Let the ramping up to the finale begin!

Our episode begins with some sweet, tinkling music as a gentle homeless man (who looks more than a little like Jeff Daniels) is using a burnt cork to paint a small carved wooden robin. A shopkeeper comes and addresses him as Charlie, accusing him of drinking, and tells him he needs to clear out because customers are going to start arriving soon. He gives him the location of a local shelter, and then because he seemed like a good guy, he thrust some money for food into the more-than-reluctant Charles’ hand. We soon see why – as soon as the shopkeep touches his skin, he thrusts his head to the sky and starts shaking, with apparent visions of the future. He says, out loud, “Daisy, I need your help. This is where I die.”

On the Zephyr, the  crew is monitoring incoming 911 calls so they can arrive to crimes before the police do. They hear a call from the shopkeeper, claiming that HYDRA is coming to kill him, and the only person who can help is Daisy Johnson. They do a search for him and he appears to be a regular guy with no ties to Daisy, S.H.I.E.L.D. or HYDRA – and Daisy has never seen him before.

(His name is Edwin Abbott, which is fitting – because the writer Edwin Abbott Abbott wrote Flatland, a novella that contributed to our understanding of dimensions and is used by Fitz as an example later in this episode.)

The gang suits up and gets ready to go, with Coulson as backup in case it’s a HYDRA trap.

As S.H.I.E.L.D. arrives on the scene, the shopkeeper Edwin is trying to convince police he’s telling the truth, and then recognizes Daisy. She introduces herself and asks how he knew her name, and he says it’s because he saw this moment earlier. Daisy isn’t following, so he tries to explain that the homeless guy Charles touched him and he could see this moment. As Coulson goes off to look for Charles, Daisy asks how he knew about HYDRA and he said that “that is what she will yell when they come out of the sky.” Suddenly a HYDRA quadcopter flies down, and May yells “HYDRA!” and opens fire. The quadcopter uses up a good portion of the shows budget by blowing up several police cars, and police open fire on the ship too. As Daisy is trying to protect Edwin, he repeats “This is where I die.” and gets shot repeatedly by the copter. Daisy realizes that Charles is an Inhuman and HYDRA is after him. She runs to him just in time to see him being grabbed by the claw net and hoisted into the quadcopter, and grabs his hand. She suddenly has a vision.

The face of a woman crying. Fitz and Simmons looking to the sky, holding hands in the snow. Lincoln crawling through a building, his face covered in blood. Daisy taking out guards. Coulson shooting Daisy. Charles being taken to the roof by HYDRA. Charles final words as he tells Daisy “I was hoping you could help.”

Daisy falls to her knees as Charles drops his carved robin. As May calls for medical, Lincoln and Coulson rush to Daisy’s side and try to figure out what’s wrong – only it hasn’t happened yet.

In the HYDRA facility, Hive is looking like a healthy Grant Ward again and is wearing a black trenchcoat so you know he’s evil. He arrives at a feast Gideon has thrown for him, and Gideon asks what he can thank for Hive’s wellbeing. He responds with his own patience. Hive thanks Gideon for bringing him back, but asks why. Gideon reveals that for generations, he was taught to believe he would be rewarded; they would take over the world. Hive points out that Gideon has close to ten billion dollars and practically owns everything, and asks what he could provide that Gideon doesn’t have. As Gideon struggles for an answer, Hive offers him “power. True power”, a prospect that intrigues Gideon. As two men lead in Charles, Hive pulls out Coulson’s old prosthetic hand, the one used to kill Ward, and says that it is time to go above ground and show Gideon true power.

At the base, everyone is sombered by Daisy’s visions. Daisy decides that she is going to change the outcome of the visions, and Fitz explains that she can’t. Fourth dimensionally speaking, if she saw the future, that’s the future. Daisy refuses to believe that, and the gang starts coming up with ways they can save Charles in time. Fitz interrupts again; they don’t get it – there is no “time”! Time is just how we perceive the fourth dimension. He grabs a stack of paper and explains the fourth dimension using Abbot Abbot’s Flatland as a point of reference. As much as a I love the physics of spacetime, I’m not going to explain them here. The point is, you can’t change the future!

Coulson decides that the only way to guarantee the outcome is different is if Daisy doesn’t leave the base; May will go instead. No one else goes, Coulson won’t touch any guns, and Fitz and Simmons will stay out of the snow.

As Coulson and Lincoln try to trace Charles, Coulson admits he never understood this whole concept of time. He uses a time travel paradox from Terminator as an example, but Lincoln admits he never saw Terminator. Coulson tells him he is off the team. Lincoln admits that he believes it’s all by design; that Inhumans were created for a specific purpose and these events weren’t random. This is why he believes Daisy will save him. The computer pings who they are looking for: Charles Hinton.

