Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 16: Inside Voices Recap

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This week Agents of SHIELD features two daring prison breaks by two death-defying groups of people who are being treated unfairly by their captors. The captors themselves feel that their prisoners betrayed them and their trust, and that the prisoners aren’t listening to reason, so they feel justified in containing the prisoners indefinitely, while they attend to other matters.

The prisoners also feel like they aren’t being listened to. They seek out unlikely allies and use their wits, skill and reckless bravado to pull off their escapes. Someone almost dies in each escape. Meanwhile, the leaders and seconds in command are distracted with their own plots and plans, so they underestimate their prisoners need to escape and deal with issues. The leaders don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late to prevent the escapes.

Hale and Daisy are mirrored as soft-spoken leaders who fail to pay attention to what’s happening within their teams, and the HYDRA and SHIELD gangs both rebel as a result. Neither leader has either the history as team leader or the watchful muscle to back her up in order to be able to expect absolute loyalty from her best people. As a result, they lose the control they’re holding so tightly.

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Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 15: Rise and Shine Recap

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Hale HYDRA! Hail the squid-bellied Destroyer of Worlds! Hail the Calamari Mata Hari, and the return of that silver-tongued devil himself, (former) General Talbot!

This week, we get a HYDRA history lesson and a nostalgic visit with some old friends. (RIP, Jasper Sitwell. I will always believe that someone saved you after the Winter Soldier crossed you off in the most spectacular of his on-camera assassinations.) We also discover just how deeply the misogyny ran in HYDRA.

After the Hydra background reveal, Hale takes Coulson on a tour of HYDRA and its goals as it stands today. The two leaders have a surprising amount in common, until Coulson slips and tries to give Hale orders based on his experiences in the future. Hale thinks that he’s just another male authority figure deciding that his gender makes him smarter than her, and shuts down in anger. Did they just bring us one step closer to the end of the world?

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Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 14: The Devil Complex Recap

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This week’s episode confronts levels and layers of fear and loathing, and the ongoing question of when the solution becomes worse than the problem. How far is too far? At what point would it be better to die with your integrity or identity intact, rather than make a deal with the devil that potentially wipes out everything you thought you were or the good you were trying to accomplish?

These questions have been a core part of the show from the beginning, both politically, with the revelation that HYDRA and SHIELD had been interwoven since the beginning, and scientifically, as the question of the appropriateness of the use of the TAHITI protocol to revive Coulson has been reflected on by many characters through all five seasons.

The question of Fitz’ and Simmons’ genius, and when they need to rein it in for the good of the world, rather than following the science to its logical extreme, has also been with the show since the beginning, and explored in a new way each season. Season 4 seemed like it should be the peak of that issue, with Fitz helping Radcliffe create murderous LMDs and perpetrating genocide and mass torture on inhumans inside the Framework as his alter ego The Doctor.

Instead, we come back around to it again this week, in an even more chilling scenario, as Fitz needs to follow the science in order to save the world, but comes close to losing his own humanity while doing so. Cooperation with HYDRA is also on the table again, this time with SHIELD as a willing participant, with the goal of saving the world from a ruthless invading enemy. And, with the appearance of a Kree in the tag, the ethics and science of saving Coulson’s life using TAHITI or another advanced method, with or without his consent, are an issue once again.

This time, Coulson’s made his feelings on the subject very clear to everyone close to him, but he and everyone around him seem to be operating based on fear as much as on logic and reason. Daisy’s powers are also an important piece of the puzzle, with the science vs fear conflict driving her story as well. Fear anomalies continue to arise, and Hale continues to send surprises the team’s way. The situation is building in emotion and suspense and the team has 1/3 of the season left, about the length of the final pod in season 4, to prevent multiple catastrophes.

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Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 13: Principia Recap

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This week, SHIELD goes back to its roots as a spy organization, and does some legwork that the Black Widow would be proud of. It’s a quieter, more light-hearted episode after last week’s emotional roller coaster ride, but family and loss are still themes. Deke figures out who his grandparents are and remembers his beloved mom, while Mack reaffirms that he’s not going to think of Elena as a robot just because she has robot arms. In the run up to Infinity War and Thanos, the show also brings up familial abuse, both as physical abuse and as the abuse of power. Hale becomes a stand-in for Thanos, and her team, especially Ruby, become alternates for Thanos’ children.

And Werner von Strucker is back! He’s still institutionalized, but out of his Ward-induced vegetative state and being threatened with heavy doping via Thorazine. He’s also using his favored alias of Alex Braun, but his therapist seems to know his full history and identity anyway.

