Agents of SHIELD Season 7 Episode 9: As I Have Always Been Recap

ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE, JOEL STOFFER

In episode 9, the team get stuck in a time loop inside a time storm heading toward a time vortex. Every loop brings them closer to the event horizon, but the loops turn around quickly, so they have to work together to find a solution. Coulson and Daisy, who both start the episode unconscious, are the only ones who remember previous loops.

The episode was directed by Elizabeth Henstridge, who also plays Jemma Simmons. It’s a fast-paced, tragicomic episode that must have been hella complex to put together, but it came out great, so kudos to Elizabeth, writer Drew Greenberg, editor Kelly Stuyvesant and rest of the cast and crew. It’s hard to pull off either an episode full of tonal shifts or an episode full of repetitive scenes. To do both at once, on your first try as a director, is amazing. Joel Stoffer, Chloe Bennet, Clark Gregg and Enver Gjokaj also shine in this episode.

Recap

Daisy finishes regenerating and wakes up in the healing chamber. As she gets out, Sousa wakes up, too. He’s been sleeping in the chair next to her the whole time. Aww.

Neither of them knows how long they slept or whether they’ve time jumped again. Daisy goes to the Command Center, where they’re dealing with the time drive overload that began at the end of episode 8. According to Mack and May, nearly all systems are damaged and they can’t tell where they are.

When Daisy looks out the windshield, what she sees is unrecognizable. Unless you’re a Dr Who fan, that is.

Agents of SHIELD S7E9 Title Card 1

Yikes! DON’T GO INTO THE LIGHT!!!

May says that Coulson is still charging. Then Yo-Yo appears as a disembodied head and tells them the quinjet’s flight system is down. Mack asks if she’s nearby. Her powers are back, so she’s delighted to say that everywhere is nearby. She’ll check it out.

As the lights flicker on and off and the ship rattles, May asks Simmons if she’s seeing what they’re experiencing. Jemma replies over the comms that radiation levels in the ship are too high. They need to escape this quickly. Deke jogs in with the alarming news that they’re stuck in a time storm. As Jemma predicted, they jumped again before completing the previous jump (jumping within a jump), tearing a hole in space-time.

Deke: “Now we’re being pulled in toward the vortex like we’re circling the drain.”

May says that if they go down the drain, they’ll cease to exist.

Deke: “No, we’ll cease to have ever existed. Or be reduced to the size of an atom. Honestly, I have no idea how the science works here.”

They’re currently 94 kilometers away from finding out.

A radiation flare throws sparks from a control panel into Mack’s eyes, causing severe burns. He’s blinded. The same flare sealed Yo-Yo in the quinjet. Deke goes to help her while Daisy and Sousa take Mack to Jemma. May stays in the Command Center to work the problem.

Agents of SHIELD S7E9 Elena's Disembodied HeadAgents of SHIELD S7 E9 Deke Explains Time VortexAgents of SHIELD S7E9 Simmons Treats Mack's Burns

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This is the Dr Who episode you knew was coming. Much of what’s on the surface is based on Dr Who traditions, including the jargon, time concepts, camera work, use of tight spaces as sets, and snappy, sarcastic dialogue. But Deke just gave us two options for how that time vortex works that need to be kept in mind for future episodes- he said that if they’re pulled in, they could be erased from time, which would be the Dr Who result.

Then he said they could be reduced to the size of an atom. That’s a reference to the Quantum Realm, as seen in the Antman, Dr Strange and final Avengers films. While we know the broad outline of time theory in the MCU, we haven’t been told the details how AoS’s timestream science and technology works, whether it’s the monoliths, Chronocoms or whatever Fitz is doing.

The Quantum Realm is the best in-universe candidate for a dangerous but survivable method that would be available to Fitz, which doesn’t involve him depending on the Chronicoms’ technology or the Time Stone. Fitz researched it in S3 when Jemma was on Maveth. I’ll discuss this more in the commentary.

Simmons is examining the schematics for the time and space jump drive when Daisy, Mack and Sousa reach her. She opens a drawer to get a burn cream for Mack, but finds some of Deke’s souvenirs from the 80s in there instead, including his cologne, and the device Enoch used to work on Diana, her implant. Daisy notices her hesitation, so she blames Deke for leaving his toys scattered all over the lab and closes the drawer.

Enoch enters the lab and offers to help with the time drive. Jemma accepts his help, but says Mack comes first. Mack tries to send her to look at the time drive, but they all push him back down. You don’t fool around when someone’s vision is at stake.

May tells them there’s a fire down the hall due to another radiation flare. Daisy grabs a fire extinguisher and goes to put it out. When she’s done, the time drive suddenly accelerates, with flashing blue lights.

