I love, love, loved this week’s episode, done in black and white. Like a nod to 50s noir and focused on not only giving Coulson pretty much his own episode, but also one in which we get a little bit more of Agent Sousa, and his history. What it is about him that helped inspire SHIELD to become what it became, through the ultimate sacrifice … eh, but more of that later. Don’t want to share a spoiler with you too soon.
So, let’s start at the beginning with Coulson waking up to a world devoid of colour (remember, at the end of the last episode when he was disabled by the EMP, he had that weird flicker in one eye. Somehow he has been damaged). Coulson gives us an internal monologue of the situation he finds himself in, with a classic noir voice over. Again, going all out with the 50’s vibe and making this episode, almost whimsical.
Coulson finds himself handcuffed to a desk, in an interrogation room, with Sousa talking to someone on the phone. There’s a newspaper on the desk that gives Coulson the clue as to the date, a very important date in SHIELD history. The day in which Sousa not only gives Stark an important device but the day Sousa dies. A central piece of SHIELD history and lore—the first Agent of SHIELD to die in the line of duty.
So, of course, Coulson is aware that he and team have, by being there, changed the timeline. Not a ripple, but maybe a wave? And that, more importantly, he needs to steer Sousa back on track. And have him not only deliver a device to Stark, and meet his fateful destiny. But, as always, with any episode of SHIELD, nothing ever goes to plan and yet … maybe it works out for the best?
Meanwhile, as usual, in between Coulson and Sousa, aboard a train, attempting to deliver Dr. Lindstrom’s device, which Deke and Yoyo have been sent to retrieve from the doctor’s home—thus providing these two with their own storyline, and a neat twist of Deke coming face to face with a much older Malik. We get to see one side of Sousa making his rendezvous with history … but, is what we see what really happened? Of course not. This is after all, a time travelling SHIELD.
The neat twist is Sousa ends up aboard the Zephyr where, finally, Coulson tells Sousa what’s going on. That SHIELD has been infiltrated by Hydra, and that his boss, Malik, is Hydra. By this time, Yoyo is back onboard the Zephyr with the mysterious device.
Coulson takes Sousa go to meet the whole team, including seeing Simmons again, where there’s another interesting moment, giving May an opening to tell more of her story. Feeling faint, Simmons, with Yoyo, take May to the med bay where we learn why May has been having emotional outbursts. All part of what happened to her when she went through the portal, last season, to the otherworld. A world without emotion. And now? When she touches or is touched by anyone, she feels all their emotions as her own. A new wrinkle, to say the least and one, like Yoyo’s loss of powers to look out for in coming episodes.
But of course, this being SHIELD, while everyone is catching up, no one is watching Sousa, who steals a motorbike from the hanger deck, and heads to the Roosevelt Hotel with the device intended for Stark. Here’s where we see the flip side of what happened at the beginning of the episode, given Mac and Coulson have made a rather BIG decision about Sousa’s impending death.
Which goes ahead and yet … it doesn’t. Having handed over the briefcase containing the device, to his contact, we see Sousa giving his Hydra tail the slip (a hitman sent by Malik to kill him) and turn a corner to bump into … Mac and Coulson. Who is the one who shoots Sousa, but yes, with a tranquilliser. And we’re coming full circle.
Having decided to save Sousa’s life, Coulson being an LMD and someone who might live (technically) forever, dresses the part of Sousa and limps off to meet the agent’s destiny, being shot twice, in the back, by Malik’s hitman. Falling into the pool dead he fakes it, and thus, fulfilling what history recorded. While Mac takes the very much alive Sousa back to the Zephyr.
What consequences will that have? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Other fun moments in the episode were solely Enoch’s still tending bar, and still having to listen to patrons endless whining about their lives, while he waits out being reunited with the team. And, having the time needed, has created a few gadgets in the last 24 intervening years. One being a device Yoyo, Deke, and Coulson take advantage of, when each of them, at different times, calls Enoch for help in contacting the zephyr. It’s very funny, and yet, it’s also heartbreaking. Poor Enoch has become the message boy. Is this to become a running joke? I hope not.
This week’s best line goes to May, who, we now know feels other’s emotions, takes Coulson’s hand for a few minutes, near the end of the episode when Simmons is fixing the hiccup with Coulson after being shut down by last week’s EMP pulse, right at the moment the colour bleeds back into his world, May let’s go his hand and says, devoid of any emotion: “I get nothing from him.” A heartbreakingly sad moment for both characters.
Is ‘Philinda’ over and gone, for good? Like everything, I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Next week, if the Alice Cooper soundtrack playing at the end of this week’s episode is any indication, the 70s here we come!