His therapist wants Werner to show motivation toward making progress in therapy by revealing as much information about his past as possible, so that Werner can avoid the thorazine. Werner, however, has developed powers after being trapped in a particular memory in the memory recall machine while in a persistent vegetative state, then being shocked out of the memory loop by Lincoln Campbell zapping Werner with inhuman electrokinetic powers.

Now Werner remembers everything that’s ever happened to him, and every detail of his surroundings, no matter how small. He also seems to have enhanced senses, though I’m not sure Werner realizes that yet (or the writers 😉). He read the small type on an envelope in the trash from across the room, and heard the other side of a phone conversation through a wall. That’s not normal hearing or vision, and may be part of why he’s so out of control. Both hypersensitivity and psychic powers have a long tradition of driving people mad until they get a handle on their powers.

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Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 12: The Real Deal Recap

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The 100th episode is here, and the showrunners went for an emotional episode that tugs on the heartstrings of longtime viewers, rather than loading this installment up with cameos from every past cast member they could get to show up. Mike Peterson, who played such a big part in the pilot and in season one, returns for the episode, and Hive gets a cameo, remembering longtime cast member Grant Ward/Brett Dalton. But most importantly, the focus is on SHIELD as a family, facing their fears together, and on upcoming major life transitions for the Agents of SHIELD, including birth, death, and marriage, making this a satisfying episode no matter what the show’s fate is at the end of the season.

The cold open begins with one of Fitz’s dwarfs scanning the technology storeroom after the explosion has died down. It looks like the bomb site that it is. The dwarf spots bloody three-toed footprints (from Vrellnexians), the remains of the beacon and a black robed figure. Also, this, which has been blown into the Marvel Universe from the Dr Who Dimension:

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Agents of Shield Season 5 Episode 11: All the Comforts of Home Recap

 

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We’re back! Everyone made it home, to no one’s surprise, and an extra, tree-hugging passenger tagged along. Dove Cameron, who is generally cute and adorable, joins the cast this week as General Hale’s bratty teenage daughter. Since this is the MCU, she’s not just a typical teenager. She has special talents. And a few demands. And she’s not sure if she’s a good guy or a bad guy, which might be because her loving mother has kept her sheltered. So sheltered, in fact, that her bedroom looks like a bank vault that’s guarded by some of Ivanov’s lower rent LMDs.

A bank vault decorated like a teenager’s bedroom from the 1970s, plus a Quake is My Hero poster. Okey dokey then. Ruby is a fan. Mom’s assignment is to capture Daisy. Hale doesn’t answer directly when Ruby asks if Hale’s supposed to kill Daisy or not. Hale is tasked with finding SHIELD and ending the entire fiasco that is the SHIELD era. Hale is just following orders and building a better world for the downtrodden citizens Ruby.

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Agents of Shield Season 5 Episode 10: Past Life Recap

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

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

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

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Agents of Shield Season 5 Episode 9: Best Laid Plans Recap

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Agents of SHIELD gives us another ambitious episode this week, with more clarifying information about this pod’s mythology, a human rebellion, a callback to Tahiti, the answer to the question “Just what is Enoch?”, a daring escape from what’s left of Planet Earth, and a Daisy-Sinara rematch. Deke also sentenced Voss to his fate, and there was some ominous foreshadowing to end the episode. And nearly everyone on the Zephyr suffered from some form of existential angst. You can never forget about the existential angst on Agents of SHIELD.

We begin with an atmospheric shot of two Kree soldiers emerging from a misty red background to try to put down the human rebellion. They’re being lured toward Mack and Elena, who easily kill them. That makes eight Kree that the humans have killed so far.

The rebels are putting Fitz’ weapons cache to good use. Elena tells Mack that she finds his rebel-peacemaker side sexy, but before they can do anything about it, Flint comes down the hall, all business. Having kids ruins your love life, it’s true. He tells them that the entire floor has been secured for the humans.

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Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 8: The Last Day Recap

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Desperation begins to close in on all sides as Agents of SHIELD reaches episode 8, The Last Day. We’re closing in on the midpoint of the season and the end of the first story arc. That will bring some kind of change, and it also brings the series’ 100th episode closer. The 100th episode, #12 of this season, is rumored to be an important one for the series and characters, not just the celebration of a milestone.

This episode spends time filling in more details on the True Believers. It shows us more of how Robin’s powers work and how she’s been using them over the course of her entire life to guide the effort to save the world. Mack, Elena and Flint draw closer together as a new family and as leaders of the Lighthouse humans. Everything in the episode involves intense struggle, but by the end Robin is finally confident that she’s in the right place, at the right time, giving the right message to the right person. That alone should be cause for hope.

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

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The Future of SHIELD

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

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

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

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