The eighth episode of the seventh and final season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. aired tonight on ABC and it brought back some more familiar faces while adding a new twist to this time-traveling season. The episode, titled “After, Before,” sees the team dealing with yet another new time-traveling issue while an old foe becomes even more powerful.
The episode opens with a flashback to episode six, as Mack leaves the Zephyr after learning of his parents’ death and Deke follows. We get to see what was going on in the Zephyr while Deke was off looking for Mack, and hear Simmons’ call for him to get back. Turns out the jump drive is deteriorating and they are jumping without being able to control it. The ship jumps 481 days into the future without Mack and Deke.
20 minutes of unsuccessful searching later, the ship jumps again without them. The second jump is only a few months, which allows Simmons to figure out a pattern in the jumps. We see a scene from last week’s episode as Yo-Yo and May head out to retrieve Mack and Deke. We then see their safe return to the Zephyr with their previously missing teammates.
After a colorful new title sequence, Simmons tries to explain the problem to the team. Using a pretty great metaphor, she compares their jumps to a stone skipping on a pond. Each jump is getting shorter until eventually the Zephyr will metaphorically sink. She admits she doesn’t actually know what would really happen to the ship if that were to happen.
The bigger problem is that the team can’t get to the drive because of some sort of force field around it that disintegrates anything it touches. They determine that they need to move fast enough to get between the field, which leads them to realize that Yo-Yo’s power is the key. Unfortunately, she is still recovering from the Shrike attack she suffered last season and hasn’t regained her abilities.
Simmons explains that she can’t fix Yo-Yo because she doesn’t understand enough about inhuman biology. To everyone’s surprise, Daisy enters and explains that her mom does. Jiaying, who appeared back in season two, was the leader of an inhuman community called Afterlife, and would be around to potentially help them in 1983. May and Yo-Yo are sent to Afterlife. For them, they’ll have two days to get there and figure out Yo-Yo’s problem. For those on the Zephyr, it will be only 20 minutes.
Mack gets Simmons to reboot a partially rebuilt Coulson LMD to consult him on this potential mission. Getting help from Jiaying in 1983 could have major consequences because at this point, Daisy has not yet been born. If they change the timeline too much, she may never be born.
Mack confirms that this mission is a go and May and Yo-Yo depart on the quinjet. As they make their way to Afterlife, the two agents converse and it is revealed that May’s powers are no longer reliant on physical touch. May reminds us that Jiaying is potentially dangerous and that they need to be careful.
As they walk toward their target, the agents see two men chasing a young woman in the woods. We see a young version of Gordon, an inhuman with teleportation powers whom we also met in season two. That’s the first familiar face of this episode. The three of them spot May and Yo-Yo and after the other man orders Gordon to secure them, the young woman tells them they should not have come. Gordon grabs the agents and teleports.
Now inside the inhuman community, May and Yo-Yo are greeted by Jiaying, the second familiar face. They try to convince her that Yo-Yo is an inhuman and that she needs help. After she explains her problem, Jiaying and what seems to be her right-hand-man Lee bring forth a diviner to test if she is in fact inhuman. She obviously passes the test and Jiaying decides to help.
As they walk away alonse, Lee argues with Jiaying that they should not be helping these new strangers. Jiaying explains that something took away Yo-Yo’s abilities and if that is in fact possible, she needs to know how. Lee tells her that they cannot allow them to leave after their work is done.
As they do their first tets, Jiaying tries to get more information out of Yo-Yo. Knowing she can’t reveal the full truth and risk losing her trust, Yo-Yo only gives a few details. As they talk, May notices Lee is a bit suspicious. She questions him about the woman they saw running away and he attacks her, using his inhuman ability to manifest knife-like weapons in his hands. Yo-Yo tries to jump in and save May but her powers continue to fail her. Lee stop his attack, saying he only wanted to see if they had made any progress. Jiaying dismisses him, saying she can handle things from here.
From their room that night, May and Yo-Yo hear some screaming. They run out into the hall to see the same young woman being detained by guards. Jiaying apologizes for the disturbance and assures them that Kora will be fine. She also tells them she has a theory regarding her problem and that they should have results in the morning.
Back on the Zephyr, Deke tries out a backup plan which instantly fails. Sousa prepares for Plan C: abandoning the Zephyr. Meanwhile, Jiaying explains to Yo-Yo that her problem is not physical and is instead in her mind. Yo-Yo doesn’t want to accept that answer but Jiaying convinces her to use May’s abilities to try and find the answer.
