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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Adapt or Die - Review

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      Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Adapt or Die” was written by DJ Doyle and was directed by Aprill Winney, whose other credits include Siren, Good Trouble, and The Fosters. The show is at a point where it can mostly run without a director - I thought it an odd time to bring in new blood, actually. The epiosde has fewer and much shorter fight scenes than usual, which might be accounted for in the choice of director. The episode features Coulson (Clark Gregg) dying – again!!! – and some answers about what’s been happening to Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). The episode also sees Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) grow closer… and I’m a fan! Is this match a “dousa” of one??

      The episode begins with some monologuing by the bad guy – Sibyl (Tamara Taylor). She’s remarking on the interconnectedness of everything. Luke (Tobias Jelinek) isn’t impressed until Sibyl reveals more of her plan. She’s divided the team and put them under stress. She tells Luke that they must continue to adapt – and he goes off to wake the hunters. It’s not entirely clear where she is, but it is clear that she’s not on earth.

      Stoner (Patrick Warburton) is not happy with May (Ming-Na Wen) and Coulson for blowing up his rocket – and sucker punching him! Once again, I just love the chemistry in this entire episode between May and Couslon – Wen and Gregg have great timing. Stoner isn’t happy to have to use his celebratory steak to take the swelling down on his eye – and guesses that May’s real name isn’t Chastity – another disappointment. She also breaks it to him that she’s not from HR – and Coulson leans over to tell her that Stoner got that from their bag full of explosives!

      Stoner tells them they can track the Zephyr – thanks to technology from Malick. Back on the ship, Mack (Henry Simmons) is furious to learn that Deke (Jeff Ward) has killed Malick. Simmons hasn’t been able to find Daisy or Sousa. Mack is determined to save his parents – and YoYo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) insists she’s coming with him. Mack refuses to let Deke come even if he does know the Lighthouse. Mack is hoping that the Chronicoms will give up their position…

      On the way to the Lighthouse, Mack reminisces about the party his parents threw on the Bicentennial. YoYo tries to reassure Mack that they work best under pressure. It’s not how he’d imagined she’d meet his parents, but she suggests it’ll make quite the first impression! Love the chemistry between these two too!

      In the Lighthouse, we are treated to seeing Stoner’s hologram – with the real Stoner – as the facility goes into lockdown. Coulson tells him that they’re using the lockdown to divide and take the Lighthouse. Before anything else can be done, three missiles launch toward the Zephyr – and Enoch (Joel Stoffer) initiates evasive maneuvers.

      Daisy and Sousa have been drugged. They prevent Daisy from using her powers. Daisy assumes that Nathaniel (Thomas E Sullivan) is HYDRA, but he assures her that “religion” isn’t really his thing. Nathaniel thinks that Sousa is an Inhuman too because he hasn’t aged. Nathaniel oozes creepiness, especially as he tells Daisy that he likes her whole “vibe.” EW! Daisy tells Nathaniel that she’s not super-serum powered – it’s genetics, but Nathaniel is going to use Whitehall’s procedure.

    May and Coulson are handcuffed in an interrogation room, and Stoner questions them. He tries to take responsibility for firing on the Zephyr, but Coulson calls him on it. He then tells Stoner that the base has been taken over by partially synthetic humanoids – who also steal their faces to blend in. When Agent King (Shakira Barrera) comes in and touches May, May knows immediately that she’s a Chronicom. King tells Stoner there’s something she needs to show him in the basement. Coulson offers to come and help, and Stoner asks if they paid Malick a visit. Coulson says yes, and Stoner tells him Malick is dead – no way, Stoner is trusting Coulson. As soon as the two leave, May tells Coulson that there’s something wrong with King and she’s a Chronicom.

      Back on the Zephyr, alarms start going off. I really liked how this went back to Sibyl’s monologuing. Simmons and Enoch explain to Deke that there is something wrong with the shielding around the Zephyr that allows it to time jump. Without the shielding being intact, a jump would pull it apart. And are we also seeing the parallel to S.H.I.E.L.D.? Without the team intact, it too will be pulled apart… Simmons is at a loss as to how to fix the ship – but Enoch can fix her.

