Time travel is tricky for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In “After, Before” we find out how Director Mackenzie (Henry Simmons) and Agent Deke Shaw (Jeff Ward) were able to reunite with the team after their excellent adventure in the 1980s. Meanwhile, Agent Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet) is recovering from her ordeal with Nathaniel Malick (Thomas E. Sullivan). The Malick legacy is far from over.
While Mack and Deke were fighting Robo-Chronicoms last week, the rest of the team were jumping through time. The time jumps are short and in the same location. Simmons figures out a pattern, giving May (Ming-Na Wen) and Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) the opportunity to find Mack, Deke and Coulson’s (Clark Gregg) hard drive.
Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) updates Mack on the situation. The time drive is literally out of control. At the rate they’re jumping, the Zephyr will collapse in two days. Simmons doesn’t really know what will happen at the end. And neither does Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj). Deke suggests disconnecting the field cell regulator, but they can’t reach it. Enoch (Joel Stoffer) explains the unit is actually spinning so fast that they can’t turn it off. And it disintegrates anything it touches. The only person fast enough, if she still had her powers, is Yo-Yo.
Daisy suggests Yo-Yo pay a visit to her mother, Jiaying (Dichen Lachman). In 1983, Jiaying was in an Inhuman community called Afterlife. This is before Daisy was born and before HYDRA got ahold of Jiaying. She would know how to cure Yo-Yo. May will go with her, but first Mack wants to talk to Daisy and Coulson.
Coulson is in the process of getting a new LMD body when they reboot his hard drive. Mack fills him in on the situation. He’s worried about the implications of visiting Jiaying before Daisy is born. After the secret conversation, Mack gives May and Yo-Yo the go ahead for their mission and they leave the Zephyr.
Yo-Yo is pretty nervous, and May can feel it without touching her. She admits her range extended while they were in the lighthouse… during Mack and Yo-Yo’s “reunion.” She says they have to be very careful with Jiaying. The last time Jiaying saw a S.H.I.E.L.D. quinjet, she started a war.
As soon as they land, they find trouble. A young girl is running from two men, but stops when she realizes it’s futile. The girl’s name is Cora (Dianne Doan). One of the men is a younger Gordon (Fin Argus), an Inhuman with the ability to transport anywhere. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have encountered him before. He sees May and Yo-Yo before the man with eyes does. Yo-Yo asks to see Jiaying and they transport them into the community.
Yo-Yo explains her situation to Jiaying, but her head of security, Lee (Byron Mann) wants proof. She can’t give him any proof, and that’s why she’s there. May senses that Jiaying believes them and is interested in helping her. Lee pulls a diviner and asks Yo-Yo to pick it up. If she is Inhuman, the diviner will light up. Yo-Yo picks it up and nothing happens because of her prosthetic hands. She holds the diviner to her face and it lights up. Jiaying agrees to help her.
Lee is concerned about the security and doesn’t want Yo-Yo and May there. Jiaying says Yo-Yo is one of them and they must do everything they can to help one of their own. Lee says okay but Yo-Yo and May can’t leave after Jiaying cures her.
Jiaying takes tissue and blood samples from Yo-Yo and uses acupuncture to remove any toxins from Yo-Yo’s blood. She asks Yo-Yo where the poison came from. Yo-Yo doesn’t lie, she doesn’t know where the poison came from. Jiaying says they will know more when her blood and tissue tests come back.
May gets a weird feeling from Lee and assures him that they will forget about Afterlife once Yo-Yo is cured. He says she can’t leave until he says so. That leads to questions about Cora and he pulls a knife, causing a reaction from Yo-Yo, but she freezes. May is able to turn the tables on Lee, forcing him to reveal his own special power. He says he wanted to see if Yo-Yo made any progress.
Later, Yo-Yo doesn’t think Jiaying’s therapy is working and wants to go back to the Zephyr. May wonders if Lee even wants Yo-Yo to get her powers back. She picked up some bad vibes from him. They hear Cora scream and run out the room to see what’s going on.
Jiaying is with Lee and Gordon this time and apologizes for disturbing Yo-Yo, telling her to get some rest. She has a theory about her symptoms and her test results should confirm it. They go back in the room and Jiaying locks the door. Yo-Yo is concerned about the young girl, but May says it’s not their fight.
