Knocked for a Loop.
Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.
Agents of SHIELD delivered up some really dark twists this week, injecting the entire Season 5 space saga with some new life. And not a moment too soon, right?
The whole notion of “the loop” got addressed fully this week (it was briefly discussed in “Best Laid Plans,” and only sort of danced around before that) when Yo-Yo came face to face with her future self – a tortured and tormented version who’d been killed and resurrected an obscene amount of times and now acted as Kasius’ subservient “seer.”
It was a really warped turn and I kind of loved it. It provided this story with the shot in the arm it needed while directly addressing the possibility that everything our heroes have been doing up until this point was futile. The agents were always destined to see the destruction they cause before they go back in time and wind up causing it. And poor future Yo-Yo knows, from having been on the other side, that nothing she says to her past self in this face-to-face moment will change anything.
And yet, there were flickers of hope. Moments where she’d catch herself feeling relief. It really was a great exchange between past and present (both of whom are in the future), with “seer” Yo-Yo occasionally believing that past Yo-Yo had a shot. Sparks of joy would appear in her eye a little bit, but then she’d just remember how many times they’d already done this dance and her message would change to something like “just spend as much time with Mack as you can.” It was pretty haunting.
The key to breaking the loop, it would seem, is Coulson – who we found out was dying from some sort of arc reactor/palladium-style poisoning (ala Iron Man 2) that he’d been hiding from the group. He has to die, apparently, for the entire world not to blow up. While we learned this, Coulson was in the midst of dooming humanity with his very personal decision to “ice” Daisy and force her to travel back home with the rest of them. Granted though, his decision wasn’t only personal. With his death on the horizon, he actively needs someone to take his place as the leader of the ragtaggers. So he’s almost cursing everyone because he’s planning for things after he’s gone – which was also a fun dig of the dagger.
“Past Life,” seemingly, brought the space part of the space saga to a close. Flint and Tess stayed behind to help lead everyone, Deke actually sacrificed himself (along with Enoch) to get everyone home, and a PCP’d-up Kasius ferociously battled Mack – only to fall to the stabby part of the Shotgun-Axe. It was a busy episode, but it all landed really well. Storylines came to a satisfying close. I wasn’t a Deke fan, to say the least, for most of the season, but his death felt right. Also, given the amount of time he spent talking about his father (and lineage in general), I’d be very surprised if we didn’t see him again…somehow. Maybe not in the way you think. Like, maybe he’s the grandson of Fitz and Simmons or something.
Mack’s fight with Kasius felt like a really cool culmination too. The two of them never had a specific one-on-one beef with each other like Kasius might have had with Daisy or Simmons, but it was good to see Mack let loose and really awesome to see Kasius turn a big corner (while also going a bit insane) by doubling down on family honor and suicide – all in the name of allowing his father to invade Earth in the past. All in all too, I liked how Mack and Yo-Yo’s relationship came into focus a bit more. Their exchanges, and occasional bickering about violence, dragged this season down at times, but “Past Life” really pushed them to the forefront as a couple in a good way.
Side note: Simmons did manage to get in a shot on Kasius, right before he bit the dust, by ear worm’ing him and allowing Mack to recover. It didn’t last long, from a revenge standpoint, but it was still gratifying.