If you're a TV show, and you want me to like you, there are three things you can do that will always guarantee my fandom. 1) Give me a strong, assertive leader of a ragtag group of survivors, who at some point in the series might pay one too many visits to crazy town (see Lost, Jack and The Walking Dead, Rick). 2) Make me feel like I can relate to one of the characters. I'll take a likeable everyman, with two parts Jim Halpert and just a sprinkle of Liz Lemon, please. 3) Anything involving time travel, regardless of how little it makes sense. CBS wants to throw Téa Leoni into a DeLorean and gun it to 88 miles per hour? Sign me up, Madam Secretary. Joey Tribbiani gains the ability to see into the future, causing him to stop his spin-off from ever happening? If so, I'm binge-watching Friends like it’s season one of Game of Thrones.
This week's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduces an Inhuman with the power to cause anyone who touches him to have visions of the future- visions that can depict their death or someone else's. It's made clear early on that this Inhuman's power is no joke, and the premonitions he creates are a true look into what the future holds. When Daisy touches him as he's being kidnapped by Hydra, she sees his own death, and spends the rest of the episode piecing together clues from the vision to race and save him. Fitz tries to dissuade her, explaining that time is not linear, and that everything that will happen, according to the vision, has already happened and always will happen. But of course, if there's anyone who can defy the laws of space-time, it's our very own Daisy Johnson, and she righteously takes Fitz's warning for the challenge that it is. As confusing as this all might sound, this storyline is actually very straightforward and easy to follow. So, even if you’re not as crazy about this episode’s use of time as I am, you should have no problem enjoying it. There’s a "race against the clock" aspect that's quite thrilling, and the multiple action scenes are great; consistent in quality with what we've come to expect from S.H.I.E.L.D.
Somewhat surprisingly, the May and Simmons' Andrew side mission wraps up after just one episode. I had hoped that this shared plotline would continue for at least a few weeks, giving the show some room to explore these two outside of the characters they typically interact with. But, the May-Andrew subplot quickly has its bow tied, allowing Simmons to return to her dynamic with Fitz. And, after over a year of 'will they, won't they,’ the FitzSimmons ship seems to have finally found safe harbor with the two holding hands in the falling ashes of a burning building (how romantic!), during one of the episode's closing moments. Obviously, we’ve been down this road before, but the hand holding scene was subtle and genuinely unassuming enough to make me think that this time, things might finally stick between them.
After making his first appearance back in episode six, Gideon Malick finally gets some actual character development, a rarity for the show’s generic Hydra leaders. Before this episode, there was little distinguishing Malick, either physically or conceptually, from his predecessors. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been squeezing every last bit of Hydra toothpaste out of the tube as they can, providing us with a revolving door of big bads who magically pop into existence once the previous one goes down. And, I get it. Hydra is based on the principle that "when one head is cut off, two more take its place," so the idea that each defeated leader is replaced with someone new makes sense. But there are only so many times the writers can introduce yet another grey-haired, lawful evil head of Hydra before the organization as a whole starts to lose some of its bite. To their credit though, Malick appears to be on the road to bucking this trend; and by episode’s end, he actually transforms into quite the menacing villain. I'm interested to see where his arc takes him, and how he plays into Hive-Ward’s sinister master plan.
We get to see a lot of Hive-Ward after his noticeable, though non-impactful, absence from the last two episodes. His exact plan, beyond recruiting Inhuman followers, remains unclear, though we do get a satisfying up close look at his powers. Hive-Ward briefly makes his presence known to team Coulson, with predictably shocked faces all around, and Fitz is astute enough to recognize that the Ward they see is not truly Ward but "something else." Initially, I was critical of the writers' decision to stave off Ward's demise and resurrect him as Hive. I thought (and still think) it was lazy writing, though I now recognize the strategic angle they were trying to leverage. By tying a brand new villain, Hive, to a familiar one, Ward, we are intrinsically more invested in the new character due to our previous run-ins with the old. This allows the writers to spend less time developing Hive, and more time on other characters and storylines.
Unlike last week’s episode that split its focus amongst several different characters, “Spacetime” features Daisy Johnson front and center. In the past, S.H.I.E.L.D. has faltered whenever Skye/Daisy was forced to carry the narrative for long stretches. In season one, Skye wasn’t a particularly interesting character, save for the occasional one-liner, and even as she gained her powers and morphed into Daisy, Chloe Bennet’s acting didn’t resonate enough to take Daisy’s season two storylines to where they needed to go. So far this season, Daisy’s taken a back seat to FitzSimmons, May, and Coulson in terms of the more performance-driven plotlines. As she is the show’s second leading character, though, I don’t expect this to continue for long. If this episode is any indication, I think AoS might have finally figured out how to properly use Daisy, by placing her in action-heavy storylines with less emphasis on scenes that require emotionally nuanced performances from Bennet.
Garrett Yoshitomi covers Marvel films and television. He enjoys fantasy baseball, Big Brother live feeds, and Anna Kendrick. You can find his tweets @garrettweets