This Week on TV, Aug. 8, 2020

Spoiler Alert!

In one week, I will be saying goodbye to This Week on TV for I-Have-No-Idea-How-Long.

There have been summer breaks, week-long breaks, and Holiday Droughts, and the immense gap between seasons, but I’ve always had something to look forward to, as something was always returning. Some of the shows I’ve commented on, I followed from the very beginning of this humble blog of mine. Others were added partway. I’ve actually been doing this long enough now that I have seen shows come and go, and others have simply changed from what I enjoyed to something else.

Basically, I’ve been doing this from the very start of the blog, and it feels… well, it’s a parting of ways, with all the memories of the past, and the future is unknown. Maybe we’ll meet again. Maybe I’ll find something else I like to comment on, in due time. Or maybe not. Who knows?

So, I’m feeling what all the fans of Agents of Shield are feeling, doubled.

There is one final week ahead, with a two-part finale to the series. Seven rip-roaring seasons behind us, and all of it coming down to this.

This week, the final setup was complete at last. All that’s left next week is… everything.

Now let’s dive in.

Agents of Shield

7.11, “Brand New Day”

The episode followed three basic plotlines.

One was centered on Malick on Z-1, as he delved into Simmons’ brain for the much-coveted information on Fitz and his whereabouts, and I finally gained renewed hope that Fitz might still be alive after all, and might even survive the show, but only because… well, in a way, things might be even worse than him being dead.

Another plotline centered on Daisy as she pursued her enemy to save her friend, thinking outside the box, and gaining quite a bit of personal growth along the way.

A third was in the Lighthouse, and actually hinged on Daisy’s sister, Cora. We’ll start there.

It begins with Z-1 getting away, as, being a spaceship, it simply flies out into space, above the satellites that would track it. Daisy, feeling more than a little emotional after the ordeal with her mother, storms straight at Cora upon her arrival, in Shield’s custody, and nearly rips the woman’s head off while demanding answers. Daisy backs off only when Mack orders her to, which allows Cora her chance to ask to join Shield.

As Cora presents it, there’s no reason they can’t work together. She fits a good part of the profile: young, troubled past, powerful, and capable of killing. That’s what she offers, advocating for a world made better through the deaths of those who will do terrible things.

It’s what they started out wrestling with in this season, how they had to preserve the timeline, even the parts of it they didn’t like, such as Hydra. They refused to kill Freddie Malick because of the timeline, and because he was just a kid riding in a freight car when they met him, before he did terrible things… things like, say, help Shield infiltrate Hydra, betraying and killing Daniel Sousa, Shield’s first fallen agent. They managed to save Sousa, sure, but Freddie did all those other terrible things, and even more, as the timeline was changed and he had an extra three years of villainy… until Deke shot him dead.

That’s not all Shield has done, but it can’t be denied, it’s a big part of what Shield has always had to do: kill, to protect.

It’s what May did in Bahrain, when a young girl with power went crazy and out of control. They revisit that, when May talks to Cora, in relation to how Lee was going to kill Cora as well (not to mention how Cora was going to kill herself).

So, the offer of a list of names that Cora would help them kill is surprisingly tempting, even persuasive, but that’s just not who the agents are. Even more, the proof that they’re in a new timeline is all the more reason to refuse. Cora mentions Grant Ward, for instance, and all the damage he did to the agents personally. But Coulson remembers the Framework, a world where they saw a version of Ward that was good and heroic, because he had the right influence in that one. Meaning, if they’re in a new timeline, then everyone actually has a chance to do something better, instead of worse.

And while all of this is fascinating and compelling… it’s also a distraction.

Cora is, in fact, a Trojan Horse.

She has a little connection with Daisy, but, in that moment, lets slip that Sybil has predicted something about Daisy herself: she’d never leave her sister to fight alone. And that clues Daisy in. Sybil’s predictions have never actually been certain, have they? It’s always a question of percentages. That’s because humans are unpredictable… and, even more, they can choose to be unpredictable. So, Daisy realizes they need to be unpredictable, act against their usual natures, because their usual natures are what Sybil can predict.

With that in mind, Daisy makes to head off alone, but Sousa accompanies her, going off-book a bit himself in the act (though, having seen Agent Carter, I’d say he is perfectly capable of coloring outside the lines a bit… he just only does it when it seems necessary, instead of by reflex). And then Mack accompanies the both of them, a trio heading out into space with the threadbare resources a single jet has to offer them, to rescue Simmons and Deke.

But we’ll get to that in a moment.

