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Performer of The Month - Staff Choice Most Outstanding Performer of July - Joel Stoffer

This article was written by Beth Whitley, Donna Cromeans, Folie-lex, Karenna, and María Sol. The article was edited by Donna Cromeans (DJRiter). The open and close of the article were written by Donna Cromeans. Prepared for publishing by Aimee Hicks.

Editors Note: This article was written prior to the series finale. There are mentions of what contributors had hoped to see in the series finale.

Science fiction and fantasy adventure television has long been fascinated by bringing the robot, android, and other forms of artificial intelligence to life. It's part of man's long quest to discover and explore the qualities that make one human. It was one of the android Data (Brent Spiner)'s fondest wishes on Star Trek: Next Generation. Since his inauspicious arrival in the fifth season of the show, Enoch as exquisitely played by Joel Stoffer has brought us Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s version of this oft-described Peter Pan type character. Throughout his journey, Stoffer has guided Enoch from a form of infancy to adulthood and in turn taught us all lessons on loyalty, friendship, duty, and heart. However, in this, the show's seventh and final season he shined as Enoch's journey came to a sad but noble end. In As I Have Always Been (7x9) Stoffer gives a near virtuoso performance featuring a myriad of emotions and characteristics from his character. In this episode we see fierce Enoch, funny Enoch, loyal Enoch, and following his grand final act to save the team we see resigned Enoch, sad Enoch and yes, even scared Enoch. In one final moment with an eloquent soliloquy on life, Stoffer had viewers in tears as they mourned the death of the most human non-human being on the show. For his exemplary work in this episode, Stoffer was most worthy of his selection of SpoilerTV’s Staff Choice Performer of the Month for July.

Continue reading below to find out our thoughts regarding his performance. After reading, please leave your own thoughts in the comments.

Since his first appearance on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Joel Stoffer has intrigued fans with his portrayal of Enoch. Performers who portray sentient beings supposedly devoid of emotions yet teeming with humanity must walk an exceptionally fine line to make those characters multi-dimensional, likable, and believable. What is it about Stoffer's performance and take on Enoch that you find so unique?

Beth: I think the biggest thing for me is that Enoch went against some of how Chronicoms are supposed to be once he met Fitz (Ian De Caestecker). Stoffer also played Enoch with such sincerity and kindness once he separated himself from what his 'mission' was. It is also a rare thing to be recurring and to make such an impact with less screen time than others, but Stoffer made every frame count and it was what makes Enoch so beloved.

Donna: Hands down it was the dry wit and line delivery that Stoffer infused in Enoch that made the character unique. His subtle facial expressions grew more enigmatic with each episode and his delivery of what I considered Enoch's catchphrase, "Oh, dear" is likely to become as iconic and George Takei's Sulu expression, "Oh, my." I love too how Enoch never lost sight of the fact that no matter how his circumstances might have changed, at his soul he was still an archeologist. Never more was that illustrated than in the 80's episode where Enoch races up to rescue the team a la Starsky and Hutch and uttering his unique take on Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous line from Terminator 2. It was as though Enoch had spent his time waiting for the team to arrive in the 1980s in the same city where they had to abandon him in the 1930s watching movies and television to keep up with popular culture, which is what any archeologist would study, particularly if he wanted to fit into a time period.

Folie-lex: I just love how his performance never veers away from the robotic deadpan demeanor. He's incredibly consistent about that detail and it's what sold it the most for me since day one.

Karenna: I've always been partial to those kinds of offbeat alien characters, but I feel like Enoch is special because Stoffer has never really leaned into the stereotypical conventions of similar emotionless/robotic characters. Instead, the things Stoffer always emphasized in Enoch's portrayal were these little bits of personality strewn about in his character - his humor and sarcasm; his slight cluelessness; his curiosity about humans and unfaltering loyalty to them that unexpectedly leads to a friendship with Fitz. It's that kind of unique, human approach to the character that allows the audience to sometimes forget that Enoch isn't human at all.

María: I think that Stoffer's performance as Enoch has always been great because without having to show a wide range of facial expressions or changes in his tone of voice, he has been able to move from an almost robotic character to a being capable of showing emotions and feelings. I think that this duality that he had throughout his journey is what makes his performance incredibly special. One could think that it is more difficult for an actor to display gestures, tones of voice and looks to show emotions when acting, but analyzing this character and his performer, I think that having to convey feelings without making gestures, voice modulations or great fuss, must also have a great degree of difficulty. I think that's where lays the excellent job Stoffer was able to do with Enoch.