Before Daisy can finish asking if that’s supposed to happen, she’s back in the healing chamber again.

She gets out again. Sousa wakes up again. They try to figure out how long they’ve been asleep, again. Daisy walks out halfway through and goes to the Command Center, where the same events are already in progress. Damage to almost all systems, can’t figure out location, time drive overload, time storm outside the windshield, title card.

OMG, it’s spreading into our universe, too. Turn off your device, it’s contagious.

Actually, after my rewatch of this episode last night, I went to watch an episode of Dr Who to refresh myself on their style. As I was about to push play, my Tivo inexplicably died for 12 hours, then inexplicably came back. Coincidence or time anomaly?

Mack sends Elena to look at the quinjet’s flight system. May and Jemma discuss radiation. Deke jogs in with an alarming message about the time storm. They’re 91 km away from the event horizon. Daisy cuts him off, predicting what he was going to say. They’re all confused.

Daisy shows why she’s an incredible agent and remembers that this is the moment when Mack gets hit by the radiation flare. She races over and closes a panel so he’ll be safe, then tells the others that Elena is now trapped in the quinjet. Deke leaves to help her.

Daisy and Sousa leave to talk to Jemma. This time Mack stays with May in the Command Center. Daisy tells Jemma that she’s time looping.

Jemma: “Oh, well that’s fun.”

Sousa: “It’s actually creepy.”

There are much creepier things in the world than time looping on the Zephyr in a time storm. Like time looping on a cracked Earth with the Kree and those giant bugs. Bugs should not be bigger than people.

Jemma opens her drawer to pull out something to use to check Daisy for Time Loop Syndrome, but instead she pulls out Deke’s cologne, Tattletale, when Daisy asks about it. That name and it’s placement next to the implant device are not accidents. Enoch walks in and asks if she needs help with the time drive.

That’s some interesting placement, too.

Daisy knows the fire is starting, so she puts it out, then walks by Coulson and realizes he could be a big help with this. You think? But the next loop kicks in before she can wake him up.

Loop 3- Daisy hops out of the chamber and heads to the Command Center. She tells Mack and May, “Shut the cockpit door and watch the control panel.” You’d think she’d tell Elena to get out of the quinjet before she’s sealed in, but I guess she hasn’t thought that far ahead yet.

She pushes the button to awaken Coulson, then starts to tell him they’re in a time loop. He already knows and finishes her sentence the way she finished Mack and May’s sentences. He’s done this loop so many times that he’s dropped his patient exterior, growing snappy instead. Uh oh.

He tells her that they’ve been through this many times before, but everytime she dies in a loop, she forgets all of the previous loops and they have to start over. Since he’s pretty indestructible, he hasn’t died and remembers all of the loops, providing some nice continuity, as Coulson himself does for the show, the team and the MCU.

Wait- is the time loop a metaphor for life? Lol. Please don’t make me write about Nietzsche and the eternal recurrence again yet. Next you’ll tell me the time periods they’ve visited are really Dante’s rings of He11 and Coulson is Virgil. Actually, with that white light in sight, I guess they’d be the 9 celestial spheres of Heaven. Since this is episode 9, I guess you could make a case for that. That means next episode, we meet God, fellow pilgrims- which suggests my prediction that Fitz will show up briefly in episode 10 will come true, since he’s the Time God/Lord.

This is a Dr Who Christmas Special, with a new regeneration of the Doctor, aka Coulson, coming to terms with his situation and getting used to his companions. Why does he have to get to know companions he’s had for a long time? As with Coulson, each iteration of the Doctor is a little different physically and in personality, plus he has a bit of amnesia to work through.

And they’re in jeopardy. Time storms and cracks in the time-space continuum really are nasty things, even if you’re nearly indestructible.

Remember that time that Coulson was kind of cranky about having to take a nap? And being left out of important meetings? And not having a body for 20 months? Yeah, he’s had 87 loops, that he knows of, to let that frustration fester into some extreme sarcasm.

As we saw, Daisy doesn’t wake him up every time and he apparently can’t wake up on his own. He might want to look into adding a timer app to his remote. Come to think of it, why does he even have a remote? Did the S4 LMDs have them? Enoch doesn’t.


Coulson and Bodily Autonomy and Human Rights

Coulson’s relationship with bodily autonomy has always been sketchy, both coming and going. In Avengers 2012, Fury took those superhero cards and used them to manipulate the Avengers, taking away their right to make informed decisions based on facts rather than emotions, putting their lives in jeopardy, based on a lie. Then he took away Coulson’s right to die in peace and put him in a program he was expressly against.

