This review contains spoilers.
5.7 Together Or Not At All
One of the many improvements made to Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. last season was segmenting the season into pods, with each pod having its own distinct setting and story arc. We’re at episode seven of this pod, which is where the previous two (LMD and Agents of HYDRA) ended, but still have a way to go. While last week’s episode felt like a penultimate episode (half the recurring cast was killed off!), the extended pod is for the best because Kasius and Sinara finally gained an extra dimension and became great villains.
Along with their character development, the episode reunites most of the cast and sends a chunk of them to Earth. The episode opens right where Fun And Games ends, with Daisy, Fitz, and Simmons on the run from the octagon. Daisy pokes fun at Fitz, telling him that he could have joined in the fight; he replies with the most adorably tough guy line of the night, “No, it wouldn’t be fair. I do push-ups now. Double digits.” Sounds like Lukaku is going to have some competition when Fitz makes it back to the present!
Simmons is free of the facepaint, but still has the implant in her ear, which Fitz has to remove while a powerless Quake chokes out a Kree. S.H.I.E.L.D. continues its tribute to Star Wars, moving on from the first act of Return Of The Jedi to The Force Awakens, with their escape ship blowing up in right in front of them.
Faulnak, Kasius’ older brother, prepares the hunt for the Inhumans. He believes in hunting “primitive” races with their own weapons, specifically ones designed for hand-to-hand combat because it’s too easy otherwise. Ego is not just a living planet. Kasius has a secret meeting with Sinara; he appears worried she may leave him for Faulnak and she calls him out for begging for help. He needs to keep everything together a bit longer so his brother doesn’t steal his “reward.” They plan that he’ll entertain him while Sinara gets in The Destroyer of Worlds’ head.
Daisy, Fitz, and Simmons get in an elevator, but Maston-Dar* saw a sitcom once and pulls the wires out of the panel so their elevator shuts down. Daisy however, saw Die Hard and knows to go to the top of the elevator. Fitz and Simmons continue to be adorable; she says it’s great to be on the run again and he replies “together.”
There’s a great piece of editing here as the camera tracks up with Quake as she climbs up the opening in the elevator… and out to a shot of Earth. May is on the run (or hobble, given her busted leg) as a Vrellnexian hunts her. Just as they’re about to get her, the creature is stabbed… by Enoch! May is understandably mad at him for the whole “sending her 75 years in to the future” thing, while he makes it worse by acting like Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
He explains the aliens don’t want to eat him because he doesn’t have fleshy parts; she understandably assumes this is Fitz and his robots again, but he re-establishes all the background information on his filecard. He also notes that given her injury, it may be time for May to have a career change; this is definitely something to keep in mind for the rest of the series. He notes that a gravity storm is coming and suddenly something grabs the both of them.
Meanwhile, back on the station, Maston-Dar cockily checks the elevator, only to discover that the agents escaped. In anger he grabs a nearby fruit basket peddler** and demands to know where they went. The dude clearly doesn’t know, so he slashes his neck, spraying blood all over the wall. The next peddler then looks up at the opening in the ceiling, which, come on. Maston-Dar is supposed to be a master hunter, but he didn’t think to look up?
Here we get more meat for Kasius’ character. He defends himself to his brother’s posturing, pointing out that he did the best he could, but was overwhelmed. Kasius, with no training or experience, was put in charge of Kree forces and sent to defend a base in an overwhelming situation. Two of his generals were dead and he fled instead of dying, with Sinara protecting his life during their escape. He was exiled for escaping and not fighting to his death and his brother holds it against him.
Fitz, Simmons, and Daisy find an air filtration system and discover that the artificial gravity for the station is made through… gravitonium! Its impressive how well S.H.I.E.L.D. has repurposed and built upon their early, weaker stories and made them more important in hindsight. Maston-Dar shows up but the three run away straight into Deke (ugh). Like the petulant teen he is, he broke a window in his room and escaped through space. It’s a kind of witty scene that leads to him unintentionally delivering the cheesy metafictional line, “We are OUT of time.”
Mack, Phil, and Yo Yo sadly inform Flint that Tess was murdered. Flint leaves to cry and Mack goes over to comfort him. Flint feels responsible for Tess’ death. Not only were they hunting him, but he feels like his powers are useless because he couldn’t protect her. And if he couldn’t protect her, could he protect Mack? Aww, Flint is a sweet kid and he and Mack are bonding. Given that Mack and Yo Yo later decide to stay with him at the Lighthouse to fight, it seems like Mack is building a new family to replace the one he lost in the Matrix.
Daisy, Fitz, Simmons, and Deke (ugh) find Coulson, Yo Yo and Mack. Unite the Seven! They then realise Flint has disappeared, and the show cuts to a tracking shot of a hooded figure walking through the Lighthouse to where Tess was hanged. The Kree in charge asks the hooded figure if he knows where the Inhuman is. The figure, like a Jedi, pulls back their hood to reveal that it’s Flint. There are audible gasps in the background to try to make the reveal shocking. It’s not and that comes across as a bit silly, but it’s still a well shot moment and is definitely something a teenager would do. He’s forced to the ground by a second Kree and some pebbles fall out of his pocket. He turns them in to a pointy rock and has it fly in to the eye of the first Kree. Sinara then knocks Flint out and uses him as bait to catch S.H.I.E.L.D.