Enoch made a noble sacrifice and died a heroic death in As I Have Always Been, what are your thoughts on the character's journey, do you think this was a fitting end for him? Should he have been given a proper good-bye with Fitz (Ian De Caestecker)?

Beth: When we look at where Enoch started to where he ended up, I can't help but be happy that he found his people. It was because of that that he made the ultimate sacrifice, so when you look at it that way, it's rather beautiful. Of course, in true Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fashion, Enoch's final moments were devastating and Stoffer just nailed all the emotions perfectly. I do really wish Fitz could have said goodbye, but hopefully, we do get a flashback scene of those two saying a goodbye that feels satisfying to put some finality on that relationship.

Donna: There's no question that all the time that Enoch spent with Fitz helped shape his humanity. Part of me wishes that he and Fitz could have said a proper farewell. I think Fitz would have been proud of the way Enoch had grown.

Folie-lex: Not getting a proper goodbye with Fitz was maybe the one notch in the "con" column for me. Everything else was bittersweet and tragic and true to the character and the growth he had gone through with his time with the team. Making the ultimate sacrifice like that showcased exactly how much he had developed feelings and how he grew to love everyone in S.H.I.E.L.D.

Karenna: From being an ominous voice at the end of Season 4 to being one of the most tragic deaths of the show just a few years later; the jump was impressive, and, frankly, I have to give kudos to Stoffer and the ever-trustworthy Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. writers for making it so effortless. I, personally, loved the way his death was written and juxtaposing it with the previous times he sacrificed himself for the team; in Season 5 to send them home from the future, and then earlier in Season 7, when he was left behind in the '30s after the Zephyr jumped without him. While he began as a man (er, Chronicom) on a mission to simply observe the Earth and humans, he ended up becoming the watchful protector of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. This episode perfectly encapsulated that idea, as he was, in a way, so loyal to Fitz and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) that he was willing to kill for them; but also, to die for them.

María: Although I would've liked that his last moments were spent with Fitz and Simmons or that he had a special farewell with Fitz. I write these lines before having seen the last two episodes of the show, so I don't know if such a scene has already taken place. I think that Enoch's heroic ending is the best he could have had, as it perfectly shows the duality of the character, lacking apparently of human emotions but able to make the maximum sacrifice to save his friends.

As I Have Always Been was marked by Stoffer's delivery of a beautiful commentary on family, loneliness, and death. Is there another moment or episode where the character stood out for you?

Beth: It was subtle and understated but I am a huge sucker for non-verbal acting. When Enoch found out what needed to be done, you could see him processing it before he pulled his electrochron displacement mechanism from his chest. At that moment Stoffer delivered a range of several emotions just by using facial expressions and it was flawless. The audience didn't have to wonder what Enoch was thinking because it was all right there, on his face. He then pulled the drive without hesitation and much to Jemma's dismay because he wanted to save his family.

Donna: Enoch's final moments were heart-rending and decidedly human. Stoffer's soliloquy of sorts on family, loneliness, and death was touching and expertly delivered by the actor, making his Chromicon character the most human he'd ever been. I think other episodes that I particularly enjoyed were the ones of Enoch and Fitz in the future. Stoffer and De Caestecker shared wonderful chemistry and their banter and adventures were fun to watch. From their escapades at gambling in an intergalactic casino to Fitz helping a depressed Enoch realize his worth after he was decommissioned was a classic study of the evolution of a friendship.

Folie-lex: Well yeah, the final scene was the easy standout, but I'd say the montage of the multiple attempts at stopping him was a lot of fun too.

Karenna: I really loved the quick-succession montages of Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Coulson (Clark Gregg) trying to address the Enoch problem and getting defeated in various ways. While you might not initially point out Enoch as a crucial part of these vignettes, Stoffer's comedic timing was effortless in whatever situation the agents found themselves in. I particularly love the bit when he, completely wordlessly, drags in a bound and gagged Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), and tosses Daisy against a wall. Everything from Enoch's eyebrow raises to his dubious side-eyes as Daisy and Coulson's plans become more and more convoluted is an understated but perfect way to set the tone of the scene.

