Last week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a tough act to follow, but if there’s one thing ‘Together or Not at All’ excels in it’s hammering home what makes this group of people heroes. It is in their resourcefulness and skill set, but more importantly in their single-minded need to ensure the safety of others. And while the usual suspects such as Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Mack (Henry Simmons) prove his on the daily, this week showcases how even newcomers like Flint (and to some extent Deke) can live up to the ideals set by these legends.
No I in Team
With Tess’ body serving as an example to the humans on the Lighthouse, Coulson (Clark Gregg) decides it’s time to make a move before more people die. On the other side of the ship, Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) and Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) are escaping the Kree with Daisy leading the charge despite her powers currently being inhibited. Jemma’s ear implant is removed in grotesque fashion while Daisy fends off attackers, but as soon as their getaway car (so to speak) is in their sight line it explodes – in typical Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fashion. They are undeterred, however, as their first priority is to reunite with the team. After all, ‘Together or Not at All,’ right?
On their journey back to their friends, they discover that gravitonium is being used to create the artificial gravity on the Lighthouse before running into Deke once again. It’s interesting how the fifth season is consistently reaching into the show’s past and reintroducing plot points from earlier, giving this futuristic space apocalypse a strong sense of continuity. Speaking of Deke, he promises that this time he’s here to save the team – and it speaks to either how forgiving or how confident Daisy is that she lets him tag along instead of nerfing him on the spot. While they make their way back the Kree are on the hunt for the Destroyer, slaughtering humans who get in their way. Yo-yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) wants to go back for their friends but all Flint wants is for no one else to die.
This leads to a bittersweet one-on-one between Mack and Flint, as the young man is on the verge of turning himself in to protect everyone. This coincides with a hug-filled reunion (which feels thematically appropriate), and leaves May (Ming-Na Wen) as the only Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. member unaccounted for. Flint disappears in the midst of all that joy in order to take matters into his own hands, pretending to turn himself in just to use his rock powers to kill a Kree or two. Though he’s quickly taken out by Sinara as bait, ‘Together or Not at All’ flips our expectations on their head once more by having the team right behind him and not fooled for a second. A masterfully choreographed sequence that shows off Daisy and Coulson’s teamwork ensures that they get away for now.
With only a sealed wall between themselves and Sinara’s Kree warriors, Deke proposes using his anti-gravity bet to get to the airlock and fly a ship out of there. In one of the few moments of real humor to be found in ‘Together or Not at All,’ he tries to be the first to go up and is immediately shut down by Daisy. Nevertheless, they make it up and Sinara is left with no prisoners once she blasts through. The theme of the episode emerges once more when Flint, who is the only one who knows how to fly, he won’t abandon his people based on Mack’s advice from earlier. Mack and Yo-yo agree to stay with him and help the Lighthouse, and Fitz contributes by telling them about the crate of S.H.I.E.L.D. tech he hid on Level 3. Too bad that’s the one infested with blood-sucking creatures.
There’s a bit more humor to be had with Fitzsimmons bickering once more about who proposed first and Coulson being completely unable to fly a spaceship, and overall ‘Together or Not at All’ ends with a sense of renewed hope for most of our characters.
May the Surface Be With You
As previously mentioned, only May is separated from the rest of the team for most of this episode. But ‘Together or Not at All’ quickly answers the question of where and how she is, struggling to stay hidden on the Surface with Roaches on her trail. For the first time ever I thank the powers that be for making the scene too dark, because those creatures are hard to stomach. Thankfully Enoch (Joel Stoffer) dispatches with yet another one, humble-bragging to her about how many of them he’s destroyed for her protection. She mistakes him for a robot when she heard that he was sent by Kree – another great nod to previous Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continuity – but soon realizes he’s the one who sent them here in the first place. He’s full of quips, and Stoffer and Wen play very well off each other. Before the scene can get too comfortable, though, they are grabbed by something else that frightens even the Roaches.
Lest we be left hanging once more, the end credits scene reveal that Enoch and May both made it out of their situation and are back at the Zephyr. Turns out they were rescued by … a really old Robin Hinton? It’ll be interesting to see where that leads.
My Brother’s Keeper
While there are many who may rejoice in Kasius as a compelling villain with a rich and fleshed out backstory, I feel he slows down the plot – especially when we still don’t know if there’s a way to prevent this alternate future from occurring. However, ‘Together or Not at All’ does provide a satisfying conclusion to at least one part of his story, and it’s large part thanks to Sinara. While his brother Faulnak continues to push all of Kasius’ buttons, it is clear that his right hand woman is becoming more and more disgruntled by her supposed leader’s lack of spine.
She is so disgruntled that she actually speaks to get her point across, which may have been the most shocking moment yet. We learn that Sinara saved Kasius’ life in battle, and that is why he so highly values her loyalty. Even as her mission to bring the Destroyer back fails, she seems to be both the brain and brawn of the operation with Kasius brings so little to the table that I’m not sure why she continues to follow him. He rises in both her and my esteem, though, when he kills Faulnak for trying to sway Sinara to his side. It’s even an ironic echo that he does it with a sword, which Faulnak previously taunted his brother for not using. With the successor to the crown out of the way, Kasius can return home and reclaim his birthright – which is perhaps the goal Sinara was aiming for all along. Clever, if so.