Saturday, July 4, 2020

Agents of SHIELD S07E06: Adapt or Die

Surprising and heavy turns
by Brandon Coulson

Wow, just wow guys! Agents of SHIELD took that bar and just raised it again this week as “Adapt or Die” heard my complaint about surprises and just shocked me this time.

The gist of the plot was fairly simple: the Chronicoms awaken their Hunters who in turn are replacing SHIELD agents in the Lighthouse in an attempt to take things over. The whole episode took place in a few sets and with limited cast. Once again splitting the team up and giving everyone little tasks made things feel like they were moving much more than they actually were.

If nothing else is taken away from the last few seasons of SHIELD, and especially this final one, it’s the way you can take a “modest” budget and stretch it. That and the way they’ve been plotting things out keeps that breakneck pace going even if the actual plot is moving at a much slower speed. Just a big achievement for those behind the scenes that I can not credit enough.

Very quickly General Stoner realizes something is not right as, against his orders, the base is locked down and missiles are fired at the Zephyr. So with May and Coulson with him we have our first thread. Mack and Yoyo are on a rescue mission to liberate Mack’s parents,  Daisy and Sousa are still Nathaniel Malick’s prisoners, and Deke Enoch and Gemma have to repair the Zephyr after the missile strike.

There was a great sense of tension and the ticking clock scenarios really kept you on the edge of your seat. The smallest of the storylines had to be Daisy and Sousa but what was there was still strong. Daisy got drained of blood and spinal fluids in Nathaniel’s attempt to go full Whitehall and steal her powers. Sousa got a chance to be a total badass and take out a few minions before seeing Nathaniel actually get powers but then suffer from the same bone shattering side effects Daisy herself had. As they left his body under a collapsed ceiling I wonder is he truly dead and gone or will we see a shattered future version moving forward? Also with Daisy left incapacitated in a healing chamber will there be future ramifications to the transfer?

We got answers on Gemma’s mystery implant as Deke walks in on Enoch servicing it and decides to defibrillate the poor guy. Now while this does lead to an adorable apology scene with Deke, it more importantly gets us answers. The basics being the implant is used to suppress memories of Fitz’s location and is malfunctioning and blocking information Gemma needs. But my question is if it’s already malfunctioning and Enoch is helping in maintaining it, couldn’t any Chronicom upon capturing her merely deactivate or remove the obvious foreign body? Oh well, take out your big grain of salt for this one.

Coulson and May had some really nice moments together. Phil got to air out his feelings on being an LMD and her cold demeanor towards him, and May acted almost like a human being. In addition May has become their go to robot detector which helped them root out the replacements and save General Stoner in the nick of time. Having the Chronicoms stealing personalities to adapt, sort of mimicking the LMD model, was a nice touch.

Coulson even got to meet the Predictor though that part was sort of a mixed bag. Coulson had some great lines, “dying is kinda my superpower” being the best one. But the Predictor’s assertion the difference between them and humanity is time and how death means nothing to them sort of makes zero sense. The whole purpose of their plan is to save their people. If death means nothing then what’s the point? But Coulson, having found the ship of Hunters, sacrifices himself to blow the lot of them up, as May says “he’ll come back, he always does”. But still an unexpected move.

Mack and Yoyo’s storyline however, was the most unexpected and in the end the saddest. It started cute enough at first, Mack feeling nervous around his folks and eventually having a little fun suggesting they buy their kids an ATV. I should have seen a twist coming but still when Mack’s dad pats May on the shoulder and she feels nothing, my heart hit the floor. Then when we found in turn that his mom was also already changed into a Chronocom and in turn telling Mack both his parents have been murdered forever changing his childhood as he remembered it. Wow. Talk about a dark and unexpected turn. Not only that but that Mack has to then kill the duplicates of his own parents was a heavy moment for the series.

No surprise that Mack takes some air after their time jump with Deke close behind for moral support. I thought we’d get a nice little heart-to-heart but instead the Zephyr jumps away stranding the two men out of time with no way to know if or when they will ever see their friends again.

For a series that knew it was coming to an end they certainly took advantage in making big swings and lots of surprises. Just another fantastic episode.

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