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

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Stolen” was written by the team of George Kitson and Mark Leitner based on a story by Mark Linehan Bruner and was directed by Garry A Brown. I’m always a bit suspicious of episodes with that many cooks in the kitchen and this was definitely not my favorite episode of the season – or the series. Bruner, most notably, has also worked on Legends of Tomorrow a time travel show that is – to my mind – completely tonally different. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I find Thomas E Sullivan annoying (at best) as Nathaniel, and while I do think it’s cool that they have Bill Paxton’s son James playing Garrett, he has not achieved his father’s acting abilities just yet. The two of them were double the annoyance. Both would have benefitted from a little direction to dial it down a bit.

The episode begins back at the S.H.I.E.L.D. hideout bar with Nathaniel recruiting Garrett while he’s playing darts. Garrett thinks he’s just nuts until he shows him his superpower and offers to get Garrett one too.

Meanwhile, the team lands back at the lighthouse and is greeted by Roxy (Tipper Newton) who is now officially in the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy and on her way to becoming an agent. Mack (Henry Simmons) isn’t thrilled to still be in the 80s. Roxy tells them the rest of the team are also in the academy and she’s hoping that they’ll all be reunited on the Triskelion! She’s also astounded to see that Coulson (Clark Gregg) is out of his tv.

After Roxy leaves, May (Ming-Na Wen), YoYo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), Mack, and Coulson discuss the fact that it’s only 1983 – the Triskelion shouldn’t be in use yet – it’s ahead of schedule just like Project Insight. I do like that the season is using time travel to bring back all the team’s greatest hits. Mack asks Coulson what he’s thinking. Coulson tries to throw it back to Mack – who is, after all, currently the Director – but Mack is through with formalities – he needs Coulson to be Coulson and give them a mission. Coulson’s plan is to keep May’s promise to Jiaying (Dichen Lachman) and help her fight Nathaniel.

Meanwhile, Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), Daisy (Chloe Bennet), and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) arrive at the computer center of the Lighthouse. Daisy and Simmons sigh in frustration at the level of technology while Sousa is completely blown away and impressed! I loved their different frames of reference here! Daisy also points out that they’ve already spent a lot of time there – so maybe they’re just “over it…”

Simmons explains what she thinks is happening with the time drive. Sousa is completely baffled, but Daisy knows exactly what Simmons says – and so did I! Sousa sees he’s out of his element and like any good soldier, knows that he should rest while he has the chance and before he’s needed. Daisy tells him where the bunks are, and he offers to take her bag too. Daisy is baffled, but Sousa says he wants to give the new leg some added weight… Simmons is charmed – say what you will about the 50s at least he doesn’t know chivalry is dead…

Once they’re alone, Daisy and Simmons talk about what she remembers. Simmons points out that she doesn’t remember anything because that was the whole point. Daisy asks if there was ever a violent confrontation with the Chronicoms, Simmons tries to stop her from supplying any information, and Daisy tells her she doesn’t have any… but just as we all noticed, Simmons couldn’t control herself and got very upset. Daisy tells her that she wasn’t confused – she was devastated. Inconsolable. I love these two together. Before they can come up with any answers, Mack calls them to control.

The clock to the time drive seems to be stuck. Mack tells them that they aren’t waiting on a broken clock. Coulson outlines their immediate problem of Nathaniel having already unleashed irreparable harm on the world. They have to rescue the hostages and take back After Life and protect Jiaying at all costs. Simmons goes to send the coordinates to the watch May and YoYo left with her. Daisy doesn’t want to bring Jiaying there, but Coulson and Mack are adamant about not losing any more parents – and especially protecting Daisy being born. May is only just starting to explain about Kora (Dianne Doan) when Jiaying and Gordon (Fin Argus) arrive.

Nathaniel takes Garrett to After Life and shows him the time stream. Nathaniel has recruited Dr Grady (John Lee Ames). Garrett sticks his hands in after Nathaniel tells him that they are looking for the same thing – immortality. He warns Garrett that most people don’t like the ending…

Back at the Lighthouse, Jiaying is not happy. She blames them for bringing Nathaniel to them. Daisy steps up and tells her that they save inhumans, they aren’t Jiaying’s enemies. She tells her that Nathaniel wants to take her people’s gifts – that’s how he got his. Daisy assures her that it is possible. YoYo tells them that she can get them back without being seen if she can get in. She tells Jiaying that she got her power back because of her. May insists that if YoYo goes in, she could lose her power again. Coulson insists that it should be him going in – this version of him is disposable. Mack tells him that the last thing he is is disposable. Coulson offers recyclable as an alternative.

