"He said they adapt. They saw me and realized they could steal personalities. What if they're doing that? What if they have a method of taking our memories, our identities, and uploading them into Chronicom bodies? Replace the Agents, use them to take over."
Phil Coulson to Melinda May[src]

Adapt or Die is the sixth episode of the seventh season of the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Synopsis

The stakes are higher than ever when, after blowing their cover and damaging the Zephyr in the process, the team must scramble to rescue Mack’s parents, save S.H.I.E.L.D. from a Chronicom infestation, and fix the ship… all before the next time-jump. Meanwhile, Daisy and Sousa find themselves at a disadvantage against a power hungry Nathaniel Malick and his goons, and Coulson will have to do the thing he does best in order to save the future.

Plot

Luke once again is meeting with Sibyl, who begins to doubt her plan. She assures him that they are still on the right path and that they must continue to adapt. Sybil talks about a new world blooming beneath their feet, but Luke instead says he feels the weight of Wilfred Malick’s death, of Project Insight being destroyed, and proceeds to ask Sibyl if this is the world that she envisioned. Sibyl for her part says that as one branch dies, a new one bears fruit. She then goes onto say that thanks to her plan S.H.I.E.L.D. revealed their ship in order to destroy Insight. As a result, they now have their location. Thus, she disagrees on the idea that her path has simply led them to nothing but disaster. Moreover, she points out how one of Malick’s sons, Nathaniel, captured Daisy Johnson and as a result, they are divided. Which then has Luke begin to wake up a small army of Chronicom Hunters after Sibyl tells him to begin the next phase of their plan.

In the Lighthouse, the 1970’s S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, led by Rick Stoner, have Phil Coulson and Melinda May in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. They try to explain to him Project Insight would not have worked out in the end. Stoner realizes that Chastity McBryde is not really her name. Which prompts May to introduce herself by her real name, and tells Stoner she is not really an HR Liaison either. In the end, Coulson and May learn that, thanks to a tracking system given to them by Wilfred Malick, these S.H.I.E.L.D. agents from the 1970’s are actually able to track the Zephyr and potentially blow them out of the sky.

On board the Zephyr, Yo-Yo Rodriguez and Deke Shaw rejoin the team and a frustrated Alphonso Mackenzie learns that Shaw killed Malick. The director explains that he is going into the Lighthouse to save his parents and Rodriguez says she is coming along. As they get ready for their mission, Mackenzie tells Jemma Simmons to scan for Johnson and Daniel Sousa as well as the Chronicom Time Ship.

In the Quinjet, Rodriguez and Mackenzie discuss the details of their mission. Mackenzie recalls that on this day, he and his family should be enjoying a barbecue in celebration of the bicentennial. He jokes that this was not how he planned to have Rodriguez meet his parents.

Back in the Lighthouse, lockdown protocol has been initiated, much to the dismay of Stoner, who never gave the order. Coulson tries to explain to him that the Chronicoms have taken over and are attempting to divide and conquer the base. The hijacked system fires three missiles at the Zephyr without Stoner’s order. Simmons, Shaw and Enoch prepare for impact on the Zephyr. They stop the first two missiles with flares but the third one manages to make contact.

Malick reveals his plans for Johnson

Inside a barn, Johnson begins to wake up and is greeted by Sousa. Johnson tries to quake herself out of her handcuffs but can not use her powers. Johnson calls Nathaniel Malick a little psycho, just as the aforementioned Malick enters. He introduces himself to them and reminds them how the two of them took him hostage at The Krazy Kanoe and forever changed his life. Johnson asks if he can unchain them, and they can hug it out so that HYDRA and S.H.I.E.L.D. can be together at last. He scoffs at that and explains to his captives that he is not HYDRA and that religion was never really his thing, mentioning the fanatic worship of Hive. However, he is still planning to use the research of Daniel Whitehall to transfer her power into him. He also believes Sousa is an Inhuman based on the fact that he has not aged since the 1950s. He tells his goons to get Johnson so he can begin his experiments.

In an interrogation room in the Lighthouse, Stoner begins to question Coulson and May. Stoner seemingly begins to believe them and asks exactly what he should be looking for before another agent, "King", interrupts them. She talks down to Coulson and May and conveniently places her hands on both of their shoulders. Stoner and "King" make their way out but not before he asks them about Wilfred Malick. Coulson explains that he’s HYDRA and Stoner tells them that he’s dead. After they leave, May explains that there is something wrong with the female agent because she did not feel any emotion from her. Thus making her a Chronicom.

On the Zephyr, Simmons, Enoch and Shaw try to deal with the damage done from the missile. They learn that the ship’s connection to the jump drive has been damaged. If they do not fix it before the next jump, the Zephyr would be destroyed. Simmons gives Shaw a job while she works with Enoch. Once alone, she asks Enoch why she can not remember how to fix the ship. He assures her that she is alright as long as they act now.

In a cell in the Lighthouse, Mackenzie’s parents are rescued by Rodriguez and Mackenzie, who cut their way through a wall into the cell to rescue them and, after a brief and awkward moment where Mackenzie hugs his mother who at this point is really a complete stranger, they make their way out of the cell.

Meanwhile, the Chronicom disguised as an agent leads Stoner downstairs. As they pass a projection of Stoner, he orders her to turn it off and she replies that they will remove his face ASAP.

May and Coulson discuss the agent and Coulson refuses to accept that she is a Chronicom because she showed emotion. The two argue over their personal relationship and issues that have been building throughout this final mission. May explains that Coulson never dies, he always comes back. She tells him that she is not planning to mourn him again. In their argument, Coulson realizes the Chronicoms are watching him and adapting. They are now not only taking people’s faces but also their personalities. Another agent then gets his face stolen and a moment later, Stoner is led to that now-replaced agent.

