TV Review: Agents of SHIELD – “Spacetime”

Spacetime
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find all of my Agents of SHIELD reviews here.
“Spacetime” was a standout episode of Agents of SHIELD, as the team fought against fate itself, delivering excellent action sequences along the way, all while the fate of Season 3 continued to take shape.
The episode’s “gimmick” of having a predetermined ending provided a framework that made “Spacetime” feel very well-structured and allowed for a great payoff. In storytelling, delivery often lies in setting up the audience’s expectations and either fulfilling them in satisfying ways or cleverly subverting them. “Spacetime” did exactly that, just in a more explicit way, showing us what was supposed to happen, thus commanding our attention as we waited to find out how it would take place and what would be different.
The concept of predestination reigned supreme in “Spacetime”, as the team was split between wanting to change the future and believing it couldn’t be altered. One of the best aspects of this was them trying to avoid making any part of the vision come true and failing every time, whether due to chance or simple misinterpretation. I have to commend the episode for sticking to its guns—and Fitz’s science-based, viewer-friendly explanation—and ensuring that the vision was indeed immutable.
DaisyThe most entertaining example was having Daisy coach May on how to fight the Hydra henchmen based on her vision. Not only did the training provide a fun sequence involving the whole team, but it paid off in the climax when Daisy ended up doing it herself, only to have fate deal its cruel hand and reveal a crucial oversight—a one-way mirror. The fight scene itself was probably the highlight of the episode, the audience’s knowledge of how it’s supposed to go down making it a great candidate for a single-take sequence. It seems Agents of SHIELD has developed a yearly tradition of having Kevin Tancharoen come in a few weeks after a season of Daredevil has dropped and deliver a single-take fight scene involving Daisy.
Andrew’s return was another great instance of “Spacetime” using the audience’s expectations (how will May be taken out of the mission?) to its advantage. Part of me wonders if it was the best idea to have Andrew’s final transformation into Lash relegated to a plot device to keep May away from the Hydra battle. But it was clever in a sense, as this really was the only thing that could believably compel May to stay behind. And the scene itself was well executed and suitably dramatic, with a strong and touching performance by Ming-Na Wen, and contributed to the sombre feeling permeating the end sequence. Time will tell if Andrew was right in believing Lash was serving a higher calling, a purpose that would be revealed in future episodes.
On the Hydra side of things, Hive continued to be a very intimidating villain, played really well by Brett Dalton. One factor that made him so scary, other than witnessing him gruesomely disintegrate even more people, was how much he was unnerving Malick. The supposed “Big Bad” of Season 3’s first half was now a victim to the whims of the alien he fought so hard to bring to Earth. Including putting on an exoskeleton to crush a man’s skull. This was a more gory episode than usual for sure. Seeing this new human side of Malick actually made him more compelling, and I have to wonder what he saw in that vision that terrified him so thoroughly.
Not to mention the game-changing when Coulson and the team finally saw Ward, supposedly alive and well. I’m glad the show didn’t hold off on this reveal until the last few episodes as shows tend to do. The brisk pace has been an advantage for Agents of SHIELD more often than not, and I look forward to seeing where this new development goes. I also loved the knowing look Fitz gave Coulson as he pointed out to Simmons that it wasn’t Ward. He’s the only one who knows what Coulson did, and it seems Hive has latched onto a few of Ward’s key memories, since he seems to be holding a bit of a grudge as well.
Daisy having one final vision involving the flash-forward we saw at the beginning of “Bouncing Back” was great as well, but it made me wish that it wasn’t shown in “Bouncing Back” at all. Its use in “Spacetime” was much more organic, and would have made for a much more emphatic moment if this were the first time we’d seen it. Either way, I can’t wait to see what it leads to.

Rating: 4.5/5 (Excellent)

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