        Gordon volunteers to take them – he’ll drop them somewhere safe. Mack agrees that they will fly close with the quinjet. Gordon and Coulson will do recon and then Mack and YoYo will go in. Jiaying insists that she’s going, but Coulson tells her that her people need her to lead and they need her alive. Jiaying is adamant that Kora won’t listen to them. May points out that seeing Jiaying would provoke Kora – and when Gordon agrees, Jiaying agrees to stay – as long as they bring her daughter back. And that’s how Daisy learns that she has a sister.

Daisy follows May out of the command center and is seriously angry that May didn’t tell her about her sister – but of course, May did try. May tells Daisy that she wasn’t trying to protect her, but Kora is volatile and already tried to kill Jiaying. Daisy is shocked that Jiaying never mentioned Kora. May tells Daisy that in the original timeline, she thinks Kora did commit suicide, and Daisy connects the dots to Jiaying leaving After Life – and everything else that came after, including her own birth. Mack refuses to let Daisy go on the mission because they have to make sure that both Daisy and Jiaying survive.

Back at After Life, Nathaniel shows Garrett the process as they drain Li’s (Byron Mann) powers into Durant (Gabriel Sousa). Kora watches. Nathaniel rails against S.H.I.E.L.D., HYDRA and Inhuman – all committing horrors in the name of world order. Nathaniel tells Kora to put Li out of his pain. At first she looks horrified, but then she goes ahead and does it. Presumably, if they had let Li recover as Daisy did he would have lived and regained his powers. Garrett immediately wants a power like Kora’s. Nathaniel tells them he’ll get one as soon as they take it from S.H.I.E.L.D. – but in the end Garrett doesn’t get a killing power.

On the Quinjet, Coulson remarks that Gordon is very calm. Gordon tells him it helps that the fight they’re going into is necessary.

Back on the Zephyr, Deke is working on the time generator and enjoying his Walkman, when Simmons interrupts him. Deke wouldn’t mind staying in the 80s, but he knows everyone else wants to go home. Simmons remarks it’s not the first time Deke saved them. She mentions Enoch’s (Joel Stoffer – please bring him back!!!!!!) sacrifice, and Deke agrees that he sacrificed himself so that they could all go on. Deke points out that they have to figure out why the time generator isn’t communicating with Fitz anymore. And then Simmons says what I’ve been thinking for the last few episodes – that burst of devastation in the last episode being the big source of my worry. What if it never was communicating with Fitz? Deke points out that Simmons had said Fitz was controlling the jumps – but she tells him to consider the logic. The Zephyr could have been pre-programmed just to jump with the Chronicoms. When they took out the Chronicoms, the drive was damaged, and every jumps since then has been a malfunction.

Deke wonders why Fitz wouldn’t have helped them… and then they just exchange a long look. Simmons wonders if it’s just too painful to remember… to want to remember. And then she muses that she sent Fitz messages that disappeared into the depth of space – and no one is there. Deke insists that it’s not true. Fitz is out there – they’re going to get back to him. But maybe this is just to prepare us. Fitz is dead, but Deke is alive in this time stream. Jiaying can die – and Daisy won’t cease to exist either….

Mack sends Coulson and Gordon in for reconnaissance, telling them no hero-business and that he and YoYo will come in after them if they aren’t back in 30 minutes. Gordon is going to take them to a spot that is generally empty. He thinks Coulson is hilarious when he asks if they have to hug or something. Coulson tells Gordon he feels tingly when they land, and Gordon assures him it will go away. Gregg always delivers his line perfectly, and his “Actually, it’s not unpleasant” is perfection! Of course Nathaniel and his men are there – time stream, d’oh. He knew there was a 94% chance they’d come to that exact spot.

