"Wait, you didn't bounce back. How'd you do that?"
"I think I've always been able to. I was just holding myself back."
Alphonso Mackenzie and Yo-Yo Rodriguez[src]

After, Before is the eighth episode of the seventh season of the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

Synopsis

With the Zephyr's time drive malfunctioning, the team is quite literally hurling toward disaster and Yo-Yo may be their only hope. The only problem? To get her powers back, she'll need to enlist the help of an old adversary and revisit part of her past long hidden away.

Plot

Alphonso Mackenzie storms off the Zephyr after learning of his parents’ death and Deke Shaw follows. While Shaw goes off looking for Mackenzie, Jemma Simmons is once again heard calling for him to get back. Melinda May tries to tell Shaw that she doesn’t think Mackenzie is in the mood for company. As it turns out the drive is deteriorating and they are jumping without being able to control it. The ship then jumps 481 days into the future without Mackenzie and Shaw.

Twenty minutes of unsuccessful searching later, the ship jumps again without them. The second jump is only a few months, which allows Simmons to figure out a pattern in the jumps. Yo-Yo Rodriguez and May then head out to retrieve Mackenzie and Shaw. Daniel Sousa comes out afterwards and asks Simmons if she is not worried about losing them too. She explains that she does not, as she has faith in mathematics.

This is shortly followed by their safe return to the Zephyr with their previously missing teammates. Simmons eventually tries to explain the problem to the team by comparing their jumps to a stone skipping on a pond. Each jump is getting shorter until eventually the Zephyr will metaphorically sink. She admits she does not actually know what would really happen to the ship if that were to happen.

The bigger problem that the team later learns is that they can not get to the drive because of some sort of force field around it that disintegrates anything it touches. They determine that they need to move fast enough to get between the field, which leads them to realize that Rodriguez’s power is the key. Unfortunately, she is still recovering from the Shrike attack and has not regained her abilities.

Simmons explains that she can not fix Rodriguez because she doesn’t understand enough about inhuman biology. To everyone’s surprise, Daisy Johnson enters and explains that her mom, Jiaying, who was the leader of an Inhuman community called Afterlife just might have those answers they are looking for. Johnson thus theorizes that she likely would be around to potentially help them in 1983. May and Rodriguez are subsequently sent to Afterlife.

Mackenzie then gets Simmons to reboot a partially rebuilt Coulson in order to consult him on this potential mission. Admittedly, getting help from Jiaying in 1983 could have major consequences because at this point, Johnson has not yet been born. If they change the timeline too much, she may never be born.

Mackenzie confirms that this mission is a go and May and Rodriguez depart on the Quinjet. As they make their way to Afterlife, the two agents converse and it is revealed that May’s powers are no longer reliant on physical touch. May brings up how Jiaying is potentially dangerous and that they need to be careful.

As they walk toward their target, the agents see two men, Li and Gordon, chasing a young woman, Kora, in the woods. The three of them spot May and Rodriguez and afterwards Li orders Gordon to secure them, Kora tells them they should not have come. Gordon grabs the agents and teleports.

Now inside the inhuman community, May and Rodriguez are greeted by Jiaying, whom they try to convince that Rodriguez is an Inhuman and that she needs help. After she explains her problem, Jiaying and seems to be her right-hand-man Lee brings forth a Diviner to test if she is in fact inhuman. She passes the test and Jiaying decides to help.

As they walk away alone, Li argues with Jiaying that they should not be helping these new strangers. Jiaying explains that something took away Rodriguez’s abilities and if that is in fact possible, she needs to know how. Lee tells her that they cannot allow them to leave after their work is done.

As they do their first tests, Jiaying tries to get more information out of Rodriguez. Knowing she can not reveal the full truth and risk losing her trust, Rodriguez only gives a few details. As they talk, May notices Lee is a bit suspicious. She questions him about the woman they saw running away and he attacks her, using his Inhuman ability to manifest knife-like weapons in his hands. Rodriguez tries to jump in and save May but her powers continue to fail her. Lee stops his attack, saying he only wanted to see if they had made any progress. Jiaying dismisses him, saying she can handle things from here.

