Last episode, the titular agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Phil Coulson, Melinda May, “Mack” Mackenzie, “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez, Jemma Simmons and Daisy Johnson – found out they were trapped on a floating Kree alien outpost … not only in space, but in the apocalyptic future! Can Leo Fitz, stuck in the past, rescue them before it’s too late?
Simmons and May sit in the Trawler, their newly acquired spaceship, but they don’t have time to contemplate the destruction of Earth before asteroids start pelting their ship, knocking their systems out of whack. May is unable to steer, meaning she is unable to stop them from hitting a giant chunk of Earth-That-Was in front of them. Thinking fast, Simmons removes the key and tries to start it up again, using the “first rule of I.T.”. It works just in time, and May is able to steer clear.
May and Simmons dock and meet up with Coulson and Deke, their confused new liaison to the future. They try to work out how they got to the future and how to get back. All Deke can offer them are Metrics – tracking devices that are necessary to work and survive on the colony. Suddenly, someone named Tess shows up and starts yelling at Deke about Virgil. Coulson tells her that their employer Virgil is dead, and Deke confirms it. Deke explains that these people are the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that Virgil was always going on about, taken from the past. Tess doesn’t believe it, but Coulson procures a new 2016 coin and she notices he never had a Metric implant. Tess is convinced enough to continue Virgil’s mission, but Deke wants nothing to do with it – until she offers to double Virgil’s price.
Deke leaves to find the other agents and finds Yo-Yo, Mack and Daisy trying to cover up the death of the two Kree guards they took out. He is pissed, saying that even if it was “us vs. them”, they made the wrong decision. They hatch a plan to bring the guards upstairs with the other victims of the Roach attacks, but can’t load the bodies in the elevator for fear of being seen. They load them on top instead and carry them to where the Vrellnexians are. Deke tries to hit on Daisy. It doesn’t work.
Tess, Coulson, Simmons and May take the elevator up to the marketplace, called the Exchange. Tess explains that they are on a formerly underground bunker known as a the Lighthouse, and no one knows what happened to Earth. Everyone has a different story, but it was cataclysmic and the Kree took control and restored order. As they reach the bustling Firefly-esque marketplace, Tess takes Coulson to go examine Virgil’s quarters to look for clues as to what their purpose is in the future. She tells May and Simmons to be good and blend in.
On the way to Virgil’s, Tess asks Coulson how they survived on Earth with all the disasters – earthquakes, floods, sharnadoes. Coulson has to explain the last one is fictional. The pair encounter a gruff old man named Grill. He says he noticed the Trawler was out but he didn’t get a shipment, and asks if she is running for someone else. She says that they were training a new pilot because Virgil got killed. He says that if she is lying to him, it’s double next time. In Virgil’s apartment, Coulson is pleasantly surprised to find that he is a hoarded of knick-knacks and artifacts like he is. Coulson and Tess talk about Earth, and how it is overrun by Roaches and will never be livable for humans again. Tess is still broken up over Virgil, explaining that he always had a thing for her and she never reciprocated. Coulson says that wherever Virgil is, he knows she cared.
In the Exchange, Simmons and May talk about how weird time is. Somewhere out there, Fitz is trying to save them – but from their perspective, Fitz lived and died a long time ago. Suddenly, the marketplace goes quiet and everyone reaches for bowls. A Kree woman with white facepaint enters the room, twirling two silver orbs in her hand. She is followed by some guards and a human herald with gold facepaint. The herald says that Kasius has seen fit to feed his people, and dog food is dispensed into the crowd. People scramble with their bowls, and a fight breaks out. One man tries to stab another and accidentally stabs the herald. He runs, but the silver orbs fly from the woman’s hand and crush his skull. To the astonishment of the crowd, Simmons cauterizes the herald’s wound, but she is taken by the guards.
Deke, Mack, Yo-Yo and Daisy arrive at the Exchange and meet up with Coulson, Tess and May. May says that the Kree took Simmons. Deke pulls Tess aside and says that the agents are a liability, and are going to get them all killed. Tess still holds out hope that they will save them. Daisy and Yo-Yo make plans to tail Deke to find out if he has plans to the station or knows where Simmons is, but Mack warns them to not use their powers – it could be a useful ace up the sleeve if no one knows they have them. Daisy follows Deke, and May and Yo-Yo make plans to steal a tablet. They ask where the guards took Simmons, and Tess says somewhere she has never been.
