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Spoilers ahead for Episode 6 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7, called "Adapt or Die."
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. moved away from any and all zany time travel shenanigans in "Adapt or Die" to get a whole lot heavier, answer some questions, twist some plots, and deliver some game-changers that should impact the rest of the final season. There was good news, thanks to the confirmation that Simmons isn't an LMD but rather implanted with tech, Sousa and Daisy escaping Nathaniel Malick, and the Chronicom threat now having to deal with some setbacks. The bad news is that the team sustained heavy losses.
No fewer than three agents were lost from the Zephyr team in "Adapt or Die." With Fitz still absent and the timeline changing more and more, each loss would be bad enough on its own. In fact, the loss of one might have been more or less a ripple that the rest of the agents could have compensated for, even if they weren't happy about it. The loss of all three means some very big waves. Let's look at what happened and what will likely change now that these three heroes are gone (for now).
Coulson's Latest Death
What Happened:The latest version of Coulson suffered his latest death in "Adapt or Die." Coulson managed to find the Chronicom ship, which was located underground. After a conversation with Sibyl, in which she suggested that the Chronicoms deserve Earth because they're not as "fleeting" as humans and don't fear death, Coulson proved that death is no big deal for him now that he's a Life Model Decoy. He blew up the Chronicom ship around him, destroying himself in the process of stopping them.
What It Means: Coulson proved more than once in the first five episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7 that having an LMD on the team could come in very handy. Sure, an EMP could take him down, but he rebooted without much trouble. Now, the agents don't have his enhanced strength, senses, and invulnerability as assets. Also, Coulson has the most leadership experience, and his voice could have been very helpful due to those other two losses.
Without Coulson, the agents on board the Zephyr have lost their team member who could do things with his tech that they can't, and they don't have him as a potential substitute leader. They're going to have to start being even more careful, and that won't be easy. It's not like there are risks that they have to pass on when the future of Earth and the entire timeline is at stake!
Mack Is MIA
What Happened: Mack spent most of the episode helping his parents, circa 1976, escape their situation with the Chronicoms. Unfortunately for him, May used her ability to sense feelings to realize that his parents had been killed and replaced by Chronicoms, and they had to eject both out of the back of the Quinjet. Shaken, Mack took off from the Zephyr after the next time jump on a motorcycle, understandably saying he needed air. He was sitting by himself when time ran out and the Zephyr jumped, leaving him behind. I don't want to say "I told you so," but... that heartbreaking loss in the premiere totally set viewers up for this.
What It Means: Even though Coulson had the most leadership experience, Mack was unambiguously the leader of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team in Season 7. Coulson never failed to defer to Mack, and Mack rose to the challenge of a one-of-a-kind mission through time. Basically, he kept the team on-task, and they all listened to him. Without Mack, the Zephyr doesn't have the kind of leader it needs. May has never wanted leadership, Daisy is down for the count even if she wanted to take over, Sousa is still trying to figure out time travel, Simmons is dealing with enough trying to handle the Zephyr and protect Fitz (not to mention worry about the third person the team lost), and Enoch is a Chronicom.
Yo-Yo is probably their best hope for leadership, but even she will likely be worried about Mack. Other than Simmons, Mack is arguably the top member of the team who really needed to not be lost. Now they'll have to try and figure out a way to continue without him. Throw in the fact that his friends might want to try and find a way to go back and get him, and they might not be keeping their eyes on the prize.
Deke Knows Too Much
What Happened: Deke spent most of the episode on the Zephyr with Simmons, helping repair the ship and accidentally getting to the bottom of her secrets. He learned that the chip viewers found out about last week was a biotech device she calls "Diana" (and of course interferes a bit with my secret FitzSimmons baby theory) and had implanted in her head to make her forget Fitz's location to protect him. Simmons got Deke to promise to keep her secret, because even him knowing was dangerous. Unfortunately, Deke was going after Mack when the Zephyr jumped away, and he's stuck in the past with Mack.
What It Means: The biggest immediate loss of Deke is that he was arguably the closest thing that the team had to a Fitz-level human genius to work with Simmons, and he has been helpful to her... when she actually let him in to help. The bigger loss is one that only might happen if the Chronicoms get their hands on him. "Adapt or Die" reminded that the Chronicoms have their ways of stealing memories, so if they get their hands on Deke, they won't necessarily need torture to get answers out of him.
Admittedly, Deke doesn't know where Fitz is, but he saw Simmons explain that Fitz is completely exposed and guiding them from a valuable vantage point. It's possible that the Chronicoms would be able to connect those dots and reverse-engineer his location. If Fitz is killed, the mission to save Earth and time from the Chronicoms is likely doomed, and Deke has dangerous information for a guy who was just left behind with no resources and no teammates other than the shellshocked Mack.
Find out how these losses will (or won't) impact the rest of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s final season with new episodes on ABC Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET, and be sure to weigh in our poll below about which loss you think will be the most catastrophic. For more viewing options, check out our 2020 summer TV premiere schedule!