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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The End - Review

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We have to wait a long time for our next season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Luckily, “The End” didn’t leave us with a truly horrible cliffhanger. The episode was written by showrunners extraordinaire Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen and was directed by Whedon. We knew going in we were in good hands. This could have been a series wrap, but there’s also some tantalizing stuff to keep going with. I debated on holding this review back until just before the next season premiere, but thought it better to post now – maybe we’ll get it boosted back up come next summer…

As the episode opens, Davis (Maximilian Osinski) is looking after an unconscious Coulson (Clark Gregg). Piper (Briana Venskus) and Deke (Jeff Ward) wait outside as the rest of the team debates their next move. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) supports Yo-Yo’s (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) assertion that this is the tipping point moment. Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and May (Ming-Na Wen) are clearly fighting for the last dose of the centipede serum to be used on Coulson. Daisy points out that there’s no way for the odium to actually penetrate Talbot (Adrian Pasdar). Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), somewhat surprisingly, sides with May and points out that no one can even get near Talbot. Fitz suggests that they could deliver the odium if Talbot absorbed someone, and Mack (Henry Simmons) is appalled.

Yo-Yo is ready to sacrifice herself if she has to. Daisy finally makes the call to save Coulson because Coulson would never give up on Talbot. He wouldn’t see him as a monster but as a broken man. Daisy insists that their purpose is to save lives and she’s making the call to save Coulson. Yo-Yo takes the scorpion serum and insists that the others are making her do it. She insists that she’s not the bad guy. Cordova-Buckley is fantastic in this scene as Yo-Yo is increasingly distraught that the others won’t listen to her. She doesn’t want Coulson to die, but he’s only one man. She feels isolated and alone that none of them will help her. She insists that nothing is holding them together, and Mack insists that HOPE is holding them together. I loved that we had that throwback to Mack’s daughter. Mack insist they vote, but May takes it out of everyone’s hands by destroying the odium.

May apologizes to Yo-Yo who is inconsolable, pushing even Mack away, and May hands the serum to Fitz. He tell them that they’ll prepare the cure and the others should prepare for the end of the world. We get a nice shot of the wrecked alien ship floating toward a still intact earth, cut to an actual globe.

Talbot is insisting that Robin (Lexy Hinton) show him where she saw him with the graviton. Talbot tries yelling at her that he’ll just take her powers (by absorbing her – ew!), but Robin isn’t afraid and knows he won’t. Talbot is determined to win her over – and reminds himself that she’s just a child.

Polly (Lola Glaudini) tells Robin she’s doing good and not to help Talbot. But Robin knows what Talbot’s next move is – it’s to use Polly to get to Robin. Robin tells Polly that if she doesn’t help she’ll never see Polly again. This must be where Polly is supposed to die.

Mack tries to speak to Yo-Yo, and she tells him that he’s going to die. Mack points out that everyone dies – quite pragmatically. And yeah. He’s not wrong. Mack’s bigger concern is that when you die, you have to answer “up there” for what you’ve done. But Yo-Yo tells him that it’s not God that she’s afraid of.

Meanwhile, Talbot proves not to be a great pilot as he takes out a good chunk of the Chicago skyline. I thought this was actually one of the few special effects that the show has done that wasn’t great. But maybe I’m just pissed at Talbot for screwing up one of my favorite cities!

Yo-Yo goes to see Coulson. It’s far more likely that she was more afraid of his judgment. She tells him that she wanted him to know that she was never arguing for him to die – it’s a subtle distinction, but an important one. Coulson tells her that he would have been on her side – and she already knows that.

Deke is helping prepare the Lighthouse, and Daisy points out that he’s the best person for the job – he knows what the future looks like after all. Deke is happy to help everyone get situated, but he tells Daisy that he’s not sticking around. He shows her his room where he’s been “squirreling away” everything he can find – including a huge pile of lemons! Daisy thinks it’s a good idea, but Deke sees it as evidence that he is a damaged person from a damaged world. He wants to see the world before it dies – and if it doesn’t, according to Fitz, Deke will just blink out of existence anyway.

