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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Spacetime - Review

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., “Spacetime,” was directed by Kevin Tancharoen and was written by the showrunning team of Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon. This was a finely crafted episode, and I loved the way the plot weaved in and out of itself and there were so many conversations with double meanings. The direction was also masterful, especially the repetition of that fantastic fight scene. My favorite scene/moment has to be when Coulson (Clark Gregg) first lays eyes on Ward/Hive (Brett Dalton) – it’s beautifully shot and Gregg is terrific. And of course, kudos to Dalton for creating another new character for this show! Hive is even more menacing than Bad Ward ever was in a completely different way.

The episode opens – and closes minus the “hidden” scene – with a shot of the wooden Robin that Charles (Bjorn Johnson) carved. When I first saw it, I assumed that the bird was charred. The final scene clearly shows that the bird isn’t burnt, even though sparks are falling all around it. However, on going back are re-watching the opening again, the figurine isn’t burnt, it’s just in shadow. My first thought was that this proved that Daisy (Chloe Bennet) had managed to change time in some way, but if the bird is the same, that disproves that theory. Re-visiting events is the theme that runs throughout this episode.

We first see Charles as a homeless person, and Edwin Abbott (Wolfgang Bodison) is trying to get him to go to a homeless shelter – or at least to get away from his store. Here’s the easter egg – Edwin Abbott wrote Flatland a famous science fiction novel that theorizes exactly the mathematics of the fourth dimension that Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) tries to explain to the rest of the team later in the episode!

Charles’ touch seems to send Edwin into some kind of seizure, which we quickly learn is actually a view of the future – and someone’s death – not necessarily the death of the person touched – but often as in Edwin’s case. It does seem logical to simply avoid anything you see in the dream, so calling for Daisy Johnson would seem to seal Edwin’s fate. However, this is the central argument throughout the episode – is there any way to change the future or is it all fated to turn out in only one way?

After Daisy’s name gets pulled from the police scanner, the team heads out to investigate. I’m really loving the walk and talks on the show. The action comes thick and fast, so you may have missed that Coulson goes out in the field – Daisy quips as the muscle – because Mack is on bedrest due to having been shot in the last episode.

The scene with Abbott has some spectacular car explosions. We see Edwin repeat everything from his vision, but this time in context, ending with this is where I die – and he does. Daisy realizes that HYDRA is there for Charles and runs to try to save him, but of course, his touch transmits a series of visions to Daisy and we get to see how they play out as the episode unfolds. I loved that Daisy just intuitively knows and also accepts that she’s just seen the future.

And then we have that brilliant Matrix entrance of Ward – now Hive. I loved the slo-motion shot of him walking down the hallway and how it perfectly reflects how Dalton is playing this new dimension. He’s restrained in a wholly different way than first season pre-evil Ward was. His cold and seemingly unemotional demeanor is more chilling and intimidating when paired with a quiet, soft-spoken delivery.

Malick (Powers Boothe) entertains Hive for dinner. Hive thanks him for saving him, but wants to know why. After all, with a $9.2 billion dollar estate, Malick can’t want more money. Malick has some vague notion of taking over the world WITH Hive. Poor Malick. He really doesn’t yet have a clue… Hive decides that what Malick really wants is true power. And he chillingly places Coulson’s hand on the table. And this is the true power that Hive is talking about. The power to take another human’s life. Has Hive imprinted on Ward’s memory of his own death? Or is this the memory of Ward’s own desires?

Meanwhile the team tries to unravel what’s happened to Daisy. The others seem to only want more detail, but Coulson questions whether it’s even possible. Ah, Phil. Still grounded in reality! May (Ming-Na Wen) tells him it’s a stupid question.

Daisy maintains that she can change the future because she is forewarned and they can reverse engineer the whole thing. But of course, as the episode plays out, every attempt to change the actual events fails – thought their perspective on what’s actually happening does change. Fitz tells them right from the beginning that they cannot change the future – it’s fixed, but even more, time is just an illusion.

I loved Fitz’s explanation of the 4th dimension. Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) explains to the others that it’s mathematics, but Fitz uses the stack of paper to illustrate. Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) is convinced, however, that Edwin must have called Daisy for a reason. She’s the key. Coulson maintains that they can change the visions by keeping Daisy in the base and sending May because she never appeared in the visions at all. He also vows that he won’t pick up a gun – Daisy saw him shooting at her!

Coulson and Lincoln got to investigate Charles, and Coulson admits that “this time stuff has always been a little over my head” and he gives the example of Terminator. Lincoln confesses that he’s never seen the original and Coulson quickly deadpans, “You’re off the team!” I love how the show gives the audience a touchstone – time travel isn’t for everyone! Lincoln, however, really does key in to exactly what Coulson says about Terminator – they wouldn’t have been there if Edwin hadn’t called and Edwin wouldn’t have called if they hadn’t been there! How do you get out of that kind of loop?

