This review contains spoilers for Agents of SHIELD.
Agents of SHIELD Season 7 Episode 11
There are certain narrative advantages to Agents of SHIELD experiencing a different timeline in its final season. The changes to history can be catastrophic, but even if it’s not all undone, the show is ending anyway, allowing the stakes to be much higher. Fortunately, those cards are being played during a penultimate episode that also features some surprising emotional turns, but it’s nevertheless difficult to see how the series can provide satisfying endings for all of its principal characters.
That doubt springs from Agents of SHIELD’s necessary but frustrating decision to focus on Kora and Nathaniel in this episode. These characters’ motivations undoubtedly became more clearly defined even though their attempted manipulation of our heroes failed, but with time running out for resolution, reinforcing Nathaniel’s dedication to anarchy or Kora’s rationalization for killing Grant Ward and others on her vigilante hit list aren’t really high among most fans’ priorities.
Which is why it was so refreshing to hear Daisy say, “I already have a sister to save. Her name is Jemma Simmons.” Acting against Sybil’s prognostications was already a bold move even without sending the quinjet coasting through space, and although we don’t get to see the rescue attempt come to fruition, an infiltration of the Zephyr is clearly in the near future… something hopefully more effective than Deke’s all-too-brief “Nakatomi Plaza” caper.
In the meantime, trimming the non-essential systems provided the perfect minimalist environment for the intimate conversations between Daisy, Sousa, and Mack. Since Daisy has no family other than SHIELD, her worries over Enoch’s “final mission” prediction are totally valid, but Mack soothes her and picks up on the connection between her and Sousa. Meanwhile, the director also admirably counsels Sousa about what’s coming for him, and although the “Quake” teasing was a strange bit of flirtation, the mood was admirably established for some of the best scenes of the episode.
The other attention-grabbing aspect of this week’s Agents of SHIELD involved the long-awaited return of sorts for Fitz, who appeared in memories from which Nathaniel hoped to learn his location. Although the effectiveness of an implant that glows might be debatable, it clearly did its job since the interrogation forced Simmons to forget Fitz entirely under duress. But the more intriguing detail centers around the mention of bloodwork, and that’s where Deke’s presence on the Zephyr might be explained.
Could it be that Simmons has also had to forget about the birth of her daughter, Deke’s mother? The flashbacks reminded us that it took a long time for Enoch, Fitz, and Simmons to work on the time machine upgrades to the Zephyr, and Fitz expressed his desire to take some time for themselves since there really was no rush if they could return to the temple in a flash anyway. It seems plausible that part of the intervening time could have been spent starting a family. What an exciting but horrific prospect for Simmons!
The scale of the Chronicom attack on SHIELD bases around the world meanwhile overshadowed the smaller revelations for the other Agents of SHIELD characters. Coulson’s LMD programming allowed him to become a computer genius stand-in for Daisy, a cool side effect that hid the fact that Kora’s power doesn’t really fit with Sybil’s hacking the grid. May had an insightful conversation with Kora, including a suitably relevant mention of the Cavalry incident, but then Garrett just spirited Kora away. Yoyo had even less to do.
In the end, it’s not really all that satisfying to see the pieces fall into place. Kora letting herself be captured last week led to Sybil being able to destroy SHIELD in the 1980s; Garrett and Nathaniel stealing the Zephyr allowed them to send the signal to call the Chronicoms; but somehow Fitz being out there creates a chance that SHIELD still comes out on top. The kiss between Kora and Nathaniel therefore felt irrelevant enough that the excitement for the finale springs not from the setup of this episode but from its own momentous nature as the end of Agents of SHIELD.