The stakes are higher than ever in Agents of SHIELD this week, as “Adapt Or Die” puts all of our heroes in literal life-or-death situations. Sousa (Enver Gjokaj fights to keep Daisy (Chloe Bennet) alive through HYDRA-adjacent experimentation, Mack (Henry Simmons) and Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova) move steel doors to save his parents, and May (Ming-Na Wen) and Coulson (Clark Gregg) surmount their current states of inhumanity to save SHIELD as 1976 knows it.
Oh, and lest we forget: Deke (Jeff Ward) uncovers the truth about Fitz’s whereabouts and a very shocking encounter with Enoch (Joel Stoffer) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). Let’s dive into this action-packed hour of quality television, shall we?
This Isn’t How I Imagined You’d Meet My Parents
The beating heart of “Adapt Or Die” certainly centered around the theme of sacrifice, and how it makes us all human. No one exemplifies that more than Mack and Yo-Yo, who have devoted their lives and some limbs in service of the greater good. Mack even went as far as to give away the Zephyr’s spot to save SHIELD, which put his parents in immediate danger.
Therefore it was no surprise that Yo-Yo agreed to accompany him on his rescue mission, despite her powers still not being up to par. The reunion is incredibly emotional on Mack’s side, but awkward on the other because they only know him as a young child and not a full-grown man. With Yo-Yo’s guidance and Mack’s warm nature, however, his parents are quickly assured that they are in safe hands so long as the Chronicoms don’t get to them.
As strange as the situation is, it’s also the best opportunity Yo-Yo has had to see her boyfriend out of his SHIELD element and in a domestic setting. Hearing her laugh at tales of his youth is one of the more lighthearted moments of the season, as is Mack slowly realizing just how much he and his father have in common when it comes to their problem-solving skills. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking when everything turns out to be a lie, as the Mackenzies were replaced by Chronicoms long before the pair ever rescued them.
“Killing” his parents, even as he knows they were already dead, is something Mack may never recover from. Of course, the ending of this week’s Agents of SHIELD suggests he may have quite a while to try – but it’s far from the only shocking perceived loss of the episode.
While trying to get Agent Stoner to believe they’re the Good Guys, Coulson also struggles to get May to treat him like a person. Not currently feeling any emotions herself, yet still having the residual resentment towards the “human” Coulson for leaving her so many times, May doesn’t budge an inch. The pain of lingering love must be momentarily cast aside, though, because the ex-lovebirds discover that Stoner’s right-hand woman is a Chronicom herself and is about to remove the man’s face and steal his identity for one of her robots.
Thankfully, they get to him in time, and in the process Coulson has a fascinating philosophical debate with the Chronicom seer Sybil. It’s the centerpiece of “Adapt or Die,” positing that one species is superior because there is no limit to their time and that makes them more rational as they have no fear of death. Coulson, however, counters that humans’ willingness to sacrifice for each other makes them far more formidable. After all, he lost his fear of death long before he lost his humanity, and that never changed his behavior.
In order to help save Mack’s parents and all of SHIELD, he tests his own limits one more time and ends up in the base explosion that frees his team from the remaining Chronicoms and sends them back to the Zephyr. This time May is sure he’ll be back and refuses to mourn him, but are we as confident as she is?
You’re My Thing
In brighter news, I can’t help but fall deeper and deeper into the time travel loophole that is the Daisy and Sousa ship. We can’t be sure if it’s going anywhere, and we only have 7 more episodes to find out – but they sure do have chemistry.
“Adapt or Die” saw them trapped by Nathaniel Malick, whose hostage experience in 1976 changed his life by opening his eyes and his greed to Daisy’s superpowers. He also thinks Sousa might be immortal or drinking from the fountain of youth, but first he plans to make himself Quake. Watching Daisy be experimented on is far too much for either the audience for Sousa to take, but thankfully she still has enough of her faculties to hide a piece of glass in her hand (ouch!) for later use.
And that glass is exactly what Sousa needs to get her out of there – after he calms her and keeps her away by telling her his own story of rescue and perseverance. He’s passing on a good deed, but there’s also something very soft and tender about the way he speaks to her (and holds her, but let me not get carried away).
Despite Sybil having told Coulson there was only a 22% Nathaniel would succeed in obtaining Daisy’s powers, he does seem to manage to Quake the bunker down around him. He may have have gotten himself killed in the process, but at least the distraction and Sousa’s fighting skills allow the agents to escape.
One agent who may have no escape, however, is Fitz. After Deke knocks Enoch out for tampering his with grandma, he learns that the good Chronicom was actually trying to help restore Jemma’s memory. It turns out that she installed a blocker in her own mind – whom she endearingly calls “Diana” – in order to make sure the Chronicoms can’t learn Fitz’s location from her. He is in a place that allows him to oversee their trajectory and thus allows the Zephyr to follow them, but neither Jemma nor now Deke can know where that is. I wonder if he’s spiritually with Sybil?
Deke and Jemma work together to fix the Zephyr before the next jump, which would otherwise have left them disintegrated – but the trials and tribulations don’t end there. Deke leaves the plane to find Mack, who understandably took a breather after his parents’ death, when the Zephyr unexpectedly makes its next jump.
And so, next week’s Agents of SHIELD may find our heroes separated by time and space again. I have no idea what to expect, but I do know it’s going to be an incredible as the entire season thus far has been.