The next morning, Jiaying comes back with the tests. Nothing out of the ordinary showed up. Meaning Yo-Yo’s problem isn’t physical, it’s psychological. Jiaying suggests using May to unblock her powers. She knows May is empathic and says it could be the key to helping Yo-Yo, by guiding her on an exploration of Yo-Yo’s emotional past. May and emotions don’t mix well though.
They give it a try, with much suspicion. Jiaying leaves them alone to concentrate. All May picks up from Yo-Yo is embarrassment. She has a better idea of how to work out her emotions. Sparring! May’s ideas are the best ideas. While they are fighting, Yo-Yo gets flashes of memories and feelings of anger and regret. The last memory hits both Yo-Yo and May really hard.
When Elena was about 10 or 11, her father got mixed up with some bad people. They stayed with their uncle, but the bad people tracked them down. Her uncle tried to tell the bad guys that Elena’s family wasn’t there while she hid in the closet with her cousin. The goon beat up her uncle and asked for money to go away. He tried to take her grandmother’s cross necklace. Elena snuck out of the closet when the man wasn’t looking and took the necklace. The goon killed her uncle for hiding it. Elena feels responsible for his death. May consoles her saying she was just a child. She thinks the point is for Elena to forgive herself.
PREPARING FOR THE WORSE
Zeke and Daniel work on Plan B to try and cut the power to the time drive from the control room. It doesn’t work, though. Daniel decides to prepare for plan C – abandon ship. Deke lets his Nana Simmons know that nothing is working. The Zephyr jumps again. Simmons tells Daisy to get back in the healing chamber, but Daisy says there’s no time. Simmons can’t save everyone, but she can try.
Daisy and Coulson chat about their situation, while Coulson drinks a lot of water. He says he’s happy to see Daisy healing, or at least he thinks that’s what he’s feeling. Daisy says she got lucky and attributes her escape to Daniel. She’s glad Daniel is with them and that makes Coulson happy too.
While Daniel gets the parachutes ready, he talks to Simmons about jumping out of planes. Simmons says she’s jumped twice, but only had a parachute once. She gives Daniel a new leg prosthetic. They made it for him when he came aboard. He apologizes for being unfair to Simmons after boarding the ship. Simmons accepts and leaves to take care of something else.
SCARED LITTLE GIRL
May and Yo-Yo hear Lee calling for Jiaying about Cora. May follows them to Cora’s room. Along the way, Lee asks if Jiaying found out what suppressed Yo-Yo’s powers. She doesn’t have any answers and he thinks her efforts were all for nothing. Jiaying says they will find another way. It’s too late, though. They go into Cora’s room where there has been some kind of explosion.
May walks in, asking what happened, thinking they hurt Cora. Jiaying explains Cora did that to the room. She has explosive power and holds it in, causing her much pain. That’s why Jiaying wanted to help Yo-Yo. If there is something out there to take away power, they need it. Lee thinks the only way to deal with Cora is to kill her. They find another guard in the room, badly burned. Cora took the guard’s gun. Jiaying says it’s because Cora is afraid of what Lee will do to her. May says Cora is not afraid of Lee, she’s afraid of herself.
Cora runs to the woods and stops. She pulls out the gun and holds it to her head. Something stops her from pulling the trigger, and the gun falls apart. It’s Nathaniel Malick. Cora asks how he knew she would be there. He says Sybil (Tamara Taylor) told him. He asks about Afterlife, calling it a cult and a prison. Cora says it’s her home.
Nathaniel thinks they brainwashed her, saying she’s too powerful for the place. Cora thinks she is deadly because she can’t control her gift. Nathaniel says she doesn’t have to control her gift. She should just let it out. Helicopters arrive, and Nathaniel says his friends are going to cause some chaos. He asks her to go with him and never feel trapped again.
A man bursts into Yo-Yo’s room and attempts to shoot her. May comes in and knocks the guy out. Jiaying and Lee are with her. May takes his gun and says they are under attack. She looks at her watch. They only have a couple of hours before they have to rendezvous with the Zephyr.
May and Yo-Yo lead Jiaying and Lee out of the room. They hear something and see Gordon fighting with one of the intruders. He tells them that the intruders are taking people hostage. They feel a quake, much like Daisy’s, but it’s not her. They keep going and come face to face with Cora and Nathaniel.