Once again, Lincoln makes the case for the inhumans to be filling some kind of gap. It’s all a design; it’s not random. He uses the example of Raina, and Coulson points out that everything Raina said came true. Lincoln points out that it was because of that that Daisy was able to stop her mother, and he’s sure that Daisy can change this too. Coulson points out that Lincoln’s face was completely covered in blood in the vision, but Lincoln tells Coulson to worry about himself. Coulson replies, “because Daisy saw me shoot her?” And Lincoln tells him, “Because I’d kill you if you did.” There’s a terrific shot of Coulson smiling slightly to himself – I think he supports the Daisy/Lincoln ship….

Daisy gives Simmons details while Fitz utilizes the servers to run an algorithm to find the location. When May hears they are using the servers, she freaks out that they may be using all the servers. Simmons explains that she and May are trying to find Andrew (Blair Underwood), and Fitz promises not to use all the servers. Simmons asks May if she thinks they can change the future. May sensibly replies that everything they do changes the future, but the real trick would be to change the past.

Daisy sees the woman from her vision walk in – it’s Charles’s wife, Polly (Lola Glaudini). She tells Daisy about Charles’s change and how they saw an horrific car crash and then her mother’s death. It’s unclear who dies in the car crash, but one has to assume it’s Polly. She tells Daisy that Charles did try to change what he saw but that he was powerless to change anything. She also tells Daisy that the carved bird is a Robin because that is the name of their daughter – and Charles left to protect Robin.

Meanwhile, Malick and Hive have arrived at Transia Corporation, and Malick tells the CEO, Rowan Hamilton (Markus Flanagan) that he’s buying the company. He wants the exo-skeleton that uses the same technology as Coulson’s hand – or at least Hive wants it for Malick. When Hamilton blows them off, Charles touches him and he sees his board flambéed – and immediately agrees to anything! Unfortunately, Hive tells him that he’s misunderstood. He had him shown “what will happen” and Hive flambés them anyway.

Hive insists that Malick put the exo-skeleton on – and Malick starts to look a little worried. Once it’s on, Malick easily flips the board table. Hive wanted him to feel true power – but in order to do that Malick has to crush Hamilton. Hive tells him, “You’ve had people killed, even considered shooting someone, but to drain a man’s life with your own hand, feel the life run out inside him… As Mr Coulson did with me. A feeling so powerful it scared him. Enough to leave that hand behind.” I don’t believe that Coulson was afraid of the power. I think he felt great remorse at letting his hatred of Ward get the better of him.

Hive taunts Malick – “But you don’t fear anything, do you?” Malick does look unsure, but when Hamilton punches him, Malick happily turns to the task at hand and crushes Hamilton’s skull. Malick’s face hardens as he feels the power Hive was talking about.

Daisy still wants to go on the mission – she tells May that she has an “advantage” and May shoots back that while she can’t cause earthquakes, she’s faster! Daisy points out that she also has the advantage of foresight – she knows what’s coming, so May challenges her to show her – and they set the room and choreograph the fight! I loved this sequence! I loved that when Simmons steps in to play her part, May pulls her punches and kicks and stage whispers at Simmons to fall down!

Simmons and Fitz share a moment. She thinks Fitz doesn’t think May can conquer the fight in the required time, but Fitz says he’s more worried about what’s going to happen to prevent her from going because they know she isn’t going to go. Simmons maintains that she doesn’t believe anything is completely inevitable, and Fitz just says, “We’ll see.” I thought this could also be applied to Fitz/Simmons as endgame too…

May has conquered the fight – and just as they find the building. Fitz knows that Transia uses the tech from Coulson’s hand. We get another walk and talk as they head out on the mission. Daisy cautions May not to follow Charles up to the roof – and then the alarm goes off. It’s Andrew. He’s turned himself in because he’s about to change for the last time and he came to say goodbye. I loved Coulson simply remarking, “Well. At least this day can’t get any weirder.” You’d think he’d know better by now!

Coulson won’t let May go and insists that she say goodbye to Andrew. Daisy insists that she has to go now because with Bobbi gone, she’s the only one who stands a chance. As she’s about to get on the jet, Coulson stops her and says, “Watch your back. If it goes south, get out. Don’t try to be a hero, and for God’s sakes, Skye, come home.” Daisy gently corrects him about her name. It’s telling that he still essentially thinks of her as Skye – really the “daughter” that he came to know and needed to protect, but she’s more than that now.

