The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are at war with the Chronicoms for planet Earth. In “Adapt or Die,” the team gives up their location when the Chronicoms reveal they have Director Mackenzie’s (Henry Simmons) parents.
At the end of last week’s episode, the Zephyr shot down Project INSIGHT. Agents Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) and Shaw (Jeff Ward) were sent to capture Freddy Malick. Deke shot and killed Freddy. The base security caught Agents May (Ming-Na Wen) and Coulson (Clarke Gregg. And Nathaniel Malick (Thomas E. Sullivan) kidnapped Agents Johnson (Chloe Bennet) and Sousa (Enver Gjokaj). The biggest questions of the night: What’s wrong with Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge)? Will we ever see Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) again?
The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. thwarted the Chronicoms’ plans, but the Predictor Sybil (Tamara Taylor) has a new plan. Based on the fact that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are separated and vulnerable. She instructs Chronicom Luke (Tobias Jelinek) to continue to overwhelm the agents and sends him to waken the hunters one-by-one.
The date is July 4, 1976, the Bicentennial. General Stoner (Patrick Warburton) and his Lighthouse crew are trying to find out who destroyed INSIGHT. His men bring in Coulson and May and he blames them for blowing up the rocket. They try to tell Stoner about the Chronicoms infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D., but he won’t listen.
The scanners pick up the Zephyr on the radar. Malick updates S.H.I.E.L.D. tracking capabilities with an advanced integrated tracking system. On the Zephyr, Deke and Yo-Yo return without Malick. Yo-Yo reports that Deke killed Malick, and that makes Mack angry.
Mack can’t deal with Deke right now. They have to find and save Mack’s parents in the Lighthouse. Deke insists on going because he knows the Lighthouse better than anyone, but Mack wants to go alone. Yo-Yo insists on going because she knows he’s walking into a trap. Mack doesn’t argue with her and they leave. He tells Simmons to find Daisy and Sousa and try to find the Chronicom ship as well.
Mack and Yo-Yo leave without a plan and without any backup. Mack is feeling nostalgic. He remembers the big Fourth of July party with his whole family on that day. Yo-Yo says the Chronicoms are trying to get into his head. Mack says this isn’t how he imagined introducing Yo-Yo to his parents. This is going to get very emotional for Mack.
PREPARE FOR EXTREME Gs
The Lighthouse is put on lockdown, and someone’s armed the missiles. Stoner says he didn’t order any of this, and Coulson says it’s the Chronicoms and anything electronic has been hijacked. Stoner tells his agents to go downstairs and rip out the mainframe. It’s too late, though. The missiles launch. Enoch (Joel Stoffer) sees the missiles and releases bursts of explosives to deter them. The bursts work on all but one missile that directly hits the Zephyr.
Daisy and Sousa wake up, after being drugged and cuffed in a barn. Nathaniel checks on them and Daisy asks to be let go. She says HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D. can finally be together. Nathaniel says he’s not HYDRA. He’s something else and he wants to be more. He knows they are Inhumans. Nathaniel says Sousa doesn’t look his age so he must be Inhuman. And if he’s not, Nathaniel will kill him.
Nathaniel wants their powers, but Daisy says she didn’t drink a superserum, her power is in her DNA. Nathaniel Nathaniel is rich, so he’s not worried. He knows some great HYDRA doctors… like Dr. Reinhardt, a.k.a Daniel Whitehall. Daisy still has a score to settle with Whitehall and gets angry at the mention of him. She threatens to crush Nathaniel, but she can’t. He has his men take Daisy to the examination room to begin his procedure.
AGENTS OF CHRONICOMS?
Stoner interrogates Coulson and May about who they are and why they are there. They tell him about the Chronicoms, but he doesn’t believe a word they say. Agent King (Shakira Barrera) enters to give Stoner a message. King voices her disdain for Coulson and May and puts her hands on their shoulders. Agent Ford (Dawan Owens) needs Stoner in the basement. Before he leaves, he tells Coulson and May that Malick is dead. After the door closes, May tells Coulson that when Agent King touched her shoulder, she didn’t feel anything from her. Like Coulson. That agent is a Chronicom.
