The Ruby character in ‘Agents of ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ this season sure has a silly supervillain costume. How can she even see out of that heavy iron mask? That can’t be terribly efficient for fighting.
Having broken off from the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. on their own mission, Jemma, Fitz and Yo-Yo fly to rural England in search of a HYDRA research lab where they believe they’ll find Gen. Hale’s new gravitonium weapon. They have to skydive from their quinjet to get there, which reminds Jemma of a bad experience she had in Season 1, but she sucks it up and takes the leap with her new husband, Fitz.
Finding themselves in a snowy mountain range without so much as a coat between them, Coulson and Talbot try to make their way toward civilization. Talbot beats himself up for betraying the team. Back at the HYDRA base they came from, Ruby suits up and uses the teleporter machine to follow them to the forest. Once there, she has a pretty easy job of following their footsteps in the snow.
With the clues that Robin gave her, Daisy successfully locates Coulson and saves him before Ruby can take him out. Daisy stays behind to fight Ruby as the rest of the team get Coulson and Talbot back to Zephyr One. Deke also hangs back to watch, hoping to help. Although Daisy wins the fight, Deke gets shot in the gut by Gen. Hale, following her daughter’s trail. Daisy rushes him back to the plane and orders an immediate retreat back to HQ.
After stewing in Fitz’s cell for a while, Mack is finally released by Agent Piper just before Zephyr One returns. Deke is unloaded coughing blood. With no Jemma around to provide medical attention, it’s up to Piper – who had some basic field medic training – to perform a complicated surgery on him. Mack assists on the basis of having “steady hands.”
Reunited, May chews out Coulson for making so many stupid decisions lately (such as surrendering to Hale) and generally acting suicidal. She also tells him that she loves him to make sure she has his attention.
Ruby and Hale squabble about the girl disobeying her mother. Hale then sends Ruby to her room and grounds her. However, Werner von Strucker stops by to tell Ruby that he’s finished deciphering his father’s notes. They can use the chamber to infuse her with gravitonium all on their own. They don’t need her mother anymore.
At the HYDRA research lab, Jemma, Fitz and Yo-Yo witness a truck arrive carrying a squad of robot soldiers led by Anton Ivanov, a.k.a. The Superior. They figure they must be in the right place. They sneak around the lab until they find the infusion chamber.
Hale finds the door to Ruby’s room open, but the girl is still inside. Ruby offers a tearful apology to her mother, but it’s all a trick. When Hale’s defenses are down, Ruby locks her in the room and runs off with Strucker.
Gen. Talbot tells Daisy that he needs to talk to his family and let them know he’s all right. She agrees to look for a secure way to do that. In the meantime, she has to debrief him about everything he told Hale during his torture.
Reasoning that, “No gizmo, no apocalypse,” Fitz and Jemma dismantle and smash the infusion chamber. Yo-Yo tells them what her future self said to her about needing to let Coulson die.
When Ivanov and his robots show up at their door, Yo-Yo tries to use her power to disarm them, but her robo-arms aren’t calibrated for her speed and she’s left in agonizing pain. (Funny how she had no problem using her speed last week to lock Mack in the cell.) Unfortunately, Fitz and Jemma aren’t able to recalibrate them with everything else going on. The robots break in, and Fitz and Jemma have a shoot-out with them. Yo-Yo wanders into the next room, where she has to face off against Ivanov without the benefit of her powers. They fight until she eventually lunges at him and throws the both of them out a window together. Ivanov breaks Yo-Yo’s fall, and she boasts “Who’s superior now?” as his LMD body dies. As soon as that happens, all the robots under his command deactivate and slump to the floor as well.
Deke develops internal bleeding and wakes up screaming on the operating table, but Piper and Mack somehow get him stabilized. He survives the surgery. In a bleary, drug-addled state, he blurts out that he likes Daisy and wants to kiss her. Everyone else finds this pretty amusing.
Although Jemma and Fitz survive their battle with the robots, they’re soon captured by Ruby and Strucker, who force them to repair the chamber they just destroyed.
Daisy provides Gen. Talbot with a secured line and allows him to call his family. Unbeknownst to anyone else, his wife on the other end of the line reads from a script straight out of Dr. Bakshi’s brainwashing handbook. He’s immediately hypnotized. Whether the wife is reading this under duress or is a secret HYDRA agent isn’t clear.
I’ve done so much complaining about ‘Agents of ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ this season that it’s almost hard to get out of that cycle even when an episode is perfectly adequate in most respects. I have a few gripes about this one, especially the way Piper and Mack instantly become surgeons, but it’s actually pretty decent for the most part. I like the ongoing debate about whether the timeline is set in stone or can be altered, which even shakes Jemma’s certitude about her beliefs when she fears for her life in battle.
However, the reality of the situation is that of course the timeline can be altered – for entirely practical reasons. Obviously the Earth can’t get destroyed on this show, because that would create an unsolvable conflict with all of Marvel’s feature films (and Netflix series) set in this same universe. We know that’s not going to happen, so the only real suspense is which of the three allegedly unkillable characters will have to die to prove that point. Yo-Yo seems the most likely candidate.