Cora holds Jiaying responsible for her pain and accuses her of trying to kill her. Jiaying tries to appeal to Cora, talking about the stories she used to read to her as a child. Cora isn’t a child anymore though. Jiaying said she promised to always protect Cora, instead she protected the world.
Lee steps up to kill Cora and Cora throws a fiery punch at him, burning his face. Cora is shaken by what she just did and runs after Jiaying. Yo-Yo grabs Jiaying and May and runs to Gordon, telling him to get them out of there. He transports them to the quinjet.
The Zephyr jumps again. Simmons goes to a computer to send a message to Fitz (Iain De Caestecker). She reveals that they lost contact with Fitz when she picked up the team from the temple. She tells him about the time drive malfunctioning and they might have to abandon the Zephyr in 1983. They are still hoping Yo-Yo can fix that. Deke walks in and watches from the door. Simmons says she knows they will find a way to be together again. Time and space never stopped them before. And she won’t stop trying. Deke interrupts to let her know that May and Yo-Yo are on their way back. They are gathering in command to greet them.
May says they can go with them but it may not be any safer than staying. Jiaying won’t leave her people or her daughter, Cora, behind. Yo-Yo says Cora made her choice, but Nathaniel is their enemy so she won’t fight the battle alone. May gives her the time watch saying they will send the coordinates to meet up. Until then they need to hide. Gordon knows of a few places. Jiaying apologizes to Yo-Yo for not being able to help her and they leave. May and Yo-Yo head to rendezvous with the Zephyr.
The team waits on the Zephyr and questions what will happen if Yo-Yo didn’t get her powers back. Simmons says they will lose the Zephyr. The intervals are getting shorter. May and Yo-Yo missed the rendezvous time. Daniel says the parachutes are ready to go so Mack orders to abandon ship. They jump again.
Even though they were late, May has calculated the next jump. She says it will be close, but if she can land on the first pass, they will make it. Yo-Yo feels responsible for losing the Zephyr, but May says the team might have found another solution in two days. Yo-Yo reminds her that in their time, it was 20 minutes.
NO HOLDING BACK
The Zephyr shows up on top of the quinjet. May quickly flies around to the top of the Zephyr and they land safely. The ship jumps again. Mack radios them asking if they were successful. Yo-Yo reports that they were not. He orders everyone to get to the quinjet and they jump again. He tells May to be ready to get everyone out of there.
May looks at Yo-Yo, feeling her guilt and says it’s not her fault. Yo-Yo thinks it’s all her fault. She could accept her failure when she thought it was an alien poison. But it’s all in her head. May says she will bounce back, and Yo-yo thinks maybe she’s not supposed to. Something clicks. Yo-Yo doesn’t have to bounce back.
Yo-Yo uses her powers and runs to the time drive to pull the field cell regulator out. The Zephyr stops jumping. Mack returns to the time drive to hug Yo-Yo. He’s noticed that she didn’t bounce back. She says she was always able to stop, but she was holding herself back.
Daisy gets back into the healing chamber, and Daniel sits by her side with his new prosthetic leg on. Coulson returns to his charging closet to fully charge his new body. Enoch and Deke look over the time drive. The drive starts up again. Enoch says all of their efforts didn’t work. The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. jump through time again.
Nathaniel and Cora take over Afterlife. He says he’s going to redistribute the wealth. These inhumans didn’t do anything to deserve their powers. These rules are written in the stars, and they are going to shake things up to give the world something new. Anarchy.
I like that every member of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is getting a final story arc, but this one was a little slower than everyone else’s. I don’t know what I was expecting Yo-Yo’s problem to be, but it was a little disappointing. It was more a matter of confidence than past trauma. I’m glad she has her powers back, but it didn’t need a full episode to figure out. I am more interested in where Fitz is. It’s episode eight, and we still haven’t seen Fitz.
It’s clear that waves are being made, but not by S.H.I.E.L.D. The situation is more dangerous than before if Nathaniel is putting together an Inhuman army. Which it appears he is. Daisy and Yo-Yo are the only Inhumans on Team Agents. With five episodes left, I don’t see how this can end well. While the Agents are time jumping, Malick is growing stronger. I’m scared for our heroes.