Agents of SHIELD season 5 finale review: The End
In the Agents of SHIELD season finale, Coulson makes his choice, Daisy meets her match, the time loop is broken, and Tahiti IS a magical place.
In the weeks leading up to the Agents of SHIELD finale, many wondered if it would be the last hurrah for a show that has never had trouble playing for the highest stakes. We now know that the show has been renewed, even if it is for a truncated run sometime next summer.
As excited as I am about that news, after seeing the season five capstone, I’m almost disappointed: it’s hard to imagine the show going out on a more emotional, more fitting, high than the one it provided this week. It felt whole, unique, satisfying and final. All the things an end should be.
After five years and dozens of adventures, it felt true, and in a business where sendoffs so often fall sort of expectations, it did not disappoint.
The episode opens on the group agonizing over whether to use the Centipede serum to save Phil Coulson’s life or combine it with the odium to take down Gravitron, with Daisy and Yo-Yo heading up both camps, respectively.
Sure of the future, Elena takes matters into her own hands and uses her speed to steal the serum, but she’s not the only one with a strong opinion on the matter, as seconds later, May shatters the odium, seemingly leaving the group with no other choice.
After that, it seems a foregone conclusion that a reluctant Coulson, prompted by the group to now join the fight and somehow stop the superpowered Talbot, will take the serum and fulfull destiny.
But AoS has never been big on predictability.
With Coulson down, and maybe out, the group has to rally behind a new leader. Daisy has been groomed for this since the first season, but, in a move that illustrated the wisdom she has gathered over five years, she nominates Mack, who has long served as the conscience of the group. It’s an inspired choice, one everyone can agree on. But Mack’s ascendance to Director is postponed when a revitalized Coulson emerges to join his team.
Soon after, a power-made Gravitron bullies young Robin into revealing the location of the Gravitonium – which just happens to be under the highly populated city of Chicago – and the supervillian lands his ship the hard way and goes about plundering the city.
The reinvigorated Coulson and Daisy fly to meet him for the final conflict, but not all is as it seems. Coulson never too the Centipede Serum. He can barely stand. Crippled and running out of time, he passes the torch to Daisy, not as the leader as we assumed, but as humanity’s shield. She has all she needs. He has given her all he can.
Daisy tries to appeal to Talbot, to his honor, to his background – but poor Glen is too far gone. She acquits herself well in the fight that follows, quaking and battling with vigor against a superior foe, but Gravitron is just too strong. And threatening to become stronger still once he absorbs Quake and her tremendous powers.
It’s then that Daisy finds the serum Coulson hid in her gauntlets, his sacrifice to give her strength. After injecting herself, she utilizes a sudden burst of raw power to blast Talbot into space, ending the threat for good.
But Agents of SHIELD does not give easy victories. In an attempt to thwart fate, Mack has entered Talbot’s ship and attempted to save Robin’s doomed mother. With help from Fitz and May, he succeeds, preventing his and Polly’s deaths, but there is a price. The aftershocks from the fight between Quake and Gravitron ripple through nearby buildings, including the one the SHIELD team is in. A section of the ceiling collapses, pinning Fitz.
At first it seems that Fitz’s incredible luck will hold out, but the time loop has been broken, and shrapnel has found its way into his abdomen. The unkillable man bleeds out in front of his friends. He dies in a heartbreaking scene, gripping and merciless. But the following one, a simple shot of Jemma’s face as she realizes the truth, is even more haunting.
In the aftermath, we are treated to a misleading montage that leads us to believe we are at a funeral, when, really, it is a retirement party. Though, honestly, it serves much the same purpose.
Having declined the serum, Coulson has very little time left. He says his goodbyes, each more difficult that the last, then he and May finally make it to Tahiti, to spend whatever time he has left… being. It’s a well-deserved rest for the elder members of the team, two of the most underrated heroes in the Marvel Universe.
From there, the team, now lead by Mack, sets off to find yesterday’s Fitz, who is still suspended in time, bent on fixing a future that has already been solved. The family is still strong, forever in search of one of their own.
It would have been a worthy end for the series, if a slightly convoluted one, which is in itself sort of appropriate for a show that has never been shy about bending a plot and messing with reality.
There will be some who are disappointed that the show didn’t tie in more strongly with that OTHER world ending situation, the one with the purple guy with the glove and, well, everybody else. But this too is fitting. In the earlier seasons, Agents of SHIELD would have shoehorned itself into someone else’s narrative, sacrificed its story for the betterment of the MCU, but it’s grown-up a lot since then, to tell its own stories, to claim its own proper heroes. Even if it started as a spin-off, it was content now, all these years later, to go out on its own merits, out on its SHIELD, if you will.
Thanks to the fine folks at ABC, we’ve been spared that pain. At least for now. Nearly a year will pass before we see the SHIELD team again. What will they be up to? What new adventures will they find? Regardless, it seems certain that the aptly titled “The End” showed us the closure of an era. One that deserves to be celebrated and marked in the annals next to exploits of the other great Marvel heroes.
Original article at Bam! Smack Pow!