Coulson was trained by Fury and believes in his methods. He’s a great agent and a great leader but he has huge blind spots. Once SHIELD became a covert agency, Coulson didn’t have to follow the rules anymore and took to using some illegal methods and occasionally letting his and other team members’ personal opinions rule the show. It’s made for some amazing TV, but it hasn’t been so great if you were an inhuman or an alien. Or a robot who got in Mack’s way. Other than a chosen few, those 3 types of beings have been killed and detained with impunity.

Now that Coulson is a robot with a digital consciousness, there’s only one reason to give him a remote off switch and no internal control of his own. It signals a lack of trust on the part of the team, which is probably the real reason why he’s so freakin’ angry. I don’t blame him. It’s a humiliating combination of being treated like a child and less than human- othered. As the ultimate SHIELD insider, Coulson has rarely felt that so deeply.

The only other times Coulson has been subjected to treatment like this have been when Fury put him in the TAHITI program without consent and when he’s been captured. As a professional white man, he expects to be in control of his body and his choices at all times. He expects treatment like this to be acknowledged as a violation of his body and his rights.

What Coulson is experiencing as soul crushing is the normal experience of many people. Coulson has denied so many others their bodily autonomy and basic human rights over the years, but now that’s he’s on the receiving end, he can’t take some mild inconvenience. There are many, many inhumans from S2 and 3 who I hope are watching from some place and getting some satisfaction. Lincoln is #1 on the list. Nothing that guy did could ever be good enough to earn Coulson’s trust, just as a “robot” will never earn the trust of some members of this team. Coulson used to be one of them.

Coulson never did anything to rein in those prejudices when he was alive and this version is paying the price.


Daisy has died 14 times and Coulson’s angry that he’s had to start over with her each time, angry that he’s powered down at the beginning of each loop and angry that she doesn’t wake him up every time.

Let’s note here how many times we’ve watched Daisy jump out of the chamber and run past Sousa, leaving him asleep, the fact that Elena has been trapped in the quinjet for the entire episode with fires breaking out on the ship, and the fact that Coulson is the only one who isn’t confused about what’s going on.

But the only thing he sees is that Daisy doesn’t wake him up first in every loop. He doesn’t think to remind her to form a plan to get Elena out of the quinjet. As always, Elena’s not a priority until they need her. Coulson doesn’t think to make sure Daisy saves Mack from severe burns. Any loop could be the last one and the organics will have to live (or die) with whatever state they’re in when the music stops.

They assume that they’re the only ones who remember because they both wake up in futuristic sleeping pods. Oops, time to start over.

Loop 4- Daisy runs through the Command Center and tells Mack to shut the door so his eyes don’t get burned. She keeps going and wakes Coulson up straight away. He starts talking as if they never stopped.

He explains that, “The time drive is stuck. It keeps looping back on itself over and over again.”

Daisy: “Like feedback?”

Coulson: “I’m thinking about it like a record skipping.”

She gives him a confused look.

Coulson: “Everytime I say that, you give me the same look. Vinyl’s back. You’re supposed to know records again.”

Okay, first, if you take care of your records, they don’t skip. Second, she lives on a plane that’s in constant danger. Why on Earth would QUAKE buy vinyl, which skips with the slightest shake? Third, what? The record is already spinning, now you’re saying the glitch is when it stops playing because the needle jumps, but we’re calling it a time loop? How does that metaphor even make sense? You need to at least use a loop within a loop, man.

Quick change to Loop 5. Daisy asks about flying out of the storm. Coulson says that they’ve tried it, but the conditions of the vortex have incapacitated the ship plus space is irrelevant in the storm. Basically, they’ve already tried everything. Their only remaining hope is fixing the time drive. Daisy acknowledges how tough that is, since the loop resets so quickly. They’ve been through 90 loops that Coulson’s been awake for.

Loop 6: Coulson explains that they’re running out of time. They can’t keep working on this for an infinite amount of time until they get it right, because with each loop they get closer to the vortex.

It must be that the outer shielding that protects the ship during time travel is also keeping the time loop localized within the Zephyr. This fits Whovian mythology.

Loop 7: After closing the door to save Mack from getting burned, Daisy asks Deke how far away from the event horizon they are. 79 km. In Loops 1 and 2 it was 94 and 91 km.

They’ve lost a significant amount of distance already, just catching Daisy and the audience up. But where would the excitement be if they got free at 100 km?

Daisy figures out that they need to either increase the time they have in each loop or solve the problem faster within the time that they have. Coulson says that they tried expanding the timeframe in Loops 23-42ish, but it didn’t work. So that leaves them with working faster. Daisy needs to get her wake up routine down to a science.