Mackenzie leads Rodriguez and his parents to a closed door. His parents begin to panic about not being able to get out of the base but Mackenzie assures them that their jet is on the other side of the door. Mackenzie goes to work on the door by opening a panel and working on the locks. He asks his father for help.

Elsewhere, the Chronicoms, now with Stone attached to a machine, begin to steal his personality. Coulson and May however manage to interrupt them before the process is complete. After a short tussle, they rescue Stoner who tells them they need to save the remaining agents in the base. Coulson makes his way to a ladder that seems to head lower into the base. He explains that he is going to head down to see where the Chronicoms are coming from.

Sousa is now looking through cracks in the wall to see what Malick is doing to Johnson. The goons bring her back into the room and Malick explains that he took blood and spinal fluid from her and plans to transfuse it to himself. Johnson, who is in really bad shape, begins to pass out in Sousa’s lap as she mentions how this all happened before with Jiaying, her mother. Worried for her, Sousa beggins to tell her how he can not remember the hit, but when he came to, his leg was a pulpy mess and he was completely alone. But then someone named Mike Stephens showed up, who was a resolute ass. He was the kind of guy that would never shut up and was always bullying the new guys and stealing cigarettes. But that day, Sousa remembers how he just kept talking to him and carried him back from the line. Before Johnson finally passes out though, she lifts her hand to reveal that she managed to snag a piece of broken glass.

Back on the Zephyr, Enoch is operating on an unconscious Simmons. Shaw enters and sees what is happening. Unsettled, he sneaks up on Enoch and zaps him with a defibrillator, knocking him out. He wakes up Simmons and tries to tell her Enoch is a traitor. But her only response is asking her future grandson what he has done.

Coulson meanwhile makes his way down a ladder. He eventually comes to some sort of console and reaches in, transporting himself, at least virtually, to a realm where he meets Sibyl.

As Rodriguez, Mackenzie and his parents continue to work on the door, they hear a noise from behind them. Mackenzie goes to confront two approaching Chronicoms. All while Coulson is speaking with Sibyl. He asks her multiple questions about their plan, which she surprisingly is very willing to answer.

Back on the Zephyr, Shaw tries to justify his actions. Simmons explains that Enoch is a friend and when she realizes Shaw is not going to give up, she finally gives some real answers. She explains that she and Fitz found a place where they could observe the Chronicoms’ moves so they could track them through time. Fitz remained there to guide them and is completely exposed so it is not safe for anyone to know their location. Simmons knows however, so she had Enoch put an implant in her brain to block her memory and now that implant, whom she named D.I.A.N.A. is acting up. She is beginning to forget things she is supposed to know and remember things she is not.

In the mystery location, one of the goons comes in for Sousa and he attacks him with the piece of glass Johnson gave him. He unshackles himself and Johnson and lifts her to try to get to safety. Then he notices things begin to shake and turns to see Malick who explains that his bones are cracking. The roof caves in and falls, seemingly only on Malick.

Coulson asks Sibyl where Johnson is and she explains that she’s been abducted by Malick who plans to steal her powers. Coulson asks Sibyl what the chances are of Malick succeeding, and she replies by saying it’s a probability of 22%. This in turn prompts Coulson to ask if there’s a chance that Johnson will survive, and Sibyl replies that there is an 86% chance she will live. The two of them get into a philosophical discussion over the difference between Chronicoms and humans while Mackenzie wins the fight against the two Chronicom hunters. Shaw and Simmons fix the Zephyr and Sousa makes his way past a knocked out Malick with Johnson in his arms. The talk ends with Coulson explaining that dying is kind of his superpower. He then pulls himself out of the system and back to the Chronicom base. He tells May he found the ship and then detonates the explosives he had from their previous mission, destroying the remaining Chronicoms and seemingly himself.

Mackenzie defeats Abel and comes face to face with Luke as the lockdown protocol is disengaged. The two come to blows before Stoner saves Mackenzie by blasting Luke. Stone thanks May for literally saving his skin, and asks if she would be willing to go out for a drink sometime. May mentions how HR would frown on that. To which Stoner tells her that since she technically does not technically report to him. May however, points out how she is actually Level 7, so technically he reports to him. But she admits that his job is just beginning. She mentions that he should clear out the base and create a cover story. She suggests a hydrogen wave crisis as a possible idea and the two shake hands before May rejoins the team to escape the Lighthouse.

On the Quinjet, May explains to Mackenzie and Rodriguez what happened to Coulson but also says he will come back.

Aboard the Zephyr, Simmons pressures Shaw to apologize to Enoch before telling him he cannot tell the others of the implant in her brain.

Mackenzie’s father thanks May for saving them and places his hand on her shoulder. She immediately realizes something is wrong and pulls Mackenzie aside. She explains that she got no emotion from him and that they should check an injury he sustained earlier. After some hesitation, Mackenzie urges his father to show them and learns that his parents are actually Chronicoms. They attack the team and his not-father explains to Mackenzie that his real parents are dead.

Back on the Zephyr, the team prepares for the next jump. Rodriguez comforts Mackenzie and Sousa watches over Johnson as she recovers. Simmons tells Sousa this is his last chance and he cuts her off, telling her he is where he needs to be. The Zephyr jumps again and Mackenzie immediately heads for his motorcycle and leaves, telling Shaw he needs some air.

On the ground, Mackenzie is staring into the distance with the Zephyr in the background. Shaw heads out to check on him but a panicked Simmons calls to him on the radio and urges him to come back. She explains that they are about to jump again. Shaw calls out to Mack, who does not react. Behind Shaw, the Zephyr jumps again, leaving Shaw and Mackenzie behind.

Cast

Main Cast:

Guest Stars:

Appearances

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References

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