Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Recap: “Past Life”
The show’s first half of the season draws to a close as we leave behind the future and head back to the present-past to stop the end of the world.
For this end of the first half episode, I think it best to go back to the beginning. As a wise old man once said, “There was an idea… to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if they could become something more.” No, not the Avengers initiative, but the show, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., to see if regular people in a superhero world could be as interest on the small screen, as those superheroes were on the large.
Daisy: You okay?
Coulson: Just a wardrobe malfunction. You?
Daisy: Yeah. Turns out they have PCP in space.
It almost didn’t work. But a combination of ABC allowing Disney to insist on spinning their movie franchises on TV, fast thinking on the part of the writers when it turned out you couldn’t pace a broadcast network show the way you can Mad Men or Game of Thrones, plus sheer dumb luck of other shows failing, got AoS to a hilariously improbable Season 5. But that was it, right? This was the final season. So why not hinge everything on the death of Phil Coulson?
Of course, the freedom to not give a fuck and do whatever the show felt like turned out to be just what they needed. In the face of cancelation in Season 4, the show turned out Agents of H.Y.D.R.A., perhaps one of the best responses to Trump’s election by any network series. And now, despite a few dips, and the attempt at an elongated time loop that doesn’t quite hold together the way a single episode one would, they’re facing a probable Season 6. Which means if the show is going to find a way to save Phil Coulson, they’re going to need to do it soon.
Until then, we have the delightful discovery this week that not only has Kasius been hiding a secret (more on that in a minute) but so has Coulson. He’s dying of arc reactor poisoning. (This feels like something from Iron Man 2, which Coulson was there for in the films.) He’s kept it from the team since their travel forward in time, but now it’s what’s driving him to bring back Daisy, despite logic dictating (if you believe Daisy did it) that leaving her in the future is the fastest way to end this loop and reset everything.
When we get back to the present Daisy is the one who’s going to be leading S.H.I.E.L.D., which suddenly makes everyone’s insistence this is her fault make a *whole* lot more sense. Obviously, she didn’t. I am going to continue to believe that all the way until; the Earth shakes apart.I assume Miss Murderous Madlady, who is running things in General Talbot’s place, is responsible and laying it at Daisy’s feet is just so much propaganda. But at least “Daisy as defacto head of S.H.I.E.L.D.” makes the decision to do so make more sense.
Deke: Where has this *been* all my life?
Enoch: Level Three. Hidden in a wall cavity.
We’ll have to see how things go now that everyone is home in the right time period. But before we do, let’s talk about Kasius’ “seer” who everyone correctly guessed was indeed Yo-Yo. Perhaps it’s because I *just* saw Altered Carbon that the torture chamber loop where she’s spent the last ~75 years felt a bit much. But the point stands: unless Coulson dies for the team, there’s no way out of this. Yo-Yo and co will go back. Whatever happened back then will happen, and Mack will be one of the first to die in the cycle.
Seeing Old Yo-Yo was a gut punch, and probably one of the best damn scenes all season, which is saying quite a bit. She wants to believe the circle can be broken. She wants to think this time it will be different. She’s looking at her younger self, full of hope, not knowing the horrors to come, and damn it, she *wants to believe.*
But the problem is she remembers being young Yo-Yo, standing in front of her. And while hope springs eternal that this time it will be different, the truth is she’s been there, she’s had hope, and she’s seen hope crushed beneath the heel of fortunes show. She lost them all, Mack, Coulson, Simmons, Fitz, Daisy, until she finally walked away from May and her creepy fortune-telling child, knowing that this would be her fate if she didn’t kill Kasius because she’d seen it. And she did it anyway, and here she is. Because they can’t change any of it. All they can do is decide what to do with the time that is given them, and Yo-Yo really hopes her younger self will spend all of it with Mack.
By the way, spotlighting Yo-Yo and Mack this week instead of Simmons and Fitz was really something, At this point, they are my favorite couple in a way that FitzSimmons can never be because they’ve been dragged apart too much. Fitz and Simmons are the ultimate “once they get together the show’s over” couple. But Mack and Yo-Yo are together just fine, and the show ain’t going nowhere.
Daisy: But we know the solution works! We can stop this today!
Coulson: No, it’s not about today. It’s about *tomorrow*. Even if we solve this problem, the world is never safe, the job goes on, *we* go on.
After the build-up and let down of Sinara Daisy last week, having Mack be the one to take out high-as-a-kite Kasius was the right choice. Partly because it was a little random. Daisy and Simmons are the ones with the beef with Kasius, so this is less personal. it’s just business. Also, letting Mack loose after he’s been all peacenik this season was a relief. But as we saw, Mack may have won the battle, but the fight goes on, as Kasius notes, allowing the time loop to continue means his father gets to invade Earth once more.
So farewell to Tess, to Flint, to Enoch and to Deke (RIP on those last two), and hello again to the present, sunlight and the problems left over from the end of Season 4, once we return from a four-week break, as ABC gets themselves out of the way of Olympic coverage as best they can.