Everything the Agents of SHIELD have been dealing with this season is finally coming together in the finale, “World’s End.” A very familiar muscle car fires up its engine and rolls out of a garage. The Zephyr is programmed to rapid random course changes in both direction and altitude in hopes of foiling Aida’s teleportation power. I have no idea if that would work, but it’s better than nothing. May presses Coulson about their missing special bottle, and he says he’ll need another bottle to explain what happened to the first one. Given everything that happened, I don’t blame him for either not wanting to tell her or wanting a drink if he has to. Piper has left via HALO for some special side mission, and Fitz and Simmons are trying to reconcile their strained relationship. They also need to work out how to deal with Aida.
Coulson and Daisy watch over Mac and Yo Yo, who are both in the Framework. Daisy is trying to find a way to help them, but even her hacking skill is having trouble with this incredibly complex construct. Inside, Yo Yo gets saved by Radcliffe of all people, who tells her she shouldn’t be there. When she defiantly says she’s there for Mac, he warns the Framework is collapsing in on itself, although he’s a bit poetic about it.
Aida and the various Ivanov-bots are plotting their next move. Aida is really going villain, saying she wants SHIELD, and especially Fitz, to suffer. Talk about a bad breakup. Their talk is interrupted when Robbie Reyes arrives. Reyes even gives the Ivanovs a chance to not fight, but they ignore the warning. Reyes is using Ghost Rider powers without fully changing now, which I guess means he has a better handle on what he can do. Aida quickly learns to fear the Ghost Rider after Reyes shifts and hurts her, and she teleports away.
While Fitz and Daisy struggle to find a way to get Mac and Yo Yo out of the Framework, Coulson is trying to catch Talbot up on everything that’s been going on. I don’t blame him for not believing Coulson. Coulson does come up with a great description for Aida, which Talbot exclaims, “I am NOT putting that in my report.” There’s also fallout from the lie about Mace being an Inhuman, which wasn’t remotely Coulson’s fault. Talbot demands he be at a briefing in the morning and Coulson tells him that’s probably not going to happen.
Daisy and Reyes touch base, and there seems to be some mutual interest there. I’d like to point out that, so far, being Daisy’s love interest is a LOT more dangerous than being a SHIELD agent. Just ask Ward and Lincoln about that.
While Aida freaks out about her Ghost Rider inflicted wounds not healing, Reyes explains to the team some of what’s going on. Short version is the Rider really doesn’t like Aida, and is going to send her and the Darkhold back where they came from. I wonder how they’re going to explain demons and Hell in their paperwork.
In the Framework, Mac is trying to get all the refugees to a safe place, although I don’t know what he thinks that is. Things are randomly disappearing all around them as the Framework shuts down. Radcliffe tries to get Mac to listen about needing to leave, and Mac utterly refuses.
One of the different models of Ivanov-bot proves to be a high level Russian intelligence officer. Guess who’s supposed to be at the meeting Talbot wanted Coulson at? I’m not sure how he got Ivanov in, since as far as I know he’s at best a shady industrialist and at worse the leader of a major terrorist hate group. But somehow, he gets in and preaches against SHIELD. Ivanov also brought the Darkhold and is trying to get the people at the meeting to read it. Chaos erupts that involves another, very convincing, LMD (are we never going to be done with those?). Naturally, things are looking bad for SHIELD again. At this point, I think the Suicide Squad might have a better rep, and they’re villains and killers. Daisy and Robbie together do some great moves to get rid of the Ivanov-bot, which Coulson is crushed he missed.
After everyone gets back together and talks, they decide to return to their base, or what’s left of it. Coulson wants to lay a trap for Aida and starts doing some pretty clever things. If they fail, Aida seems to be trying to make the world just as dark, ugly, and repressive as the Framework was.
Yo Yo keeps up her efforts to get Mac to leave, and he continues to refuse. It’s a really emotional scene that makes me feel bad for both of them. I think the scars from the Framework are going to last a long, long time. Their rescue attempt goes horribly wrong as things and people keep disappearing. We lose the Framework version of Agent Burroughs in this scene, poor guy. He couldn’t catch a break in either world.
There are a lot of quick cuts and really big twists in the next bit, so I’m going to be going as light as I can on detail to avoid spoilers. May both says Coulson’s plan is horrible and keeps pressing about their bottle of Haig. Reyes tells Daisy what it was like in that other world with Ghost Rider. Aida ports in on Fitz and Simmons, and things get really ugly. Tensions rise as they lose more of the Framework.
Coulson arranged a brilliant ambush for Aida involving Ghost Rider, and I didn’t remotely see it coming. Neither did she. It leads to a really nasty, effects heavy, battle between Aida and the Rider. One of the agents gets a bit of revenge in against Aida along the way, too. Yo Yo and Mac’s time in the Framework comes to a really sad end. Daisy manages to save the survivor. Coulson and Reyes have a post-fight talk that makes it sound like Coulson has even more secrets than we thought. Ghost Rider leaves, showing he has his own way to travel now. The team, knowing they’re hunted, go out for dinner, in a scene that reminds be a bit of the infamous shawarma scene at the end of Avengers. Their meal gets interrupted by men in tac gear with some really oddly cryptic comments.
The Framework comes to an end with a really sad scene with Radcliffe. It’s not showy, it’s not flashy, but it works as a very brilliant, if misguided, man finally meets his fate. Some undetermined amount of time later, we see Coulson in a very different setting which is one of our big cliffhangers until next season.
After the show ends, there’s a brief trailer for the upcoming Inhumans show, which will be sharing SHIELD’s time-slot like the late, lamented Agent Carter used to. There was also a nice note about the passing of Powers Boothe.
What I liked: This was a brilliant use of Ghost Rider. The twists in the final fight were fantastic. I’m glad the Framework is done, and I’m really hoping the LMD’s and Ivanov-bots are, too. I can’t say I’ll miss Aida. It makes perfect sense that the agents came back to so much chaos, considering what happened while they were gone.
What I didn’t: It was a great episode, and most of my complaints are things they didn’t do, rather than what they did. A running thing on this show seems to be building up powerful allies who then utterly disappear. In all this mess going on, why did Talbot not have Absorbing Man with him? Where’s Deathlok? I get them not being able to call on the Avengers, both for real world budget issues and in-world with the wreck of the team during Civil War. I really think they missed an opportunity by not bringing some of the people out of the Framework they way Aida got out. This would have been a great way to bring back Trip, a good Ward, and Radcliffe. I really did feel bad for Radcliffe at the end. He never even got his last drink.
This was a brilliant episode. I’ll give it a 4.5 out of 5. I’m looking forward to next season, although I have my reservations about what I’ve seen of the Inhumans so far.
Bring back Agent Carter!