Coulson tries to explain to Nathaniel that he doesn’t know what he’s gotten himself into. Sibyl wants the planet for herself and the Chronicoms. Nathaniel stupidly thinks this is just the “good guy pitch.” Coulson reminds Nathaniel that his father got caught up with Sibyl and it got him killed, but Nathaniel points out that S.H.I.E.L.D. killed his father. Nathaniel tells Coulson he’s nothing like his father who got completely bound up by HYDRA. Nathaniel’s entire pitch is anarchy.

Nathaniel takes Coulson to Kora and Dr Grady, who are transferring Gordon’s powers to Garrett. Coulson doesn’t recognize the young Garrett, but thanks to the time stream, Garrett recognizes – and hates – Coulson. He remembers Coulson vaporizing him with a space laser – and wasn’t THAT a great episode!? Samuel L Jackson guesting as Fury – who gave Coulson the space laser… I loved Coulson’s very meta comment: “Clever. Digging up our greatest hits” – yes, writers, you ARE clever!

Garrett tells Coulson he’s not even mad – he watched Coulson die a bunch of times and particularly enjoyed the time Loki killed Coulson – I almost boycotted the Marvel movies after that – this show brought me back to the franchise! Coulson remarks that Garrett hasn’t changed a bit and then acknowledges that the statement makes no sense – but on the other hand it does. Regardless of events and time streams, people are still essentially themselves. Coulson watches intently as the procedure begins.

Sousa runs around a corner and catches up with Daisy who tells him that he’s looking spry for an old guy! I bet it’s a lot of fun for Gjokaj not to have to limp all the time now! Sousa comments that he’s liking the 21st century because his leg feels fantastic. I loved the little political jab as Daisy tells him don’t like it too much, great prosthetics, but Fascism is back – and this was written and filmed months before what is actually happening! Daisy tells Sousa – who remembers Daisy saying her name – that Jaiying went through the same thing that she did only with HYDRA. In Daisy’s past, Jaiying’s future. She tells Sousa that Jaiying can heal herself. She asks if Mack told Sousa about Daisy and Jaiying’s relationship and what happened. Daisy explains that things got really bad – it’s a long story, but it came to an end.

        Sousa tells her that she should talk to her – get to know who she is now – before all that. He tells her that she has a rare opportunity, and he’d give anything to have a moment with some of the people he left behind. He also tells her the timeline is already screwed anyway – true! And then in true chivalrous style he also offers to be her chaperone and bail her out if need be! I adore the chemistry between these two. Especially when Daisy says, “You really are square” and he just smiles and says, “Harsh. But true.” DOUSA!!!!!

Mack refuses to let YoYo go in. And rightly so – he’s worried what will happen if they caught Gordon. YoYo tells him she’ll be ready and waiting.

Coulson tries to tell Kora that what they’re doing isn’t anarchy, it’s evil. Kora insists that justice isn’t always pretty. Garrett proves how shallow and cowardly he is when it suddenly occurs to him that he could end up losing his eyes the same way Gordon did. Nathaniel can’t tell him it won’t happen, and Garrett suddenly wants to stop! But it’s too late. Nathaniel’s attention is divided as he tries to step between Coulson and Kora too. Garrett’s desire not to be in the chair is so great that he teleports out. Of course, I’m sure that I remember Gordon had to know exactly where he was teleporting so that he didn’t end up in a wall or something…. I really hope Garrett does that soon. And it was at about this point in the episode that Paxton became unbearable.

Daisy goes to Jaiying – with Sousa in tow. Jaiying is worried and upset. Daisy assures her that she can trust them. I know that I’ve always been harsh in my criticism of Lachman, but she is really good in this scene. Also, trivia – Lachman and Gjokaj were in Dollhouse together! Jiaying doesn’t know any of them. Daisy insists that After Life is important to them too, and Jaiying insists that they don’t know the first thing about it. Sousa blurts out that Daisy had been there. Jaiying says that they’d never had an outsider before May and YoYo arrived. Sousa tells her Daisy is no outside and tells her to show Jaiying her power.

