Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: As I Have Always Been
July 23, 2020 8:33 AM - Season 7, Episode 9 - Subscribe

In this time-loop episode, we see that Coulson has a soul, Enoch has a heart, Sousa has a type and Deke has a signature fragrance. Also, Daisy has a revelation.

Apparently this was the first time Elizabeth Henstridge directed an episode.

AV Club review
posted by sardonyx (19 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
As I'm positive I've said in FanFare posts before, time-loop episodes are not typically my cup of tea, but lately, shows seem to be doing a really good job of pulling them off, and this episode is a prime example of a successful hedgehog Day episode. In part, I think, it's because the show didn't waste any time showing the characters trying to figure out what was going on. Daisy cottoned onto the situation quickly, looped Phil in from the get-go (at least from our perspective) and they were off to the races.

Overall, the pacing was really well done, and Henstridge did a really good job for her first time behind the SHIELD camera. She knew when to push the tempo and when to back off. I loved Daisy saying that she had time to spend a loop with Sousa, even though the end was getting close. It was important for him to get his feelings out in the open rather than just continue to follow her around like a puppy dog and not explain himself.

The actor playing Enoch was put the emotional wringer (well, as emotional as the wringer could get for a Chronicom). It makes sense, I guess, to wrap up this character's journey in that fashion (given that the show is ending) but it's still going to be hard to see him go. Enoch vaulted right up to the top (or near the top) of my favourite SHIELD cast members list. That his end gave Coulson some insight into his current situation was a bonus. Having Daisy and Phil have an opportunity to have a heartfelt talk was great, as that relationship pretty much formed the genesis of this show, and it is one that has been pushed aside lately.

And you're wrong. You should be upset that Deke is dead. Even if it's not really dead-dead due to the time loop.
posted by sardonyx at 2:19 PM on July 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have not watched SHIELD since season 1, I have no idea who most of those people even are, but I just wanted to pop into your thread to say that your blurb made me LOL like actually out loud.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:05 PM on July 23, 2020 [3 favorites]

Thanks. Glad you got a laugh out of it.

As for the show, I think this is a perfect season for people who gave up on it in the early years to jump back in and watch. So far, it has been a lot of fun, and it has displayed an energy that I don't think it has really ever had (or maybe has never really sustained) before. You don't even have to know much of the backstory or what's gone on in the past few years. This is a pretty self-contained season (or it has been so far). I said as much to a relative of mine who didn't watch past the first season. To provide a bit of incentive to that person, I wrote a quick run down of what's happened and who's who. Here it is (keeping in mind I sent this a couple episodes back).

The team is time travelling to preserve history and save Hydra--for reasons they explain in-show. They started out in the 1930s, played rum runners and hung out in a speakeasy. Then they jumped to the 1950s and Area 51. Today, they did a black and white combo of Sunset Boulevard and a film noir mystery with Coulson in the Sam Spade role doing the voice over. Oh, and Daniel Sousa from Agent Carter is back. Next up: the 1970s.

It is only four episodes into the season, so it's easy to catch up, and I can give you enough of the backstory to get you up to speed (at least enough that you can follow it). I could do it pretty much with one sentence per character. Actually, I may as well do it now.

The set-up: a team of robots from the future wants to take over the Earth and wipe out SHIELD in revenge for SHIELD ruining their world and timeline. The robots (Chronicoms) decided to go back in time and mess up SHIELD's history. The team has been pulled back in time, following the Chronicoms, due to comic book science reasons.

Coulson: Technically, he's dead, but before he died, his consciousness was uploaded into a computer. Then they downloaded him into a Life Model Decoy (LMD)*.
May: Suffered a near fatal injury last season. She got medical attention and has mostly healed, but something isn't right.
Daisy/Quake/Skye: Nothing too exciting. Since the first season, she has got some training, become a full fledged agent and her earthquake-inducing mutant powers were revealed (she barely uses them).
Gemma Simmons: Not much to report. She's still the science brains of the team. She and Fitz got married, but this show won't let them be together.
Fitz: Missing (presumably somewhere in time). He developed the technology that enables time travel.

Team members joined since you stopped watching:
Mack: New SHIELD director. Former mechanic and agent. Trying to keep the team on mission.
Yo-Yo: Speedster mutant whose powers are on the glitch. She and Mack were an item once. She's got mechanical hands (due to torture that happened while the team was in the future two(?) seasons back).
Deke: Came back with the team when they returned from the future. Was a bit of a tinkerer in the future. Tried living life as a tech-bro once he arrived in the present. He is also the grandson of Fitz and Simmons.
Enoch: Comes from the same race of robot time travellers that wants to wipe out SHIELD. He befriended Fritz in the future a couple of seasons ago, and has been friendly with the team ever since. His original task as a Chronicom was to observe and record history. Fitz got him to expand his programming to get involved.

There, now you're set.