This is the point in the episode where the number of loops gets fuzzy. The next scene is a new loop, because Daisy starts over in the Command Center, but without the wake up scene. Loop 8? She predicts the future and quickly convinces the team to listen to her.

They’re now 65 km from the vortex, so if their progress into the vortex is stable, we probably missed ~2-3 loops, also allowing for time vortex craziness.

They try to guess how many loops they have left. If it’s 3 kms between loops, that would be 21, but we don’t know if their rate of descent is stable or if we skipped loops between 1 and 2. They can’t really know the parameters of their own situation either, since it depends on Daisy waking up, and she may not wake up in every loop- Sousa hardly ever wakes up on his own.

They may have been stuck for hours or days before she healed enough to come out of the chamber, if her healing carries over between loops the way her memory does. She has Gravitonium inside her, which may be what accounts for her imperviousness to the time storm. If I’m correct that Coulson and Enoch do as well, Enoch is lying about not remembering previous loops.

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Mack asks Deke if there’s any other information on the drive they can use or that Fitz might have left behind. Deke says he’ll go check and be right back. He explains the situation to Jemma in private so as not to reveal her implant, but says that without the implant, she could solve the problem.

Jemma refuses, because it would endanger Fitz and the mission too much. Coulson and Daisy walk in on their argument, overhearing that Jemma has a secret implant suppressing her memories. They aren’t thrilled that she’s been keeping such a big secret, but more importantly, right now they’re in a life and death situation. They argue that Fitz would understand the current need and anyway, the loop will reset and this timeline will be wiped out, so it won’t pose a danger.

Someone didn’t listen when Sibyl mentioned that she reads the branches that go unfulfilled, too. Each timeline loop is a little, curly branch. But what other choice do they have?

This is probably why Sibyl was okay with Coulson exploding the time ship, even baited him into it. It leads to this outcome, where Fitz’s location is revealed.

Jemma needs more proof that they’re in a time loop, so Daisy has her think of a nonsense word. Jemma comes up with “phlebotinum”, which Daisy repeats with her. Not their first time round this part of the loop either.

Simmons agrees to remove the implant, but does so locked alone in the lab while Coulson, Daisy, Deke and Enoch watch through the window. As she maneuvers the implant device behind her neck she coughs, then collapses. The door is sealed shut. Before they can open it, she dies and the loop resets.

What could be more of a callback to the early seasons than threatening Jemma’s life in the lab? Bringing Ward and Fitz back to be part of the episode would help, obviously.

Giving up counting loops. You’re on your own, Coulson.

On the next try, Daisy goes in with her. They both cough and die. The door is still locked, but Daisy opens it just in time. Coulson is mad, because it means he has to start all over, with a Daisy who’s lost her memories. Enoch checks some tanks in the back and finds that the gas line has been cut too neatly to be anything but intentional murder. Coulson’s sarcasm in this instance is completely warranted.

The whole thing is extra funny when you discover who the murderer is.

New loop. Sousa wakes up when Daisy wakes up. Dekes says they’re 48 km from the vortex. Among other things, phlebotinum was a clue that the science won’t make sense, so I’m not going to play with it. Daisy has lost her memories. I hate watching Mack get blinded as much as Coulson hates having to go through the learning curve with Daisy. I get that it doesn’t matter, as long as they reset the timeline, but it’s still a horrible thing to watch.

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Coulson feels a new sense of urgency, now that someone is murdering team members over this and time is getting shorter- 41 km. They round up the usual suspects, which equates to Team FitzSimmons. Deke is mortified that they know about the implant, sure that he dropped the ball and told. They all deny being the murderer, using logic, their connection to each other and Fitz, plus their large vocabularies. They’re impossible to crack.

Coulson and Daisy give up on the interrogation and decide to make another attempt to remove the implant. While Simmons prepares, Coulson talks to Mack and May. They suggest that Elena might be able to remove the implant before the murderer can strike, but first she has to be rescued from the quinjet.

On the next loop, Coulson takes a torch and cuts Elena loose, but by the time he’s done, the loop resets. Next loop, Daisy finds evidence that the implant device has been tampered with. Sousa offers to pick it up so that Daisy doesn’t die and lose her memories. It’s laced with a nasty poison. The following loop, Daisy lets him sleep.

She and Coulson confer, but mostly Coulson loses his temper because everyone keeps dying and they can’t break through that wall. After he lashes out, he apologizes and admits that he can’t handle watching them die. He says it’s soul crushing, if he even has a soul. Daisy gives him the validation she didn’t give him the last time they talked about this and tells him, “Of course you have a soul.”

Coulson says that he’s a thing, rather than the man he used to be. He was Max Headroom, stuck in TV without a body, for more than a year. Now he’s helpless to stop his friends from dying. The time loop is a metaphor for the way he’ll have to watch people die, over and over, now that he has a long life span.

