Agents of SHIELD: What We’re Fighting For

One Last Time

After an enjoyable seven seasons, it’s time to say goodbye to some old friends. “What We’re Fighting For,” a very meaningful phrase as the episode goes on, is the series finale for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. The war against the Chronicoms finally comes to an end, some hard decisions are made, some of the agents make it home, and some don’t. This is the end, and I’m late on writing the review, so there will be spoilers throughout. That warning delivered, on we go.

Part one of the finale left off with Coulson, May, and Yo-Yo appearing in what might be the old SHIELD Swordfish bar/safe house, surrounded by other SHIELD agents, and the inconvenient death of neophyte teleporter John Garrett. As the team slowly and carefully talks their way out of what could be a catastrophically lethal situation, it slowly becomes apparent why everyone is gathered there. These people are not only close to the only survivors of the Chromicoms’ SHIELD massacre, but they have all brought various gadgets. Everyone seems at a loss for what to do next, but Simmons suddenly starts making a bit more sense as she begins building… something. There’s at least a passing reference to Enoch, who I really think they should have brought back in some way for this ending.

Eventually, an impressive looking gadget takes shape, but when it seems to be complete, nothing happens, getting another good line with that dry delivery from Coulson. Simmons’ babbling gets a bit more focused, a final adjustment is made, and a portal opens, making a nicely dramatic return of Leo Fitz… who Simmons still doesn’t remember. Awkward. Meanwhile, Sybil checks the timestreams and makes a surprising pronouncement.

The team is stunned by Fitz’s sudden return, and more so by his surprising announcement that they’re actually in a completely different timeline, but he can get them back to their “home” one. The ensuing argument about what to do puts Simmons on edge, frustrates Fitz, and presents the team with a big moral dilemma. There’s even a mention of the quantum realm, yet another tie-in to the Avengers movies. The debate gets resolved when Deke applies his odd outlook to the science problem at hand, and comes up with a solution no one expected. As it turns out, their way home involves a “Hey, we can’t all go” kind of problem, and Deke offers to stay behind. He has the fewest ties to the “real” world, arguably shouldn’t exist at all at this point, and actually built a life in this new reality. As the others make their way home and drag the unwilling Chronicoms with them, Deke takes on an interesting new role.

Fitz begins a very slow and careful process to prod Simmons’ memories about who he is and who they were to each other. This leads to a fond childhood memory, and an extended flashback of… well, it’s not happily ever after, considering there’s more story awaiting them, more an idyllic interlude. We do get at least a past appearance of Enoch, which was nice. Then, teaming with others we haven’t seen in a while, Flint, the rock and earth manipulating refugee from Deke’s bleak future, helps out by creating a mini-monolith to give Fitz and Simmons more time to work on what they need to create in order to defeat the Chronicoms. They also recruit the talented Agent Piper, a favorite from past seasons, to provide some security. Piper, ever the quick one, works out quickly they are “messing with time again.” The genius brain of FitzSimmons creates a special device to safeguard a few things, and is also the force behind the current, LMD/Chroni-Coulson. Finally, they get the mind implant ready that’s caused so many problems this season, and Simmons really doesn’t want to have to do what’s required of her. I don’t blame her.

Back up on the Chronicom ships, Malik whines about not being allowed to take over the world, and Sybil comments on the timelines changing. Malik decides that, since no one knows the future now, he can pretty much do whatever he’d like, and goes to check on the process of draining Kora of her powers. The man does enjoy his work. Back in their own reality, the Agents split up. Some of them adjust a few things in the past, leading to a careful dance around some events we’ve already seen. There are some interesting scenes of the current agents and their recent past selves as they set everything up just right. With some careful planning, the team even manipulates the batch of Chronicoms they brought with them into doing some of their work for them.

Having narrowly escaped the Chronicoms ships, naturally the only thing to do is go back there. Well, it has the benefit of being unexpected. It almost feels like part of this was just to give Quake a chance to get in a really good fight scene, first against a bunch of Chronicoms, then against Malik, who copied her powers so long ago. Elsewhere, Sousa and Yo-Yo clash with a few other bad guys. This is the first time Sousa has seen Yo-Yo with her powers fully working, and he gets off a line that is eerily reminiscent of Coulson’s final line from the first time he died (how often do you get to say something like that?). Seeing her close friends and working, fighting, and clearly caring for each other starts Simmons remembering, and she works the title into her lines.

A captured Coulson is hauled before Sybil, who gets in some gloating that’s standard for villains but seems a bit odd for semi-robotic masterminds. They banter back and forth, and May gets a really dramatic entrance to save the day, and even reclaims her old Cavalry nickname (a later interview revealed this was Ming-Na Wen’s idea for one of her characters’ final big scenes. In different places, Coulson and May make a last stand against the Chronicoms while Quake takes on Malik. Elsewhere, Mack and Kora begin a very important part of the plan. As the Chronicoms storm the Lighthouse, May puts her unwanted recent power to good use, and the team ends this part of the fight in a unique, creative, and unexpected fashion. Quake and Malik continue their duel, give a nod to one of Captain America’s lines, and then Quake reveals just how dedicated she is to her ideals, something Malik lacks. There’s a big sacrifice, a lot of destruction, and a last minute rescue. The title gets reused in dialogue a few times and we find out one of the other things Fitz and Simmons have been hiding- they have a daughter now. So, all’s well that ends well? Almost…

ONE YEAR LATER

Back at the Swordfish bar that’s been such a big part of this final season, the team gets together for a chat. Right off, things seem a bit strange, and we see that they’re holo-conferencing. We get to see where our favorite SHIELD agents have ended up now that they’ve saved the world and at least two different Chronicoms have prophesied that they’ll never work together again. Mack is the Director of what seems to be a largely rebuilt SHIELD. He’s even sporting a Fury-like look, minus the eyepatch, as we see him on the Helicarrrier, the same one from the movies. Yo-Yo leads a small field team, consisting of Piper and, righting at least one wrong, Davis, killed so pointlessly by Izel back in season six, now back ala Coulson as a Chronicom. May is teaching at not just the SHIELD Academy, but the Philip J Coulson Academy, thank you very much. Fitz and Simmons are retired, raising their daughter, although they make it sound like Simmons isn’t quite fully out of things, and that she’s keeping secrets from Fitz, which I didn’t like and sounded wrong. Daisy and Sousa, accompanied by Kora, are space ambassadors, representing Earth out among the stars (and possibly tying in to SHIELD’s sister agency, SWORD, which was hinted at in the after credits scene in Spider-Man: Far From Home. And Coulson has gotten an old friend back and is seeing the world.

What I liked: I didn’t want this to end, but they did it in a good way. I liked the twists, the clever reveals, the way they played with their own pasts to make everything work. I’m thrilled they brought back Davis, who I thought was a great character with a needless death. I really enjoy most of their “final fates.” They certainly left things open for some of them to be seen again (especially Mack and Coulson, I’d argue).

What I didn’t: Aside from not wanting to lose a series I enjoyed, most of what I didn’t like was more things they didn’t do than those they did. I’m disappointed we didn’t get to see Fury, Hill, or especially Ward, who was such a big part of the series early on. I’d also have liked a nod to some of the recurring allies, like Deathlok and Ghost Rider. With all the time travel and reality hopping, I was really hoping they’d bring back Enoch.

I’ll miss these guys, and hope we get to see them again somehow. Given how Marvel has been splitting their TV and movie properties, I sadly don’t think we will.

I’ll give the finale a 4 out of 5, and the series as a whole a 3.5 out of 5.

SHIELD Case Log: Closed.

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