Fitz’s dramatic journey to the Lighthouse was finally revealed in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×05, “Rewind.”
“Rewind” follows the wildest six months of Fitz’s life, a frantic and lonely progression that begins just prior to the S.H.I.E.L.D. team’s abduction from the diner. Apprehended by General Hale and her lieutenants, Fitz tries to crack the mystery of the team’s disappearance while in prison. Lance Hunter mounts a timely rescue, and the two escape in an RV packed with surveillance equipment and ferrets.
Fitz and Hunter locate the mysterious bald Enoch, who reveals himself to be a “sentient chromicon” who sent the team forward in time to fulfill a prophesy. He leads them to “the Seer,” Charles Hinton’s young daughter Robin, and the group escapes to the underground bunker beneath a lighthouse.
Which is THE LIGHTHOUSE.
After much coaxing, Robin gives Fitz a very ominous drawing and tells him he was not sent to space so that he can “save them.” Determined to reach the team, Fitz and Hunter retrieve Enoch’s pod, the Zephyr, and oodles of S.H.I.E.L.D. tech from the base. General Hale murders both of her lieutenants in response.
Fitz stores a cache of weapons in the Lighthouse and leaves the postcard with Robin. He is then frozen in Enoch’s cryo-freeze pod, and wakes up 74 years later. Enoch asks if he has it in him to take down the worst the galaxy has to offer.
“I have it in me,” Fitz growls.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×05 is an episode with two parallel obsessions: Fitz’s exploration of his own capacities, and the awful tyranny of time.
(It’s not called “Rewind” for nothing.)
Fitz’s emotional travails are a fascinating encapsulation of his arc thus far on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. First revisiting the squirrelyl, earnest nerd of season 1 in the moments of his capture, prison transforms Fitz back into the isolated, trembling genius produced by his brain injury in season 2. Hunter’s arrival luckily revives the Fitz of season 3 (driven and unrelenting), who quickly brings to bear the ruthless remnants last year’s Frameworkified Leopold.
And, apparently, his shooting skills too.
Iain deCaestecker integrates four years of character development into a masterful and moving performance that feels as holistic as it does deliberately reflective. Scanning through his experiences allows for the birth of a new Fitz born from Enoch’s cryo-pod, a figure both familiar and strange. To borrow unusually wise words from Hunter, Fitz has seemingly emerged as a man of both light and shadow.
With the formidable stubbornness cultivated through years of emotional and physical setbacks, Fitz combines the dark gifts of his past with a passion so fierce, he attempts to subvert the function of time to his will. Not that this is an unadulterated victory — Fitz subverts time by checking out of it for 74 years, leaving Earth to its mysterious extinction. And Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×05 does not answer many of weightiest questions it raises, ideas that have haunted the entire team since the show’s beginnings.
The impact of our abilities on our identities, the consequences of an unrealized capacity for evil, and the impenetrable logic of the Universe are contemplated, but not resolved. The consequences of failure, as terrifyingly illustrated by little Robin Hinton, loom in the future like land mines. (The drawing of the brown-haired person bleeding and dead on the floor, framed by black-clothed giants, is particularly ominous.)
(Also, why does the Universe hate FitzSimmons?)
But those enormous ideas are all folded within the primary preoccupation of “Rewind,” that being time itself. (Which is fitting, as the parallel episode “4,722 Hours,” obviously held similar concerns.)
Time is a palpable goad on Fitz throughout his accelerated evolution right from the moment he awakens from those two lost minutes in the diner. Six months in prison pass in a blurring montage, punctuated by monkeys traced on his wall to mark the days. Fitz revisits the team’s disappearance down to the moment, interrogating the blank space as thoroughly as he is interrogated by General Hale’s lackeys.
Enoch is another iteration of this theme. It’s not an accident that the bald “sentient chromicon” (whatever that means!) has been observing humanity for 30,000 years, static as a clock. But Enoch, who becomes an unexpectedly warm figure throughout Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×05, can also be urged to action. He allows himself to be prodded by time itself, using the slivers of prophesy provided by Robin to forgive his interference in the course of human affairs.
Robin and her mother Polly call back to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s earlier contemplations on the theme of time. First appearing in season 3’s “Spacetime,” the Hinton family upended the entire team’s concept of time through violent prophesy. The show’s vividly illustrated conclusion at the time was, to quote Hunter again, “What’s written is written.” The future is unchangeable, and attempts to alter it will only provide the same unhappy result.
This may continue to prove true, as so many of Robin’s drawings already have. But it’s worth noting that while the girl’s Inhuman gifts are prophetic, she is not the mirror image of her father. Linear time is not a reality for Robin — “Her mind has been scattered,” her mother says sadly. “Past, present, future, it’s all the same to her, all mixed up.”
In that disorder, there is possibility, hinted at by Robin herself. “You have to save them,” she tells him. Not “You will save them,” or (Hunter again), “The odds, my friend, are not in your favor.” There is predeterminism here in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5×05, but like any one part of Fitz’s identity, it may not be the only game in town.
It is this possibility that powers Fitz through 74 years of sleep, a journey of time and space that even the rest of the team have not undertaken. Time is usually the most transformative element in any life, but, frozen in stasis, Fitz defies this; he paid in patience, rather than change.
Now, with the clock clearly ticking on the Lighthouse, the time for waiting is over. The future has already changed Simmons and the rest of the team; what remains to be seen is how Fitz’s own evolution might change not only their reality, but the fate of humanity itself.