[This is a review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3, episode 15. There will be SPOILERS.]
Last week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continued in the show’s effort to develop its characters as well as use the space it occupies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe to provide some thematic legwork for the upcoming release of Captain America: Civil War. ‘Watchdogs’ brought Mack (Henry Simmons) front and center by highlighting his relationship with his brother as well as how he’s dealing with the departure of Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) and Hunter (Nick Blood), while the episode also delved into the sentiments of those who are anti-Inhuman and against other powered individuals.
This week in ‘Spacetime,’ written by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon and directed by Kevin Tancharoen, the Hive-inhabited Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) returns to the forefront as Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) — who killed Ward in the midseason finale — and Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) attempt to change the future she witnessed when coming into contact with a new Inhuman. However, despite the team’s efforts to practice and alter the future seen by Daisy, a series of unpredictable events — and convenient misinterpretations — proves the future is and isn’t exactly as they expected it to be.
If You Could Change The Future, Would You?
Daisy takes the lead in ‘Spacetime’ after she witnesses snippets of a future event that ends in a death when coming into contact with the newly discovered Inhuman Charles Hinton (Bjorn Johnson). The ensuing episode attempts to set up a conflict between the concept of a fixed timeline — which Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) explains in excessively complex terms — in which the future cannot be changed, and Daisy’s ambition to do just that. However, the tension is undercut early on when it’s established that Charles’ visions always come true.
‘Spacetime’ features the S.H.I.E.L.D. team preparing to alter the timeline by locating the building Daisy saw in her vision and training May to get through a particular fight sequence rather than send in anyone from the vision. But, each of these efforts are methodically negated, first with the return of Andrew Garner (Blair Underwood), which prompts Coulson to keep May behind, then by Coulson seeing Ward/Hive on the security feed at the building, leading him to call in backup when he had let Daisy go in alone. Although each of these wrenches in their plan to change the future was likely meant to add tension to the episode, it simply adds to the predictability of the storyline in ‘Spacetime.’
Additionally, undercutting the drama of this storyline are Daisy’s misinterpretations of parts of her visions — misinterpretations that dumb down the larger aspirations of ‘Spacetime.’ For instance, when Daisy sees the vision of Coulson shooting a gun in her direction, she thinks he’s shooting her, but when the scene plays out in the present, Coulson is actually shooting an enemy that’s directly behind Daisy. At times, these misinterpretations are even overly highlighted — such as Daisy supposing Fitz and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) were standing in the snow rather than in falling ashes — to the point that the grand concept of attempting to alter the future is reduced to silliness.
But, while the storyline of ‘Spacetime’ is too contrived to be compelling, especially for those who have seen any other TV show or movie about time travel, the episode excels in terms of visuals. From the opening shot of Charles carving his wooden robin to the scene of him laying on the rooftop with Daisy next to the burning billboard, Kevin Tancharoen provides a visually stunning episode. Additionally, Bennet has more than locked into place in her role as the bold, arrogant, and caring Daisy, bringing as much drama to the main storyline of ‘Spacetime’ as possible.
In fact, the entire cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to imbue the (at times ridiculous) storytelling of ‘Spacetime’ with some weight. Though it’s introduced too late and too briefly to be given enough due, Simmons’ line, “What if the death Daisy saw was her own,” did manage to add some tension to the final minutes of the episode — even as it simultaneously underlined the murky, ill-defined rules and mission that detracted from the overarching goals of ‘Spacetime.’ All in all, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. attempted more of a high-concept sci-fi storyline in ‘Spacetime’ and failed to deliver, but the episode was held afloat by its cast and director.
A Vision of What’s to Come
Although the premise of ‘Spacetime’ dealing with the question of whether it’s possible to change the future is superficially interesting, the episode largely seems to be setting up future conflicts on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. We are again shown the shot from inside an empty space shuttle with drops of blood, a cross necklace, and a jacket with a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo floating in zero gravity. The shot is exactly the same as the one shown in the midseason finale, and simply works to remind the audience of it while also introducing the scene to Daisy, who witnesses it in a vision from Charles.
As for Hive and Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe), the pair obtain an exoskeleton suit made by the company that constructed Coulson’s previous hand — the one he used to kill Ward on Maveth. When Malick puts the suit on he comes to understand the meaning of true power, as taught to him by Hive. But, after Malick also comes into contact with Charles, and with his head of security Giyera (Mark Dacascos) seemingly defecting to Hive’s leadership, Malick seems to have also gotten a taste of what it means to be powerless. As a result, the dynamics between Hive and Malick officially shift in ‘Spacetime,’ making way for a bigger conflict in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3.
Lastly, when Garner turns himself in to S.H.I.E.L.D., he offers the perfect test subject for Simmons’ Inhuman vaccine. But, while Garner and May wait to see if it will have any effect, the two talk about Lash’s greater purpose and Garner puts forward the idea that S.H.I.E.L.D. might need Lash for what’s to come. As season 3 builds toward an inevitable showdown between Hive and S.H.I.E.L.D., or more specifically, the Secret Warriors, it certainly seems that Lash’s return could prove to tip the scales for the good guys — and foreshadow the tense episodes to come of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Share your thoughts on the episode and theories about what’s to come in the next episode in the comments below!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues with ‘Paradise Lost’ Tuesday April 5th at 9pm on ABC. Check out a preview below: