This review contains spoilers
When I saw the premise for this episode – essentially ‘Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. does Minority Report‘ – I was a bit sceptical. Could 45 minutes do justice to a sci-fi concept as massive as precognition? I was worried that the idea may come across as cheesy, like it did in Men In Black 3. Or, worse still, that it would throw up the type of timey-wimey plot holes that always incur internet backlash.
But, I’m glad to report that my doubts were unnecessary. Spacetime – thanks to a ballsy script by the showrunners, and confident direction from the oft-impressive Kevin Tancharoen – felt like one of the most imaginative and well-engineered Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. instalments to date.
There was something to enjoy on every level; from minutiae of the show (Charles’ little musical motif was really neat), to the small character touches (Coulson having his own ‘Skye – sorry, Daisy’ moment was a personal highlight [apologies to Mr Tasker in the comments section!]), all the way up to the epic ending of the episode, where Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. proved that it’s not going to let Daredevil corner the market on dramatic rooftop showdowns.
I’m rarely worried that any core character will die in this show, but as the newly-enhanced Malick repeatedly punched Daisy in the face – with a defunct billboard spluttering sparks and fire in the background, Lincoln incapacitated downstairs, Coulson refusing to charge in, and Fitzsimmons 20 storeys away – I must admit that I was on the edge of my seat.
This scene felt like it could’ve been a massive moment in a season finale, which made it a very nice surprise in the fifteenth week of the season. Network TV does have its restriction and its problems, but when the showrunners serve up a surprise like this in a random episode that shouldn’t – on paper – be all that important, it’s a real treat for the viewers.
Remember the days when we lamented the fact that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t offer enough super-powered action? This week was the ultimate proof that those days are gone, as Daisy’s tremor powers, Malick’s super-strength and Giyera’s telekinesis all made appearances, and we even got a gruesome glimpse of Hive’s abilities as well.
There was also the actual precognition itself, of course, which was handled in an effective and not budget-busting way. Those glimpses of the future were essentially just montaged-together clips put through a filter, but they were edited dramatically, and provided only the bare minimum information – a slight slither of foreknowledge, enough to put the characters on edge without making the episode predictable. This really was a strong script, wasn’t it?
Guest star Bjorn Johnson did a fine job as the reluctant clairvoyant and hobo Charles. From his world-weary introduction in the street behind that café, to urging Daisy to help his daughter with his final words, he made for an interesting temporary addition to the show. A few weeks back, Lance was wishing he could have an awesome superpower of his own, but now we’ve been shown that being an Inhuman isn’t always a happy experience. Johnson sold this idea well, with a regretful performance that verged on the manic at times.
In all of this excitement, you could argue that Blair Underwood’s return as Andrew Garner – and Matthew Willig’s subsequent reappearance as Lash – felt a bit tacked-on. But still, it’s always interesting to see Ming-Na Wen’s May tackle emotional material, so I’m not going to complain that she got a big scene this week, even if it did render that lengthy training session completely redundant.
Next week, it looks like Hive will be stepping up his operations. I’m not quite sure what I make of Brett Dalton’s new identity just yet, but I’m hoping to be convinced in the near future…
Read Rob’s review of the previous episode, Watchdogs, here.