As the fifth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. progressed, audiences have been wondering what became of Leopold Fitz (Iain De Caestecker). He appeared at the end of last episode, but plenty of questions were left unanswered. “Rewind” goes back 74 years into the past to tell his story.
Just as we remember, Fitz was at diner with his fellow Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when the abduction occurred and he was left behind. But “Rewind” offers an interesting extra tidbit, and that is Fitz’s obvious guilt over the events in the Framework. “I want to take full responsibility,” he begins when the disappearance takes place. Even though he never gets to finish his sentence, it’s a theme that reoccurs throughout the episode – especially when the US government arrests him in connection to the shooting of General Talbot and the death of Jeffrey Mace.
Fitz’s time in prison may have gotten a little repetitive at the start of “Rewind,” but it speaks to his frame of mind and also helps put together the puzzle pieces of just what happened to the rest of the team. For example, the truck that appeared outside the diner just before everything went dark will be important later on. And once more, Fitz repeats his admissions of guilt and even goes so far as to suggest that he may be responsible for his friends’ disappearance without realizing it himself. Because he passes the lie detector test, he’s given access to books, pen and paper to try to solve the mystery of their whereabouts. And access to a TV, so he can watch soccer games and scream at the screen in a prison life montage that manages to be both enjoyable and upsetting. One thing to note is the specific focus on Jemma as compared to the group as a whole. Of course he loves and misses them all, but the special place that Simmons holds in his heart cannot be overstated.
In exchange for providing the government with useful information, he’s even allowed to send nasty letters to the editor of a soccer magazine. As intelligent members of the audience, we of course knew that it was a code, but it was fun waiting for the savior to appear nonetheless. And appear he did six months later, in the form of the much-missed Lance Hunter (Nick Blood) pretending to be Fitz’s attorney. As soon as he arrived onscreen, “Rewind” picked up the pace – and the humor. From the moment their battle of the biggest soccer fans ensues, the episode feels more lively and driven. Lance blows a hole in the cell with his watch before Fitz can even formulate an escape plan, and away we go in an RV owned by Lance’s dearly-departed getaway pilot named Rusty.
The nameless government agents in pursuit of them are not particularly interesting, but they do drop hints about a war to come on the homefront. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been entirely focused on the future this season, but “Rewind” finally provides a reason to return them to the present sooner rather than later. More compelling than the government goose chase, though, is the conversation about romances between Lance and Fitz. We learn that thankfully he and Bobbi remain “100% compatible 50% of the time” and even had a second wedding interrupted by ninjas. He sardonically explains that distance is the salvation of their relationship, to which Fitz responds that distant is his and Jemma’s curse. Before they can dwell too long on that, Fitz gets the chance to go over the security footage of the abduction and realizes that the truck didn’t disappear – it simply changed logos.
Fitz and Lance reach the home of the kidnapper, who turns out to be the mysterious man we met at the start of the season. His name is Enoch, an alien Recorder sent to Earth thousands of years ago to observe and report on the evolution of humanity. He seems friendly enough, but says he purposely sent the Agents to the future in order to fulfill one of the so-called Seer’s prophecies. Worse, he claims not to be able to send Fitz to the year 2091 after them because he does not interfere in events. Which is why Fitz grabs a gun and threatens to end his life in a scene so tense that even Lance is shocked by his aggression. As painful as it might be to see this new side of Fitz, it’s a strong narrative choice to showcase just how the Framework has changed him.
And his startling actions work: Enoch takes them to a mother and her daughter in the park. The daughter’s name is Robin, one of the Inhumans that Daisy helped in the past, and she’s studiously drawing without speaking much at all. At the same time, the government agents break into Enoch’s home and find Robin’s writings and drawings, including the bus from the start of the season. They are too late to stop Fitz and co. however, as Enoch makes them disappear by making the agents lose a half hour of time. This is clearly how he took the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well, though it’s clear now he thought he had everyone’s best interests at heart when he did.
Once again, the most emotional and revealing parts of “Rewind” have to do with the simple talks between characters rather that plot bombs being dropped. Fitz confesses the darkness he feels inside him ever since the Framework, worrying that he’s a danger to Jemma and that is why he was left behind when it comes to fulfilling the prophecy. Hunter wisely responds that every light needs a shadow, and Fitz just needs to control his. Hopefully that will be his arc for the season, but first he must ask Robin why he was left off the guest list. Surprisingly, the young girl responds, “because you have to save them.” And she hands him a drawing of himself saving the other agents from a horrible fate, which makes it a prophecy. Now Enoch can help as per the rules of his race, by offering up the capsule in which he came to Earth… Which is currently being kept in the very facility from which Fitz just escaped.
The return to Blue Raven Ridge isn’t all that exciting, but it does lead to a hilarious “I love you / I know” exchange between the boys which makes the whole excursion worth it. And we are treated to more of the cold-blooded, ready-for-action Fitz who will do anything to rescue Jemma and his friends. If anything, the biggest problem with “Rewind” is that it ends before Fitz makes it to the Lighthouse. Instead of watching him wake up from 74 years of cryofreeze, it might have been more interesting to see how he and Enoch made it into the space station and wound up in front of Daisy last week. But the emotional impact of the episode cannot be denied, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will bring back the rest of our favorites in two weeks.