‘Best Laid Plans’ lives up to its title as the seeds that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been planting all season start to bear fruit, both in terms of getting the team back to the present and saving what’s left of humanity from the Kree. Both story lines this week have shining stars, but the heart of it all really belongs to Mack (Henry Simmons) and Elena (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), who embody the theme of standing together against evil.
As previously hinted, ‘Best Laid Plans’ succeeds because of the groundwork that’s been done to cement Mack and Yo-Yo as a complimentary team who are just as sweet together as they are badass. At the start of the episode, they are dealing with the fact that Kasius knows they’re still on the Lighthouse. An uprising just as he’s about to leave with the Destroyer in hand is throwing quite a wrench in his best laid plans (har har, see what I did?), so he prepares to remind his citizens that he is their god.
Yo-Yo wants to take the battle to Kasius with the rest of the Lighthouse as soldiers in their army, but Mack cautions restraint once more. He’s always one to prefer a plan, and his leadership skills combine with Elena’s passion to make for one unstoppable unit. Before they get very far, though, Tess (!!!) returns from the dead with a very important message from their enemy. It turns out the Kree leader resurrected her to prove his powers and demand that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. act as bait so that he may get Daisy back. And if he doesn’t get what he wants – an endless supply of Inhumans for breeding – he will kill all the humans onboard the Lighthouse.
Flint keeps jumping the gun in his readiness for battle, but Mack reminds him they have to figure out Kasius’ plan in order to defeat it. With a little engineering ingenuity, he finds a hardwired bomb and deduces that there’s one on every level of the ship. He gathers the leaders of the different floors, announcing that he is able to disconnect bombs with enough time but can’t deactivate them. Though the humans are just as ready to fight as Flint is, Yo-Yo and Mack are going to turn themselves in with the hope of getting close enough to Kasius to kill him. By proving that they won’t sacrifice the children of the Lighthouse, the Agents earn everyone’s respect – including Flint’s, who is being left behind to execute the most important part of the plan.
Tess bravely returns to Kasius alone, igniting his rage, but delivers a message: Yo-Yo and Mack are holding his Inhuman breeding abilities hostage until he goes to meet them. There’s a great deal of wish-fulfillment in seeing our heroes of color face off against a fascist ruler, and it’s exactly the kind of thing we need to see on our televisions in this day and age. Most significantly, they must prove once and for all that “always turning on one another” will no longer be the rule of law for humankind. Kasius sets off the explosives in his bravado, but by then Flint has already joined them after storing all the bombs on Level 25 and moving the humans up. Looks like they were able to work together to save themselves, which is an excellent allegory for what we in the Real World must do to vanquish the evils in our own lives. His horror as he watches his breeding technology incinerate at the end of ‘Best Laid Plans’ is almost worth him overstaying his welcome this season.
Enoch (who is gender neutral, as Chronicoms tend to be) asks for clarification on how Flint and the monolith can be the keys to returning the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to the present, and it turns out “It’s a rock, Flint controls rocks, I don’t know.” Amidst all the technobabble and plan-making, we get a bittersweet moment of continuity as May (Ming-Na Wen) looks over Robin’s drawings. Coulson (Clark Gregg) checks on her, and Philinda’s chemistry in the scene is understated but beautiful. He can see her being a mom! Even Daisy (Chloe Bennet) paints a perfect picture of what kind of mother she’d be. Be still my heart.
Meanwhile, Deke faces down his father’s killer, and Voss remains fervent in his belief that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s grand role in saving the Earth is simply to die so that it never needs saving. It is a moral dilemma worth considering, but what happens if Deke kills Quake and absolutely nothing changes? Not to mention that after the tentative friendship he’s formed with Daisy, it would be a struggle to turn her over (again) to Kasius. But it’s worth noting that he does deliberate over his options for most of ‘Best Laid Plans.’ Daisy, for her part, doesn’t want her inhibitor out because she’s afraid of becoming the Destroy of Worlds. But isn’t Quake part of her identity? “I’m tired of these names,” she says, which is a poignant line considering she’s been dealing with many different names ever since she was simply Skye back in the first season.
Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) discover that they invented the “gravitron” powering the Zephyr, which proves that they really did cause the end of the world in a loop paradox of sorts. This activates Fitz’s defeatist mentality, making it Simmons’ turn to be the optimist and remind him it’s also proof that they make it back – and perhaps that they can change the outcome. Yet another example of ‘Best Laid Plans’ exemplifying why their couples work so well together. Not that they have much time to dwell on it, because then the Zephyr’s engines blow out and Fitzsimmons must put their anti-gravity plan to the test. Can the team lift off Earth and reach the Lighthouse in zero gravity?
Sinara arrives on the Zephyr to take Daisy away just as they’re all struggling to take off, and the loss of gravity makes their fight that much more interesting. Enoch’s running commentary also adds to the enjoyment of the catastrophe. But in the end it’s up to Deke to make a fateful decision: help Daisy beat the Kree, or destroy the Destroyer once and for all? We all knew he had it in him to make the right call, and he pulls Sinara off his friend just in time to save her life. Daisy answers his earlier question by ending Sinara’s life (or does she? she’s “died” before after all) in order to protect herself and her crew, just as the worst of the gravity storm passes and the Zephyr finds itself in the air heading towards the Lighthouse.
The two Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. teams connect and make plans to meet back at the Lighthouse, but Kasius is not done with them yet. It seems he has a seer of his own telling him what’s to come. Who could it be? I don’t know, but I’m willing to wait until next week to find out!