What’s up everyone! Welcome to Beyond The Panel. Coming at you today with talk about Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “As I Have Always Been”! If there was an episode this season to brace ourselves for, it was this one right here. This team was always going to run into some trouble with traveling through time, but you would have never guessed it to happen like this. Not cutting it this close, and challenging the team to make choices they would have under different circumstances.
Now I know that there are some people who will look at a “Time Loop” episode and roll their eyes. Who can blame them? There are plenty of times where this has been done to death, and to the point where you just aren’t surprised anymore by how it turns out. That said, the big question is if this episode is like all the others which failed to make an impression on us. The answer to that? It was not! I was overall impressed by Elizabeth Henstridge tackling the duty of directing this episode. Well, let’s be specific. Tackling what is her directorial debut. Truth be told, I feel that it is rare when these episodes let you down, because an actor takes into account some thing which the other directors don’t. I felt like Henstridge did a lot which made this unique to her vision of what would happen in this scenario, and with this kind of team. This was a fun thing, but it was also tragic. She struck a perfect balance between the two which made it unforgettable.
LMD Coulson really took me by surprise this week. We know that given everything copied from Coulson, this made him feel pretty real. Though there was always a difference between looking like the real deal, and feeling like it. It was a genius twist that a LMD would be thrown into the mix with Daisy, because this was the big reality check that he was going to get at some point. It just so happened that it had to be now, while seeing everyone he cared about die over and over. This didn’t take away from his moments of humor, but he did not let us down while coming to terms with what mortality looks like from his perspective.
As for Daisy, I have to say that this was a redeeming episode for her. Till now, I was on the fence about the way that I felt about her given some choices made along the way. The number one rule for time travel has always been to avoid stepping on butterflies, yet here was Daisy trying to do right and damning the consequences for everyone. Putting her through this time loop with Coulson was best for the fact that this was certainly putting her in her element. An infinite number of butterflies she could step on, and all to break a loop. While I do sound like I’m being harsh on Daisy, she really was the best for this job too. I don’t think there was a better person with her level of fortitude to see this through to the end. To get up every single time they died and experience the same thing over and over. Of course with the changes she and Coulson made to figure out what has gone wrong.
Also speaking of Daisy, I would be crazy not to address this relationship brewing between herself and Sousa. It was worth the wait for the way that Daisy found herself in a position to acknowledge his feelings. If you’re someone like Daisy, it’s easy to be so consumed by work that you don’t notice the little things like someone trying to be there for you, even if they aren’t up to your speed. Given enough loops, this was something you just couldn’t overlook, and I felt the conversation they finally had about it heartwarming. Especially from Sousa’s perspective since it was at the same time clear that this isn’t quite his thing to do. Being the stiff and square guy that he is.
Now the reason that I made this a spoiler review, is because I felt like I would have been doing us all a disservice by not addressing the fact that we lost a character this week. I mean, who would have thought that would turn out to be Enoch? Not this guy! While this decision, and the scene itself was heartbreaking, I could not deny the way they went about this. Honestly, we could have lost anyone in this episode and it would have had an impact on us one way or another. I just love that it was Enoch, because I don’t think there was a better person who would have given everything to the team without a second thought. The build-up to that moment was chilling since they really did make you think Enoch might be the one to off someone, but that would have been too easy. It mattered that they could take someone who was the least human of the bunch, and make him feel more real than he has ever before. As a Chronicom, he has come a long way from the guy who initially understood nothing about feeling, interacting, or even expressing himself. All to become this person who has grown enough to actually go through the motions in the process of dying. Brilliant work that I did not expect from either this season, or this episode.
Now this wasn’t the only thing which might break your heart, because there was another twist we did not see coming either. Up to this point, we would have assumed that the ONLY reason for Simmons keeping that memory suppressor in her head was to forget the location of Fitz, but after being forced to unlock those memories for the sake of saving the team, it seems we have come to learn something new in the process. What if Fitz is actually dead? This is not something they say directly, but they give us enough of an impression to think so. I mean, he could be dead, or maybe somehow Simmons was also able to see how this ends like Enoch. However way this turns out, they gave us more than enough reason to brace ourselves for the endgame.
As I said before, brilliant work that I did not expect from either this season, or this episode. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “As I Have Always Been” took a chance on Elizabeth Henstridge directing, and she took full advantage of the opportunity to tell a story only she could in this series. Congratulations are in order when you can pull something like this off for your directorial debut.