(Charles Howard Hinton is another mathematician who contributed to our understanding of the fourth dimension, coining the word tesseract; the four-dimensional equivalent to a two-dimensional square or three-dimensional cube. Laying on the references!)

As Daisy is trying to remember details of the visions for Fitz and Simmons, HYDRA is taking Charles to a building owned by the Transia Corporation. Comic fans may recognize the name Transia as the Eastern European country where Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch came from; it was renamed to Sokovia for the movies. May inquires as to what Daisy, Fitz and Simmons are doing – Fitz reveals he is using all of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s servers to search for the keywords Daisy can remember. May refuses to let them use all the servers, and Simmons tells Fitz that they are using some to look for Andrew. Fitz agrees to leave those ones alone.

Coulson brings in Charles’ wife for questioning, and Daisy recognizes her as the woman crying in the vision. Coulson reveals that he was a well-liked teacher who walked out on her and their 18-month old daughter. The wife describes Charles undergoing terrigenesis, the first visions, and when they started coming true. She points out he always sees a death. Daisy asks her about the robin he carved, and she says that their daughter’s name was Robin; that he left in the night because he would never hold her again. She starts to cry, and Daisy recognizes it from her vision.

In the Transia Corporation, Gideon, Giyera and Hive are meeting with the bigwigs. Gideon shows them Coulson’s prosthetic hand and tells them that they manufactured it, and he knows they are manufacturing an exoskeleton using the same technology. He would like to buy it. They scoff at the idea of selling him their leading patent, so he clarifies; he would like to buy their entire company. The CEO refuses, saying he wouldn’t sell Gideon a single share – so HYDRA brings in Charles, and Hive offers to show him what will happen. Charles touches the CEO, and he sees Hive turning to dust, eviscerating the other men in the room until they are bloodied skeletons. The CEO panics and signs over the company, begging that he doesn’t hurt anyone, but Hive corrects him; he said he would show him what will happen. He kills the men in the room. As HYDRA takes over the building, they uncover the exoskeleton. Hive tells Gideon to put it on, as he has never felt true power.

In the base, Daisy is idling with the carved robin, still believing she should be on the mission and not May, as she knows what’s coming. May tells her to show her, and they set up a room to begin rehearsals of the fight in the security office. If Daisy only gets to Charles a few seconds late, they will keep practicing until they shave May’s time down. They keep practicing and resetting, trying to keep May’s time down.

At the Transia Corporation, Gideon is wearing the exoskeleton and smashing stuff like a kid in a 67 year old’s body. Hive tells him in order to feel true power, he needs to take a man’s life with his own hands. He crushes the CEO’s skull.

(Fun fact: Though not said in the episode itself, the press release for this episode listed the CEO’s name as Rowan Hamilton. Sir William Rowan Hamilton was – you guessed it – a mathematician and large contributor to quantum mechanics and geometric optics, inventing quaternions and icosian calculus among others. Three for three!)

As they are resetting and rehearsing in the base again, Fitz confides to Simmons that he’s just waiting for whatever event causes Daisy to go, since they both know it’s scientifically proven that she’s going. As they finally shave May’s time down, an agent tells Coulson that they found the building. Fitz recognizes the corporation as the company that does Coulson’s nerve wiring for his hand. As they prepare their surgical strike, they get the signal that an intruder is in the building. A scruffy and bearded Dr. Andrew Garner walks in with his hands on his head, saying that Lash is about to take over for the last time and he’s surrendering.

Coulson, deciding the day can’t get any weirder, makes the executive decision that May can’t go, as this is the last time she will get to spend with Andrew. May argues this, but Coulson won’t take no for an answer. Daisy volunteers, knowing she can save Charles. Coulson refuses, but Daisy says everyone else stays back; no one leaves HQ. That way it cannot play out like the visions. Coulson agrees to let her go, and tells her “for gods sake, Skye, come home.” It feels hella wrong, so Daisy corrects him – it’s Daisy.

In the containment unit, Garner asks what’s in the IV. May tells him that it’s a vaccine Simmons is working on, but it’s a longshot. He apologizes for everything he’s done, and says that while there’s a little bit of Lash in him and a little bit of him in Lash, he’s about go away for good. He turned himself into S.H.I.E.L.D. because he feels that he was doing it for an important reason he doesn’t understand yet. May asks if he regrets ever meeting her, as this all could have been avoided. He says he wouldn’t change a thing.

Fitz hacks into the security feed, and they immediately recognize Giyera – after being tortured, Simmons wouldn’t forget that face. He is talking to a man in a trenchcoat. Coulson points out to Lincoln that Giyera also believes he serves a higher purpose. Lincoln poses the argument that it may be true, but Coulson argues that they’re both just crazy and nothing they see is going to make any sense. Then the man in the trenchcoat turns around, and the gang sees Ward for the first time since his death before the feed cuts out. Lincoln asks if that was Ward, and Fitz admits that he thinks it’s something else.