Andrew and May finally get a chance to talk. He tells her that he’s not there to repair anything. Becoming inhuman changed him, but there’s still a small bit of him left. He’s afraid that when he turns that will be gone forever. May asks if he could change the past, would he. He says yes – but he wants Lash in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s hands because he feels that what he was doing was for an important reason. Is it possible that Lash is the only one who can stop Hive? However, this is in line with what Lincoln’s been saying all along. Lash is fighting for a cause – for a reason – even if they don’t understand it yet.

May worries that if Andrew would like to change the past, maybe he’d wish that he’d never met her as she feels that she’s the cause of everything – none of it would have happened to him if he’d never met her. Andrew tells her that he wouldn’t change that: “You’re still the center of the best moments of my life.”

May tells Andrew that Daisy has grown so confident in her powers that she feels that she can change the future. Andrew points out that they are trying to do the same thing with Simmons’ vaccine, and it’s at that moment that he realizes that it’s not working and he’s going to change. He rushes into the containment cell, and there’s the somewhat clichéd shot of the two pressing their hands together through the window before he changes for good. However, this sequence is beautifully blocked leading up to this moment as May begins the sequence as far from she can get from Andrew – even while he initially questions her choice to be actually in the room with him. The physical space mimics the emotional space between them – again picking up the themes of space and time in the episode.

While Daisy heads for Transia, Fitz hacks into their security footage. This scene is simply beautifully shot, acted and executed. Coulson turns from the screen to say to Lincoln, did you hear? Andrew thinks he’s serving a higher purpose too. He goes on: “Or you’re all crazy and this is pointless and nothing we see here will make any sense….” And in between make and any, Coulson turns toward the screen as Hive turns toward the camera, bringing the two face to face once again! Linking Andrew’s purpose so explicitly to Hive in this moment seems like it is certainly by design!

There is only a moment of Hive on the screen before the screen goes blank with a “no signal” sign – and it would seem that has happened to Coulson’s brain too! He looks utterly gob-smacked! And Gregg plays it perfectly. I loved Lincoln saying “was that Ward?” Henstridge’s reaction as Simmons is also perfect. Fitz answers Lincoln: “Unfortunately, that was something else.” They all know this isn’t Ward. And this completely changes the game plan on the ground.

I loved the shot of Daisy gathering herself outside the room for the fight – there’s a great parallel shot with May doing exactly the same thing – her training is strong! I love how Bennet has really grown into this role and her stunt work is superb. Now we see how the future plays out differently in the context of the present. Coulson comes in shooting, but it’s to blast out the two way mirror and save Daisy, not kill her.

Daisy is shocked and wants to know what Coulson is doing there. He tells her that he’s after Grant Ward – and then adds, “Yeah. Day just got weirder…”

Meanwhile, Fitz is finally ready to concede that the future might not be inevitable because he and Simmons are in place, but there isn’t a cloud in the sky – so it can’t possibly snow, right? Well, that’s because it never did snow in the vision – those were ashes. I did love Simmons sticking to the vision and pointing out that they were supposed to be holding hands.

Daisy heads to the roof and is attacked by Malick. She blasts at him but misses and sets the billboard on fire, creating ashes. Lincoln is hit with a fire extinguisher – a little on the nose, extinguishing his fire… thrown by Mr Giyera (Mark Dacascos). Simmons worries that Daisy may have seen her own death. Lincoln sees Ward through the blood on his face and warns Daisy to get out.

Malick is about to kill Daisy when Charles touches him. Daisy is able to use her powers on him. He ends up lying freaked out on the roof. Charles and Daisy end up laying side by side on the roof. She tells him that she thought she could save him, but he’s saved her. Charles, however, is happy that he finally made a difference. Daisy asks about the bird and Charles explains that he made it for his daughter. He had to protect her. He was afraid that she’d grow up like him, but now realizes that she will always need some protection. He asks Daisy if she’d protect her. Daisy promises to protect Robin – always.

Charles hands Daisy the robin, but touches her in the process and she once again sees that shot of a spaceship in earth’s orbit. Blood floats in the air and then the crucifix. We see the shoulder of a S.H.I.EL.D. uniform and then the ship explodes. Maybe Elena (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) loses the crucifix when she yo-yos in and takes Daisy out at the last minute?!! I still have hope that this vision isn’t quite what it seems. But of course, it also brings actual space into the episode.

The very final scene shows Giyera with Hive. He’s curious about what they are doing, but Hive puts him off – they are after other technology than the hand. Malick calls Giyera and demands to know where he is – he’s supposed to be right by Malick’s side. Giyera tells him that he’s right where he’s supposed to be. Hive asks if Malick is alright and Giyera replies that he sounds afraid. Did Malick see his own death at the hands of Hive? Did he see the death of millions at Hive’s hands? I’m betting that Malick saw something in that vision…

What did you think of the episode? Is the future inevitable? What do you think of Hive? What do you think Malick saw? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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