shows something implanted into her spine and brain. Deke thinks quick and uses defibrillator paddles to shock Enoch into unconsciousness. Then he uses smelling salts to wake Jemma up.

She’s not okay with what he did to Enoch.

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Coulson climbs down the ladder and into the ship full of hibernating Chronicoms. He sticks his hands into Sibyl’s ports and asks if he’s come at a bad time.

It’s never a good time to stick your hands into a woman’s ports uninvited.

Mack and John have to force the door open anyway. John’s arm gets cut while they’re pushing. Mack leaves them to keep working while he fights some Chronicoms.

Coulson chats with Sibyl, who’s surprisingly open. She says she sees no reason not to answer the questions he’s asking. She tells him that his body is in their time ship, which appears underground. That’s why SHIELD hasn’t been able to find it.

His mind is in her virtual space. She says they call her the predictor, but she simply reads the time streams. Coulson asks if she sees the future.

Sibyl: “I see the past. As written by a single future. A tree grown, but also the many trees it could have grown to be.”

They have the usual semantic discussion about whether Coulson is actually a Chronicom or not. How do the Chronicoms define themselves? What is the essential part? Sibyl refers to herself as having a digital mind. Is that what makes her a Chronicom?

We were told in the beginning of the season that Coulson is an LMD enhanced with Chronicom technology. Was that description meant to make Mack (and us) okay with this new version of Coulson, even though it’s a robot? Even though the LMDs were murderous, too?

Jemma rushes to fix the ship while she and Deke argue about whether or not he was justified in saving her from what looked like a creepy robot attack. Jemma tries to get away with saying IT’S FINE AND DEKE OVERREACTED TO THAT THING IN HER BRAIN, which by the way looked like it had a couple of tiny tentacles. But Deke is from the future and even then an implant like that wasn’t okay, especially when it’s being “adjusted” by a robot who’s switched sides multiple times, if we’re being honest. Deke doesn’t buy her excuses and insists on real answers.

It’s about time.

She finally tells him, “He was fixing my memory so we can fix the ship.”

That definitely explains everything.

Deke realizes that she just said she doesn’t know how to fix the time machine that she’s currently working on.

I’ve been wondering when someone would remember that Fitz is the engineer, not her. Though I’m sure she’s picked up a fair amount of engineering, the same way she picked up several alien languages in S6, it doesn’t change the fact that engineering is Fitz’s gift and they kept their science disciplines separate for a reason. He’s the one who invented the time machine in S5. I doubt that changed in this timeline.

Jemma: “You cannot imagine how impossible it was to track the Chronicoms through time. But Fitz and I found a place where all their moves could be observed. And to guide us, Fitz stayed there. He is completely exposed and they will kill him if they find him, so no one can know his location.”

But Jemma knows, so she designed a biological implant to suppress her memories, named Diana. They’re inseparable. But the implant is malfunctioning and she’s forgetting and remembering the wrong things, so Enoch was helping her with it.

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Nathaniel’s goons come into the barn and uncuff Sousa’s ankles. Sousa attacks, using the metal shard as a weapon. He knocks the guard out, then unlocks his own and Daisy’s cuffs. She’s still unconscious, so he picks her up to carry her out. As they’re leaving, Nathaniel enters the room. He has Daisy’s powers and is causing an earthquake, but his bones are also fracturing. The barn collapses on top of Nathaniel as they run out.

Sibyl tells Coulson where Daisy is. She says Nathaniel’s chances of successfully stealing her powers are 22%. Daisy has an 86% chance of survival. She says they’re using Mack’s parents to get to Mack and they want Earth to ensure the survival of “my species.”

She tells him that Chronicoms are more valuable than humans because they live so much longer. Human lives are fleeting and they make stupid decisions because of it. Within a stable environment, Chronicoms can live forever. If necessary, they’ll wait the humans out.

Coulson tells Sibyl she’s wrong about 3 things. The first two are the human capacity for sacrifice and tenacity. The third is him. Dying is his superpower.

He pulls his hands out of the ports, then sends a brief goodbye to May. He blows up the time ship with bag of explosives that was originally meant to flood the Lighthouse, blowing up himself along with it.

Mack has been fighting Chronicoms all this time. The explosion lifts the lockdown, so the door to the quinjet opens. Luke is about to shoot Mack when May and Stoner show up and shoot Luke instead. Stoner walks them all to their ride.

He and May say goodbye. He offers to buy her a drink, now that he’s pretty sure she doesn’t work at the Lighthouse and isn’t under his direct command. She tells him she’s Level 7, which means she’s his superior officer, and gives him orders to clean up and cover up the operation.

Once everyone is in the quinjet, May tells the others that Coulson is gone, but he’ll come back, just like always.

