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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Stolen

"Clever, digging up our greatest hits."

The timeline is beyond repair and questions are piling up. We know what the enemy's agenda is, but there is still so much about them that we don't understand.

I get what the writers were going for. The Chronicoms were set as the evil masterminds, but since they are harder characters to make three-dimentional, we have Hydra-related people as additional, more complex foes. In theory, it works, but the execution is lacking. The Chronicoms have a clear motivation as Big Bads: their home planet was destroyed and, for whatever reason, they chose Earth as Chronica-3. But Nathaniel's proclaimed reason to be against S.H.I.E.L.D. is anarchy, which is so random and superficial.

By this episode, I've come to dislike Nathaniel a lot, and not in a "I like to dislike him" kind of way. He lectures about S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra being organizations who seek to control, putting himself as the deliverer from the oppression of control and hierarchy by... running his own group of people and dictating their actions. Ugh, just disappear with your lack of logic, you half-wit. Kora and now, young John Garrett, seem extremely foolish and naive following him, and those qualities interesting villains do not make.

In fact, even Nathaniel looks naive. I get that the Chronicoms showed him wonders, but let's assume he succeeds and releases the Earth from all kinds of government and control. Doesn't he realize that the Chronicoms will control everything then? What did the Chronis show him to convince him otherwise? Since their alliance was built offscreen, we don't know. Nathaniel talks about immortality as an endgoal, but it's such a throwaway information it doesn't tell us anything of real relevance.

Things are happening ahead of schedule, we are told, and I could say the same for this season's arc. In this episode, young John Garrett was brought into the story, convinced to drop Hydra and join Nathaniel, gained stolen superpowers and mastered them in about two seconds. Rushed much? Remember that flashback in season two that showed just how hard it was for Gordon to control his teleportation abilities at first? Or how difficult it was for Daisy to control her quakes? We don't even need to go back at all. This very episode states that Kora had a lot of problems post-terrigenesis. Why is it all so easy, then, to the humans stealing Inhuman powers when their DNA is not even originally equipped to adapt to such powers?

And yet, despite all the issues I mentioned above, the arc story is mostly working. Kora's emotional journey suffers from the rushness of the plot, but Jiaying's drama of a worried mother and Daisy's conflicts of an estranged daughter are really good. They only have two scenes to bond with one another and it's impressive how much the writers accomplish with the short amount of time they have. In the first scene, Daisy gets to meet a pre-scars version of her mother, one that says her daughter – Kora – is her greatest gift, and the heartbreak in Daisy's face is obvious: that's the opposite of what Jiaying told her in the original timeline. Daisy recalls how complicated it was to meet her mother, without ever revealing her identity to Jiaying – "Hey, I'm your daughter from the future, and also, you tried to kill me" would be too much for a first conversation – and they connect in a meaningful way when Jiaying tries to give her some comfort.

The undisclosed bond between the two characters speaks volumes and sets up Jiaying's inevitable demise quite well. Credit where credit is due, I thought Nathaniel was an effective villain when he revealed all that happened between Daisy and Jiaying in the future. I was so nervous during that scene, with Nathaniel posing as a threat and Daisy not having enough time to explain anything to Jiaying. I so wanted Daisy to have a chance to get a hug from that version of her mother, let all of her emotions out and have a healing experience, but I knew, I knew, we were not getting any of that. Instead, Jiaying died, this time not trying to kill Daisy, but trying to protect her. It's beautiful, poetic and heartbreaking. I love how she barely had any time to process all the info Nathaniel dumped on her, but still referred to Daisy as her daughter and told Nathaniel to stay the hell away from her.

Daisy is, of course, ready to bring the whole building down on Nathaniel's head after he kills her mother, but there is a nice breaking of tension when May shoots him and proceeds to chase him, allowing Daisy to cool down and go near Jiaying's body and grieve. The course of the episode also changes when we learn that Nathaniel was not after Jiaying. That took me by surprise, I thought he either wanted to steal her powers (he talked about immortality as an endgoal) or kill her to prevent Daisy from existing. And though he did kill her, it seemed like it was something that happened in the heat of the battle, not something he'd planned.

