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Agents of SHIELD - World's End - Review - "Recap and Review: Ready for Season Five!"

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns this week with a two part episode: “Orientation.” Part one is written by the showrunner team of Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen and directed by Jesse Bochco. Part two is written by DJ Doyle and directed by David Solomon. However, it’s been so long (May 16th! Almost seven months!) since we last saw our team, I think it’s the perfect time to take a quick look back at last season’s finale because I for one can’t remember how they ended up in space!

“World’s End” was written by Jeffrey Bell and was directed by Billy Gierhart. This episode was the perfect culmination to a terrific season. I loved the three arc season: Ghostrider, LMD, and Agents of Hydra. The season had terrific acting. Mallory Jansen and Gabriel Luna were terrific additions. Jansen will be missed, but hopefully, we’ll see Luna again. This episode was dedicated to the memory of Powers Boothe who passed away just before it first aired.

The episode opens with the return of Ghostrider (Gabriel Luna). Coulson (Clark Gregg) and May (Ming-Na Wen) are playing defense on the very damaged Zephyr. May wants to know why Coulson drank the bottle of Haig without her, and Coulson tells her that they’ll need another bottle to discuss what happened with the first. Sure seems like these two are still headed in the direction we want! #Philinda

Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) questions Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) about Aida (Mallory Jansen). Fitz tells her that she was created from the Darkhold, but she got her superpowers from Fitz’s experiments with Inhuman DNA. If you’ve been watching the Inhumans, you’ll see a tie here to what Declan tried to do for Maximus. (If you didn’t watch…don’t). Fitz is clearly devastated by what he did. This scene is beautifully shot as the two – who are separated emotionally – are never in the same frame together either.

Simmons tells him that she’s not writing a report and tries to convince him that he’s still “this” man – the Fitz she loves. Simmons tells him they need to find a solution. But Fitz says that his solutions only end up hurting or killing people. But that’s the solution they need right now – how to kill Aida. Fitz says he doesn’t know how to kill her, and Simmons questions whether Fitz wants to kill her.

Daisy (Chloe Bennett) is beating herself up about leaving Mack (Henry Simmons) in the framework and not stopping Elena (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) from going after him. Coulson insists that neither were her call. And then suddenly the frameworks starts to disintegrate!

Elena is still strapped to an examination table, but the building is disintegrating around her. She’s about to be shot when she’s saved by Radcliffe (John Hannah)! Daisy – they surmise – lead Radcliffe to her by putting red balls in his pockets. Radcliffe tells her it’s madness for her to be there – ah, love! And he also shows her that the framework is shutting down – clearly a victim of Aida’s anger.

Meanwhile, Ivanov (Zach McGowan) is enjoying watching Aida – the creature of logic and calculation – consumed by rage. Aida wants to burn the world to the ground. The Darkhold has shown them what to do – but she wants S.H.I.E.L.D. – and especially Fitz to suffer. Robbie shows up to collect the Darkhold, and we get a great fight scene.

Aida is burnt by his flaming chain and Robbie realizes that she isn’t like the machines anymore. He asks her what she’s done and she tries to zap him with Lincoln’s lightening, but of course, that only pisses him off and makes Ghostrider appear. I will never tire of that special effect! Knowing she’s in danger, Aida transports out. And there’s nothing like a screaming, flaming skull to put her anger to shame!

Simmons fills Coulson in that the framework will be totally destroyed in between 12 and 20 hours. It’s interesting that she clearly has sympathy for all the “lives” that are being lost. She also tells Coulson that there’s no guarantee that Mack and Elena will survive until the end. Fitz and Daisy are working on protecting them and devising an exit.

Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) calls, and Coulson tells him that they were all the victims of a vanishing banshee made of matter from another dimension. Talbot can’t put that in his report! I loved the world-weary way Coulson says “I have a cybernetic hand, I’ve been to another planet. This stuff happens in S.H.I.E.L.D.” Mace’s death has revealed that he wasn’t an Inhuman and raised another outcry about S.H.I.E.L.D. and its lies. Talbot needs Coulson to attend an International Intelligence Inquiry to defend S.H.I.E.L.D. He has to help bring down their enemies before they bring S.H.I.E.L.D. down. Coulson tells him it’s impossible, but he’ll let him know if things change…

Daisy has news that Robbie took his charger and goes after him. She brings him back to the Zephyr. He explains that there was a tear in the Dark World when Aida was created and that’s how he escaped. Ghostrider is drawn to dark matter, and he wants to send Aida and the book back to Hell. Of course, he goes on to say that Hell is relative – plenty of places qualify, including other planets. The Earth is just one territory in a war that’s been going on forever. He’s not sure if he can beat Aida, but the demon inside of him hates her more than anything else Robbie has ever felt.

