‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Season 3 Episode 15 Review: The Future Is Here In Awesome ‘Spacetime’

Recap and review of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 3 Episode 15 – Spacetime:

My favorite episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tend to be the ones that are more cinematic in nature. And few episodes this season have felt as cinematic as “Spacetime”. This featured a badass, climactic battle between Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Malick (Powers Boothe), featured Ward/Hive (Brett Dalton) being coldly terrifying, and the future being brought to bear upon the present. This was exactly the type of episode Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. handles best, telling character-driven stories embedded in a larger context; in this case, the ongoing battle between S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra.

The episode largely focuses on a homeless man named Charles, an Inhuman who abandoned his family after going through terragenesis. If that seems like an extreme response to his circumstances, Charles has a perfectly good reason for bailing, as his power involves seeing the future of every person he touches. The person being touched also sees their own future — and nine times out of ten, it’s a bad future. It’s a tragic story for a one-off character, as Charles’s wife explains how hard he tried to prevent the deaths he saw from happening, only to fail time and again. Eventually, he came to the realization that he’d never be able to hold his baby daughter, Robin, so he leaves for his own good, and for the good of his family. Charles getting killed by Malick at the end is pretty much the cherry on top of the sad sundae that is Charles’s situation in this episode. But he serves a broader narrative function than just being the man who kickstarts this week’s plot. He shows Daisy the spaceship scene from the midseason premiere, in which an apparent S.H.I.E.L.D. operative goes up in flames as a ship explodes in orbit around Earth. It’s something I’d honestly forgotten about completely, but this is an interesting way to bring that storyline back. I don’t think this is a show that necessarily benefits from an overarching mystery, but it’s not hurt by it either. This is something the show can anchor itself around, especially now that we know there’s essentially nothing they can do to prevent it from happening. After all, this episode basically proves that these visions are immutable. Nothing can be done to change what’s been seen. All the team can do is prepare for the oncoming storm.

Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Case in point, the other visions Charles gives to Daisy tonight: he shows her a series of images that she, and the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, spend the rest of the episode trying to prevent, with little success: basically, May (Ming-Na Wen) is chosen to go on the rescue mission to save Charles from Hydra, since she doesn’t appear in any of Daisy’s visions (which include a bloodied Lincoln, Coulson firing a gun at Daisy, and an ambush by Hydra agents). Unfortunately, just as May is about to leave, Andrew (Blair Underwood) arrives at S.H.I.E.L.D. to turn himself in, since he feels he’s about to turn into Lash again. I was actually pretty surprised at how abruptly Andrew reentered the story, since I was preparing myself for the hunt for Lash to be one of those extended storylines that took up the back half of this season. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to be wrong, as his arrival here expedites the story by forcing May to confront her conflicted feelings about her ex-husband. In order to protect her feelings, she’s refused to acknowledge that there’s even the slightest possibility that the man she loved is still in there. But Andrew turning himself in at all suggests that there’s still the possibility of redemption, even if he insists that his plans as Lash are a part of a larger mission S.H.I.E.L.D. just doesn’t understand yet. May and Andrew have one of the more interesting relationships in the show, in the sense that they both still care about each other, but they’re on different sides by necessity. The show had attempted this type of pairing before with Daisy and Ward, but it didn’t entirely work, since Daisy didn’t seem all that ambivalent about her feelings towards Ward. She straight-up hated the guy after his betrayal. But this situation is more nuanced, considering that — whether May wants to admit it or not — Andrew is still in there somewhere. And yet, it works both ways. Andrew is in Lash, and parts of Lash are in Andrew. It’s a doomed love story, because even with the Creel serum they try to give Andrew, there’s no erasing what he’s done as Lash, and no way of knowing that Lash won’t come back again at some point.

Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

Credit: ABC/Kelsey McNeal

By the same token, there’s no way of knowing that stopping Ward/Hive and Malick will ever put an end to Hydra. It’s an eternal struggle, which is part of what makes it so compelling. Cut off one head, and another grows back — but it works both ways. S.H.I.E.L.D. won’t die with Coulson (Clark Gregg), nor will Hydra die with Hive or Malick. It’s a war that seems destined to continue forever, with each side losing loved ones, and new powers being introduced into the struggle. Aside from Charles’s visions or Hive’s crazy abilities, Malick now has an exoskeleton that allows him to emulate the abilities of Inhumans. It’s pretty much the only reason he’s able to put up any sort of fight against Daisy at the end, much less murder Charles for trying to help her. It’s a wild climax that essentially fulfills every vision Charles showed Daisy, from the Hydra agent ambush to Lincoln getting bludgeoned by one of the henchmen, to Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) holding hands as ash (not snow) rains down from above. We even see Coulson shoot Daisy, albeit in a moment that was misinterpreted in the visions, as Coulson is shooting at a one-way mirror, not Daisy herself. It all culminates in the aforementioned climax, with Charles saving Daisy by showing Gideon his future, which horrifies him so completely that Daisy has the opportunity to subdue Malick with her powers. By the end of the episode, Andrew has become Lash for good, Fitz and Simmons apparently accept their destiny together, and Daisy promises a dying Charles that she’ll look after his daughter. Oh, and Giyera is doing Hive’s bidding now? Which somehow surprises Malick, who is under the delusion that Giyera works solely for him, even though Hive has been built up as the supreme leader of Hydra forces through sheer virtue of his power alone. I have no idea where any of this is going, but I’m amped for it regardless.

“Spacetime” is the best episode since the midseason premiere, as Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. delivers an episode that is cinematic in scope, and unmistakably compelling in delivery. This season is arguably the best yet, and if the show continues at this pace, I’ll probably just drop the “arguably” from that statement.

But what did you think of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 3 Episode 15, “Spacetime”? Sound off in the comments!

And for more on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., read our review of last week’s compelling Mack-centric episode, “Watchdogs”!

TV 2016Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.RecapReview