María: Although at the beginning of this episode it seemed that Enoch would not play a significant part in the story since the plot was more focused on Daisy, in the second half his importance was made clear. Here I highlight Stoffer's performance when it was discovered that it was Enoch who was trying to protect Simmons' memories at all costs, because, although seconds before he had just stated that he would not be able to harm his friends, he reacts automatically and violently against Daisy. Stoffer shows these changes in a remarkable way since through micro-expressions he can convey the different nuances of his character. As for the rest of the season, I particularly remember the episode in which, after being stranded in the 1930s, he was contacted at various times by the team in the 1950s but they only looked for him to help them connect with each other. Stoffer's performance is also noteworthy here, as the scenes in which he appears as a bartender went from being funny to sad by expressing the feeling of frustration and abandonment of being ignored to some point by his friends.

While Enoch called Fitz his best friend, once Fitz was gone, who do you think Enoch/Stoffer worked best with and why? While Stoffer and De Caestecker shared an easy buddy-like chemistry who would you like to have seen Stoffer work with more on the show and why?

Beth: I mean obviously it is Jemma. Once she met Enoch and saw the bond he and Fitz shared, she embraced him as part of her family. They spoke science to each other and had several moments where you could tell Enoch had become part of the Fitzsimmons family. I think I would've liked more Enoch and Mack just because Stoffer and Henry Simmons would have been gold together. With Mack's broodiness and Enoch's inability to filter his commentary, there would have been some great opportunities for lighter moments.

Donna: He was wonderful with all the characters but of course, was closest to Fitz and Simmons. Stoffer showed great chemistry with both De Caestecker and Henstridge, the two actors with whom he shared the most screen time. I liked the byplay between him and this season's version of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), watching them share similar reactions as essentially Artificial Intelligence's in today's world. However, I would really like to have seen more between him and Enver Gjokaj's Agent Daniel Sousa. That would have been an interesting pairing watching the two of them bonding and understanding one another as two men out of time.

Folie-lex: Regarding the first question I think Henstridge's, Simmons. She kind of filled the Fitz quota in Enoch's life. Regarding the second question, I'd say Gjokaj's, Agent Sousa. Now, admittedly I'm biased because I love both the character and the actor, however, I feel there were some missed opportunities both concerning characters' dynamic with one being a "man out of time" and the other a "space robot". The juxtapositions between the two would have been fun. Not to mention watching two such strong actors playing off each other would have been a sight to behold!

Karenna: I think Enoch's connection with the remaining members of the Fitzsimmons family, namely Simmons and Deke (Jeff Ward), was a great addition to this season. As I've mentioned, I appreciated that Stoffer has never been afraid to mine Enoch for comedy, and so him adopting the sort-of "weird uncle" role for Deke was an amusing new dynamic that we explored a bit this season. On that same "fun" note, my greatest wish is that Enoch had gotten more time with Mack, who, in addition to famously distrusting robots, has similar chemistry with Fitz. It would've been a cute moment to include a bit in which the two bicker over who has the role of Fitz's "best" best friend, but, alas, them's the breaks.

María:> I think the fact that Fitz disappeared from the picture during this season gave the story more opportunity to expand on Enoch's interactions with the rest of the team which was enjoyable. I would've liked it if he had more time to share more scenes and adventures with the other characters. Seeing his final scene and that deep dialogue that he exchanged with Daisy and Coulson, I think I would've liked to see him work more with Bennet and Gregg.

Which scene do you think was Stoffer's strongest scene in As I Have Always Been and why?

Beth: Well of course the death scene, it is why I voted for him over some of the other sensational performances in this episode. Stoffer was able to wrap everything Enoch was as he spoke to Daisy and Coulson about having to go it alone. Stoffer stayed true to how he has always played Enoch but somehow that made it more devastating because that is why we love this character. As Enoch slipped away, he warned them that the team's time together was coming to an end, and having that come from Enoch was heartbreaking because that meant it was true. Perhaps that was a final gift from him, the gentle nudge that things were coming to their end and he wanted them to be aware.

Donna: It is a bit ironic that one of the most outstanding moments for Enoch, a synthetic life form, is his most human act, sacrificing his life to save the team. This scene alone could stand as the most important reason Stoffer so rightly won this honor this month. He touched us with his pathos and empathy but let us see those human emotions of fear and regret in his final moments with Daisy and Coulson.