Daisy calls him on his stupidity. The nerve of a man who’s died what? 8? 10? times, saying that to one of the people who loves him. Wow. He says his situation is different from hers, because he’ll watch everyone he loves die, one by one, because someone decided he should.

We all do that, often starting young if we come from large, close families. It’s called being born and being alive, after your parents decided to bring you into the world. Nobody gets a choice about it.

He continues to blather about being a white man machine and how hard it is because he was socialized programmed this way and won’t can’t change. Pretty sure we’ve watched individual LMDs and Chronicoms go through some drastic evolutions, which is why he has a remote.

He goes on for a while about Why White Male Lives Are So Hard- Someone Pushed My Button.

Eventually he realizes that Enoch is a fellow White Male Machine, so he can use his other superpower as an entitled white male machine, which is to understand someone who is exactly like him. For everyone else, he needs Daisy’s help.

They confront Enoch and Jemma, who deny everything. Coulson insists that if the secret they’re protecting is big enough, they’d program Enoch to do anything it takes to protect it, then forget what they did.

They test the theory by having Daisy make another attempt to remove the implant, right in the middle of the cargo bay. Enoch tries to strangle Daisy. He tells Jemma that he can’t stop. She programmed him to protect the implant at all costs, even if he had to kill her. Daisy quakes him across the cargo bay.

New loop. Daisy and Sousa both wake up. He asks why she’s up. She asks why he cares. He says he cares because she doesn’t.

Ew. Not only is he the type to think she’s beautiful because she doesn’t know she’s beautiful, he thinks she’s good because she’s so selfless that she doesn’t care if she lives or dies.

Coulson suggests they can get the implant out of Jemma without Enoch finding out what they’re doing, but they forget that the first place he goes during the loop is to see Jemma in the lab. They try having Sousa distract Enoch, but he’s really bad at creating a diversion.

Maybe Sousa’s onto something. Family dinners or breakfasts could help with team relations.

They try explaining the implant situation to Enoch, but he can’t override his own programming. Jemma can’t countermand the order without a password, which she can’t remember. The whole team together isn’t strong enough to beat Enoch, which has frightening implications. He’s upgraded his fight skills some more.

I’d forgotten just how huge Henry Simmons is.

Deke’s dead, which feels like it could be foreshadowing for Fitz. And is also sad.

Daisy wakes up again. She tells Sousa they’re stuck in a time loop. Without missing a beat, he asks how he can help. Daisy decides to take a break for a loop and pulls up a chair.

She’s surprised that he accepted the news of the time loop so easily, as if nothing fazes him. He says things faze him, maybe he’s just not showing it on his face.

Now it’s time for an awkward conversation that’s due to the combination of Daisy feeling free to speak her mind because they’re in a time loop and this relationship being rushed because she needs her “happily ever after” by the end of the season. Or maybe she needs to watch one more boyfriend die so she can realize she’s meant to be alone forever. Flip a coin, meet you at the end of episode 13.

She asks Sousa why he’s waiting there next to her healing chamber, everytime she wakes up and is always willing to help.

You mean like her team member should be willing to help?

Sousa describes Peggy Carter, then says that he likes to be there to pick up people like her, I mean Daisy, when they fall. Daisy’s creeped out for a minute, but he saves it by convincing her means her, I mean Daisy, really.

He’s willing to help her out of the time loop, he’s not a member of Hydra, he’s not loyal to her murderous mother, he hasn’t sold her into slavery yet, and Coulson likes him, so he won’t send Sousa to his death for a few years, at least. Probably. Sousa is the most eligible bachelor Daisy has met since Framework Ward and Trip.

Who should be here with us today.

Agents of SHIELD S7E9 Sousa & Daisy Kiss

New plan. Sousa convinces Jemma to have the implant removed. He tells her to wait while he sets up, then walks away. Enoch takes the bait and follows Sousa into a room where Mack, Elena and May are waiting. Their job is to hold Enoch back while Daisy, Deke and Coulson help Jemma with the implant. It works, but it takes too long. As the time loops shifts, Coulson tells Daisy to do the same thing next time, but faster.

When Daisy wakes up, she tells Sousa she needs his help. Without hesitation, he asks what she needs. She kisses him, then they kiss each other. She says they need to trap a space robot.

This time, they’re 11 kilometers from the vortex. The plan works and they remove the implant with 2 minutes to spare. Jemma’s demeanor subtly shifts- she becomes clearer and sharper than we’ve seen her all season.