Cora is a bit antsy, wanting her sister and getting May instead. May, in classic form, riles her up to see what she can do, but that backfires. It might even have been predictable, in the way Sybil is able to use. With one surge of power, she knocks out the Lighthouse, taking down their firewalls and allowing Sybil back into their computers.

Sybil mocks Coulson, wanting him to squirm a bit, but it turns out he’s suddenly become a genius with computers. He can understand what’s going on, bits and pieces anyway, within the computers, so he’s able to combat her, but only slows her down, and sees she’s looking at communications for some reason. Then, to get Coulson off her back, she unlocks the cell doors, letting prisoners out. There’s only Cora and two captive guards, but the two try to kill Yo-Yo, and Cora is much more of a threat. She dispatches one of the guards (Durant, I think his name was) as an argument against trying to go back to the original timeline, and she does it without blinking.

She hesitated when she killed Lee, but she didn’t hesitate this time, and she’s advocating killing. Whatever Malick did with his weeks with her, he certainly removed any restraint she had as far as killing is concerned. He is, after all, this dark and powerful man who showed her how to use her power as she saw fit. He liberated her from a prison she didn’t know she was in, and made her into her “true self,” on his puppet strings. So now she thinks she knows who she always was, and believes that she can’t be anything else, therefore no one else could be either. She wants to her mother that, who she is.

That’s when May takes her to see Jiaying’s body, and tells her the truth: Malick killed her, because she put herself between him and Daisy.

It’s devastating to Cora, who lashes out, almost kills May, but the truth of who Malick is, what he really wants, and what he really does… it’s more difficult to believe the bad of someone who we believe has done us good, and Cora is no exception to that. Her faith is shaken, I think, but she still goes back to Malick the moment Garrett comes to get her, and stands with him as he sets the world on fire.

I think Cora is pretty well lost, but I also think she could be a danger to Malick as well, if the coin toss in her own head comes up the right way.

As for Daisy, she has the quietest times during this episode, but also one of the best. After taking off and heading into space, she, Mack, and Sousa are standing over the world in a tiny space, trying to conserve enough air, life support, and power to get them to Z-1… but there’s enough of a wait that they have some pretty good moments.

Daisy and Mack talk about the end of the team. He’s more accepting of it, which is what she needs: a rock-steady best friend helping her find the peace she needs to stand on her own, with or without the team around her. They’re her family, and nothing changes that, especially if, assuming they all survive, they can communicate with each other at any time. The world is vast, but it’s gotten a lot easier to bridge the distance between us all. (shame more people don’t do that)

Daisy grew up alone, and then she gained a family with the agents, and she’s afraid that she doesn’t know who she is without them. But Mack knows, she knows who she is, with or without anyone.

…which leads to a certain look in Sousa’s direction, Mack notices. She confesses that they kissed in the time loop, and he doesn’t remember that part.

I have to smile. They’re in space, saving their friends and the world, and they’re still gossiping about their lives, and the future. Yeah, they’ll be all right, even if they part ways. 🙂

Then Mack has a moment with Sousa. He frankly asks about Sousa’s intentions while Daisy is napping in the back. Sousa is honorable, so he doesn’t have any such intentions as of yet, but… well, Mack advises him to get some intentions. He explains that Daisy has been hurt, so it’s good to see her willing to open up and risk her heart again, and he’s glad that it’s Sousa, a good guy who he likes. But, that said, neither he nor anyone else on the team will let anyone else hurt Daisy again. Just something that Sousa ought to keep in mind if he wants to date Quake.

Which gives Sousa an opening, and he takes it, making a little fun of the name the media dubbed her with, making her (and Mack) smile a bit just before the fireworks go off and crap hits the fan one last time.

And that brings us back to Malick. His hunt for information makes major headway but is ultimately… unsuccessful.

Diana the implant works, blocking Malick, or at least slowing him down. With Simmons placed in the brain-scanning pod, he dives into her memories of Fitz, but all he’s getting, at first, is those tender moments which are classic Fitz-Simmons’ moments to the fans, including when they were underwater or reconnecting in the lab after a separation, that sort of thing.

Malick ups the ante, then, having Garrett bring Deke in. Deke’s solo rescue mission was aborted when Garrett caught him right at the start, so Malick interrogates him. First he has Deke beaten, but that doesn’t break him. Then he tortures Simmons, quaking the base of her skull in an obvious threat meant to torture Deke emotionally, but Deke still doesn’t break… not before Malick notices the implant, anyway.

