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Spoilers ahead for the ninth episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7, called "As I Have Always Been."
Not many episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are left before the final credits roll, and "As I Have Always Been" revealed one member of the team who won't be standing with the rest of the agents at the end, for better or worse. Yes, in the process of trying to escape a cycle of time jumps, Daisy and Coulson discovered that the only way to fix the time drive was by using the device that served as Enoch's heart. In order for the agents to live, Enoch had to die.
Enoch didn't waste a minute in removing his own heart and donating it to Simmons and Deke to fix the ship, then slowly died with Daisy and Coulson sitting with him. He delivered a final monologue that was at once touching, stilted, and funny, as Enoch was Enoch to the end. Joel Stoffer, who has been on board as Enoch since early Season 5, spoke with CinemaBlend about "As I Have Always Been," Enoch's sacrifice, his relationship with Fitz, and what Enoch left behind.
Joel Stoffer first shared how he approached Enoch's death scene, when Enoch couldn't have fully human reactions but was clearly very emotional:
You know, it was kind of a fine line to walk. But Enoch, through his experiences with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, got to explore some emotions and learned about emotions and so I always it play in a sense of curiosity and intrigue. Any kind of emotion that might come to Enoch would be met with an element of surprise. 'What? What's this? How? Am I becoming human?' I think that's the sort of inner monologue I had going on with him most of the time. So that it was never comfortable for him. And that's really what we came across, that added some comedy to it.
Through his experiences with Fitz on their adventures in space to his involvement with the larger team in Season 7, Enoch grew a great deal. That said, Enoch had never before faced his own mortality as he slowly died like in this episode. After all, his previous heroic sacrifice (which was undone thanks to a changed timeline) happened quickly.
In fact, Enoch had time for a full speech about feeling alone as he died in "As I Have Always Been," including referring to Fitz as his best friend and dropping some troubling comments about the team splitting up and separating Daisy from her family. In an episode that had the characters rushing for almost the entire hour, the couple minutes of Enoch dying packed a serious emotional punch.
"As I Have Always Been" was actually directed by Elizabeth Henstridge, who has been playing Jemma Simmons from the very first episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. Joel Stoffer may have shared more scenes with Henstridge than any other member of the cast other than Iain De Caestecker (who still has yet to appear in Season 7), and Stoffer shared what it was like to have her directing such a pivotal scene as Enoch's death:
I am so glad that it was her directing because, from an actor's standpoint, with her experience as an actor, she knew that she needed to trust and she knew me well enough to be able to trust and just let the scene play out, and did. Luckily, I think I found a line to play the scene that worked. I'm sure if I had gone in a direction that wasn't working, I would hope that she would tell me but she didn't need to. And it just kind of evolved, I think in a pretty natural way. I lend a lot of that success to her because I don't think I could have gotten where I went without trusting her and her lead for what was being played.
Elizabeth Henstridge had a key part to play in front of the camera as Simmons in the episode she was directing, although she was able to focus fully on her work behind the camera for Enoch's death. Simmons and Deke had to go work on the time drive and didn't have more than a few moments to say unspoken goodbyes to their Chronicom friend. Way to make me cry, S.H.I.E.L.D.!
This was the ninth of 13 episodes on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s final season, so Joel Stoffer's Enoch made it almost to the very end, and I for one think Enoch might still show up in some FitzSimmons flashbacks whenever Iain De Caestecker makes his final season debut. After all, thanks to Simmons' Diana implant, there are more questions than answers about what happened to Fitz, Simmons, and Enoch during their time away. Joel Stoffer explain how it felt to be killed off so close to the end of the show:
It was bittersweet. I knew that Enoch had a death scene at some point. I didn't know what it was gonna be until I read the script and knew that the season was coming to an end, and that the show was coming to an end. The series was [ending], and so when I read the scene and I saw how much importance they had given to the role, I was honored. I was really blown away. It felt very fitting for Enoch to go out that way.
Even if it was sad that Enoch had to die, who can deny that he got one of the best deaths of an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hero? He didn't hesitate to sacrifice his life for his friends, to the point that they weren't even ready for him to give up his heart, and his friends made sure that he didn't die alone as he feared. There was even some classic Enoch humor in the episode thanks to his new experiences with emotions, even if they were emotions associated with dying after thousands of years.
Viewers have gotten to see a lot of Enoch learning about human emotions over his years on the show, largely thanks to Fitz. The combination of a Fitz laser-focused on finding Jemma with Enoch's complete inability to read Fitz's moods delivered some humor during some grim storylines storylines in Seasons 5 and 6. Short of Enoch appearing in FitzSimmons flashbacks, Enoch's death means the end of his dynamic with Fitz. Joel Stoffer explained what made Fitz and Enoch's relationship fun:
I think Enoch's intense drive and curiosity now that he has become a part of the team, you know, he wants to explore what that means and what friendship means and what emotions are and all of that, and Fitz's resistance to being a part of that, I think that's what creates the comedy. Because in spite of Fitz's resistance, he still ends up becoming endeared to Enoch. He can't help himself. With that kind of always being on the edge of their relationship, you know, with Fitz finding someplace in his heart for Enoch while all of the resistance is happening. I think it makes for some really fun stuff.
Just as Enoch endeared himself to Fitz despite Fitz's attempts to shake him off, Enoch likely endeared himself to fans. I know I grew to love Enoch, to the point that I was pretty sad earlier in Season 7 when he was left behind in the 1930s and forced to take the long way through time without his friends. If only I'd known then that what was in store would be so much worse!
See how the rest of the team handles losing Enoch with the next new episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., on Wednesday, July 29 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. To relive Enoch's early days on the show, you can find the first six seasons of S.H.I.E.L.D. streaming on Netflix now! Joel Stoffer will make his way to Netflix in Stranger Things Season 4, although that likely won't happen for a while.