Deke points out that he never really “fit in with the gang” anyway. He explains how impressed he was when he first met them. He’d only ever met people willing to kill for each other – not willing to die for each other. He thought their trust seemed too strong to break. Deke tells her that her trying to fix Coulson is great – but if she ever wants to lead, she needs to fix that.

Simmons has prepared the cure and clearly shares some of Coulson’s misgivings. He reminds her that they’ve seen what happens when you don’t let nature take its course. He reminds he of his carving the walls and Garrett’s insanity. May interrupts them and asks to speak to Coulson alone.

Wen and Gregg are fantastic in this scene. May wants Coulson to fight for more time. Coulson clearly knows how much it’s going to hurt May when he dies before they can even really get this new relationship started.

I did think it was cool when Talbot pulled a pillar of the earth up and then sucked the gravitonium out of it.

As the team gets closer to ground zero, Mack is leading the team through the tactical elements of what’s waiting for them on the ground. Daisy calls them all together, including Yo-Yo. Daisy admits that she let her emotions get the best of her and that she thought Coulson was the only one who could bring them together. She looks to Yo-Yo and acknowledges that Yo-Yo would see that as evidence that Daisy shouldn’t lead – and Daisy shocks them by agreeing that she shouldn’t lead! Daisy knows that she can’t hold the team together – but Mack can because he’s their moral center. She wants to be a soldier – but Mack can be the General they can all rally behind.

Coulson joins them and seconds Daisy’s decision. He tells Daisy that it’s time to suit up, and he hands her her gauntlets – with the serum already in them. He then turns to Mack and asks him what they should do. Mack tells them – save lives.

The police are at a loss about what to do when Mack’s voice suddenly comes over everyone’s phones and radios. He tells the first responders that S.H.I.E.L.D. is there to help. They should get any civilians near the center of the city to the airplane they have to evacuate them – we see the team helping them on. We see Mack, Fitz, and May clearing the upper floors of the high-impacted buildings. Mack tells them not to engage the enemy – they’ll handle it.

May and Mack find Robin who has made it out of the ship. She tells them that Talbot took Polly away from her. Mack climbs up into the ship, and May tells him to search the detention level. May comforts Robin – and does anyone not love May with kids? Or at least with Robin…

Daisy has a plan. She’ll neutralize Talbot so that Coulson can walk right up and talk Talbot down. Coulson shocks her by saying he’s not going. He admits that he can barely stand, and Daisy realizes that he didn’t take the cure. He tells her that it didn’t feel right. Gregg is terrific as he tells Daisy that he’s sorry. Daisy tries to convince Coulson that he’s the only one who can reach Talbot, but Coulson doesn’t agree and thinks that they are likely beyond that anyway. And that means that Daisy is the only one who can defeat him. He coaches her to appeal to Talbot as a military man – it’s the one thing that has been holding him together after all.

Daisy is sure she can’t do it. Coulson tells her that he’s given her all the tools she needs: “Find the strength in your heart to appeal to his good nature. And if you can’t, find the strength in your arms to beat his ass senseless.” Coulson tells her they’re out of time and sends her alone. And then we see the footage from the future as Daisy turns back to the Quinjet and tells Coulson to go back to the Zephyr and take the cure because they fought each other for it for him. They’re still caught in the loop.

Fitz joins May and Robin and sees the globe with half the world colored out. May tells him that Mack went after Polly, and Fitz points out that neither of them make it. We cut to Mack trying to free Polly. He manages to get Polly out, but the two remoraths are there.

Meanwhile, in one of my favorite effects ever, Daisy super-powers herself to jump on Talbot and literally surfs him down the street! (if you have a gif of this, please add it in the comments!) Daisy tells him he needs to stop because people are dying. He asserts that it’s for the greater good so that he can arm himself to fight their enemies, but Daisy tells him that he’s becoming the enemy.