      In the Lighthouse, YoYo and Mack arrive to save his parents. Mack gets carried away and immediately hugs his mother – Lilla (Paulina Lule). His father – John (Sedale Threatt Jr) – is not impressed! Mack immediately apologizes – and introduces YoYo as his girlfriend! YoYo tells him that she doesn’t think these “strangers” care about that – it’s pretty hilarious! Mack promises to get them home. Lilla tells Mack that they were just shopping for a party – the party Mack was talking about on the plane – when they were taken. Lilla and John are baffled as they are “nobodies.” Mack indignantly tells them that they aren’t nobody! I also loved him telling his Dad not to call him sir! Aw!

      King takes Stoner to the basement, telling him they need his override code to gain control of the computers. He’s annoyed that his own face – via his hologram – is actually aiding the enemy. He tells her to turn it off, and she tells him that they’ll remove his face asap – the irony is hilarious!

    May and Coulson discuss King. Coulson doesn’t want to believe it because she showed emotion – she was the person Stoner knew and Chronicoms can’t fake that. May points out that Coulson can mimic emotions. I loved how upset Coulson got when May compared him to the Chronicoms. He tells her that he doesn’t appreciate her attitude and she points out that she doesn’t have one – and that’s his problem! This is when he’d turn to her… for validation. I loved this scene between the two of them. Even as an LMD, Coulson struggles with having died and come back to life. He gets that May can’t feel, but she won’t even tell him what she thinks.

      May tells him that what she thinks is that he never dies! She complains about how many times she’s had to mourn him, and she insists that she’s not doing it again. Coulson points out that her emotions are coming back – or maybe she’s just mimicking him… and then he realizes that it’s really the Chronicoms who are mimicking him. On the train, Luke told him that they could adapt – and they saw him and realized that they could steal personalities. The plan is to replace the Agents and take over.

      Mack’s parents are getting impatient with their “rescue.” Mack and his father bond over getting the door opened that is separating them from the Quinjet. The two couples work together to open the door. YoYo shares that she calls Mack “turtleman” and Lilla asks if it’s because he slowly won her over! They hear someone coming, and John’s arm is injured. Mack leaves them to make sure that the Chronicoms don’t get anywhere near them.

      In the basement, Ford (Nic Few) and King are about to convert Stoner, when May and Coulson are suddenly there. May tells them – “Never keep your back to a door” – good advice! We get a short but decent fight as they save Stoner – who immediately wakes up and says that he believes them! Stoner wants to get the Agents who are still alive out. Coulson tells May and Stoner to hook up with Mack who’s getting his parents out. Meanwhile, Coulson is following the lead that the Chronicoms are bringing more “up” – by going down to see what’s there.

      Daisy is dragged back to where Sousa is still chained up. Nathaniel has taken blood, spinal fluid, and a few glands, which he’s planning to inject into himself. Sousa pulls her head into his lap as soon as they are alone, and distracts her by telling her his story. He tells her about Mike Stephens who saved him when his leg was hurt. He tells her that he’s passing on the favor – he’s getting her home. He finds a piece of class stuck in her hand and sees that she’s still got plenty of fight left in her.

      On the Zephyr, Deke comes upon Enoch performing some kind of procedure on Simmons and zaps him unconscious with the defibrillator paddles! Simmons is furious with Deke and tells him that Enoch was helping to fix her memory. It was incredibly difficult to track the Chronicoms through time, but Fitz and she found a place where all their moves could be observed. He stayed there to guide them. No one can know his location because then the Chronicoms would kill him. Simmons implanted a chip – named Diana – to prevent her from remembering where Fitz is.

      Coulson finds the device that takes him to Sibyl. She tells him that he’s in a virtual space and his body is in their time ship surrounded by hunters. She tells him that they call her the Predictor. Coulson asks if she sees the future, and she says she sees the past – she reads the time stream. Gregg is delightful in this scene. It’s one of the things that I’ve loved about this series from the first episode. He just clearly loves playing this character.

      Coulson tells Sibyl that she’s not like any other Chronicom that he’s met – she’s a poet for one thing – and she returns the compliment – but again, Coulson points out – or starts to – that he’s NOT a Chronicom! He’s bemused that she’s willing to answer any questions he has.