I loved May showing up with the one guy’s head tucked under her arm. They don’t know who he is, so Daisy runs facial recognition on him. May identifies him as Sergei Mishkin (Joris Jarsky) – one of the Russian delegates invited to the Intelligence Inquiry – and Ivanov is his plus one. Their plan is clear.

Aida is angry and confused that her arm won’t heal. Ivanov explains that Ghostrider was made in the same darkness as she was – the Darkhold? He tells her that she’ll need to be careful around him. Ivanov and Sergei are going to help Aida recreate the framework world on Earth.

In the framework, Radcliffe and Elena go to Mack, who is evacuating S.H.I.E.L.D. He has to hold Elena back – Mack doesn’t know her in this world. Radcliffe tries to get Mack to admit that he saw the truth of the framework back at the steel plant, but Mack refuses. Meanwhile, Hope (Jordan Rivera) sees Elena and goes over and introduces herself. Elena and Mack’s eyes meet and she’s clearly distressed when it’s clear that he doesn’t recognize her.

Burrows (Patrick Cavanaugh) comes in and tells Mack that things are just disappearing, and Mack’s been having the same problem with the people in his charge – they and their belongings have been going missing. Mack tells everyone to grab what they can and follow him. Elena is sure that Mack will remember her if she can talk to him.

At the meeting, Ivanov speaks against S.H.E.I.L.D. and their secret program of breeding and weaponizing Inhumans. Talbot immediately challenges him. Ivanov tells them that the Darkhold has a plan to defeat the Inhumans. Talbot calls horse poop, just as Daisy burst in. His relief at seeing Daisy is short lived as she shoots Talbot in the head!!! NOOOOOO!

Coulson, May, Daisy and Robbie arrive too late to save Talbot – but he still has a pulse!! They shoot Ivanov and Sergei, who take off but leave the Darkhold behind. Daisy runs straight into Aida – who still has her Daisy-clones. She thought it would be fun to watch Daisy kill herself. Daisy suggests therapy. And Robbie burns up the Daisy-clone. Aida transports before he can take her.

Lt Evans (Zibby Allen) is determined to show the world that Daisy is a menace and their enemy. Coulson tells her that that wasn’t Daisy and that the Russians that didn’t die when they were shot were the same. Evens tries to have them arrested, but Coulson takes the Darkhold and he and May leave as Talbot is wheeled away.

Robbie and Daisy fight the remaining robots. I loved Daisy using the plate of steel as a shield. Robbie taking out Sergei’s eye with a drill was a little gruesome. Daisy is stabbed by Ivanov, who tells her that she can’t defeat him – he’ll just build more bodies. She points out the flaw in his monologue-ing. As soon as you make that kind of declaration…. You die! And Ghostrider is right there to wrap him up in his flaming chain. I loved them working together as Robbie flings him up and Daisy blows him apart. Even better? Coulson’s disappointment that he and May missed getting to see them working together!

The quinjet arrives back at the Zephyr. Daisy is sure that Aida’s revenge for her quaking her out the window will be sending Daisy-bot after Daisy-bot to assassinate people. But May points out that she doesn’t have to. As soon as the video of LMD-Daisy gets out, S.H.I.E.L.D. is dead. Coulson points out that it’s even worse – Daisy is also an Inhuman. Just like in the framework, Aida will unite people by their fear of Inhumans.

Coulson refuses to believe that Aida has won. He points out that this is all bigger than the framework. They’re awake and know what’s going on – and they’re pissed enough to do it! Coulson wants to use the Darkhold as bait. Robbie refuses. Daisy points out that Aida is also terrified of Robbie, but Robbie points out she won’t let him get anywhere near her. Coulson asks if Ghostrider is as desperate to destroy Aida as they are. When Robbie says yes, Coulson thinks he has a plan.

