“The End” is a great name for this episode of Agents of SHIELD, since when it was filmed, they didn’t know if it was the season or series finale, obviously an important distinction. They have a lot of things to wrap up, and I was interested in seeing how the writers would account for all the moving pieces. I’m not surprised at all to say they did a good job of it, but then, I’ve stuck with the series for all five seasons so far, I’m obviously a fan. Then again, Arrow just wrapped season six, and it was sub-par to be kind.
This is a season finale that aired a while back, so there are spoilers here. Be warned.
At any rate, they start the episode with Coulson in the med-bay, nearing the end of his time, since his brief hosting of Ghost Rider has been eroding the alien tech that brought him back after his brutal death in the first Avengers movie. They all debate what to do, since not only has Coulson himself said he didn’t want any more artificial life extension, but Future Yo-Yo warned trying to save Coulson is what led to the end of Earth. The tension rises as the team nearly comes to blows before May takes definitive action, limiting their options. Fitz and Simmons start on their only remaining choice, and warn everyone else that the end might be coming.
Talbot, meanwhile, forces Robin, time-scrambled seer and prisoner, to show him where to find more gravitonium. Talbot continues his babbling self-justification, and stoops pretty low to ensure Robin’s cooperation. Robin reluctantly agrees, even with some depressing foreknowledge about the consequences.
Mack goes to reassure Yo-Yo and ends up preaching again. He really is getting kind of holier-than-thou, and it’s really starting to wear on me. Talbot takes his captured alien ship to a major city and does some serious damage with his dramatic entrance. The cracks in his “I’m doing this to save everyone” story are getting wider and wider. Coulson wakes up to find Yo-Yo visiting him, and they talk about the team’s recent choices.
Deke oversees the hoarding of supplies throughout the Lighthouse, hedging their bets in case it needs to become the refuge they saw in the future. He offers his unique perspective on his own possible fate and what Daisy needs to do if she really wants to lead. Talbot, it turns out, is rampaging through Chicago, not traditionally home to much in the Marvel Universe. The team takes off to confront him and Simmons prepares the serum they hope to use to stop him.
Coulson talks about the decisions made without him, first with Simmons, then with May. May applies her usual no-nonsense approach to their relationship, and scores some points as she walks out, leaving him with a decision to make. Talbot keeps destroying bits of Chicago to absorb more gravitonium.
While the Zephyr closes in on the chaos Talbot is causing, Daisy addresses the team. She does her best to bridge some of the cracks among her friends and teammates. She addresses the situation of being team leader, and makes a surprising decision about who should be Director of SHIELD. I’m not sure I agree, but I see why she made the call. Coulson rises from his sick and/or deathbed to come forward and show his support for Daisy’s choice.
The very out-gunned Chicago PD is trying to confront Talbot, who is, luckily for them, mostly ignoring them. Then, all the cell phones in the area ring at once, and they get a message of hope from SHIELD and the new Director… Mack. The team focuses on saving lives and getting people out of Talbot’s way. They even find Robin, but her mom, Polly is still locked on the crashed ship. Mack and his group start to try and plan how to free Polly while Coulson gives some suggestions to Daisy about how to approach Talbot. We also learn the wily ex-Director has conned the entire team.
As the rescue mission goes ahead with Mack, Yo-Yo, and Fitz boarding what’s left of the ship, Daisy makes a really dramatic entrance and gets Talbot’s attention. Just like Coulson wanted, she tries to appeal to his background and make him realize what he’s doing. Unfortunately, the man sounds way too far gone to listen. The others fight off some aliens as Davis takes the Quinjet back to the Zephyr and sees Coulson’s condition is going downhill fast.
Daisy’s appeal to Talbot goes poorly, as the man is in the grips of a serious power trip, raging paranoia, and some serious brain damage. Robin and Polly have a joyous reunion, but the collateral damage from Daisy and Talbot’s battle causes a tragedy for the team. Coulson collapses, Simmons finds out she doesn’t have what she thought she needed to save him, and Yo-Yo does what she can to keep the man alive.
Things are looking bad for everyone at this point. Talbot is about to absorb Daisy to steal her power and mine for more gravitonium, while Fitz has been mortally wounded by the debris from the fight. Daisy pulls a clever trick and ends Talbot’s threat, making him quite possibly the most tragic character of the series. I mean really, Talbot just couldn’t catch a break. Robin suddenly stops, noticing things are changing, which has never happened before with one of her visions.
The team has a get together that is part celebration, part mourning. They have a clever idea about Fitz that fits in the continuity, barely. We also see Simmons shattering Fitz’s multitool, breaking a part of the time loop everyone has been worried about. They share memories of things they’ve seen, things they’ve lost. Finally, they drop Coulson off on a beach to enjoy his “days, weeks if I’m lucky” that he has left. Of course, May is with him. What I really wanted to see, or at least hear mention of, was Lola the flying car, but that seems to have fallen through the cracks. The rest of the team flies off to new adventures as Coulson and May are left behind, but with each other, watching the Zephyr fly off. This would, indeed, have worked as a series finale, but I’m glad they’re coming back for one more, even if it’s an abbreviated one.
What I liked: It was a good wrap up. The tie ins with Infinity War were nicely done. We got to see Daisy and May kick ass again. Daisy tried hard to save Talbot, like the hero she is. Coulson got at least a version of a happy ending… until next season.
What I didn’t: I don’t think Mack is the best choice for leader with his attitude of late. I feel so bad for Talbot and all that he went through and lost. We never did find out what happened to Deke.
I’ll give this a 3.5 out of 5 for the episode. I’ll give the season a 4 out of 5. I hope they enjoy their break and find a cure for Coulson in the off-time.