From their room that night, May and Rodriguez hear some screaming. They run out into the hall to see Kora being detained by guards. Jiaying apologizes for the disturbance and assures them that Kora will be fine. She also tells them she has a theory regarding her problem and that they should have results in the morning.

Back on the Zephyr, Shaw tries out a backup plan which instantly fails. Sousa prepares for Plan C, which is abandoning the Zephyr. Meanwhile, Jiaying explains to Rodriguez that her problem is not physical and is instead in her mind. Rodriguez doesn’t want to accept that answer but Jiaying convinces her to use May’s abilities to try and find the answer.

The two agents try Jiaying’s prescribed meditation before switching to something a bit more their speed: combat training. As they fight, Rodriguez begins to get flashes of traumatic moments in her life, which May also sees.

Back on the Zephyr, Simmons continues to work frantically to try and save the team. Phil Coulson explains to Johnson the hell he lived through for a year and a half as a digital version of himself. Johnson explains to him how Sousa saved her from Nathaniel Malick and that she is happy he is here. Simmons catches up with Sousa, who is still preparing for evacuation. She gives him a new prosthetic leg, a major upgrade from the one he had from back in the 1950s.

At Afterlife, Rodriguez tells May the story of her uncle’s death, one of the traumatic flashbacks they both saw during their fight. She explains that she still feels guilty for that and May tells her she needs to forgive herself. They hear Lee calling for Jiaying from out in the hall. When May investigates, she finds that Kora has caused major damage to her room and taken out a guard. Jiaying and Li, who were already in the room explain that Kora can not control her gifts and that some of the inhumans there believed they needed to kill her while others believed she was worth saving. Jiaying tells May they wanted to learn about Rodriguez’s problem because they wanted to learn how they could take away Kora’s gifts. Li realizes Kora has taken the guard’s gun and assumes she is going to hurt people. May hints that the only person she is going to hurt is herself.

In a field outside the community we see Kora running and eventually putting the gun to her head. Before she can pull the trigger the gun is broken to pieces and Malick approaches her. The newly-superpowered villain explains that they were both fated to die but that he can change that. Thus, he quickly convinces her to join him as he and his friends attack Afterlife in the process. Rodriguez is attacked by a soldier in her room and, with her powers still not working, she is saved by May.

On the Zephyr, Simmons leaves a message for Leo Fitz before Shaw brings her to the bridge to prepare for May and Rodriguez’s return. As she goes to join them, the ship makes another jump.

In Afterlife, the two agents and some Inhumans fight off some of Malick’s soldiers. They hear Johnson’s powers from around the corner and investigate to find Malick using those powers. Jiaying confronts Kora, who is standing by Malick’s side, and attempts to convince her to come back to them. In doing so, she gives away that Kora is her daughter. Kora is not convinced though and Lee attempts to attack her. She unleashes her powers and burns Li’s face. When she turns toward the others, they regroup with Gordon who teleports them to the Quinjet. There, the agents assure Jiaying that they will help her in her fight against Malick. Gordon teleports away with Jiaying and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents head back to the Zephyr.

On the Zephyr, the team waits for May and Rodriguez but are losing hope that they will make it back in time. Mackenzie then gives the order to abandon ship. Meanwhile, May and Rodriguez look for the Zephyr which suddenly appears right in front of them. They manage to dock but Rodriguez breaks the news that she still can not use her powers. Mackenzie once again tells everyone to abandon the Zephyr.

As May prepares to get the team out, she tries to tell Rodriguez that is not her fault and that she will bounce back. Rodriguez begins to explain that maybe she is not supposed to, which makes her realize the mental block she has provided for herself. She uses her powers to run to the drive and fix the problem, but does not bounce back to her original location as her powers would usually make her.

With the problem solved, the team prepares to rest. Johnson returns to the Healing Pod and Simmons shuts down Coulson to recharge. Shaw and Enoch work on the Time Drive as they plan to use it to get themselves home. As they work, it suddenly boots up again, much to their surprise. Enoch explains that it did not work, and the Zephyr makes another jump.

Back on the ground, Malick and Kora look over a number of Inhuman prisoners. Malick explains that he wants to shake things up and introduce a little anarchy.

Cast

Main Cast:

Guest Stars:

Appearances

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Mentioned

Video

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References

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