When Simmons tells them that the Zephyr is running out of power to keep Mack and Elena alive, Coulson says they have to go back to base – which everyone else thinks is a terrible idea. Coulson is tired of hiding. He wants to take the fight back home. He tells Simmons and Fitz that he knows that they have a lot to work out – but he needs them on the same page. Henstridge and de Caerstecker continue to deliver wonderful performances in this episode as they did all year.

Back in the framework, things continue to unravel as the telecommunications go off line. Elena thinks she needs to convince Mack to believe her, but Radcliffe tells her that it’s not that Mack doesn’t believe but that he’s chosen to stay in spite of it.

Elena goes to Mack and introduces herself. She jumps to the conclusion that he remembers her, but he simply remembers Daisy mentioning her. Elena understands why he doesn’t want to leave, but she was hurt when he wouldn’t return to her. She thought that if he looked into her eyes, he would remember the life they shared. She tries to explain that this is the end, but Mack is still holding on to Hope (in every sense of the word) even in the face of the bridge and all the people on the bus disappearing.

Elena wonders why they are still there. Radcliffe surmises that their friends on the outside – Fitz in particular – has found a way to keep them safe… for now. Mack tells Hope that they’ll go home.

May really doesn’t like Coulson’s plan, and I loved Coulson telling her that Robot-May was way more supportive! May goes back to the Haig – again – and of course she’s right about Robot-May having something to do with it. May says she never wants to talk, but thinks that maybe they should. They might not get another chance. But Coulson is bluffing. He doesn’t want to have that talk either.

However, he takes the bull by the horns, and tells May. He also tells her that he’s not sure how much was her and how much was programmed. He tells her that it felt right and part of it seemed real. They both admit that maybe it was real. Coulson suggests that when they get out of their current predicament, they take a step back, and when it feels right, they open another bottle. It’s a deal for both of them.

Daisy and Robbie share horror stories about what they’ve been up to. Daisy in the Hydra-world, but Robbie’s was worse. Even though he’s just a passenger there, all Ghostrider did was fight and kill. Robbie is happy to be there – and I really liked the chemistry between Bennet and Luna in this scene. Fitz and Simmons get Daisy into the framework so that she can build a back door – but Daisy points out that it’s up to Elena to convince Mack to use it.

Fitz asks Simmons if she bolted the door and she says yes – just before Aida shows up! Fitz tries to reason with Aida – and let’s just take a moment to truly appreciate the magnificent performance of Jansen in this scene – and the entire season. She was fabulous as an LMD, created a whole new character with Agnes, and finally, infused Aida with emotion – so much emotion… Aida, however, has chosen to focus on one emotion – vengeance. She’s determined to make Fitz suffer the way that she has suffered.

Simmons takes the classic opening provided by monologue-ing to try to stab Aida, only to end up having Aida stab her. Aida wants Fitz to beg her not to kill Simmons. Fitz tries to distract her with the Darkhold and tells her that Coulson has the book and is firing up the gateway as they speak. He offers to take her to it – if she’ll just let Simmons go. Instead, Aida zaps Simmons with electricity and slams Fitz against the computers, telling him that she’s going to kill everyone that he loves – right in front of him.

Elena is ready to drag Mack to safety, but Radcliffe tells her that she can’t because Mack would never forgive her – or himself for abandoning his daughter. Elena knows that Mack is willing to die there to be with his daughter. Elena tells Radcliffe that it’s killing her that Mack is willing to die for a little girl who doesn’t even exist – and of course, Hope overhears.

Aida goes to the gateway and finds Coulson there with the Darkhold. She thinks she’s got him because Robbie isn’t there. He tells her that she’s missed one important human concept: teamwork. And then Simmons is behind her and shoots the crap out of her. Clearly it was an LMD that Aida killed! Aida is still cocky, but Simmons tells her that she knew the gun wouldn’t kill her – she just wanted to do it!