The twist is that Nathaniel and Garrett were after Simmons, and it was very well done. We are reminded of Simmons' concealed secrets twice in this episode. First when Daisy confronts her about her reaction after the inhibitor was extracted in one of the loops, and later when Simmons confesses to Deke that Fitz might be dead and that it might be too painful to remember. But those scenes are somewhat removed from the main plot that the fakeout works. The catch is that Fitz is probably not dead, he is the main reason why the Chronicoms might not succeed, and Simmons is their way to find him. In a season that has targeted the agents' families, the Fitzsimmons could be the enemy's final victims.

Intel and Assets

- The title of this episode refers to a few stolen things: Inhumans' powers, Daisy's childhood (in the original timeline) and Daisy's mom being stolen from her yet again.

- My favorite scene of the episode was Mack and Coulson with Gordon. Gordon was positively enthusiastic about their mission together, cue Mack's look to Coulson that totally read "we killed this guy." This was the first time in the season I actually wished Fitz was there too.


- Like Jiaying dying doing the opposite of what she was doing last time, Gordon died helping S.H.I.E.L.D.

- Roxy was back! All the members of Deke's gang have signed up to be real S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. That's cool.

- May was about to tell Daisy that Jiaying had another daughter when she got interrupted by Jiaying's arrival. I wish she had clarified that to Daisy when Daisy confronted her about not being told she had a sister.

- Considering what happened with Kora after Terrigenesis, it makes sense Jiaying was so strict about that ritual later on.

- Sousa is the absolute best. He encouraged Daisy to speak to Jiaying and eased the conversation between them, leaving them alone when the conversation required privacy.

- I loved that Garrett wasn't able to land a single punch on May. That's what I expect to happen when a lesser fighter faces an experienced one (and shows and movies don't always get that right).

- It was established that the time stream shows a person's entire history up until their death. But what timeline is that future from? Nathaniel and John kept referencing events from the original timeline, when clearly the current timeline is a new one. Can the time stream access any timeline, and the Chronicoms are showing the villains-in-training Agents' original timeline because it's the more convenient one?

- Why do people keep talking about Coulson as if he had died several times? It was only twice. :)

- I thought it was great that they brought James Paxton, Bill Paxton's son, to play young Garrett. What a lovely tribute to the late actor. James nailed it, I believed that that guy was a younger version of Garrett.

Quotes

Daisy: "Any idea why the countdown didn't start after we fixed the drive?"
Simmons: "The electron displacement mechanism did stabilize it, but it's possible the cumulative damage severed operative transmission/receive stability to penetrate spacetime."
Sousa: "Did you understand that?"
Daisy: "Actually, yeah, I did."

Simmons: "Say what you will about the fifties, at least it doesn't know chivalry is dead."

Simmons (re: Fitz): "I sent him messages that disappeared into the depths of space. No answer."
Such a good melodramatic line.

Coulson: "Feel tingly."
Gordon: "It goes away."
Coulson: "Actually, it's not unpleasant."

Coulson (to Garrett): "You haven't changed a bit. And I'm aware that statement makes no sense."

Daisy: "Looking spry for an old guy. How is it feeling?"
Sousa: "Fantastic. I think I'm a fan of the 21th century."
Daisy: "Yeah, don't get your hopes up. We make a mean prosthetic, but fascism is back."
Sousa: "You mean the thing I helped wipe out ten years ago?"
Daisy: "Yeah, the past won't leave us alone."

Sousa: "The timeline is screwed, pardon my French."

Daisy: "You really are square, aren't you?"
Sousa: "Harsh, but yes."

Jiaying: "Sometimes trying to do the right thing comes out all wrong."


The story is being rushed, but this was still a very good arc episode. Three out of four stolen powers.
--
Lamounier

2 comments:

  1. The story is indeed being rushed, but it's effective. I'm not into Nathaniel as a villain, but everything he does is upsetting me.

    I'm so glad we did get a Sierra/Victor moment, even if it was only so that he could graciously leave Daisy alone with her mother. Jiaying's end this time was a lot more satisfying.

    Yay for James Paxton. That was lovely casting, and he definitely does give me little glimpses of his father in his performance. I also enjoyed Coulson a lot in this one.

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  2. > The story is indeed being rushed, but it's effective. I'm not into Nathaniel as a villain, but everything he does is upsetting me.

    Billie, I agree. I actually wrote something similar in a review of an upcoming episode. :)

    I so wanted to see Daisy and Jiaying together again that I did *not* catch there was a Dollhouse reunion happening. How did I miss that?

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