After the brief diversion of the Watchdogs in the last episode, this time around we are back to focusing squarely on Malick and the Bad Guy Formerly Known as Agent Ward and their nefarious Plan to Take Over The World. Opening with an innocuous enough encounter between a bar owner and the homeless bum who sleeps in the alley outside his bar, things get weird very quickly, with the bar owner desperately calling the emergency services to name Daisy specifically as the person he needs to come rescue him from HYDRA.
The team’s attempted rescue goes awry, as they realise too late the true target of HYDRA’s attentions, Daisy just managing to touch him long enough to get a glimpse of the future before he is hauled off out of reach. The visions granted Daisy suggest that the man is going to die, and that she is destined to be there when that happens, failing in her mission to protect him.
The episode plays nicely with the concepts it is addressing, embracing fully the oddness and contradictions inevitable in any ‘time travel’ plot including pop culture references to one other famous time travelling Sci-Fi franchise. It also goes out of its way to explain the various stances on the matter – Daisy is determined, backed by Coulson and May, that the future she has seen can be altered. Meanwhile, Fitz and Simmons strongly disagree, with a technical but (just) comprehensible explanation from Fitz as to the nature of time as a fourth dimension and the unalterable quality of any witnessed future event. It’s nice to see a show take the effort to actually address these sorts of issues in a time travel (ish) storyline, without going to deep so as to alienate the audience with technobabble.
The problem comes with the fact that when Fitz and Simmons get proved right, the series of ‘conveniences’ which the plot throws up to ensure that the future Daisy saw (though not quite the one she thought she saw) are weak and not really worthy of the groundwork done to that point. One event in particular is not only random to the point of disbelief, but also negates a running plotline between two characters for the last couple of weeks entirely, leading one to wonder what the point was.
Nonetheless, the twists to the real world events as they occur, as opposed to how Daisy thought she saw them, play out fairly well, and the denouement is satisfactory, if poignant. The very last vision that Daisy sees harks back to a brief flashforward seen in an earlier episode which suggests imminent disaster which I assume is going to come in the season finale.
The episode as a whole is one of the series’ grislier ones, and younger viewers or those of a delicate disposition may want to skip certain of the Ward scenes – a shame because Brett Dalton is one of the highlights, clearly thoroughly enjoying his new super baddie role.
The final sting suggests that the balance of power which Malick has thought he held is overtly shifting – though in honesty that much has been obvious to everyone except Malick for a while now.
VerdictL An episode with more good than bad, but it still is starting to feel as if the show is a little confused again, with mixes of good ideas and excellent scenes with poor execution and some lazy choices. Come on SHIELD, you can do better! 6/10
Greg D. Smith