She tells them that Enoch is the answer. His Electrochom Displacement Mechanism, which Cronicoms use to regulate energy stability, could be used to do the same thing in the time drive. But it’s as essential to his functioning as a human heart. He’ll die without it.

Then more memories hit Jemma and she’s physically overcome. Tears run down her face as she says, “What have I done? I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Noooo…” Before she can tell anyone what she’s remembering, the time loop ends.

Agents of SHIELD S7Ep9 Diana the ImplantAgents of SHIELD S7E9 Implant DeviceAgents of SHIELD S7E9 Jemma Is Overcome

Sad loop. Daisy is calm, but resigned. She saves Mack, then asks Jemma, Deke and Enoch to meet her in the LMD lab. They’re less than 1 km from the vortex. Once Coulson’s awake, they explain the situation to Team FitzSimmons. As soon as Daisy mentions the Electrochom Displacement Mechanism, Enoch says he understands. While the others argue about finding another solution that won’t kill him, Enoch shrugs the part out of his chest and hands it to Jemma.

Jemma: “Enoch, you’ll die.”

Enoch: “And the rest of you will live. I would like to think Fitz would do the same for me. I would like to think all of you would.”

No one answers.

They wouldn’t even send the quinjet across the country for him. I do think Fitz, Jemma and Deke would do more for him.

Jemma and Enoch look each other in the eyes for a long moment, then she pats him on the arm and goes to the time drive. Deke does the same and follows. After they’re gone, he collapses to the floor. Coulson and Daisy sit with him.

Deke works on attaching the mechanism to the time drive. He tells Jemma it’s a good fit. Mack radios Coulson and Daisy that the mechanism will work. Daisy and Coulson promise to stay with Enoch until the end.

Enoch says that he doesn’t feel physical pain, but he feels lonely, thanks to his bond with the team. He doesn’t want to leave them. Coulson assures him that he’s not alone. Enoch is anxious about the very end, when he’ll have to go on alone, without them. Coulson tells him that dying is lonely, but the feeling is temporary for the person who dies. It takes longer to recover for the ones who are left behind. He thinks that’s one advantage to going first.

Enoch: “Yes, it’s different, watching your friends go before you, isn’t it? I’ve been through that as well. It can be harder to stay than to leave. I’m sorry, Philip J Coulson.”

Daisy: “The team will carry on the mission. We will survive because of you. Thank you.”

Enoch: “But Agent Johnson, while your friends will indeed survive, the team will not.”

Daisy: “What do you mean?”

Enoch: “I have seen the future. Carry on this mission and cherish it, for it will be your last mission together.”

Enoch: “Fitz… he was my best friend.”

Enoch: “As I have always…”

Daisy and Coulson are true to their word, staying right with him until the end, saying the most supportive words possible. Enoch is philosophical, thinking about the many births and deaths he’s seen over thousands of years as an anthropologist and wizard. “We do what we can with the time in between, but the cycle is always there.”

Just as Enoch fades away, the ship jumps out of the vortex.

In the tag, Nathaniel Malick sets up a row of wine glasses with a little water in each. He instructs Kora to direct her energy into the glasses, but take her time. She sends a brief pulse of energy into each glass, shattering them one at a time. They are both excited about her progress. Nathaniel promises she’ll get to show off for her little sister.

Are they in the 1990s? Is he wearing a Morpheus coat?

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Commentary

Daisy showed so much growth as a leader in this episode. I feel like by the end, she’d passed the Star Trek leadership exams, both the Kobayashi Maru, where cadets have to deal with a no win scenario, and the Bridge Officer’s Test, in which women have to prove they’re tough enough to send a friend to their death in order to save the ship. So she’s ready to be director of SHIELD or SWORD or captain of her own starship or TARDIS. Whatever opportunity comes up first.

Enoch also passed the Alien Humanity Test, initiated by Spock in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982), to prove once and for all that emotionless aliens can be real friends with real souls, too. I think Enoch also passed the Chronicom version of a katra to the convenient implant in Jemma’s head when they looked into each other’s eyes for a long moment.

Next week, Diana the Implant can start speaking to Jemma the way Spock’s katra spoke to McCoy in The Search for Spock. Then they’ll have to take the implant out. Also, maybe without a body Enoch won’t be bound by his secret programming anymore, so he’ll finally spill the whole truth in exchange for getting out of the implant and becoming the voice of the Zephyr.

But his life essence could also be in the time drive with his heart or in the Zephyr. Coulson and Sibyl’s life essences went in wildly different directions when the time ship exploded, but the important thing is they both landed somewhere. I don’t see why Enoch wouldn’t, too, unless the writers want him dead for convenience sake, which is a giant plot hole.