So, he tries to get it out… only to find that Simmons made it so only she could use it (or authorize its use, I suppose). This leaves him increasingly frustrated, as the champion of chaos has gotten used to an order where he gets what he wants. In anger, he dives into Simmons’ memories with her, picking up where the last season left off.

Fitz-Simmons followed Enoch into the endeavor where they would build a time-traveling ship to combat the Chronicoms. Simmons’ side of their efforts progressed much more quickly, but Fitz reasoned that there was no rush. Following that, however, there was a desire to forego the battle and simple live their lives.

I seem to recall something similar in the fifth season, where they saw the end of the world and had to deal with a time loop they had to escape. It took Fitz almost his entire life to make the time machine that they used to travel back, after having been sent forward, to save the world. In that time, too, if I remember right, he wanted to give up for awhile, not rush it, and just live a little with his wife. But, in the end, he got the job done.

It took a long while, though, and I don’t think building the entirety of Z-1, alone, would have made it any quicker of a task.

So, now I ask myself… if we assume Fitz is alive, then what happened to him? Where is he, really?

And if it took so long, then why has Simmons not aged much at all?

Ok, new theory: Fitz finished the ship over the course of decades, and, with time machine included, sent it back to pick Simmons up and send her on her way with the rest of the team. And as for whatever else he was, or is, doing, it is somehow pivotal to the war with the Chronicoms. And, at some point, Fitz-Simmons knew it was going to happen this way, and made a very painful choice.

What is something so painful that it can compare with losing Fitz, and make Simmons so distraught as we saw in the time loop, but doesn’t actually kill him?

The clue, and the answer, come just as Malick is closing in on his location in Simmons’ memories. All at once, they’re standing in the white room of the Chronicoms mental prison, with furniture, but no surroundings. Maybe they did that, used the Chronicoms’ own technology to give themselves more time to work with, or maybe that’s just part of what was happening. It could only show Malick what she was remembering, after all, and soon enough…

…she forgets.

Enoch acted as a failsafe in case anyone tried to remove the implant, but the implant was, at some point, modified to act as its own failsafe if Simmons’ mind was ever so deeply invaded. It was Fitz who pushed Simmons towards this, but at some point she consented to it, and now all she is left with is an empty white room. What she remembered in the time loop was this decision, the decision to burn everything she remembered of him, to forget even as she wept so bitterly, whispering, “I don’t want to forget,” over and over, so fast, so desperate.

Malick storms off in a rage, killing a subordinate over a tiny infraction, growling that they’ll just have to see if it (Fitz) really makes a difference in the end.

Deke is relieved to surmise that he didn’t get Fitz’s location… but Simmons doesn’t know who Fitz is anymore.

…I think that might be the single greatest loss of the entire show, and the worst blow Fitz-Simmons has ever suffered, even after seven seasons of being put straight through the ringer over and over and over.

At the end of the episode, Dasiy, Mack, and Sousa are closing in on Z-1, and they see the arrival of the Chronicom fleet.

Cora rejoins Malick, even knowing he just killed her mother, and kisses him as the ships rain fire down on the Earth below, at his direction. Sybil had sent a signal to them some time ago, and they’ve modified their hunters in accord with her instructions, and now they’re here to take what they want (which, I didn’t realize they’d need to, this still being the past, presumably before their homeworld’s destruction, but ok).

Coulson has seen that what Sybil was after was the location of every singly Shield base in the world, and she just fed the coordinates to her fleet in orbit. The Triskelion, the Hub, the Sandbox, the Fridge… they try to warn all of them, but all of them go silent mid-sentence. All of Shield, ever base, every installation, everything, wiped out within minutes.

They never knew what hit them, and they never had a chance.

It’s a new day, bathed in the blood of the old. New lives, Malick promised, by ending so very many.

The agents are now probably the only agents left in this new timeline the Chronicoms have made. All the rest are gone, including the new recruits of Deke’s crew, who just barely went off to the Triskelion to join the real Shield. Peggy Carter, too. Nick Fury. Everyone. All of them. Dead.

So… heck of a way to clear the board, and leave the agents standing alone, with no secret aces left (except, possibly, Fitz), against an entire fleet in this timeline, and an old timeline they may or may not get back to.

Then again, maybe that’s why the team ends, because they leave their original timeline forever and are stuck in one that has no Shield for them to belong to anymore.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

One more week.

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1 Response to This Week on TV, Aug. 8, 2020

  1. swanpride says:

    Hey, for a lot of AoS fans this is the last show standing. Granted, there are a few I might watch when they come on, but one I am so invested in. And that is supposed to be over within a week is just incredible depressing.

    Liked by 1 person

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