Synopsis of 3×15: The S.H.I.E.L.D. team tries to prove that fate is not fixed after Daisy is horrified by a glimpse of the future.
In the scope of season 3, I could have easily given “Spacetime” a four star rating. As a standalone episode, it played better than most episodes have. With a 22 episode season, even with their most twisted and complicated plots, Agents of SHIELD has managed a good amount of filler episodes like most shows with large seasons.
What it has done well in the past is using these sort of episodes to fill up their characters with hefty development and interaction with one another. Although their cast has been bolstered since the early days, there’s still room for development. Episodes like “Melinda”, “Rag Tag”, and “4,722 Hours” have been my personal favorites because of the ability to delve deep into a character and being unafraid to use the time of an episode just to focus on one person. Often episodes like this do little to push forward the main arc, but enrich the show as a whole.
“Spacetime” was not one of those episodes, but in many ways, it was a filler.
After coming in contact with Charles right as Hydra snatches him away, Daisy sees the future and Charles’ death. His ability is foresight… kind of. Every time he touches someone they both see someone’s death. It’s kind of an exclusionary power, and I really wonder what the “science” is behind his power, since they’ve really played hard on the angle of “realistic powers” by trying to link everything to biology or genetics.
Fitz tries and fails to explain to the team the concept of spacetime, which is a popular mathematical model in physics, and why the future can’t be altered. Essentially his example illustrates that all time simply exists, and we are traveling through it, but trying to change it is meaningless because it already exists. But, because Daisy is so bent on trying to save Charles, they spend the whole episode trying to save a dead man. (One might say that their stubbornness was also fixed in time.)
Utilizing the classic trope of “trying to stop an inevitable future” should be an opportune moment to explore character personalities, i.e. someone like Daisy, who believes desperately that she can change the future versus someone like Fitz. The show arms the episode with a good amount of action and melodrama that decorates the plot, while also trying to create a good amount of build up.
However, as much as I enjoy this trope, I have to wonder if the writers remembered that they spent about a full season’s worth of time talking about a clairvoyant, and that maybe they could have lingered on the topic a little longer, just to show that they remember their own mythology?
Did Daisy simply forget that Raina saw the future of Afterlife? Did they decide not to fill Coulson in on this? Is that why he’s asking “can this even exist?” Yes, Coulson. Keep up. And yes, May, that is a dumb question. The concept of spacetime and foresight isn’t new, and it certainly isn’t new within the context of the show. It might not be the easiest concept to grasp, but you should be able to do it, given that this is the second time around.
Lincoln reminds Coulson of Raina’s powers, but it only seems to further affirm the idea that they can change the future. Raina told Daisy that her future as a leader of the Inhumans was set, that her own death would help catalyze this. No one changed anything, she wasn’t able to save Raina. It was already a certainty, as was Daisy stopping Jiaying. Just because Raina told Daisy she would save her people doesn’t mean that she was changing the future by saving them, Raina was simply giving her a sneak peak into the future that she would eventually fulfill.
Agents of SHIELD is a very forward thinking show, in a literal non-complimentary sense, in the sense that they seem to be almost painfully blind to their past. Once an event or a story has happened, it’s very likely they’ll move on from it and forget to mention it ever again.
Another example of this is Daisy and Coulson in this episode. After going Rambo on her own last week, it doesn’t seem like she’s getting any reprimand. Never mind that Fitz almost died, never mind that she disobeyed a direct order, never mind that what she did was not only a crime but also kind of reflects the actions of a rogue agent. Comic book Daisy Johnson also disobeys Fury, but at least she suffers from reprimands.
The episode lathers on the melodrama, which, given the subject matter, doesn’t actually ruin the episode. From Hive dramatically walking down a hall with his ever-billowing coat, to painfully cringe-worthy lines like, “This is where I die”, to Charles’ super artsy introduction in the opening of the episode, to May tearfully watching Andrew turn into Lash. It’s an episode about spacetime, so I’m not going to judge it too harshly on that front.
They decide to keep Daisy at the base in order to avoid the future, and the whole team trains with May to divert the Hydra guards in the time that it would take Daisy to do it with her powers. It’s a pretty cool getting to see the team actually train and do something with strategy. May doesn’t have Daisy’s powers, but somehow when Daisy does break in, she barely uses her abilities. It doesn’t make much sense, you’d think a simple blast of her quake powers at the start would cut the time down.
But, I guess you gotta have those sweet one-shot action sequences to boast about afterwards.
And, since you can’t stop the inevitable, suddenly Andrew appears and tells May that this is his last transformation into Lash (we’ll bypass how he knew that for sure, because that’s a whole other can of worms) and surprise! Daisy has to go on the mission so that May can say goodbye to Andrew.
Despite the vaccine that Simmons has been working on with Creel’s blood, it seems like there’s only room for one deus ex machina in this episode, and Lash doesn’t get to have both of them. Andrew and May say their last goodbyes, which is pretty sad since I really did like Ming-Na Wen and Blaire Underwood together.
The main reason why I actually enjoyed this episode is that it finally actually brought together some of the large season plot points that they have been slowly building up to: Hive and the flash-forward in space. If you read my reviews you know that these two things have been big points of contention for me. Hive has, since his return to earth, been useless. He kind of sits around, eats some meat, kills some people, is cryptic and emotionless, but in the grand scheme of the plot with SHIELD, he’s uselesss. It’s irritating since Brett Dalton works best when he’s working off of the rest of the cast.
Keeping him on set with Malick, who I have a deep annoyance for that’s budding into hatred, seems a crime. I know everyone likes Powers Booth, but his character is simply there now to be Hive’s sugar daddy. Malick has as much dimension as a piece of paper, and it bleeds into Hive’s personality. Malick gets a taste of “real power” by killing someone with his bare hands this episode. But it looks more like Hive is manipulating him while stealing all his Inhumans at the same time. Basically the show is stripping him of useable material, so can we kill him off next episode?
The team finally see Grant Ward/Hive alive and walking around, and that’s about as much as I could have hoped for. They’re clearly doing the slowest burn with Hive, so I doubt we’ll see actual interaction until at least episode 18 or 19. It’s interesting to note that there could be some potential with Hive and Lash facing off, given that their powers seem to play off of one another.
As “Spacetime” plays out, it’s no shocker that all the events that Daisy saw in her vision falls into line. Coulson shoots at a reflection of her, she fights off the guards in a one-shot fight sequence, Lincoln (hilariously) gets knocked down by a fire extinguisher which causes him to bleed all over his face, Charles dies, and FitzSimmons (with unintentional insensitivity) hold hands while ash from a burning building fall on them.
Charles dies saving Daisy’s life, after Malick effortlessly beats her down while wearing an exo-suit that makes me think of the horrendous Iron Man 2 Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash suit. Charles asks Daisy to look after his daughter Robin, and she promises to protect her. Before he takes his final breath, Daisy touches him and sees an image of the future — the 3 months later space explosion with Elena’s cross necklace floating in space. I will note that this scene is much more effective here than it was awkwardly jammed into “Bouncing Back”.
This most likely points Daisy’s attention back at her Secret Warriors, and with the release of pictures of the four Inhumans fighting together earlier this week, it seems like we’ll be dealing with this sooner rather than later. I know it seems like I nitpicked a lot of this episode, and admittedly I did, but while I enjoyed watching this episode it continued to highlight my issues with the show.