Daisy tells Talbot to do it for his son. She points out how afraid George was of him. Talbot denies it and insists that the ends justify the means. Daisy tells him that the only people who say that are the ones who do bad things. Talbot insists he’s becoming a hero – and Pasdar is great here as we hear it in his voice how badly he wants to be a hero – like the Avengers – and like Daisy. But Daisy really surprises him by telling him that he’s already a hero. She offers her hand to help him up – and there’s a nice moment of real hope as we see their two gauntlets come together.

Daisy tells him that he became a hero the moment that he enlisted – they all did. And I really loved that this is also a shout out to everyone in the military – they’re all heroes too. She also includes all the first responders. Anyone who risks their life to save others. She tells him that they need to join forces. And it seems like it’s working when Talbot says it sounds good. But that’s the problem. He listened to Hale give the same speech just before she tortured him and he feels like Coulson gave the same speech every time he then turned around and stabbed Talbot in the back. He agrees that humanity is on the brink, but he’s the only one who can save it. He then grabs Daisy and tells her that they should join forces and he shoots up into the air with her.

Davis (Maximillian Osinski) arrives back at the Zephyr with Coulson who is completely unresponsive. Simmons is shocked when Davis brings an unconscious Coulson to her until Davis tells her that Coulson didn’t take the serum. Yo-Yo is horrified and begins CPR.

May and Fitz show up to help Mack in the nick of time and I love the new bad ass Fitz! Robin is thrilled to see Polly emerge from the rubble. The time loop IS broken! It’s impossible to know exactly what has done the trick, however. But it does mean that nobody is safe. May whisks Polly and Robin away as Fitz and Mack also climb out of the rubble. At that moment, Talbot slams Daisy into the ground and that shakes the rubble loose, and it falls on Fitz!

Simmons runs for the serum and finds it gone, calling for the others to get the defibrillator. And I loved how these scenes dovetailed. Daisy is about to be absorbed by Talbot and sees the syringe in her gauntlet. Robin stops and says that something is different. Maybe this is the moment the loop is broken? And then we go into slow motion as Daisy stabs herself with the serum, May and Mack work to save Fitz, and Simmons and Yo-Yo work to save Coulson. The team at its best: saving people.

Daisy is super-powered by the serum and breaks free from the gravitonium. Talbot tells her that he’ll just break her in half, and Daisy quakes him out of the atmosphere where he freezes and floats off into space – but is he dead?

         Coulson comes to, and it looks like Mack and May have found Fitz still alive. Fitz thinks his leg is broken and that is the worst of his injuries – but it isn’t.

Simmons, Wen, and De Caestecker are simply outstanding in this heartbreaking scene. Mack and May realize immediately that the piece of metal essentially cutting Fitz in half is a death sentence. We get a close up of Fitz’s wedding ring as Mack holds his hand. Mack is barely holding it together as he tells Turbo that he did really good in getting Robin and Polly out. As Fitz goes deeper into shock and closer to death, he simply tells Mack again that he thinks his leg is broken. May watches as Mack holds Fitz’s hand as Fitz dies.

From here, we go immediately to Simmons who is smiling over a stabilized Coulson. She smiles as Mack enters the room and knows immediately that something is wrong and Henstridge is brilliant here as we see the knowledge that Fitz is actually dead come to her and her eyes fill with tears. Not gonna lie. I was screaming at my tv the moment that they dropped the bricks on Fitz. BUT I remembered that Fitz is still in cryongenic sleep in space too!

We see an “In Remembrance” plaque being carved and Simmons packing a bag – with a gun in it! Is she leaving the team? Yo-Yo comes to Mack who is sitting alone in a corridor and crawls into his lap, comforting him – and taking comfort from him. They know they’ve broken the loop, but at what cost. Simmons stops in what appears to be Deke’s room and it is completely cleared out. She finds Fitz’s knife that she gave to him on the table and it’s like new. Does this mean Deke has simply popped out of existence as they thought he would? Seems likely – and too bad. Jeff Ward was a terrific addition to the team this season.