Deke puts out the fires on the Zephyr, but Enoch finds an even bigger problem. When the drive jumps, a network of cables carries the current from the drive to the shielding around the Zephyr. With the shielding damaged, if the drive jumps only part of the Zephyr will jump and pulverize everything else. They can jump at any moment. Time to get to work!
Simmons sends Deke to look at the power regulator while she and Enoch rewire the control panel. Simmons opens the control panel and starts to panic a little. She admits that she doesn’t remember how to fix the shielding. Enoch assures her that everything will be alright but they must act immediately. I love how calm Enoch is.
MOM, MEET MY GIRLFRIEND
Mack’s parents are sitting calmly when Mack and Yo-Yo burst into the cell. Mack gets a little carried away when he sees his mom and hugs her. He introduces Yo-Yo as his girlfriend. Their names are John (Sedale Threatt Jr.) and Lilla Mackenzie (Paulina Bugembe). Lilla and John have questions, but Mack can’t provide any explanations. Mack leads them out of the cell and through the Lighthouse.
Agent King says they found an elevator to the basement. So someone definitely messed with the S.H.I.E.L.D. mainframe. They need Stoner’s override to reboot the system. He sees a video of himself alerting the base about the lockdown. He says his own face is aiding the enemy and to turn off the videos. King says they will remove his face ASAP.
May and Coulson discuss why King is a Chronicom and why Coulson isn’t. Coulson says King has a personality and that’s something that the Chronicoms can’t mimic. Coulson can do it, but he’s not a Chronicom, even though Enoch used Chronicom technology to modify Coulson’s LMD.
That triggers Coulson. He voices his frustration with May because she displays no emotion toward him. He didn’t ask to be an LMD. He’s frustrated because he knows May doesn’t feel anything about him, but he wants to know what she thinks. May thinks Coulson never dies. Coulson always comes back. She has mourned him too many times and she won’t do it again. She especially won’t mourn a decoy with a simulated personality.
ADAPT OR DIE
Coulson starts to think. He says the Chronicoms are mimicking him. They are adapting. On the train, Chronicom Luke told Coulson that they would adapt. They saw him and realized they could steal personalities. And they have means to do that. The machine they used to collect FitzSimmons’ memories is also capable of uploading human memories and identities to Chronicom bodies. Then they steal their faces. Replace the agents and use them to take over. And General Stoner is next. And he just walked into their trap.
Mack and Yo-Yo lead the Mackenzies to a dead end. There is a door there and the quinjet is behind it, but they don’t know how to get in. John is frustrated but Lilla says it’s not about them. They’re worried about their two boys at home. Mack says the locks on the blast door are in a panel. He compares it to a car saying if they bust the locks they can open a door. He asks for John’s help in breaking the locks.
Meanwhile, Stoner’s conversion is almost complete. Ford asks for another hunter for the next conversion. When King turns around, May and Coulson are standing behind them. May kills Chronicom King and Coulson blasts the other Chronicoms with their own guns. He pulls the power cord out of the floor and Stoner wakes up, saying he believes them. Finally!
Coulson says they are in a Chronicom conversion room. They upload personalities on the table, then take the faces of their victims. There are three faceless S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in the room. Unfortunately they are dead. Stoner doesn’t want to lose any more people so he plans to evacuate the base. Coulson sees a ladder coming up from the floor behind some equipment. May says Mack is somewhere in the base trying to get to his parents. Coulson tells her to link up with Mack and get everyone out. The Chronicoms mentioned bring more up. He’s going to go down the ladder to see where they are coming from.
THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE
Nathaniel extracts blood and spinal fluid from Daisy, making her extremely weak. Malick’s guys drag her back to Sousa. He tells Daniel that he plans on synthesizing the blood and fluid and transfusing it into him. And if that doesn’t work, he’ll use knives next time to get what he needs. He’s doing all of this to try new things.
Sousa checks on Daisy. She is mumbling something about this happening before and I’m pretty sure she’s saying the name Jiaying, her mother. Sousa doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but he needs to keep her awake. He tells her the story about how he injured his leg. Another soldier carried him back to safety, but died so Sousa could live. All along the way, the other soldier told Sousa that they were going home. He tells Daisy the same thing. They are going home and she has to fight. Daisy raises her hand and reveals a piece of glass stuck inside. Sousa pulls it out realizing Daisy has plenty of fight left in her.
