Agents of SHIELD: 5.10 Past Life
After weeks of build-up and tease, we finally get the pay-off the previous events have been leading up to, bringing the team back together and transporting them back to their time…well kind of, I suppose. If nothing else, this and the prior eight episodes have been consistently entertaining. Past Life, while still in that category, was somewhat more confusing - effective, but confusing. When you're tackling stories about paradoxes and time loops, confusion is inevitable, so the fact that it’s still exciting is a huge compliment to the entire team.
Last episode revealed that Flint was the key to return the Agents home. He could re-build the monolith (which he does), that could be attached to a doo-hickey (which it is), and Bob’s your uncle, home they go (which they do?). It all seems very simple but, in true SHIELD fashion, everything is over complicated. If this were an episode of Sesame Street the word of the day would be “sacrifice”, as the plot is truly shaken up.
Kasius once again shows his worthiness as an ominous villain. After discovering the death of Sinara, he genuinely seems troubled, spending too much time hovering over her body, which felt unnecessary and creepy. It was addressed that they were close, but he spends more time talking to a dead Sinara than he does his own troops. Regardless, these scenes were still well performed, well written and served as some great final moments.
Possibly the most exciting event was Kasius taking the Kree berserker serum and fighting Mack. Not only did Dominic Rains give a fantastic performance, but the fight was excellent; if perhaps a tad drawn out and unrealistic, but it leads to Gemma getting poetic justice, using the ear control device on Kasius, allowing Mack to shotgun axe him. I’ll admit, it was silly, but nobody could deny the entertainment value it delivered, I suppose Kasius deserved his death after slitting Yoyo’s throat.
Speaking of the speedy Inhuman, this is where things began to get really confusing. Last episode teased the existence of another seer, which turned out to be Yoyo from the future. I didn’t mind the reveal but it hurt my head thinking about it. Future Yoyo explains the team are stuck in an endless loop that can only be changed if they let Coulson die, who was hurt earlier on. This whole sequence was just baffling and hard to believe. I understand the lack of science behind time travel, but it’s pretty well explained elsewhere in the genre that the smallest bug can have an effect on time, so the idea that Coulson is the key to saving the world feels a little absurd.
The more I ponder, the more I question future Yoyo’s existence: why didn’t she run to safety? Why didn’t she use her powers at all? It’s explained that Kasius kills and revives her when needed, but her powers are never discussed. Ok, the episode took a rather horrific turn when showing that Kasius cut off her arms, which was very shocking, but surely if you want to stop a speedy inhuman, you cut off their legs! It all seemed a bit odd but the thought provoking element is always nice.
As mentioned previously, there’s an awful lot of sacrifice in this episode. Losing Enoch and Deke (ha! I’ll be astounded if we never see him again), was heroic and fit into the mix very well. For Deke, it perfectly developed his character; once a selfish loner, now willing to give his own life for a great cause…very touching. If they stay dead, both will be missed.
Perhaps the element I disliked the most was Daisy’s arc. Her not wanting to return home was no surprise, but the way it’s tackled was just dumb. Her personal conflict is touching; the idea that she wants to stay behind (in the future) in order not to risk destroying the world is admirable but, for starters, she doesn’t have her powers and there was no effort to get her powers back, and surely staying behind could be just as detrimental. It’s just more Daisy whining, which although I’ve become accustomed to, I still don’t like. I must say, Coulson Icing her was a nice touch that will have ramifications for their relationship later on.
Past Life sets up future events well. It closes the chapter on the Lighthouse with the Kree and opens up a multitude of possibilities back on Earth, the first of which to let the audience know who made it back. I hope we don’t get two storylines taking place in different times. With Flint remaining behind, it would be great to see him again but, the ‘how’ will be the important bit. Regardless, I look forward to events to come.