Sinara, the Kree woman with the orbs, leads Simmons to a lavish room, where she is told by another human servant with gold facepaint that she can undress and wash if she chooses. Instead, she heads into the next room and comes face-to-face with a well-dressed Kree man in white facepaint who looks a lot like Emperor Caligula. This must be Kasius. He stares out a window and says that even on Hala, they don’t have a view like this. He begins pruning a tree and questioning Simmons, creepy as hell. She lies and says she is from Waste Processing, her mother taught her medical procedures, and so forth. He is pissed that she saved his servant, claiming a “life spent is a life earned”. She tells him she saved his servitor only to make him happy. He is pleased by this answer. He sends Sinara off to enact a “renewal”, and examines Simmons wrist and notices she has no Metric. He isn’t phased by this – he merely admires her body’s “pristine canvas”. He leaves to check on her handiwork stitching up his servitor, leaving Simmons feeling thoroughly molested.
Daisy follows Deke into a sort of speakeasy where everyone is asleep. Daisy falls asleep too and wakes up in a Framework program of Earth. She finds him in a bar, and he explains that Kasius erased the records but he found the Framework servers and built it based on guesswork. Now he sells “escape” in his opium-like den.
As May distracts Tess looking for somewhere to re-bandage her injured leg from last episode, Coulson cause a diversion by breaking a steam pipe so Yo-Yo can steal a Kree tablet. Before they can inspect it, the Kree order the humans to line up for a Metric check. The team make their way through the hallways and find Grill. Coulson offers him a tablet for three working Metrics, and Grill reluctantly agrees – but it won’t be easy. They get their implants.
May and Tess make their way through the halls and see Sinara examining Metrics. Tess realizes they are doing a renewal. She explains that some human’s Metrics will glow red, indicating they owe a life – their own or someone elses. “A life spent is a life earned.” A Kree guard drops a shotgun in the middle of the floor and Tess and May scramble to escape. Suddenly some Metrics glow red and the room becomes a free-for-all bloodbath.
In the next room, Grill uses a gravity pulse in their Metrics to pin Mack, Yo-Yo and Coulson to the wall. If they aren’t safe in the room, they will be the first to go. Grill and his bodyguard hide. One of the red-Metric people enters and demands Grill come out because he owes a life, but Grill yells to kill one of the three he left for him. The man is happy to oblige, but May shows up and kicks his ass. Suddenly, Tess kills him. May sadly says that he didn’t need to die, but Tess reminds her that someone did. As the Kree guards enter, Grill comes out of hiding, frees the team and declares that Coulson and his team work for him in Salvage, and that’s why their Metrics are currently uncalibrated. He tells them they will be working for him a long time… or he will call the guard back.
Simmons and Kasius go to meet with the servitor that Simmons healed. Kasius is horrified to realize that the cut will scar. He demands perfection of his servants, you see. Perhaps with the tunic, no one will notice … but he notices a small cut on the man’s face. Even if no one else notices that, he will notice. Simmons pleads for his life, but Kasius orders Sinara to kill the man with her orbs. Simmons screams at Kasius, but he says such a perfect beauty needs to be taught silence. He extracts something from the ear of the servitor and places it in Simmons’, causing her to go deaf.
In the Framework, Daisy and Deke get in a fight. She insists that using the Framework is wrong, as she has seen what it can do to people. Deke says that he is giving people an escape so they don’t rise up. Daisy is all for rebellion, and Deke is for knowing your place. They start shouting when Deke notices something on the news: Daisy Johnson. He pieces it all together: Daisy is Quake. He tells her that everyone has different theories but he pieced it all together: she destroyed the world. As he has a great speech about how the world is beyond saving, we see Coulson, Mack and Yo-Yo get shown through the salvage op by Grill. May and Tess sadly watch as the red-Metric man is carried away in a body bag. Sinara observes as Simmons is painted with a gold face as Kasius’ next servitor.
As Simmons and the other servitors enter the room, Simmons is still distressed that she can’t hear. Suddenly, Kasius’ voice is projected directly to her. He is glad she is complying … especially in time for his guests. A spaceship arrives and docks.
God, this season is refreshing – and the show didn’t even need new life breathed into it! It feels like Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen finally got around to watching big brother Joss’ amazing hit Firefly. There are so many unique concepts and so much personality you could almost jump right in on season 5.
I am really looking forward to what is next. I give this episode an 8.5/10.