Aida still thinks that she’s safe – but then Coulson grabs her wrist – and turns into Ghostrider! AWESOME! Aida tries her lightening on Ghostrider and then tries to teleport away. I loved them teleporting into falling, and then back to the tunnels. We get a close up on Fitz as Ghostrider turns Aida to ash – and she shares one final tortured look with Fitz. It’s clear that Fitz is seeing Ophelia. Once she’s ash, Ghostrider retreats.

Hope goes to Mack upset that she’s not real. Mack is angry, but Elena tells him that the world is ending, and she doesn’t want him to die with it. The exit door appears, but Mack says that the only person he cares about is there. He’s not leaving. Elena also refuses to go because the only person she loves is there to. Cordova-Buckley really shines in this episode and delivers her best performance yet in the series. Even as Mack tells Hope that he will always love her, she disappears from his arms.

Daisy loses Mack in the framework, just as Elena wakes up. She immediately calls to Mack – who then also wakes up. Elena is glad to see him, but it’s clear that Mack and Fitz will have a lot of emotional baggage to work through.

Couslon tells Robbie that it was horrifying and he doesn’t know how he lives with it. Coulson and Robbie both know why Ghostrider agreed to the deal with Coulson. Coulson doesn’t want the team to know why – he’ll tell them when “it’s time.” And isn’t that ominous! Time for what?

Elena and Mack share a moment. This is beautifully shot as we see their images mirrored in one of the cars in the garage bay – a nice nod to the “mirror” world. Elena takes Mack’s hand and apologizes for having tried to take Mack away from Hope. She asks for his forgiveness and is clearly distraught that they weren’t able to save her. Mack tells her that there’s nothing to forgive – aw, Mack. Mack, unlike Fitz, actually has happy memories. He has memories of a life with Hope, but those memories are also a glimpse of what he can have with Elena.

Robbie takes his leave. He doesn’t need the gateway – he’s learned a few things since he last saw the team. I loved the effect of him using the fiery chain to open a portal to a different world! He’s going to take the Darkhold with him to somewhere safer. He asks Daisy to keep an eye on his brother. Coulson tells Robbie he doesn’t envy him, and Robbie says he doesn’t envy Coulson – there’s that ominous mystery again! May picks up on it and wants to know what Robbie meant by it.

May doesn’t get her answer as they’re interrupted by Mack and Elena. They’ve heard good news – Talbot’s alive but in a coma – the bad news is that they know that the team is there and they’re coming. Fitz tells them to get going. He’s going to stay behind and take the blame for everything.

Daisy is having none of it. She reminds him that they were all in the framework. She acknowledges that they all have a lot to work through, but the thing to remember is that they’re all in it together – there’s that teamwork thing again! And it’s perfect to come from Daisy in the last episode of the season when she started the season in exactly the same place that Fitz is right now – and tried to cut herself off from the team. She reminds Fitz that he was the one who pulled her back in. She tells him that on behalf of the team, Fitz has nothing to apologize for. They all agree – and Coulson suggest they go for a bite to eat.

The last we see of Radcliffe, he’s watching the sunset from a beach, having a drink – and then he winks out.

The team is all together for the first time in a long time – all lined up at the counter of a diner and about to order dessert – when the soldiers arrive, with a seeming power outage, to take them into custody. Coulson compliments them on the ominous power outage and suddenly the guy in charge has some weird device that freeze frames them. He tells his men that there’s a two minute window and to take them.

In the final scene, Coulson wakes up in a gray metallic cell, puts his boots on, and opens a “window.” He’s looking at a meteor field in space – he’s on a spaceship! He tells himself, “Alright, Phil, enough sightseeing. Get back to work.” WHAT?!?!? How long has he been there? What work? Leading the team? So many questions and such a good cliffhanger!

I loved this season. Fantastic acting from the entire cast. Fantastic direction and still some of the best special effects on network television – and really just plain terrific special effects, no qualifier. So, so, so much better than Inhumans. And some of the best writing and storytelling on television. I adored the way they structured this season with the three distinct arcs. This 22 episode model makes the best of the new normal shortened/split seasons in combination with the traditional older model. The shorter arcs were beautifully integrated and related, yet formed distinct storytelling units on their own. I can think of any number of other shows that would benefit greatly from such a model. What did you think of the finale? Season? What are you hoping to see this season? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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