Folie-lex: The death scene, hands down. It was the showcase moment for the episode and the character. And Stofferdelivered with spades!!

Karenna: While undoubtedly an unoriginal answer to this question, it absolutely must be Enoch's tragic death scene. True, writer Drew Z. Greenberg already had a great monologue written up, but it was Stoffer's ability to deliver that monologue with a complex fusion of regret, fear, fascination, sadness, and bravery that made it a truly memorable scene; all without dropping Enoch's signature monotone for a moment. It was near impossible not to tear up as Enoch - whose entire life had been dedicated to observing humanity - realized that he was, in a way, now experiencing it firsthand, with fully believable denial and acceptance in turn.

María: Enoch's farewell with Daisy and Coulson by his side is without a doubt my favorite moment of this episode. I dare say it was one of the best in the entire series. Stoffer gave a great performance because without having to be too dramatic, he could transmit to us the loneliness and fear Enoch had, but also the peace with which he was gradually ceasing to exist. He left us reflecting on many aspects of life and death, and thanks to his performance he was able to make us feel part of that moment. Although, the scene begins to be very moving from the moment when everyone realizes that Enoch is the only one who can help them out of the time loop. It is very heartbreaking to see how, while others argue and fight with their own human feelings, denying reality and trying to find other solutions to the problem, Enoch simply removes the piece they need from himself and offers it to them. It was as if he had taken his heart out and offered it in his hands as a proof of his affection, connection, and the love he had for them, thus sacrificing himself to save his friends.

What are your final thoughts on him winning this recognition?

Beth: It is so funny to me that we are here right now, given that I was SO mad at Enoch at the beginning of Season 5 because I thought he was the sole reason Fitz wasn't with his family. Now we are here, and I am waxing poetic about how amazing it is that we as fans got to have Stoffer be our Enoch. That just says something about the character and especially the performer.

Donna: Since his first arrival on Agents of S.H.I.E.L D. Enoch has intrigued fans with his journey to stay true to his code, and his desire to be a part of the team and to have a true family. As one of the softer-spoken characters of the show Enoch has become a symbol for hope and family it's just sad that he did not realize it until he'd made the ultimate sacrifice. John 15:13 in the New Testament tells us, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," and that is so beautifully illustrated by Stoffer's Enoch in this episode. His unique take on the character has been a pleasure to watch and his performance of Enoch's final moments showed us all that a character doesn't necessarily have to be human to show the biggest heart. I am thrilled that he won this honor that he so richly deserved.

Folie-lex: For a guy who came in as a bit player a few seasons ago and worked his way up to "fan fave" I believe it was only fitting he get such recognition and for the show's final season at that! Congrats! Congrats! Congrats!

Karenna: As I Have Always Been is easily one of the top 5 S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes ever made - from Greenberg's writing to Elizabeth Henstridge's direction, to the entire cast's dedicated performances - an episode this complicated and this good couldn't have been a walk in the park to make. While in awe of all the moving parts this episode so masterfully juggled, I always end up coming back to Stoffer. As a self-proclaimed storytelling aficionado, I understand that technical prowess does not equal a good end-result on its own. Without a personal connection to your story - a beating heart at the center of it all - an audience won't care for a second about the way you created it. While already technically very well-done, the episode simply would not carry the same emotional weight that it does without Enoch (and by extension Stoffer) quite literally giving it his whole heart - or, in this case, I suppose - electrochrom displacement mechanism.

María: It is surprising that a performance as solid as Stoffer's during his time in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and more specifically in this excellent episode, has not earned this recognition before. I think that honoring one of its most outstanding actors is a good way to say goodbye to a show so loved by the fans (and not so much by the critics).

From the very beginning to his noble end, Chromicon archeologist Enoch portrayed the qualities we all wished to have, loyalty, duty, and friendship. In the end, through his sacrifice, he got exactly what he had been striving for since his arrival on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. he was truly not only a member of the team but thanks to Joel Stoffer's talented portrayal he was also one of the family. From his exemplary intelligence and reason to the bottom of his electrochrom displacement mechanism Enoch was, if nothing else, all heart. For his moving and heart-touching performance in As I Have Always BeenStoffer has been honored as SpoilerTV’s Staff Choice Performer of the Month for July. This article covers but a small number of the many reasons he was chosen for this honor.

Please use the comments to discuss all your favorite parts of Joel Stoffer's performance in As I Have Always Been.

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