Once Enoch has been revived, he finishes his work on Jemma. While he helps her, Deke give him a Jemma-approved apology.

Deke: “Enoch, I’m sorry about before. I didn’t realize that things were so dire… And you are a valued member of our family.”

Enoch: “That is the greatest compliment one could be paid. Apology accepted.”

When Enoch is done, Jemma’s memories and forgetfulness are back in place. She asks Deke to keep her secret.

Mack brings his father to the quinjet cockpit to tell him about the tech, while Elena and Lilla bond in the back. John touches May’s shoulder to thank her for her part in saving him and his wife.

Oops, rookie Chronicom mistake. May felt no emotion, so she sets the quinjet to circle and tells Mack to check the cut on John’s arm. At first, he refuses to show them.

When he does, it proves he’s a robot. Mack fights John while May fights Lilla. Fake John says that they killed Mack’s parents a while ago. Eventually, Mack has to kill both of his “parents” and push them out of the back of the quinjet. He has to listen to his mother beg him as he pushes her to her “death”.

Geez, this show loves to torture him. That was horrible. I was already still haunted by Hope disappearing in the Framework.

Not gonna lie, I’m still tempted to lobby for them to print out some of those Framework residents. They could be LMDs, like Coulson. Hope could get a new, slightly bigger, LMD body on her birthday every year.

My kid is a cyborg who gets a new insulin pump every few years. It’s not too many steps removed.

Sousa and Daisy make it back to the Zephyr. Jemma puts Daisy in the healing chamber. Sousa stays on the ship.

They jump without incident.

Mack gets on a motorcycle and takes off.

In the tag, Mack is sitting in a field of flowers a little ways from the Zephyr, facing away from the ship. Deke walks toward him to check on him. Jemma frantically calls Deke back to the ship- they’re about to jump. Mack doesn’t respond when Deke yells to him.

The Zephyr leaves without them.

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Commentary

In hindsight, blowing up the ship that had the Chronicoms’ time drive in it might not have been the best idea, since the Zephyr is tied to it. Who knows what this will do to their jump cycles?

OMG, I thought Henry Simmons (Mack) was about 35 and way too young to remember the Bicentennial. He’s 50 years old! Good on him. This cast never ages.

Rick Stoner really, really deserved to be rescued from the 70s and brought onto the modern SHIELD team. I will believe this until my dying day. He has essential qualities as an agent that would have saved the world many times faster than it will ever be saved without him, like having the foresight to build the Lighthouse and having a voice that makes every order sound crucial. The future Kree wouldn’t stand a chance against his manly tones when they tried to get all sinister.

Since human Coulson is gone, I’m going to assume that eventually May will find a way to get back to Stoner and live out her life with him, using the alias Chastity McBride. No matter how the series ends, this will come true in some happy timeline, somewhere. Time God Fitz will make it so.

Human Coulson will spend eternity in heaven with his violinist. Cellist?

LMD Coulson should get Sibyl to change sides to be with him, because she definitely has a thing for him. She has Luke ask him if he likes her-likes her and wants to be her boyfriend in, like, every time period.

This episode, she let him get to second base with her and her blew up her ship, so it might get ugly between them for a couple of episodes. I know true love when I see it though and it would be a shame to let this relationship die.


Timestreams and Predictions and Fitz and Mack

Sibyl: “I see the past. As written by a single future. A tree grown, but also the many trees it could have grown to be.”

Jemma: “You cannot imagine how impossible it was to track the Chronicoms through time. But Fitz and I found a place where all their moves could be observed. And to guide us, Fitz stayed there. He is completely exposed and they will kill him if they find him, so no one can know his location.”

There is a reason we were shown these two speeches one after the other.

This sounds to me like Fitz could be in the place Sibyl uses to read a single mind. Like maybe it was a honeypot trap and FitzSimmons fell into it. Why else would there be a place where Fitz can magically see everything the Chronicoms do, if it’s not also the place that the Chronicoms use for their predictions?

I just hope Fitz isn’t a disembodied brain now.

I think Deke is right to be suspicious of Jemma’s implant. I can’t guess which side Enoch is on, since he switched a few times in S6, but I wonder if Fitz is dead or trapped or a hostage and she won’t let herself remember it. Sibyl could be using the exceptionally detailed scan of Fitz’s brain that was taken when they scanned him and Jenna in S6. Or they could have scanned him a second time after the season ended.

Enoch did show up out of the blue at the end of S6 with a risky proposal for Fitz and Jemma. That could mean he’s really working for the other side. It wouldn’t make much sense, but maybe this is the only way the Chronicoms win without heavy casualties.

