This week’s episode opens on a close-up of Agent Daisy Johnson waking up in her stasis/healing pod, and walking onto the bridge to discover that the inevitable has happened. Despite their best efforts to control it, the time-drive has continued to malfunction, and the Zephyr has entered a time-storm, where they will spiral to non-existence.
Moments later, after terrible accidents happen to ship and crew, everything blinks out, and she awakens again in her healing pod, with déjà vu.
This final season’s references to the pop culture of each decade the crew visits continues. This week it’s a nod to 1990s films, with a sometimes shot-by-shot homage of the 1993 Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day, where he relives each day, correcting his wrongs and becoming a better person in the process. In his case, he had endless chances to make things right, and remembered each day’s efforts. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. aren’t so lucky. With each time loop, their minds are wiped, and they get closer to “going down the drain” of time. The special effect team creates a very different-looking, colorful, and impressive time vortex.
Daisy and Coulson are the only ones who remember the events and efforts of each time loop, which they deduce is because they were both unconscious in “futuristic pods.” So, it’s up them to figure out how to save the ship. As if that weren’t a big enough time-crunch mystery to solve, there’s also someone trying to murder the crew.
As in Groundhog Day, it’s frustrating to see characters make so many mistakes and suffer in so many ways. But it’s nothing compared to the frustration and anxiety Coulson feels, seeing it happen a hundred times.
However, there is plenty of humor in the middle of such a dire scenario, with Daisy’s repeated and varied efforts to convince the crew that they are indeed in a time loop.
Which brings me to kudos for the writers and the director of this episode, Simmons herself, Elizabeth Henstridge. Henstridge planned out in precise detail and directed a complex episode, giving each character moments to shine. Henstridge especially shows a feel for comedic moments, including many of them to break the tension of impending doom. The writers also crafted a couple of quiet, touching scenes with philosophy on family, friendship, loneliness, and the fear of death…each expertly directed by Henstridge.
Why is someone trying to kill the crew?
Will we ever discover the secret importance of the device in Simmons’ neck?
Will my theory of a budding romance between Daisy and Sousa prove out, or will it end in unrequited embarrassment?
Will Daisy get her powers back, or did the evil experiments on her rob them forever?
How will the crew find a way to escape the time loop and fill the last remaining episodes of this final season?
To find out, tune in to ABC on Wednesdays at 10pm EST, or catch up on previous episodes on your DVR, On Demand, or at abc.go.com/shows/marvels-agents-of-shield