It’s always darkest before the once-every-18-years dawn.
After juggling multiple plot lines all season, SHIELD tries its hand at a single, streamlined story, going back in time to detail Jemma Simmons’ six months on the Desert Otherworld in one fell swoop. It’s a solid narrative decision all things considered, as an SF survival story is different enough from the rest of the season’s events that trying to intersperse it through episodes would likely have made it disjointed and tonally jarring. Telling it all at once keeps the pace from dragging, and Elizabeth Henstridge is talented enough to carry an episode more-or-less on her own. As for the decisions made within that narrative … well, your mileage may vary.