Daisy burns Robin’s drawings, and May smashes the remaining piece of the monolith. Davis installs the plaque in the cockpit, and May pours a drink (Haig?) for everyone in the cargo hold. Coulson tells them that this is a celebration, not a funeral. Simmons is the last to join them. Mack reminisces that the Zephyr has been home for them, but Daisy says she’ll always miss the Bus and May agrees. Yo-Yo wishes that she’d known them back then, and Simmons tells her they were different people – and it’s a nice echo of the old picture of her and Fitz that Simmons just packed. We know this isn’t really the end – no yet – but this would have been a nice wrap up.

Coulson makes a short speech – and Gregg is amazing here. He has one false start as he’s overcome by emotion. His words echo Daisy’s to Talbot. He tells them he’s lived a life surrounded by heroes – and none bigger than the group with him here. He also includes all the men and women who serve – in the military and in the public service. He points out that they sign up to get close to good people they will lose. Daisy adds that they should never forget those they’ve lost. Mack points out that’s why they’ve put the plaque up in the cockpit. Coulson tells them they don’t have to forget, but they do have to move on.

Simmons respectfully disagrees. She tells him that they hold that place in their hearts, but they lock the door and visit from time to time, but they don’t move on – you can’t leave what you take with you. And then Coulson gives us our first bit of hope. He’s too cheerful when he says he’s said that he didn’t get to say goodbye to Fitz. The others look somber. But Coulson continues – “But you’ll tell him for me” and Simmons answers “of course.” Yep. Our writers and our team didn’t let us down. The writers had a failsafe built in for Fitz right from the beginning!

Simmons says that Fitz will be sad to have missed this “memorial.” Coulson says he’s not dead yet – and it’s not much of a retirement party because nobody’s drinking yet. We cut to Davis polishing the plaque – and it’s Coulson’s name. Simmons gives Coulson the postcard from Fitz, telling him to remember that his team always worked the problem, no matter what the odds. And this line alone gives me hope for Coulson. Coulson isn’t dead yet. Does anyone think that the team isn’t going to keep working the problem?

The team is going to be going after Fitz to wake him from his cryogenic sleep. Coulson tells Simmons that he’s sure they’ll be able to find him – but it’s clear from their faces that it won’t be easy. Coulson gives a toast: “Here’s to us. Who’s like us? Damn few!” Coulson hugs Yo-Yo, who thanks him, and Mack, who says he’s going to call often for advice. Coulson tells him that his phone’s going in the ocean.

Coulson and Daisy say goodbye and of course, the chemistry between Bennet and Gregg is in full force. She wants to know how long he has, and he tells her days, maybe weeks if he’s lucky. He tells her that he left a letter for her on her bunk – basically just saying how proud of her he is. They tell each other that they love one another – and she thanks him for the spaceship.

Coulson lowers the ramp to the Zephyr while Yo-Yo, Mack, Simmons, and Daisy watch. He puts on his sunglasses and walks off onto pristine sand. Daisy puts the Hula girl on the dash of the Zephyr, and it takes off. Coulson is joined on the beach by a sunglass wearing May. He tells her, “I gotta say. It’s pretty magical.” And he’s finally in Tahiti – and the show has come full circle. The two clasp hands, and watch as the Zephyr flies off.

This was a terrific end to another great season. It might not be my favorite season or finale, but the elements that make me love this show were there in abundance: careful, thoughtful storytelling; great direction; mostly stunning effects; genuine, heart-felt performances by a terrific cast. And of course the action and snappy dialogue. I will miss Adrian Pasdar as Talbot, however.  It could have worked as a series finale, and in some ways, there would have been some real poetry in returning to Tahiti as the team is passed to a new Director. But I am beyond thrilled to have more of this terrific show yet to come. I’m going to trust that part of the reason we have to wait so long is the Avengers movies and part is Clark Gregg’s schedule – because we have to have Coulson back! I look forward to where these terrific writers will take us next. How about you? What did you think of the season? The finale? What are your hopes for next season? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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