It’s a common sci-fi trope: the heroes get in a time loop that ends in a catastrophe then go back in time to stop it. It’s been done on Angel, Fringe, X-Files, and even Buffy.
It’s also been the plot of a few series (Tru Calling and Russian Doll),
and a popular rom-com on Hulu.
It’s even happened on Agents of SHIELD. Remember when Fitz and Simmons had to break a time loop to stop Earth from destruction at the end of season five?
Oh, and when Elena met her future self working for the Kree?
Now, Elizabeth Henstridge adds some new wrinkles in her directorial debut.
Last week, the Zephyr vanished from Earth-616 thanks to a malfunctioning Time Drive. It’s now in-between realities and headed to a vortex that will kill everyone.
It’s up to Daisy, Enoch and LMD Coulson to break the loop somehow, but it might mean someone will not survive.
It starts with Daisy waking up from her pod, and finding out the Time Drive is broken, and the Zephyr is headed to a vortex that will destroy everyone. Mack is blinded, while Simmons opens a drawer that has Deke’s cologne and a Rubik’s Cube. Enoch offers help, when the Time Drive zaps…
and we’re back at square one. The scene repeats, even the title card. She tells everyone what happened, and is about to wake up LMD Coulson…
when the loop resets, and it’s doing so faster and faster.
Thanks to a script by Drew Z. Greenberg, Henstridge does some things to make it different from similar episodes. For one thing, the loop doesn’t always start with Daisy waking up. She also finds out this is actually the middle of her time loop journey. Coulson tells her she’s about in Time Loop #89, rather than number two, and that she’s died a few times.
Also, the plot moves forward as well as the ship. They also manage to get a few secrets out of Simmons and Enoch that’s connected to her memory-blocking implant. For one thing, Enoch is programmed to keep her implant from being removed, even to the point that any attempt would be fatal. This happens twice to Simmons, and once to Daisy and even Sousa. When they try to get Enoch to hold the scanner, that’s when he reveals Fitz did program him to keep the implant from being removed. He even attacks Daisy, and learns she’s back at full Quake strength. This will be bad news (in a good way) for Nathaniel Malick when he returns next week.
Despite the repeating day, the script still provides a lot of room for very good discussions. First, there’s the scene where LMD Coulson and Daisy are both frustrated in this time loop, but he’s upset (unusual for androids but not in this case). He doesn’t like the fact that he’s died a few times. He’s even more upset he’s seeing everyone die in this time loop, in one way or another. That’s when he figures Enoch is the key.
Then, Daisy wakes up seeing Sousa awake or asleep,depending on the loop. She wonders why he cares at all, considering he’s been taken out of his decade. He says he admires people who sacrifice for the greater good, and those who don’t give up. He knows of two obvious examples back in his day. It leads Daisy to come up with a plan to remove the implant. Sousa even gets a kiss from Daisy. This, of course, means they won’t wind up together either. Maybe Sousa will meet that nurse he was dating in season two of Agent Carter…IF he gets back to 1955.
At least Daisy, Coulson and Deke find out from Jemma’s implant-free brain that Enoch’s energy regulator can fix the Time Drive…but it would kill him. Then Jemma weeps, saying “What have I done?” Has she just exposed Fitz to the Chromicons, or worse?
We don’t know, because this is the final time loop. Somehow she has to ask Enoch to give up his life to save everyone.
However, he knows what he has to do, and does it calmly. Enoch would be a great friend to Daniel Sousa.
The episode ends with one of the show’s best scenes ever. Enoch embraces his final fate with grace and dignity. He admits in his many centuries of observing our species, he never felt lonely. Now, after being with SHIELD, he does feel lonely, but was happy to have such special friends.
Then he says something that isn’t that surprising: he says when SHIELD finishes its mission, it won’t be a team anymore. He compares it to a family being together, then breaking up to make their own lives.
Fans are being prepared for what happens after SHIELD (hopefully) beats the Chromicons. The team lives on, but heads for new paths. It’s quite likely the band will get back together, but they will move on after the mission is done. He ends with the words, “As I Have Always Been…”
Not a dry eye in the house.
Once Fitz FINALLY returns (and he better), you can be sure he’ll invent the best energy regulator to bring Enoch back…but also realize he can do that eventually. He has to kiss his girl first…for a very long time.
The scene also emphasizes the loss of Enoch over whether they can fix the Time Drive. Of course they do, they jump back to reality, but it’s done off-scene. Well done, Miss Henstridge. Please make more.
You, too, Drew.
BUT….back to reality. The episode ends with Nathaniel doing a good job helping Kora control her fire-shooting powers. He can’t wait to see her reduce Daisy to ashes.
However, next week’s episode is called “Stolen.” That means if he can take Daisy’s powers, what would stop him from doing the same to any Inhuman at Afterlife….including his new girlfriend?