Hasn’t Natalia Cordova-Buckley been great playing Yo-Yo on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ this season? Let’s give her a hand. As a matter of fact, let’s give her two.
We’re finally done with all that Kree nonsense. At least, I hope so. In any case, the action returns from the future back to the present day. Episode ‘All the Comforts of Home’ actually doesn’t start with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, but with the apparently-evil Gen. Hale (Catherine Dent), who goes home and squabbles with a petulant teenage daughter named Ruby (Dove Cameron). The girl has a poster of Daisy (or “Quake”) on her wall and asks her mom, “Are you a good guy?” Hale claims that she’s just trying to capture the S.H.I.E.L.D. fugitives, not kill them. Uh huh.
Elsewhere, Coulson and crew pop back into the present. They find themselves still inside the Lighthouse station, but it’s back on Earth, hidden underground beneath an actual lighthouse. The place turns out to be yet another off-the-books secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base. As an automated film strip starring a guy named Gen. Stoner (Patrick Warburton) helpfully explains, this one was created as a fallout shelter and is stockpiled with all the greatest equipment that 1970s technology had to offer. Wandering through the place, they discover three monoliths in storage. This greatly concerns Coulson. More than that, they run into another “sentient chronicom” like Enoch. His name is Noah (Joel David Moore from ‘Avatar’ and ‘Bones’), and due to weird time travel logic is fully briefed on their situation.
Giving them no time to re-adjust to normal life, Noah shows the team video of a strange beam of light that appears to be aiming from the sky down to a particular spot in St. Louis. Worried that she will be responsible for destroying the world, Daisy elects to stay behind in the base while all the others investigate.
Coulson and crew exit the Lighthouse into a sleepy little town called River’s End. Because they’re on the Most Wanted lists for every federal agency imaginable, they try to stay off the radar of local authorities, which proves difficult when they also need to steal an old VW van. Eventually, they make their way to the cloaked Zephyr One, which they fly to St. Louis. All the while, Coulson is evasive when asked about some injuries sustained during their time in the future and a headache he’s suffering, and refuses to let Jemma treat him.
Unbeknownst to the others, Deke also miraculously appears in River’s End. The last thing he remembers is dying in an explosion and isn’t sure where he is or how he got there, but he’s super-excited to be alive and on a not-destroyed Earth that still has a sky and trees and everything. This leads to some fish-out-of-water hijinks as a local sees him and assumes that he’s high out of his mind. Deke spots a bar and knows that the very first thing he wants to do is try a beer – a real one. Unfortunately, he discovers that he hates the taste of it. He does, however, develop a quick fondness for Zima. He gets drunk off his ass on that and, of course, has no way of paying his bar tab.
After Deke winds up in jail, Daisy quickly learns about him while monitoring local law enforcement communications. She poses as a social worker and goes to bail him out, claiming that he’s mentally ill. The head cop, who has listened to Deke babble nonsense about being from the future, has no trouble buying this story. One on his subordinates, however, eyes Daisy suspiciously.
The mysterious light in St. Louis turns out to actually be coming from the ground and aiming up. It’s a beacon to outer space, like the one Hive sent to contact the Kree. The S.H.I.E.L.D.ies break into a lab storing it and run into Agent Piper (Briana Venskus), who’s very surprised to see them again. Piper claims that she’s been holding down the fort for S.H.I.E.L.D. on her own during their absence, and wound up at the lab for the same reason they did, to follow the light.
By the time Fitz turns off the beacon, Piper reveals herself to be a traitor. She had cut a deal with Hale and has already called for reinforcements. The beacon was just a trick to lure them out. A group of masked soldiers and a lady ninja arrive. Piper asks the S.H.I.E.L.D.ies to surrender and says they won’t be hurt, but it’s clear that the soldiers and ninja lady have different ideas. Yo-Yo steals their guns, then she, Mack and May fight them off, discovering that the soldiers are really robots. Piper slowly realizes that she’d been played and agrees to help her old friends escape.
When the ninja lady throws a razor frisbee at Mack, Yo-Yo zips into the way to save him and gets both her arms sliced right off! Just like in the future timeline! It’s all coming true! Yowzah!
Jemma bundles Yo-Yo into a blanket and the others carry her onto Zephyr One, but aren’t able to retrieve her missing arms. (They also don’t seem to bother applying tourniquets to her bleeding stumps, which seems kind of important.) They fly back to the Lighthouse and, in a very sad montage, Jemma performs surgery to save Yo-Yo’s life.
After the battle, the lady ninja is revealed to be Ruby, Gen. Hale’s daughter. It appears that her obsession with Daisy is more than just fangirl appreciation. Her mom expresses disappointment with her for letting the other S.H.I.E.L.D.ies escape, but Ruby considers Daisy the big fish and expects the others to lead back to her. Hale remarks that at least the beacon they brought back with them will do its job.
At the Lighthouse, Fitz and Noah are moving the beacon to storage when they realize that it’s actually a bomb. Noah sacrifices himself and jumps on top of it as it explodes.
In the episode’s final scene, Gen. Hale travels to Philadelphia and recruits former shape-shifting HYDRA agent and later Gen. Talbot’s bodyguard, Carl Creel (season 2 callback, y’all!), to join a team she’s putting together.
It’s such a relief to be done with all the boring outer space foolishness that this episode almost can’t help but seem like an improvement. I didn’t care much for Deke earlier, but he’s quite fun here. If still unexceptional, the plot is also more interesting than anything that happened in the last ten episodes.
Yo-Yo’s injury is a bummer, because it presumably means that she’ll be sidelined for the rest of the season, but I have to assume that she’ll probably get her arms back eventually by way of more time travel. Or possibly robot arms. That’d work, too.