S.H.I.E.L.D. has been together for over four seasons now and know this is a trap. Quake walks in with her hands up, while Coulson sneaks in with a pistol and shoots at Sinara. Maston-Dar suddenly kicks Coulson and is about to kill him, but Mack comes up from behind, and in a moment of pure brilliance, grabs a fire extinguisher and whacks Maston in the back with it and they all run away to a larger room, where Flint uses his powers of moving rocks to move some rocks to block the door. I love that he has the same understanding of his powers as Rey does in Star Wars.
Hilariously, they failed to predict that the advanced alien race might have advanced alien technology that could shoot holes through walls. Coulson points out that they’re a “room full of secret agents, scientists, and superheroes” and that they should be able to come up with something. Maston continues to blast holes in the wall and there are some beautiful shots of Sinara in the dark, with a beam of light coming from the room splashed across her face. That room full of secret agents, scientists, and superheroes eventually agree on a plan developed by Deke (ugh) to use his gravity belt buckle to go up a conveniently placed shaft.
He volunteers to go first and drop it down, but Daisy and Phil have spent time around him and tell him he’s going last. Fitz and Simmons go first, with Fitz quoting Henry V and Simmons quoting Doctor Who. Maston-Dar places explosives in the holes in the wall to make an even bigger hole in the wall. What he didn’t expect was that Sinara would make her own hole… IN HIM. Sinara walks over his dead body to see the shaft door closing. S.H.I.E.L.D. has escaped them a total of FIVE times this episode. There’s a moment in the episode where Daisy calls them “Mr. and Mrs. Boba Fett.” It’s fitting given how tough they’re portrayed while not actually being very good at their jobs.
The agents, Flint, and Deke (ugh) find a spaceship with a Boba Fett colour scheme, but run into some complications. It turned out that Deke (ugh) doesn’t actually know how to fly, so they turn to Flint. Flint says he won’t leave the station and has to help the people living there. Mack and Yo Yo decide to stay and help him because ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. Phil decides he’ll fly because he “has a flying car; how different can it be?” Fitz informs a delighted Mack and Yo Yo that he hid some gear on the base on level 3, which leads to them having wonderful reactions of annoyance realizing that that’s the level infested with aliens. Mack eventually thanks Fitz and if that’s the last we ever see of them together, it’s a beautiful send off.
Sinara informs Kasius and Faulnak that our heroes and Deke (ugh) escaped to Earth. Faulnak calls out his brother for incompetency and says that if the puny humans can survive on Earth, so can Maston-Dar, so he’ll go hunt them there. Sinara informs him that Maston-Dar was killed… by her! Faulnak walks away and then supervillain laughs at her murdering his employee. He says that he underestimated her and her desire to climb up the ranks. He offers her a job working with him, where he believes she can have more success than with his loser brother.
Kasius looks distraught while Faulnak continues to flirt with Sinara. The camera shows Faulnak looking at Sinara and suddenly seize up; the camera then pans down to show that Kasius stabbed him in the back. Faulnak falls to the floor and Kasius tells him, “Sinara is not some object to be taken.” He then monologues to Faulnak that they both knew the REAL truth, which was that their father sent him on a suicide mission. Those two generals weren’t killed by the other side, but by Sinara, because she agreed with Kasius that they should leave.
Kasius knows he wasn’t built for the battlefield and has grander plans. Faulnak calls his brother a coward and a “god over a dead rock” that stabs his enemies in the back, so Kasius coldly responds with “and in the front” and stabs him again. Kasius rubs his brother’s blood on his face and then holds Sinara’s hands as he talks about what a great welcome his father will give them for avenging his brother’s death and getting The Destroyer of Worlds. While Kasius wasn’t that developed a villain earlier on, the past two episodes have turned him into one of the show’s better villains. He struggles with self-doubt and jealousy and seems to genuinely love and depend on Sinara. This faux Shakespearean drama is somewhat reminiscent of Inhumans, but in this case, the audience is actually supposed to feel some empathy for the villain.
Fitz and Simmons continue to disagree on who proposed first, while Coulson loses control of the ship and they start careening towards Earth. “We are so STUPID,” shouts a self-aware Deke (ugh). In the post credit scene, May wakes up in the Zephyr and sees Enoch. He tells her that “they” grabbed and anchored them during the gravity storm. Who does he mean by “they?” Several Rey cosplayers along with an old lady (Willow Hale) enter; the lady shows May a toy bird, implying that she is Robin Hinton, an Inhuman child from season 3 that could see into the past, future, and present. Again, S.H.I.E.L.D. doing an impressive job making forgettable stories from earlier seasons become major plot points; hopefully they’ll find a way to bring back the excellent Remington Hoffman.
*Maston-Dar first appeared in The Inhumans: The Great Refuge and was created by Skip Dietz and Robert Brown. In the comics, he’s a generic looking caucasian Kree with a white ponytail. In the show, he’s a hot blue dude with a pitch black wavy mohawk and The Wicked + The Divine style face paint played by the hunky Remington Hoffman. This is easily one of the best updates in the MCU.
**I’m not sure how intentional it was, but I love that this works as an homage to The Godfather. In that series, oranges were a sign of death, and it puts the viewer in the mindset of Kasius and Faulnak as the space version of Fredo and Michael, which the end of the episode then subverts.
Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, Fun And Games, here.