      When Nathaniel’s thugs come for Sousa, he tells him to help Daisy because she’s not doing well. He takes the opportunity of driving the piece of glass into the thug. He gets the keys and frees the two of them. He picks Daisy up, but then the ground starts to shake. It’s not Daisy because she’s unconscious. Nathaniel comes in and complains that his bones are breaking – well, d’uh…

      Sibyl tells Coulson that Daisy has been abducted by Nathaniel who wants her powers. She tells him that Nathaniel has only 22% chance of succeeding where Daisy has an 86% chance of surviving. I loved Coulson’s “that’s my girl.” He then asks what they want with Mack’s parents. Coulson knows the answer to that one though. The Chronicoms want the Earth – and Sibyl adds to ensure the survival of her species. Coulson says he wants the same – they have a lot in common. They should talk more…. Sibyl points out that they aren’t really speaking and he remarks on her great sense of humor. Coulson asks what’s the difference between a Chronicom and a human, and Sibyl answers time. Chronicoms can’t die so time has no meaning. Sibyl doesn’t say it makes her species more valuable – just more durable.

      Coulson tells her that she’s wrong about three things. First. The difference is sacrifice – and we see Mack fighting to try to give his parents enough time to get away. He agrees that time is limited – but that means that sacrifice comes at a real cost – and here we flash to Simmons and Deke working to fix the Zephyr. It’s not just data, but heart, and pain and blood and sweat and tears. All the good, human stuff – and they’ll never give up. And we cut to Mack fighting for his parents. The third thing is him. He hasn’t feared death in a long time. Dying is kind of his superpower. Coulson removes his arms from the machine. The hunters start to wake. He tells May that he’s found the ship – and he hopes she’s right about this next part… he detonates the explosives. He’s hoping she’s right that he won’t really die….

      Stoner shows up with May just in time to save Mack from Luke. May tells YoYo that Coulson lifted the lockdown. May thanks Stoner for believing them, and he thanks her for saving his skin. He once again offers to buy her a drink. She reminds him that HR frown on that. He tells her that as a saboteur, she doesn’t report to him – and she counters with the fact that she’s a Level 7, so technically, he reports to her! And how long has it been since we’ve been reminded of the Levels? Loved it! Such a nice little throwback. She tells him to clear out the base and come up with a cover story. She seems uncomfortable with his emotions after she shakes his hand!

      Back on the Quinjet, Mack asks where Coulson is, and May tells them that he’s gone. YoYo asks if he’s dead, and May insists that he’ll come back – he always does.

      On the Zephyr, Enoch is awake and fixing Simmons. Simmons makes Deke apologize, and he tells Enoch that he’s a valued member of their family. Enoch accepts – and being included in their family is a high honor. Simmons doesn’t remember where Fitz is, and she tells Deke that no one can know about her. He tells her that he can carry the secret.

    Mack proudly shows his Dad the plane, while Lilla tells YoYo about her sons. Mack suggests that an ATV could loosen up her serious son. Meanwhile, John thanks May and touches her shoulder – and May realizes that he’s a Chronicom – which means Mack’s parents are dead. May circles the jet, and Mack doesn’t want to believe it. She tells him to check John’s arm where he hurt it. John resists – and of course, when he finally does show it, they see the truth. John tells Mack his parents have been gone a while. YoYo manages to break John’s neck, but Mack has to push his mother out of the jet.
      Back on the Zephyr, YoYo sits with Mack trying to comfort him. Daisy is in the healing chamber with Sousa watching over her. Deke tells them that they’re about to jump – and Sousa declares that he’s where he needs to be – he’s not staying behind. Coulson hasn’t returned. As soon as they jump, Mack takes his motorcycle out for some air. Mack doesn’t go far, but Deke goes to check on him. He gets what he’s going through. Simmons calls Deke frantic – they’re about to jump again. And then the Zephyr jumps, leaving Mack and Deke in the past – 1982.
      I really liked the scenes between Coulson and May and Sousa and Daisy in this episode. Henry Simmons gives a really solid performance too – and as always, Cordova-Buckley and he also have great chemistry. Stoner is hilarious – and it’s hard not to like him in the end. The casting on this show is just first rate – but then, so is the writing. I can’t say that I’m too fussed about the scenes for the next episode – in a short, final season, it feels a bit too much like filler. I need Fitz back! And Coulson! What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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