*For non-Marvel comics readers, LMDs are robots built in the image of specific people. They look and act like the person they resemble. In this show the LMD is just the physical body--the shell--and Coulson's memory has been dumped inside the robotic body.
posted by sardonyx at 8:43 PM on July 23, 2020 [2 favorites]

I have infinite appetite for time loop stories and I love that modern iterations like this episode, Palm Springs, Happy Death Day and its sequel, and Russian Doll both keep them fresh and acknowledge that we’ve seen the premise a few times before.

Usually a time loop story means you’re going to repeat the same day for eternity—having the Zephyr get closer to the vortex each time was brilliant, making the story both a day that never ends and a race against time. Add in a Manchurian Candidate murder mystery, some great character and story developments, an overload* of humor, and whistling right past the phlebotinum that Daisy and Couldon can remember the loops thanks to being in “futuristic sleeping pods”—unless Daisy dies—and this doesn’t feel anything like Groundhog Day.

I wept for the dying ageless space robot. The way he pulled out his phlebotinum heart to save the team before Gemma even finished her sentence was gutting. I’m also reminded of how his very first appearance on the show was set to the Talking Heads song “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody),” a song about finding home and family, and the fact that he finally found those things with this SHIELD crew after thousands of years of solitary existence... sob.

* “Overload” is 21st century slang for everything is working just fine
posted by ejs at 10:19 PM on July 23, 2020 [6 favorites]

Sadly I don't see how Gemma bursting into tears when she gets her memory back can mean anything other than Fitz being dead.
posted by reductiondesign at 12:46 PM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

I know that's the popular opinion, but if that's the case, what does it mean for their future children and granchildren? She's already pregnant? Fitz banked his sperm? Deke is going to wink out of existence because Fitz and Simmons didn't have kids?
posted by sardonyx at 1:21 PM on July 24, 2020

didn't we hear Fitz talk to Simmons on the radio in the last episode of season 6 ?
posted by Pendragon at 3:00 PM on July 24, 2020

Pendragon We did. I specifically went back and rewatched the last 15 minutes or so of the last episode of season 6 last night to make sure. It was short and seemed a bit stilted but it was there.
posted by NormieP at 3:15 PM on July 24, 2020

I was incredibly happy to see them repeat the title card.

I'll miss Enoch.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:09 PM on July 24, 2020 [2 favorites]

Ii kind of wanted them to repeat the title card every time they showed the Zephyr approaching the time vortex, but that’s why I don’t run a tv show.
posted by ejs at 10:16 PM on July 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

"Deke is going to wink out of existence because Fitz and Simmons didn't have kids?"

No, that's not the version of time-travel on this show. They can change the past, but it doesn't affect the travelers themselves. The kind of time-travel you're thinking of, the Back to the Future kind, doesn't make sense, anyway, because why would the only thing about the traveler(s) that changed when history changed, was their existence and not memories?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:52 PM on July 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Another solid episode. I loved the repeat of the title card. Congrats to Elizabeth Henstridge on a job well done.

Enoch's fatewell was poignant and well done. After an Enoch episode I end up talking like him for the rest of the evening.

Nits to pick... So they laser-printed a whole new LMD for Coulson and downloaded his consciousness into it after it had spent a year in an 80's computer and vhs machine... it seems like they could have done something to keep Enoch going (my fantasy version would be having him downloaded into something that looked like a clock that Deke would wear as a pendant).
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:06 PM on July 25, 2020 [5 favorites]

I bet the DRM of a chronicom prevents copying :-)
posted by Pendragon at 4:52 PM on July 25, 2020 [8 favorites]

>(my fantasy version would be having him downloaded into something that looked like a clock that Deke would wear as a pendant).

You want a Buck Rogers future? Because this is how we get to a Buck Rogers future.
posted by Catblack at 8:02 AM on July 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

I was right in a previous thread. Everybody watching this show is old. I mean who else would making and getting Buck Rogers references?
posted by sardonyx at 12:45 PM on July 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

This one's for the olds. It starts with Buck Rogers as discussed, so it's not technically a derail. But can you name them all?
posted by bartleby at 5:55 PM on July 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Loving the season so far, and this one made me sniffle.
This is the last season, right? We've got four left?
Do we care to speculate / make wishes on where each of our team ends up, after this farewell tour through time?
posted by bartleby at 6:04 PM on July 26, 2020

• Mack and Yo-Yo retire to start a family
• Daisy takes over as SHIELD Director with Coulson as her advisor
• Sousa uses Bruce Banner’s time machine to crash Peggy’s wedding to Steve Rogers and is escorted out for abusing the “speak now or forever hold your peace” part of the vows
• Simmons, overcome with loneliness, confused by her memory implant, and enchanted by Deke’s ‘80s cologne, takes Deke to bed and he becomes his own grandpa
• This allows Deke to stave off an invasion of Earth by giant flying brains
posted by ejs at 10:12 PM on July 26, 2020 [5 favorites]

Now I need to make a Barracoolada in Enoch's honor. One of my favorite characters in years, I am so surprised that actor hasn't had all the voice acting roles thrown at him—he's amazing.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 3:04 PM on October 4, 2020

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