Back at the Zephyr, Enoch is working on something in Simmons’ head when Deke walks in. Deke assumes the worst and uses defibrillator paddles to shock Enoch. He wakes up his Nana, saying Enoch is a traitor. She sees Enoch on the floor and asks what has Deke done!
DOOR TO THE UNKNOWN.
Coulson gets to the bottom of the ladder, carrying the duffle bag of explosives, and finds the sleeping pods of the Chronicoms. He’s on their ship and sees a control panel. He inserts his hands into the panel and it transports Coulson to Sybil’s chamber. Coulson asks if this is a bad time and Sybil smiles at him.
Mack and Yo-Yo push on the blast door while John and Lilla work on the wires. They hear someone coming. Something slips and John cuts his arm, but he says he’s okay. Mack leaves to see who’s coming and hands a gun to John. He is met by two Chronicoms. As strong as the Chronicoms are, Mack is just as strong.
Sybil says their time ship has been under the Lighthouse and that’s why S.H.I.E.L.D. had difficulty finding it. Coulson’s body is still there and his consciousness is with her in a virtual space. Sybil introduces herself as the Predictor. She reads the time streams. He says she’s unlike any Chronicom that he’s met. She says he’s different too. Coulson says he’s not a Chronicom, but he’s not a person either, and asks what he thinks he is. Coulson could anwer, but Sybil likes to answer for him. This should be interesting.
WHERE IS FITZ?
Deke thinks Enoch was implanting something dangerous into Simmons’ head, but she says Enoch is a friend and Deke should foret what he saw. He wants to know what’s going on. Simmons says Enoch was fixing her memory so she can fix the ship. Deke asks if she really doesn’t know how to fix the ship.
Frustrated, Simmons says Deke has no idea how impossible it was to track the Chronicoms through time. She and Fitz found a place where they could observe all of the Chronicoms’ movement. To guide the time ship, Fitz chose to stay there. He is completely exposed, and if the Chronicoms find him, he will die. So no one can know his location. Simmons designed a biological implant to suppress her memories. Simmons named it Diana, and she’s adorable. And they are literally inseparable.
Simmons tells Deke to get to work, but he’s very worried that she won’t remember where Fitz is. She says she might remember. Diana is acting up and she’s forgetting things she’s supposed to remember and remembering the things she’s not supposed to remember. Deke says he will help her fix the implant. Simmons isn’t too worried. She says she’s far more likely to blow a hole through space time and Diana won’t matter anyway. What!?
Malick’s guy comes in for Sousa. Sousa tries to get him to help Daisy instead. The goon unlocks Sousa’s ankle cuffs and Sousa takes his shot, stabbing the guy with the glass. He is able to stand up and knock the guy out. He unlocks all of the cuffs and picks up Daisy, planning to carry her out of there. The building starts shaking, but it’s not Daisy. It’s Nathaniel. He’s bleeding from the mouth and in pain. He says his bones are cracking. The roof caves in on top of Nathaniel.
TIME IS ON MY SIDE
Coulson asks for Daisy’s location. Sybil says she’s been kidnapped by Nathaniel Malick. He wants to take her power and has a 22% chance of succeeding. Daisy has an 86% chance of surviving. He brings up Mack’s parents, knowing that the Chronicoms are using them to get to S.H.I.E.L.D. so they can have the Earth. Why do they want the Earth? To ensure the survival of her species. That’s what Coulson wants, too.
Coulson asks what the difference is between a human and a Chronicom. Sybil says it’s time. Humans have a limited time and they fear death. They will act irrationally to prevent themselves or others from experiencing death. Chronicoms cannot die, so time has no consequence. With a home planet intact, the Chronicoms will exist long after humans are gone. She says once he realizes that, he’ll give up or run out of time.
Coulson disagrees on three things. 1. The difference is sacrifice. Yes, time has limits which means they have to sacrifice and sacrifice comes at a real cost. Not just data, it’s heart, pain, blood, sweat and tears, all the good human stuff. 2. They will never give up. We see Mack still fighting the Chronioms. Yo-Yo continues to try to open the blast door. Deke and Simmons restore the shielding around the Zephyr. And Daniel walks out of the building carrying Daisy.
