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Spoilers ahead for Episode 8 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 7, called "After, Before."
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stayed in the 1980s after Mack and Deke's totally excellent adventures last week, but a malfunctioning time drive meant the agents were hopping, skipping, and jumping through the decade as the minutes counted down. Unless Yo-Yo could get her powers back and use her speed to fix the drive, the Zephyr was doomed. So, Yo-Yo and May headed to Afterlife to seek Jiaying's help, and the result was a fight sequence that could change everything for the rest of Season 7. Stars Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Ming-Na Wen spoke with CinemaBlend about the fight.
First, however, let's look at the implications of what happened. After extensive testing, Jiaying came to the conclusion that Yo-Yo's problem had nothing to do with the Shrike that nearly killed her, but was instead a mental and emotional block, and it would take May's empathic abilities to help Yo-Yo recover powers. Since Yo-Yo and May were arguably the two agents least inclined to want to explore their own emotions, Jiaying's method of quiet meditation and gentle contact wasn't working. Instead, they began fighting, and Yo-Yo started making breakthroughs.
It wasn't pleasant for poor Yo-Yo, but she went through a series of flashbacks that proved it was guilt that kept her from recovering her speed. Between the two of them, Yo-Yo ultimately broke her mental and emotional block. In fact, she did more than just recover the powers that give her super speed but required bouncing back. Yo-Yo realized that she doesn't have to bounce back at all, and can just use super speed, DC's Flash-style.
Thanks to the fight, Yo-Yo has her powers back, and those powers can be game-changing for the agents in the rest of Season 7, not least because the status of Daisy's powers is still uncertain. The fight may have also helped May realize what she was capable of with her empathic abilities. Unfortunately, Yo-Yo disabling the time drive didn't work to save the ship, so the agents may need to abandon the Zephyr and start taking the long way through time.
On the slightly brighter side, the arrival of Nathaniel Malick at Afterlife thanks to Sibyl's help and his subsequent recruitment of the explosive Inhuman by the name of Cora, who is also Jiaying's daughter and therefore Daisy's sister, means that it might have been a very bad thing if the agents jumped ahead in time and left Nathaniel behind to build himself up. Yo-Yo's recovered powers should come in handy, and May with or without any enhanced abilities is an asset in any fight!
According to the actresses, the fight was a great experience to film. Natalia Cordova-Buckley explained how she learned from filming a fight sequence with the formidable Ming-Na Wen:
It was so much fun. We've talked about it so many times because I love physical activity. I was a dancer, so put me in every fight scene you ever write, I love it. And then I also had to learn from Ming. Like, 'Calm down girl, you're gonna hurt yourself, let your stunt double do something.' And so it was a lot of learning, specifically for me, from Ming. It's so important to protect yourself. But we had a lot of fun, not just rehearsing, but doing it and learning from each other. You know, learning from Ming [Qiu] and Natalie [Padilla], which are our stunt doubles. It's just wonderful, just women working together and working physical activity, which is rarely seen. I just loved every part of it.
Natalia Cordova-Buckley's dance background meant that she knows what she's doing when it comes to physical challenges on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Yo-Yo vs. May fight -- even though the characters weren't actually trying to harm each other -- was physically and emotionally intense. While the episode featured an Inhuman attack on Afterlife, a malfunctioning time drive, and all of the good guys' lives in danger, Yo-Yo and May provided an emotional center to the action.
Ming-Na Wen shared her perspective on filming the action sequence and having Natalia Cordova-Buckley as a partner:
I love when I have to do a fight scene and I know I'm doing it with someone who has control of their body, who knows how to move, who has good timing, because it's all so important. We are literally, when we swing our punches, and when we do our kicks, we are doing it really at pretty much real time. So it's great when you have that security and that sense that you have a partner that you can trust. So, for me, it was it was just great fun working with Natalia in those fight scenes. We definitely kicked ass, and a lot of times I would say, 'Okay Natalia, timeout, man. Mama needs a break. I need to take a break.'
Both actresses clearly put a lot into the fight sequence, and it was no small accomplishment that both Natalia Cordova-Buckley and Ming-Na Wen were able to nail the choreography while also emoting. With Yo-Yo reeling from the emotions of her flashbacks and May feeling Yo-Yo's turmoil, there were a lot of layers to what was happening. I'm interested to see if S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to build on the bond May and Yo-Yo forged in "After, Before."
Considering how much the agents are dealing with, all the questions that still need answers, and all the chaos and anarchy that Nathaniel has brought into the fold, I wouldn't be shocked if they don't have time for much more bonding! With only five episodes left before the final credits roll on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to end an era in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the stakes are almost impossibly high. Nathaniel seems to be the big threat since LMD Coulson blew up the Chronicom ships (and himself), but Sibyl is a wildcard who we probably shouldn't count out just yet.