At the Transia Corporation, Daisy breaks into the server room and kicks ass as per the fight they rehearsed with May (and her vision). Daisy sees Coulson enter the room and start firing at her, as per another vision – only he didn’t shoot Daisy, he shot her reflection in the glass. The glass shatters and the HYDRA soldier with the assault rifle behind it is dead. He reveals they were monitoring the security feed. He tells Daisy Charles is on the roof and she needs to go up and get him. Meanwhile, he’s going to stop Grant Ward.

Yeah, the day just got weirder.

As Hive orders Giyera to kill S.H.I.E.L.D. agents if they’re human, Fitz and Simmons send in a strike team led by Lincoln and watch from outside. Fitz notices that there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and starts questioning if Daisy really saw the future.

As Daisy makes her way to the roof and Lincoln meets up with Coulson inside the building, May and Garner are waiting to see if he will change. As May starts telling him about the mission, it begins to happen. On the roof, Daisy sees HYDRA about to take Charles away in a helicopter. Before she can do anything, Gideon starts beating her up with his new cybernetic exoskeleton. Daisy fires a pulse at him and misses, hitting the billboard above. As Lincoln looks for Hive, Giyera telekinetically takes him out with a fire extinguisher.

Can Giyera move anything with his mind or just metal? Because he seems to just move metal.

As Andrew is changing and runs into the pod, Gideon is doing his best to kill Daisy on the roof under the smoldering billboard. Fitz tries to call Coulson, but his comm device seems to be down. Simmons wonders if the death Daisy saw was her own. Though Lincoln has his eyes on Hive, crawling through the building and masked in blood like the vision, Coulson finds the meaty skeletons in the board room and orders him not to engage. May and Andrew touch hands through the glass, but then Andrew is no more – Lash is here. May watches heartbroken.

As the fire is growing and ashes are flying, Gideon is beating Daisy to a pulp. He is about to turn the power up to maximum when Charles touches him. Whatever vision he sees is enough for him to start strangling Charles, which gives Daisy enough time to fire a blast at Gideon. Charles collapses next to her. Daisy understands now that she wasn’t meant to save him; he was meant to save her. He smiles, finally having made a difference.

As ash rains down on Fitz and Simmons, Fitz realizes it wasn’t snow in the vision. Simmons tells him that they’re supposed to hold hands now, and they do, fulfilling another vision.

One more to go.

As they lie dying next to eachother, Daisy gives Charles the carved robin. Charles expresses regret and sorrow that he won’t see his daughter again, and that he won’t be there to protect her. Fulfilling the final vision, he tells Daisy “I was hoping you could help.” Daisy promises to protect her, and touches Charles one last time. She sees the vision we saw episodes earlier; three months from now, someone is going to die in a quinjet explosion in outer space. Charles apologizes to her, and dies, dropping the carved robin.

After the credits, in the HYDRA base, Hive is giving orders to Giyera when Gideon calls. A wounded Gideon reminds Giyera who he works for; as his head of security, he should be by his side at all times. Giyera refuses, saying he is exactly where he needs to be. As he hangs up, he tells Hive that Gideon sounds strange; for the first time, he sounded scared.

This episode was a huge step up from what we’ve seen previously this half-season – it felt both like a great standalone episode and it still furthered the plot. It was interesting to know how the future was going to play out, and seeing it happen – seeing what each of these visions truly meant. It also lays groundwork for a lot to come. I give this episode a 9/10.

Crackpot theories/Speculation

  • Lincoln has mentioned more than once this season that he believes all Inhumans were designed as part of a balance; they have a specific purpose to fill. Giyera also believes he is serving a higher purpose, and Andrew mentioned that thinks Lash is killing Inhumans for reasons we don’t know yet. If all Inhumans do indeed have a purpose, and Hive’s purpose is to build an Inhuman army to take over the world, maybe Lash is killing Inhumans because his purpose is to stop this from happening?
  • What is Hive’s endgame? We know it involves an army of Inhumans, the death of humans, technology, and a nuclear missile. I think Hive is building a T-Bomb from the comics – a Terrigen bomb that will turn all Inhumans and kill all humans in the process. Whoever is in that quinjet in space (maybe Andrew?) is stopping the bomb from reaching Earth.

  • The exoskeleton that Transia was designing for the Department of Defense sure looks a lot like what we’ve seen Crossbones wearing in the Civil War trailer – an interesting connection considering Rumlow is an agent of HYDRA and Transia is now owned by HYDRA.