Either the digital beings have a failsafe program, with wireless capability, that gets their data out in an emergency and into the nearest device, or they don’t. That’s not something a digital lifeform would disable, unless they’re suicidal, like Coulson is becoming.

Enoch isn’t suicidal. He wants to stay with and protect his family. I think we’ve proven once and for all that he and Coulson both have hearts and souls and brains and courage- everything necessary to be considered the equal of a human, and then some. And if they have that capability, all of the digital beings have it. They may not all express it, but it’s not like all humans are heroes either. When was the last time someone died for you?

Phlebotinum is a hilarious Whedonverse in joke. But is it also foreshadowing? I’m beginning to suspect that it is. I don’t think that implant is going to last more than another episode- it’s coming out in 10 or early in 11, then the search for Fitz is on.

The extent of the carnage was exaggerated in the promo for this episode. Coulson was just having an existential meltdown.

Are the Chronicoms the counterpart to Dr Who’s Cybermen and what does that mean for Enoch? As a species, some versions of the Cybermen started out as humanoids who then became Cyborgs.

I think it’s odd that Enoch didn’t keep his memories from loop to loop when Daisy and Coulson did. If all 3 have Gravitonium in them, as I suspect, that would explain why Daisy and Coulson kept their memories. Enoch was also uncharacteristically unhelpful, as if he was programmed to keep them busy in the vortex and out of touch for as long as possible. In which case, whose orders was he following? Fitz or Sibyl’s? The Spock almost-quote used as Enoch’s dying words (and previously used by Sibyl in episode 7) suggests Fitz still has his ultimate loyalty. Or it’s some kind of Chronicom passcode.

Who else loves the Zephyr as a randomly (mal)functioning Tardis? There are several versions of Dr Who on this ship. Or maybe Jemma is River Song and Fitz is a missing Dr Who, since the Zephyr is his baby. The others are companions with many rivers to cross issues to solve.

OMG, of course. Coulson is Captain Jack, one of my favorite characters of all time, but also a man who can’t die and is tortured because of it. I’m going to say Daisy is Martha Jones for now, because she’s the other best Dr Who verse character ever and then she went on to peripherally join a Sense8 cluster, which would totally be a Daisy thing to do.

Maybe Daisy was in an alternate universe for a few episodes, because things have definitely fazed Sousa since he was plucked out of time. Like 70s fashions. And he’s definitely taken his uncertainty out on the team. I guess we’re going with cognitive dissonance as a theme again this week.

That being said, I’m happy with them as a couple. He’s her established type, she’s his established type. He’s a proven quantity and solid as a rock. Even the Darkforce couldn’t get him. She deserves some happiness with someone all her own and so does he, after both of them have had to stand next to two of the most iconic couples in the MCU for all of these years. Let them find some happiness together. And have some stellar arguments that end with spectacular make up sessions.

Ship Name= Dousie You can hardly tell this name has anything to do with Daisy or Sousa. This is why fandoms make up the ship names, not corporate marketing departments.

They’d better both be alive at the end of the season. I caught Enoch’s ambiguous wording when he told Daisy this was the last mission. And the weird way he said he was sorry to Coulson. Or was he sorry for something that happened to Fitz? Or that he helped bring Coulson back to life and pain again?

When Jemma recovers her traumatic memory, we immediately assume that it’s something terrible having to do with Fitz. But she could also have realized that Enoch is a double agent who put the implant in to keep her quiet about his traitorous lies. Or that the Chronicoms put it in because they’re controlling both Jemma and Enoch.

It could be that Fitz is working against the Chronicoms as advertised, but Jemma and Enoch were captured and the season long trip down memory lane has been an attempt to either flush Fitz out or nudge one of the team members into figuring out where he would hide.

It could also be that the team are the ones in the Framework, not Fitz, and he’s the one who needs to save them from the Chronicoms.

Or it could be that they are all dead, including Fitz, but he’s gone into the light ahead of them and is now their silent guide. They’re working their way through purgatory, etc to catch up to him in the Elysian Fields. That would be the Lost-era worst case scenario ending- the entire series has been Coulson working his way through purgatory. Although, in that case I will pull out my Dante and have a go at it.

Enoch gets in a bit of Gandalf, who came back from the dead, and Spock, who came back from the dead. Probably others I missed. I still don’t like the “Fitz is dead,” foreshadowing. He’s already come back from the dead. We’ll see where it goes.

This episode more thoroughly introduces Deke to time science and he’s hard to beat in a dirty fight when he’s motivated. He’s gotten his hands on the time drive now. Jemma won’t be able to keep him away from the schematics and theory, after this. With her memory impaired and both Fitz and Enoch gone, it’s imperative that she train a backup engineer in time travel.

