Previously on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Coulson (Clark Gregg) iced Daisy (Chloe Bennet) to get her off the Lighthouse, Elena (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) learned that Coulson was dying from her future undead self, and the team made it back to Earth just in time to either avoid or cause the destruction they’ve spent the last several episodes witnessing. “All the Comforts of Home” takes all the tension that’s been brewing for a half a season and breaks it wide open, taking the show in an exciting and mysterious new direction once again.
A Whole New World
In the fifth season premiere, we were treated to a totally out of context introduction to Enoch that foreshadowed some of the events to come. “All the Comforts of Home” repeats that trick somewhat with a young woman named Ruby (Dove Cameron) who is listening to music and snapchatting away in a room filled with Quake memorabilia. It’s not until General Hale enters the room and berates her for skipping class that we realize she’s already connected to the Agents and their story – and even then the mystery of just how connected she is kept under wraps until the episode’s final moments.
But while the hour throws audience members and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents alike for a loop, it also seeks to re-familiarize them with the Earth they’ve missed so much. The first half of the hour is thus wisely dedicated to uncovering the delightful secrets of the underground Lighthouse bunker and eventually exploring the real world anew, which is a wise narrative choice that allows viewers to take a breath before plunging into the next problem. Also wise was the decision to not make Daisy and Coulson fight about how he dragged her back to the present despite her fear that she’ll end the world. Instead she accepts his excuse that he needed her with him and wouldn’t have left her behind no matter what, and my eyes water just a little bit.
Daisy still isn’t ready to join the team on their first mission, though, instead preferring to play backup along with newfound Chronicom friend Noah. And it’s a good thing she did, because she soon learns not only that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are on top of everyone’s Most Wanted list but also that Deke has somehow made it onto Earth as well. That’s right, Deke was transported back to the present rather than left to die on the Lighthouse in the future. He acts as our eyes into the world for a bit, complete with an adorable sequence involving tree-hugging and discovering the joys of Zima. But since he doesn’t know what currency actually means, he winds up getting locked up and terrifying Daisy with the thought that he might rat on her friends just like he did before.
It’s exactly the push Daisy needed to venture out into the world once more, and she shows up in the guise of a social worker to collect her “charge.” Watch her have fun with Deke’s many deficiencies is without a doubt the humorous highlight of “All the Comforts of Home,” but the episode also does a great job of playing up the tension of whether or not her ruse will be uncovered. Not only that, but Deke also manages to be pretty poignant in his drunken stupor when he expresses to Daisy just how happy he is to be alive and outside. As confusing as it is for him to have traveled back in time, it’s a beautiful reminder of how rare second chances are in life.
One-Armed and Ready
While taking a virtually-led tour of the bunker, May (Ming-Na Wen) and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) uncover several monoliths hidden away by the Chronicom Noah. This is far from the only mystery they could unravel underground, but they’re soon alerted to an apparently alien beacon periodically shooting out of the ground in St. Louis. Being who they are, the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have to go check it out lest it have something to do with the end of the world – but that means picking up their invisible jet first.
Once again, we are treated to a fun sequence of soaking up the fresh Earth air before the nitty-gritty part of “All the Comforts of Home” begins. For example, Mack (Henry Simmons) borrow a piece of junk van and then has to hope the small-town cops are just as unassuming as they seem when he drives it across the city. There’s also a fun, lighthearted moment where each character remembers their terrible experiences, to which May contributes “dancing.” Once they drop off the van on the outskirts of town with a note requesting its return to the owner, though, all bets are off. May notices that Phil is injured like the observant angel she is, but he continues to refuse any help. Not a good sign for the Earth. Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) figures out that the beacon they’re searching for is used to call the Kree to Earth. Even worse sign. But at least Mack and Elena have a sweet heart-to-heart about their traumatic experience, in which he reminds her that they can’t let fear of the future throw them off their game.
Upon reaching the beacon, they also reunite with Agent Piper. It’s a lovely moment of reminiscing until the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. learn she cut a deal with Hale to turn them over, and that the beacon was bait all along. This was a twist I didn’t see coming, especially as I was more worried about all the cops – so well done, show! Things go from bad to worse when the soldiers who arrive try to kill the team even though Piper was promised they would be unharmed. Elena uses her super-speed to take away the guns, but someone gets the drop on her and slices off her arm in a haunting and excruciating sequence.
The only bright side to this is that Piper sees sense and chooses to run away with the team rather than stay behind with their would-be murderers. Elena’s fate is left hanging in the balance at the end of the hour, but her mental state is the more concerning aspect now that all her worst fears are being realized.
But the biggest shocker of the night turns out to be who cut Elena’s arm off: Ruby! The teenager takes off her armor only to be accosted by Hale once more for getting sloppy. Ruby won’t rest until she has Quake in custody, though. What could she want with her? And what’s going to happen now that Hale has recruited Crusher Creel as part of a task force designed to take down S.H.I.E.LD.? We don’t know, but it’ll sure make for an amazing 100th episode!