Nathaniel made that speech to Daniel and Daisy, telling them that they weren’t technically hostages, because he didn’t want to exchange them for anything. Could that be Fitz’s situation- he’s not a hostage because they have no intention of ever letting him go?

Coulson made a lot of mistakes when he interrogated Sibyl. He finished her sentences for her, rather than letting her talk. He made too many assumptions. It was really her interrogating him. LMD Coulson has the original’s memories, but not the instincts the man gained from experience. This Coulson still has to accrue his own experiences.

But anyway, I noticed that Sibyl told Coulson that she wants Mack. I wonder if that’s the truth.

The simplest answer to what she meant is that they were hoping that Mack’s Chronicom parents could turn him into a Chronicom. Since he’s the director of SHIELD, the rest of SHIELD would fall soon after. They could have turned May and Elena when they turned Mack.

But it seems like Enoch would be trying to lure them all into personality copiers if it’s all they wanted.

Mack is the team member who’s held onto his humanity the hardest and is often the moral compass of the group. But he’s not always honest and he’s been a traitor, though the show would often like us to forget that.

Then again, they specifically included Robert Gonzales’ name on the Project Insight list last week. Gonzales was the man Mack and Bobbi followed when SHIELD split into 2 warring factions (besides Hydra) in season 2. Gonzales knew that Fury had chosen Coulson as his successor and disagreed with the choice because he felt it was wrong for SHIELD to be led by a man with alien DNA. (After being resurrected using the TAHITI protocol, Coulson had Kree DNA in his system, just like the inhumans.)

For a long time, Coulson didn’t even know the 2nd SHIELD faction existed. Mack and Bobbi joined Coulson’s SHIELD as spies. It took Mack a long time to trust anyone who had anything to do with either alien DNA or robots.

It could be the Chronicoms want to continue to exploit that old weakness of Mack’s. It could also be that they know about the death of his daughter, Hope, and the way it affected him both in reality and in the Framework. They might want to use it to push him past the breaking point.

If the Chronicoms have access to Fitz’s mind and the different potentials for it, they could see the way the other Fitz cracked under too much pressure, after too much dehumanization. Might they be trying to push Mack into that same type of breakdown? Making him murder his mother the way that they did felt like turning him into everything he hates, while also twisting his mind, since his fake mother was also a robot. It seemed like it was meant to start confusing him about who was real and who was fake.

Each episode this season has been patterned after a particular movie genre. Since Mack is the movie buff on the team and is the director of SHIELD, I’ve wondered if it’s a way to say that we’re seeing the show through his eyes.

But now I wonder if the Chronicoms also know that he’s a movie lover and are specifically playing to film tropes. Maybe they want him to feel the gangster films turning into 50s B movies, which become slightly more suspenseful 70s Bond and political thriller films. As Deke pointed out, horror movie tropes are sneaking in, such as the spoofed line from Terminator 2 and the body snatching.

But there’s another aspect to what we’ve seen all season. If the Chronicoms are watching the team through Fitz’s eyes and using what they see to devise a strategy to take the team down, it could be that Fitz is purposely directing what they see in order to mislead them.

Movie themes play to Mack’s strengths because they follow tropes and scenarios he’s worked with before. They have clear good guys and bad guys. By literally dressing the Chronicoms up as stock characters from the entertainment of the team’s past, they’ve been cut down to size and made a manageable enemy with clear goals and motives.

I don’t think we’ve been given all of the information yet, so we can’t fully understand what’s happening. But it feels like the Chronicom’s strategy is aimed at bringing down Mack, with a side of hoping to turn Coulson, one of the most loyal people around.

The Chronicoms may be using a divide and conquer strategy based on the way the team fell apart at the end of S5. It was Mack who stepped in as Director when Coulson’s health failed and SHIELD was a shambles. The Chronicoms must figure they can divide and conquer the team for good this time.

But this isn’t the same team. Coulson is a younger, more optimistic LMD. Fitz isn’t there to butt heads with Mack. Mack and Elena are on the same page. May and Daisy aren’t desperate to save Coulson. Or maybe that was why Sibyl set him up for the suicide mission in the time ship.

But it won’t work this time. May doesn’t have the same feelings toward the LMD that she had toward the man and and Daisy is distracted by Sousa.

Most importantly, Deke has stepped up as a member of the team. They may not fully accept him, but he’s chosen them. He’s lived through much worse than any of this and he’s not going back. He believes in the power of positive thinking and is loyal to a fault. He’s filling in some of the gaps in the team dynamic left by OG Coulson and Fitz, including quietly watching out for everyone’s safety and mental health.

As a character, he frequently suffers from the Cassandra Complex issue of seeing the problem before anyone else will believe it exists, but he doesn’t let it stop him. Geniuses are used to being ahead of their time.

Images courtesy of ABC.

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