I don’t think the Chronicoms are prepared for how dirty he’ll fight, as compared to SHIELD. That’s why we were shown him shooting Freddy mid sentence. If Bobo needs to be rescued, Deke will move heaven and Earth and break every rule of civilized society to do it, orders be d**ned.

The team members who actively dehumanized Enoch should have been in the room while he died, witnessing his sacrifice. They shouldn’t get to coast through and pretend a spare part was borrowed from one machine to use in another without facing the very human death of the being they valued less because of superficial characteristics.

If this show doesn’t force Mack to face his sadistic, hypocritical prejudice against robots, I will scream. At home, no one can hear you scream but your dog, but I’ll still do it.

If you don’t think this is necessary character growth for Mack before the series ends, go watch S4Ep12, Hot Potato Soup, where Mack switches on the Radcliffe LMD, which has a brain that’s more sophisticated than a human’s, so that he can listen to it scream as he kills it. Fitz stops him just in time- Mack almost destroys LMD Radcliffe to indulge his own sadism when the LMD is essential to their operation. Mack acted the same way in S7Ep7, when he put more effort into exploding robot bodies than making sure Sibyl didn’t get the timestream back, derailing the operation. His hatred of robots and obsession with killing them is frequently detrimental to the team’s goals. In a robot war, strategy is crucial.

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The Quantum Realm

While I doubt they had access to Pym Particles, I think there’s a good chance Piper and Flint rendezvoused with FitzSimmons and Enoch at some point after they left Izel’s Temple at the end of S6. If Flint rebuilt the creation monolith, they could do anything.

Fitz researched the Quantum Realm in S3 when Jemma was missing on Maveth, so he’s aware of its existence. Depending on what research he had clearance to view/what’s stored on the Zephyr, he may have been able to create his own suit and particles. Hank Pym’s research was highly classified, but it’s also old and the world has ended. Who’s going to guard clearance levels?

It makes sense for the time and space monoliths to also be bringing people through the Quantum Realm, with some kind of adjustable presets built in for ease of use, since they seem to be consumer level products, if you will.

After what happened with Janet van Dyne, it would fit Jemma’s reaction when the implant was removed for Fitz to have gone into the Quantum Realm. It’s dangerous to be in there and almost no one has gotten themselves out. It also fit with what she said about the place where Fitz is working from. He could have found a place where quantum time entanglements come together. Chronicoms may have nanites who can go in as hit-nanites or they may be able to see when he’ll leave.

It seems certain that Fitz isn’t in normal space time in some way, whether he’s left his body behind and is in some kind of Framework or time rift or he’s in the Quantum Realm with no way out. That’s why he can’t contact them. Maybe he can receive their messages, but he can’t answer back.

It’s possible that Jemma and Fitz knowingly sacrificed his body and sent his mind into something. They could have decided that if what they did worked and then they reset time, it wouldn’t matter. He’d come back alive and in his original body, just like the first time he died at the end of S5. And just like we saw over and over in this episode. This episode might have been a reminder that when time resets, the dead are brought back, wounds heal and mistakes are undone.


Who Is the New Coulson?

Human Coulson was into being a mentor, but Coulsonbot not so much. He still cares about the same people and has good communication skills, but LMDs and Chronicoms typically haven’t been programmed to teach and negotiate with patience, whereas that was OG Coulson’s alternate life path in the Framework. It’s setting up an interesting divergence here. Coulsonbot is much more of a man of action, someone who would have gone into Operations at SHIELD Academy rather than Communications, as OG Coulson did.

Which is a long way of saying that maybe they aren’t the same person, they just share some memories. But that doesn’t mean that Coulsonbot is any less of a real person. The fact that he can diverge from OG Coulson and forge his own identity is proof that he has his own consciousness.

Coulson starts the episode with odd ideas about what it means to be human, starting with a boatload of ableism. The state of someone’s body has nothing to do with their humanity. Needing the assistance of technology has nothing to do with someone’s humanity. And you don’t need to earn your soul or your right to be treated with decency. I hope Coulson knows that by the end of the episode.

But I’m afraid that what he and most people got from it was that Enoch deserves to be treated like a human because he’s a “good” robot, just like Coulson. Unlike the “bad” Chronicom and LMD robots who have made “bad” choices, who SHIELD is at war with. Except the Chronicoms make the same choices, for the same reasons, that humans make everyday. They want something, and if they have the strength to take it, they do. They’re dominating, like American culture celebrates. And as SHIELD has celebrated doing, often enough.

Human and nonhuman/animal/environmental rights matter, most especially for those we consider different from ourselves and in how we sensitize ourselves to think about others.

 


Images courtesy of ABC.

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