The Good: Decent plot movement, Some theme moments, Good special effects
The Bad: Very light on character development, Simple plot
The Basics: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. works to resolve the Kree and destroyed Earth splot with "Best Laid Plans," which gets viewers one step closer to the characters returning to our time!
It's time, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.. At some point, the story has to get out of the dismal, damaged future and get back to the time period of the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As "Best Laid Plans" begins, it feels like the fifth season should be there by now. Ironically, "Best Laid Plans" features an a-plot that is potentially, utterly, inconsequential. Should the Earth be saved and time altered, anything that happens on the Lighthouse is entirely without enduring consequences; the tangent timeline of the destroyed Earth will be utterly undone. And yet, the a-plot is set on the Lighthouse for a liberation storyline.
"Best Laid Plans" follows "The Last Day" (reviewed here!), which found the team split between the downed Zephyr One on the remains of Earth and leading a rebellion against the Kree on the Lighthouse. Mack, Rodriguez and Flint remained on the Lighthouse where they were set to liberate the surviving humans from Kasius's control. In "The Last Day," the Inhumans had managed to liberate many of the humans from Kasius's control mechanisms and set the human rebellion in motion.
The Kree have the human sector of the Lighthouse on emergency power and the Kree are hunting the humans there. Flint is getting cocky as the liberation continues and Mack and Rodriguez manage to take out eight soldiers. On the Zephyr One, Coulson and his team do their best to get the ship up and running so they might use an oncoming gravitational storm to get from the ruins of Earth to the Lighthouse. Rodriguez teaches Flint how to shoot a handgun, but that alarms Mack as he believes Flint is developing a taste for killing. Kasius resurrects Tess to send her back to the human-controlled level as a message to the humans there. Tess tells the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that Kasius plans to end the human race if she does not bring him all of the Inhumans over age ten on the Lighthouse.
Coulson tries to convince Daisy to remove the Kree inhibitor in her so she can access her powers and help fight the Kree. Fitz and Simmons are alarmed to discover that the Zephyr One has been reconfigured to a future upgrade that Fitz had once designed and that the gravitonium on the Zephyr indicates that they are now part of a closed loop that means they return to the past and the Earth gets destroyed, leaving Fitz and Simmons to make changes to the Zephyr after the destruction of Earth. Facing annihilation, Mack and Rodriguez make a desperate attempt to kill Kasius and save the humans on the Lighthouse, while Simmons figures out how to get the Zephyr off the ground. Tess brings Kasius a message while Sinara stows away on the Zephyr to prevent Zephyr One's launch!
"Best Laid Plans" is a decent psychological exploration of what happens when a person with some power starts to feel the effects of having power for the first time. Flint is getting cocky and he wants to fight, after a young life of caution. Convinced by Tess that Kasius can kill them all, he becomes more and more militant. As proof is found that all the humans on the Lighthouse could be incinerated at the push of a button, Flint gets more desperate and becomes an odd choice to take on the responsibility of saving the humans on the Lighthouse.
Mack is wonderful in "Best Laid Plans" as he methodically searches for how Kasius might carry out his threats against the humans on the Lighthouse. Mack and Rodriguez have a good flirtatious moment before Rodriguez advocates wiping out Kasius. Mack uses his engineering skills to come to understand just how Kasius can execute his plans and that is compellingly presented. Mack's rationality plays off Flint's anger quite well. The idea that Mack would find a way to extort Kasius is well-presented.
Kasius, for his part, is menacing again in "Best Laid Plans." After becoming disappointingly weakened the past several episodes, Kasius returns in full villain mode. Instead of simply relying upon others, he exhibits some nasty qualities of his own and cold cruelty in "Best Laid Plans." Fans of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. may have figured that he is not long for the villain role for the season (the formula for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the antagonist from the first half of the season being replaced for the latter half of the season . . . and Fitz's episode seeded the obvious adversary for the second half of season five), but in "Best Laid Plans" he pops up as a megalomaniacal villain in true Marvel form.
The character front is muddied some by Fitz and Simmons. Simmons is a medical doctor, yet it is her (not Fitz) who recognizes Fitz's upgrades to the Zephyr and how to launch Zephyr One. Simmons is a genius, but her skill set is not in physics or engineering. So, that Simmons comes to the conclusions that Fitz is somehow blind to.
George Kitson wrote "Best Laid Plans" with nods to Joss Whedon's Serenity, which are fun. Garry A. Brown directed "Best Laid Plans" and he's mostly good - the shaking camera when Kasius screams looks infantile, but the rest of the episode is pretty wonderful on the direction and special effects front.
Ultimately, "Best Laid Plans" finally makes Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. feel like it is moving toward resolving its future plot and getting the season back on track!
For other elements of the MCU, please check out my Marvel Cinematic Universe Review Index Page for a comprehensive listing!
© 2018 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.