Major spoilers ahead for Episode 9 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7, called "As I Have Always Been."
Only four episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are left before the MCU's original television show wraps for good, and "As I Have Always Been" finally went ahead and did what felt tragically inevitable: killed off a member of the team. With the agents on the Zephyr stuck in a time loop for most of the hour, it was up to Daisy and Coulson to break the cycle before they were all sucked into the vortex and destroyed.
"As I Have Always Been" definitely wasn't just an hour of Groundhog Day-esque shenanigans, and what laughs there were are eclipsed by the tragedy of the big death, the implications of further loss, and the questions of what's next. Now, as we wait for the next episode, let's take a look at the big questions after the events of Episode 9!
What Happened To Fitz (And Is He Alive)?
Let's start with the big one that needs to be broken down bit by bit. For the first time during Fitz's long absence in Season 7, S.H.I.E.L.D. dropped some clues that may suggest that he's actually dead than rather than just in danger off-screen. The first set of clues come from Enoch, who apparently could be programmed to protect secrets even without the programmer remembering, in his final speech.
Really, Enoch needs to be directly quoted to explain why his comments can be interpreted so forebodingly about Fitz's fate. Speaking with Daisy and Coulson about death, Enoch said:
It's different, watching your friends go before you, isn't it? I have been through that, as well. It can be harder to stay than to leave.
Enoch went pretty hard in "As I Have Been" on how he considers the agents to be his friends. And who has Enoch repeatedly referred to as his "best friend" on S.H.I.E.L.D., with whom he spent a lot of time off-screen, and who is conspicuously absent from Season 7? That would be Fitz. Poor, poor Fitz. As if it wasn't already clear that Enoch considered Fitz a closer friend than anybody else on the team (including Simmons), these were his last words:
Fitz. He was my best friend.
Now, if Enoch's speech was the only part of the episode that might have been hinting at a Fitz death, I might not have gone on red alert that FitzSimmons really might be cursed. Another foreboding moment came right after Diana was removed from Simmons so she could remember how to fix the Zephyr. Simmons came to the right conclusion to save the day, but that's not all that happened.
As Simmons kept remembering things Diana was designed to make her forget, she started breathing heavily, crying, and eventually sobbing. It was a masterclass of acting from Elizabeth Henstridge, but also very unnerving for fans concerned about what happened that Simmons can't remember. She needs to be directly quoted too:
Oh my God. What have I done? I'm sorry. What have I done? Oh my God. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. No!
Although Simmons was sad that her fix for the Zephyr came at Enoch's expense, her breakdown was clearly connected to something else she was remembering, and she was panicking to the point that she couldn't answer any of Daisy and Coulson's questions. I feel obligated to suspect that Simmons realized she made herself forget a secret daughter that she left behind with Fitz since I've been running with that theory for most of Season 7, but I also find myself suspecting that she remembered something awful that happened to Fitz.
Combine her panic and devastation with Enoch's comments, and Fitz could very well be dead. After all, Simmons hasn't heard from Fitz since rescuing the team from Izel, which was also the time Fitz's voice was heard. At this point, that brief line from Fitz in the Season 6 finale is the most conclusive "proof" that he's not dead, so I for one am going to hold onto that and hope that Simmons' breakdown was about something else. Where is Fitz? What was Enoch talking about? And what did Simmons remember that was so devastating?
Is Enoch Gone For Good?
While Fitz's fate is still a mystery, Enoch's is less so. He freely gave up his Electrochron Displacement Mechanism despite knowing that it would kill him, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. slowed down and gave Enoch time to deliver a touching and heartbreaking speech before dying. He's pretty clearly dead based on the episode, and actor Joel Stoffer's comments to CinemaBlend support that this was Enoch's end. But is he gone for good?
While he is seemingly going to stay dead in the present, S.H.I.E.LD. could deliver more Enoch courtesy of some FitzSimmons flashbacks to their time away when they were inventing time travel and avoiding Chronicoms. This is especially true in case Fitz is dead, since Iain De Caestecker is confirmed to appear in Season 7. No matter what happened to Fitz by this point, I would not be surprised to see Enoch again via flashback.
What Now With Diana?
Thanks to the time loops, Coulson and Daisy found out about Simmon's Diana implant and saw what happens when the implant is removed, but a reset meant that Diana was back in Simmons' head by the time they saved the day. Now that Daisy and Coulson know, will they keep the Diana secret? How much danger are they in now that they know? Will they want to remove it to get at Simmons' valuable information?
On the one hand, of course Coulson and Daisy wouldn't want to put Fitz at risk, and they would probably have a hard time doing anything to Diana without either Deke or Simmons helping anyway. Even an EMP couldn't fry the implant. On the other hand, the Chronicom threat still isn't over thanks to Malick, and more individuals knowing about Diana means greater danger to the team and their mission. And what would Mack say as director, if Daisy and Coulson tell him?
Is The Team Doomed?
Enoch was just full of foreboding comments when he made his dying speech to Daisy and Coulson in "As I Have Always Been." When Daisy promised him that the mission would continue, Enoch told her that "the team will not" survive even though her friends would, and this was their last mission together based on his knowledge of the future. Daisy seemingly interpreted that as Enoch specifically saying that she would be separated, but he didn't name names. So, is the team doomed?
Well, just because Daisy was upset by the implications doesn't mean that they're doomed. Honestly, it's possible that some of them might just be ready to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. by the end of this ordeal. They all deserve a break, if you ask me. Enoch unfortunately died before he could clarify for Daisy, so she (and viewers) can only wonder for now. Is the team doomed? Is Daisy correct, and Enoch was indicating that she particularly would be separated? Or will it simply be a case of going in different directions?
What's Next For Daisy And Sousa?
One of the relatively few lighter parts of "As I Have Always Been" saw Daisy learn just why Sousa has been so ready and willing to help her, even when some of her requests didn't make much sense to him due to the time loop. Sousa is romantically interested in her, although he won't remember admitting it to her. Still, Daisy planted a kiss on him during one of the loops, so she evidently reciprocates his feelings at least somewhat. So what next?
Well, Daisy is the only one who knows that Sousa confessed or that they kissed, so nothing might change between them unless Daisy takes the step forward or Sousa decides to go for it. A Daisy/Sousa romance does ruin my crackpot theory that Sousa would return to the 21st century and fall in love with Sharon Carter, and Deke would probably be bummed that Sousa didn't even need lemons to win her, but they both deserve some happiness, so I'm all for it. But will it happen?
Will Coulson Deactivate?
While Coulson was all but giddy in the early episodes of Season 7 due to his chances to meet historical figures and experience history (as well as use his LMD abilities to help the team), he's been thinking about the "ones and zeroes" that make up his very being ever since he blew himself up and then came back. He doesn't even believe he has a soul, and generally seems to find himself more and more unnatural. At the end of the mission, will he deactivate himself?
This has been a theory of mine for a while, and I'm not sure S.H.I.E.L.D. would do it. Coulson deactivating himself -- or asking somebody to deactivate him -- would bookend the show, since it started in the first place with a freshly-resurrected Coulson after he'd died in The Avengers, and it would prove to May that he doesn't actually always come back. It would be a heartbreaker for those he's leaving behind again, though, and do we really want S.H.I.E.L.D. to end on heartbreak after seven seasons?
Hopefully Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will answer at least some of these questions in the next episode, which airs on Wednesday, July 29 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. To relive the earlier days of S.H.I.E.L.D., you can find the first six seasons streaming on Netflix now, and our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule can point you toward what you can watch once S.H.I.E.L.D. wraps.