Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: “Together or Not at All” Review


Band On the Run.

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

Truthfully, I’m not exactly sure how long this future space arc is set to last. I’m only assuming it’s not meant to take up the entire season – much like how Season 4 was divided up into three separate mini events. From the look of things, there are only a few chapters left, but last week’s episode wiped out so many peripheral characters that it felt like the end might come sooner.

Enter “Together or Not at All” – an episode that saw our heroes scramble to find each other in the aftermath of last week’s big jailbreak. Now hunted by both Sinara and another Kree warrior, Maston-Dar (who belongs to Kasius’ brother, Faulnak), Coulson and company found themselves on the run, on an episode that tested and tried our ability to care about side characters. There was action-a-plenty, and the story did work to bring everyone together, but it didn’t add up to much overall.

Exit Theatre Mode

After last week’s mini-purge, this week’s main focus, aside from Fitz and Simmons’ reunion (Fitz is still superbly, dryly funny by the way), was on Kasius and Flint. Flint, who we just started to get to know last week, and Kasius who’s the smarmy villain of the entire piece. Granted, painting “big bads” with strokes of sympathy can be great, but given the impermanence of this story, will it matter in the end if we wind up caring about him a little bit?

Kasius is smug and cruel, sure, but he’s also sort of the Samwell Tarly of his family – except, unlike Sam, Kasius actually was sent off on a suicide mission by his father. This week, he managed to stand up for himself and murder his own awful brother (using the intimacy of a blade), but there’s still a crucial element missing to this story. A puzzle piece that, I feel, will help me get over a hump and start investing a bit more.

Hopefully that will come with the emergence, at the end, of “Space Crone” Robin – Inhuman prophesy girl all grown up. What is it that Shield is supposed to do? Are they supposed to go back and prevent the world from ever being destroyed or are they to save what’s left of humanity and remain in the future forever? The latter seems very unlikely as a return to the present kind of has to happen, but I’m waiting for something to explain why, basically, the story and new characters we met up until now were fully necessary. Also, how does Deke fit into all of it? He’s such a scuzzy fartmop that there almost has to be something more to him. We know about his father’s voice on the radio, but what else might there be? There has to be a reason he’s with the entire team now at the end.

This episode was so focused on the here-and-now of the future that it oozed tunnel vision. It’s great that Flint wanted to stay behind and help the people in the station using his new powers, but that’s just the story tucking itself into bed. We lost Tess, who we stood a better chance of caring about given her screen time, and gained Flint and it feels like the show wants us to swap out our feelings.

While a segment of Shield fans look for possible signs of this storyline linking up with something in the MCU – be it space-set like a Thor or Guardians movie or a space-meets Earth story like the upcoming Infinity War – the episode gave us a deep dive back to early Season 1, in one of the show’s first page-to-screen endeavors in Dr. Hall and Gravitonium. Hall never became the supervillain Graviton, and it’s unlikely that the substance’s cameo this week was anything more than an Easter egg, but it was still fun to see the series reach back like that.

The Verdict

“Together or Not at All” gave us several cool action scenes while it brought all our heroes together for the first time this season, but there was also a bit of whiplash stemming from the fact that last week’s episode seemed to plow through new/future characters like cannon fodder while this week’s story honed in on them heavily.

Editors’ Choice