Daisy quakes a glass of water in front of Jaiying, who asks where she learned it. Daisy tells her from her in 30 years. They’re from the future. Jaiying admits that she had a feeling that she knew Daisy, and her gift is a lot like… She realizes that Nathaniel took her power. She realizes that Nathaniel used knowledge of the future to warp Kora’s mind and turn her against her. Daisy asks if she was close with Kora. Jaiying tells her yes, but terragenesis changed everything and Kora pulled away. Daisy commiserates that it must be hard to be so close to someone and yet not be able to reach them – which is what happened between Daisy and Jaiying – again, a lovely mirror to what has come before. Jaiying insists that Kora has a good heart and is worth saving.

Jaiying tells Daisy that her gift has let her live a long life, but her greatest gift is Kora. Jaiying sees that Daisy is upset and asks if she said something wrong. Daisy confides that she grew up without her mother and when she finally found her, she wasn’t who she hoped she’d be. Jaiying sees that Daisy’s mother hurt her. She tells her – oh the irony! – that she can’t speak to her mother’s reasons, but for her, sometimes trying to do the right thing comes out all wrong.

Garrett and Nathaniel teleport into the storage room at the Lighthouse. It is a bit funny when Garrett picks up a Deke Squad t-shirt from the merchandise knocked over and declares that he saw the band play with Twisted Sister! The two split up.

Back at After Life, Coulson tells Gordon he’s going to bust out of the room they’re in. He tells him it’s going to be super-satisfying, but Gordon doesn’t believe he can do it and he’s determined that none of the other Inhumans will suffer the same fate he has. He teleports them out when he’s too weak – and dies!

May finds Garrett in the lab. May tries to fight him, but he cheats by teleporting. Like all good villains, he monologues their plans – they are there for transportation and a female tag-a-long. May thinks they want her to fly the Zephyr, but they are actually after Simmons….It’s a short and unsatisfying fight. And Garrett’s stupid faces when he doesn’t stick the landing get way too much screen time. May warns Daisy to get Jaiying to safety, but she’s too late.

Mack finds Coulson, who tells him Gordon is dead and where the other Inhumans are being held. Mack goes to radio YoYo, who suddenly just appears. Her superspeed is SO cool now that she doesn’t have to YoYo!! She tells them that May radioed. Garrett and Nathaniel are at the Lighthouse. Mack tells Coulson to find Kora, and Coulson remarks that she’s probably expecting it. YoYo and Mack take out Durant and rescue the rest of the Inhumans.

Nathaniel confronts Jiaying and Daisy. He brutally reveals Daisy as her daughter. Daisy apologizes for not telling Jiaying, and Jiaying is immediately stricken by the fact that what Daisy said about her mother was about her. Daisy tells her that it’s ok. Jaiying tells her she would never hurt her… and Nathaniel blabs the story, until Daisy can’t stand him revealing who ultimately killed Jaiying. Nathaniel quakes Daisy back and warns her that he’s had his powers a lot longer than she has. Jaiying grabs him by the neck and starts to drain the life out of him. He breaks her hold and tells her to stay back, but when she won’t, he breaks her neck. I LOVED the hero shot of Daisy as she pulls in all her power. Nathaniel backs away, clearly afraid. May rushes in and shoots him in the shoulder. Daisy rushes to Jaiying.

Sousa tries to shoot Garrett when he grabs Simmons and teleports away with her.

Coulson goes to Kora. He holds a gun on her – and she was waiting for him. Coulson tells Kora her team abandoned her, but she insists that she wanted to come with him and meet her sister – Coulson ices her before she can say anything else.

May tells the team on the quinjet that Jaiying is dead and that Garrett and Nathaniel are MIA. Sousa reports to May that they took Simmons. May asks where Deke is. May tries to raise him, but he’s still got his Walkman on. He feels the Zephyr take off, and then hears May, who tells him that the Zephyr has been hijacked – with Simmons on board. Did no one see Deke in the time stream? And how did they keep him hidden? Is it because he’s a wildcard because he’s out of the time stream now? I wonder if Daisy will be hard to track now too because her mother is dead before she had her???

There is a tiny bit of hope in the final scene. Nathaniel tells Simmons that the reason they captured her is to take them to Fitz! Sibyl has run all the numbers and in the only scenarios where they don’t end up on top it’s because of Fitz stopping them. I’m digging that Fitz is the ultimate hero of the story, but WHERE IS IAIN DE CAESTECKER???????? This was definitely not my favorite episode ever. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below – and answer the mini-poll…. Is Fitz alive??????

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