The third thing is Coulson. He doesn’t fear death. Dying is his superpower. Couslon disconnects from Sybil. He hears Chronicoms coming down the ladder and sees two hunter pods open. He radios May saying he found the ship and he hopes she is right about the next part. Coulson throws the duffle bag toward the pods and detonates the explosives. The blast takes out the entire ship, with Coulson on board.
SAFE AND SOUND
Everyone hears the explosion and the blast door opens up. Mack tells Luke that they disrupted their lockdown. Luke says it doesn’t matter and continues his fight with Mack. Luke pulls a gun, but someone shoots him from behind. It’s May and Stoner. May reports that Coulson ended the lockdown. They run to the quinjet with John and Lilla. May thanks Stoner for finally believing them. It turns out that May is level seven, so Stoner would report to her. I guess that means they can’t get a drink. She tells him to clear the base and create a cover story, perhaps a hydrogen wave crisis. She thanks him again, shaking his hand and feels something funny go through her.
Everyone straps in for take off and Mack asks about Coulson. May says he’s gone. Yo-Yo asks if he was in the explosion. May only answers that he will come back. He always does.
Deke watches Enoch work on Simmons’ implant. She makes Deke apologize to Enoch for knocking him out. And he has to tell Enoch that he’s a valued member of the family. Enoch accepts and finishes with Simmons. Deke asks if she remembers where Fitz is. Simmons thinks for a minute, but truly can’t remember. She asks Deke not to tell anyone about the implant. Deke nods in agreement.
John checks out the cockpit while Yo-Yo chats with Lilla. Mack joins them as John thanks May for saving them. He puts his hand on her shoulder when he does. May turns the jet and puts it on autopilot. Mack checks on her and she says she can’t take John to the Zephyr. When he touched her arm, she didn’t feel anything. He’s a Chronicom. Mack doesn’t want to believe it, but May tells him to check John’s arm.
Mack goes back to the conversation with Lilla and John. He asks to take a look at John’s arm to show May he’s all good. John says it’s nothing and won’t show Mack his arm. Lilla gets defensive and tells Mack to leave John alone. John says it’s okay and starts rolling up his sleeve. The scratch tore off a part of John’s arm, exposing his robotic interior.
John attacks Mack, Lilla attacks Yo-Yo and a fight ensues. Mack asks what happened to his parents. John says they’ve been gone for a while. He also calls Mack “son,” giving Mack a surge of energy. Mack punches John hard a few times in the face, pushing him backwards. Yo-Yo grabs John’s head and twists it, killing the Chronicom imposter.
May is having a hard time with Lilla until Mack pulls her off. Yo-Yo opens the door and May jumps in the cockpit. She lifts the nose of the jet so John’s body slides out. Mack is fighting with Lilla and stops to look her in the eyes. She can see that he’s getting emotional and asks him not to kill her, calling him “Alfie.” Mack pushes her out of the jet with tears in his eyes.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
Enoch and Deke work together to make sure the Zephyr is working correctly when the countdown to the next jump begins. Mack and Yo-Yo sit in silence. Simmons and Sousa watch over Daisy in the healing chamber. Deke announces the jump, and Simmons says Sousa needs to go if he’s going to stay in that time. Sousa says he’s where he needs to be and stays on the Zephyr with Daisy.
The jump is rough, but everyone is okay. Mack goes to the cargo bay and opens the doors. Deke watches him get on a motorcycle. Mack says he needs some air and leaves. Later, Mack is sitting on the motorcycle not too far from the Zephyr. Deke is out there looking for him. He knows what Mack is going through right now. Simmons calls him on the radio in distress. They are about to jump. Deke runs to find Mack and yells at him that Z1 is in trouble. The Zephyr jumps, leaving Deke and Mack behind.
This was the saddest Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode of the season… so far. I was so frustrated with the last episode because it looked like our team lost. They won the battle, but at a great cost. Coulson died… again! Daisy is hurt pretty bad. Mack is all caught up in his emotions. The Zephyr is broken. It just has to get better.
The Chronicom threat may be gone for the time being. No one said it would be easy. And there are always losses in a war. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are resilient and their determination will ensure victory.