The two agents try Jiaying’s prescribed meditation before switching to something a bit more their speed: combat training. As they fight, Yo-Yo begins to get flashes of traumatic moments in her life, which May also sees.
Back on the Zephyr, Simmons continues to work frantically to try and save the team. Coulson explains to Daisy the hell he lived through for a year and a half as a digital version of himself. Daisy explains to him how Sousa save her from Malick and that she’s happy he’s here. Simmons catches up with Sousa, who is still preparing for evacuation. She give him a new prosthetic leg, a major upgrade from the one he had from back in the 50s.
Yo-Yo tells May the story of her uncle’s death, one of the traumatic flashbacks they saw during their fight. She explains that she still feels guilty for that and May tells her she needs to forgive herself. They hear Lee calling for Jiaying from out in the hall. When May investigates, she finds that Kora has cause major damage to her room and taken out a guard. Jiaying and Lee, who were already in the room explain that Kora can’t control her gifts and that some of the inhumans there believed they needed to kill her while others believed she was worth saving. Jiaying tells May they wanted to learn about Yo-Yo’s problem because they wanted to learn how they could take away Kora’s gifts. Lee realizes Kora has taken the guard’s gun and assumes she is going to hurt people. May hints that the only person she’s going to hurt is herself.
In a field outside the community we see Kora running and eventually putting the gun to her head. Before she can pull the trigger the gun is broken to pieces and we see Nathaniel Malick approach her. The newly-superpowered villain explains that they were both fated to die but that he can change that. In true bad guy fashion, he convinces her to join him as he and his friends attack Afterlife. Yo-Yo is attacked by a soldier in her room and, with her powers still not working, she is saved by May.
On the Zephyr, Simmons leaves a message for Fitz before Deke brings her to the bridge to prepare for May and Yo-Yo’s return. As she goes to join them, the ship makes another jump.
In Afterlife, the two agents and some inhumans fight off some of Malick’s soldiers. They hear Daisy’s powers from around the corner and investigate to find Malick using those powers. Jiaying confronts Kora, who is standing by Malick’s side, and attempts to convince her to come back to them. In doing so, she gives away that Kora is her daughter. Kora is not convinced though and Lee attempts to attack her. She unleashes her powers and burns Lee’s face. When she turns toward the others, they regroup with Gordon who teleports them to the quinjet. There, the agents assure Jiaying that they will help her in her fight against Malick. Gordon teleports away with Jiaying and the agents head back to the Zephyr.
On the Zephyr, the team waits for May and Yo-Yo but are losing hope that they’ll make it back in time. Mack give the order to abandon ship. Meanwhile, May and Yo-Yo look for the Zephyr which suddenly appears right in front of them. They manage to dock but Yo-Yo breaks the news that she still can’t use her powers. Mack again tells everyone to abandon the Zephyr.
As May prepares to get the team out, she tries to tell Yo-Yo it’s not her fault and that she’ll bounce back. Yo-Yo begins to explain that maybe she’s not supposed to, which makes her realize the mental block she’s provided for herself. She uses her powers to run to the drive and fix the problem, but doesn’t bounce back to her original location as her powers would usually make her. So now that she’s just really fast, do we still call her Yo-Yo?
With the problem solved, the team prepares to to rest. Daisy returns to the healing chamber and Simmons shuts down Coulson to recharge. Deke and Enoch work on the drive as they plan to use it to get themselves home. As they work, it suddenly boots up again, much to their surprise. Enoch explains that it didn’t work, and the Zephyr makes another jump.
In the tag, we see Malick and Kora looking over a number of inhuman prisoners. Malick explains that he wants to shake things up and introduce a little anarchy. This hints that maybe Kora is the supervillain known as Anarchy from Marvel Comics. This would also imply that Malick’s new group could potentially be called U.L.T.I.M.A.T.U.M., another terrorist organization in the Marvel Universe.
Yet another strong episode, “After, Before” sets up some major story pieces moving forward. We’re left with a lot of questions at the end of this episode. Where (or when) is the team after that last jump? Were Jiaying and Gordon able to regroup with any other inhumans? What is Malick’s plan? It also potentially gave us the use of some Marvel Comics characters, which is always exciting.
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Wednesday nights on ABC.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”