Major Spoilers for Agents of SHIELD Episodes 21 & 22
With ABC cancelling Agent Carter and officially passing on Most Wanted, Agents of SHIELD is, once again, the only network Marvel TV show. So going into the season finale, I had higher standards than usual when reviewing the show. Overall, I would say they delivered a solid season finale, even if it was a bit slow at times. This was, refreshingly, a largely character driven episode, something Agents of SHIELD can excel at with its host of talented actors. Even characters I had never particularly cared about managed to leave an impact. So, in review:
Throughout the episode, the writers teased us and built constant tension by having the SHIELD jacket and Yo-Yo’s cross pass from person to person, marking each agent who held it as the possible fallen agent from Daisy’s vision. I must say I was expecting AOS to somehow worm its way out of her vision and avoid killing any major characters, as it has done in seasons past. I was surprised, then, that they actually killed off two of their leads.
Luke Mitchell’s Lincoln Campbell, or Electro Boy as he is semi-lovingly referred to, died in order to save Daisy. His death made me like him more than the rest of the character’s arc did over the whole season. He was always written as whiny, and, while he somewhat improved over the course of the season by becoming more and more part of the team, I never really felt attached to him. However, his final conversation with Daisy, so reminiscent of Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter, and the wonderful acting by Luke Mitchell and Chloe Bennett, made me wish they could find a way to pull the Quinjet back to safety. Lincoln’s final conversation with Hive, in which they both decided to accept death peacefully, revealed a calmer, logical aspect of Lincoln’s character from season 2 that the show has tried to cover up with a “hot head” personality that came out of nowhere in season 3.
Hive’s death also signaled the official end of Grant Ward, and Brett Dalton’s presence on the show. AOS has tried to hold on to him, all the while giving themselves more and more reason to kill him off. I’m still upset that the writers had Ward turn out to be Hydra in the first place. At first, they seemed like they were planning a redemption arc, but dug themselves in deeper and deeper, until the only reasonable thing to do was turn him into a primordial godlike parasite. It was nice to see some flashbacks from Ward’s life with the team, back when everything was happy, before we finally said goodbye.
Despite the death of two of the leads, I would have to say the most heartbreaking moments had to do with Daisy. Instead of everything going back to normal once Lash freed her from Hive’s control, we actually got to see Daisy go through the after effects. Her begging Hive to brainwash her again so she could escape the pain, despite knowing what that would mean for her team, revealed a very human flaw in her character which is normally presented as Coulson’s perfect protégé. Then her current love interest (and her former love interest as well) blew up. All of this apparently caused Daisy to go rogue and fully take on the Quake mantle, while still struggling to do good. It’ll be interesting to see where they take her story next.
The episode also had some high stakes moments for the other main characters. Fitz being trapped in the hanger with the inhuman mess-ups as the gas spread closer and closer to him had me on the edge of my seat. We also got to witness Jemma’s usual brilliance in figuring out how to get around the inhuman mess-ups by raising the heat. I’m relieved they didn’t kill of Yo-Yo, as I can’t wait to see her and Mack continue their relationship. Coulson standing up to face Hive, and later revealed to be a hologram, was one of the only funny moments of the episode. His “help me Obi-wan Kenobi” line was yet another reminder from Disney that they now own both Marvel and Star Wars (See Empire Strikes Back reference in Captain America: Civil War).
The bonus scene revealed a part of next season’s plot line with Radcliffe creating a LMD (Life Model Decoy), often used by Nick Fury in the comics. Could this be used to reintroduce dead characters? Or could it set up the new villain? Knowing Marvel, probably both. It will also be interesting to see who the new Director is, as Coulson’s comment in the chase for Daisy implies that he is no longer the head of SHIELD. Could this mean that SHIELD is a part of the Sokovia Accords six months down the line? We’ll have to wait until Agents of SHIELD returns for season 4 at 10pm EST on ABC.