The Good: Good effects/direction, Performances are fine
The Bad: Simple plot, Light on character development
The Basics: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. finds the Kree stumbling over their own principles in "Together Or Not At All," which ends up as a pretty basic chase episode.
Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., to its credit, has gotten very dark in its fifth season. In addition to being physically darker in the distant future, thematically the show has become oppressive and miserable. Most of the main characters in the show are currently slaves, desperately clinging to the hope that Fitz can save them . . . as their other allies are slaughtered. "Together Or Not At All" finds the Agents struggling to escape the Lighthouse and the dismal future where the Earth is pretty much destroyed.
"Together Or Not At All" follows on the events of "Fun & Games" (reviewed here!) and it is impossible to discuss without references to where the prior episode went. Fitz, Simmons and Daisy made a bold move in cutting Kasius and breaking out of his arena. Coulson's team had to deal with Grill and May had been banished to the ruins of Earth in Fitz's desperate bid to save her life. As one might expect, "Together Or Not At All" is something of a chase episode as most of the characters flee the Kree, the Lighthouse and (in May's case) the "roaches" on the surface!
Fitz, Simmons and a wounded Daisy, flee through the Kree Sector of the Lighthouse. Kasius activates Jemma's implant and when a Kree comes to take them back, Daisy is forced to use weapons (not her powers). But when the trio heads toward Fitz's ship, they are dismayed when it is destroyed. Kasius begs Sinara to aid him in hunting Daisy. On the surface of the Earth, Enoch rescues May from the aliens. When the roaches flee the incoming gravity storm, it piques Enoch's interest, moments before Enoch and May are abducted by a mysterious figure.
While Daisy treats a wound Fitz received from a Kree hunter, the three are rescued by Deke, who made it out of his room. Reunited, the Agents (less May) are alarmed when Flint - having learned of his friend's murder - goes on his own to confront the Kree slavers. Flint begins attacking the Kree to bring vengeance for Tess, but he is stopped by Sinara who uses him as bait. When Daisy rescues him, the Agents find themselves trapped and they have to rely upon Deke to escape the Lighthouse, get to Earth and reunite with May!
"Together Or Not At All" is one of the more bloody episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.. While there is surprisingly little gore when Enoch kills the roaches, the Kree hunter sent to find Flint and Daisy is merciless and the scenes with him are frequently bloody. "Together Or Not At All" continues to play up the sense of carnage that has made the fifth season darker than the prior ones.
Kasius is mocked by his brother, Faulnak, throughout "Together Or Not At All." Kasius and Faulnak continue to reference their father and the reverence with which they speak of him hints at a character with the magnitude of Thanos. The idea that Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. could bring into the Marvel Cinematic Universe a lingering adversary of the same weight and power as Thanos or Ronan. Unfortunately for Kasius, "Together Or Not At All" weakens his character to elevate the Kree who keeps him down. Kasius does what many good leaders do, in that he surrounds himself with competent people able to execute his will. But, while other leaders are praised for that Kasius is derided and that is not a shade that plays on his character any better than his previous whining.
The Kree politics in "Together Or Not At All" play out in a painfully human way. For a group of aliens, the Kree in "Together Or Not At All" are motivated by very human emotions and weaknesses. This is an unfortunate twist within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unlike something like Star Trek, which tries to flesh out recurring villains like the Klingons and Romulans with their own cultures, the Kree are reduced in "Together Or Not At All" humans in blue make-up.
Fitz gets the best lines in "Together Or Not At All," which almost makes up for his absence in the first few episodes of the season, as he tries to get credit for his accomplishments in getting to the future. "Together Or Not At All" is a necessary transition episode; at some point, the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. have to escape the future to prevent Earth's destruction; this episode gets them that much closer, while still setting Mack and Yo-Yo up to try to save the dark future for no particularly good reason (if the Earth isn't destroyed, this tangent universe will, presumably, collapse).
The result is that "Together Or Not At All" plays as a very simple chase/escape episode that does very little enhance the main characters of the show.
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© 2018 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.