Agents of SHIELD Season 5 Episode 18: All Roads Lead… Recap

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This week on Agents of SHIELD, the Gravitonium situation spirals further out of control, as things always seem to do when the Gravitonium is involved. Fitz and Simmons stay true to themselves and each other, having finally realized just how important they are to each other as anchors, not just as friends, lovers, and scientists. Back at the Lighthouse, love is in the air, but it’s confused and has taken a wrong turn or two. Plus, Talbot is still happy to comply.

As a matter of fact, HYDRAGlenn is riding the elevator and making his way to the armory as the episode begins, choosing a weapon while mumbling to himself that no one has to get hurt. He goes to the control room and checks for Robin’s location, plus messes with the surveillance cameras. Mack catches him there, but doesn’t act on any of the suspicious signals Talbot is sending.

In England, Fitz is working on repairing the infuser component while Ruby practices her aim with the chakram, narrowly missing Jemma’s head each time she throws. Fitz finally has enough of the circus sideshow, and insists that he needs Jemma’s help.

Ruby stares at them as they embrace for a moment, as if she’s never seen a couple express true emotions.

Ruby: Aw. You two are adorable. I ship it. I really do.

Jemma tries to get Ruby to see reason by talking about the end of the world and everyone dying, but Ruby heard from Coulson that Daisy causes the end of the world. Ruby doesn’t care about very many people anyway.

Werner returns and says that Ivanov is dead. I didn’t notice it last week, but his head was bleeding and there were bits of brain spilling out, if you look closely. He must have put his brain into an LMD. But what did Hale have to blackmail him with then, if she wasn’t holding his brain hostage? Was he just helping her because he wanted a chance to infuse his brain with Gravitonium?

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Werner has figured out that someone else must be there with Fitz and Jemma, so he’s set the mechs to track and kill. Then a technician brings the stockpile of Gravitonium in, and Werner and Ruby stare at it in awe. Fitz and Jemma sneak in a conversation while Werner and Ruby are distracted. They practically renew their wedding vows.

Fitz: You realize that we have a choice to make.

Jemma: Yeah. Our hypothesis is being proven. We die, we break the loop. We don’t fix this, we stop them.

Fitz: They’ll kill us. I can’t choose anything over you. Not even…

Jemma: I feel the same way. So?

Fitz: So we keep working, piece by piece. There’s a lot to do.

Jemma: Yeah. Very complicated. It will take a while.

Ruby: Hey! Pick up the pace, or I start removing body parts like I did to your friend.

Elena makes it back to the quinjet. It doesn’t have a signal. She’s in so much pain from her arms that’s she’s probably in shock, and passes out.

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Coulson runs into May on the way to the mission briefing, and calls for her to wait. When he doesn’t talk immediately, May tells Coulson that she said everything that she had to say, and walks away.

Daisy leads the mission briefing. Thanks to the distress signal they picked up from the mechs, they’ve been able to pinpoint Hale’s base as an old military bunker in the Appalachians. They intend to hit the base hard and fast, with May and Daisy going in to get the Gravitonium and Hale.

Coulson will run backup from the Lighthouse. Mack needs to find Fitz’ design schematics and start fitting the Zephyr for space so they’re prepared for the end of the world. Since Deke just got shot, Daisy orders him to stay behind to help Mack.

Coulson tells Daisy she’s getting good at running missions. She replies that she’s pretty sure she should lose points for the mutiny. Coulson agrees, but says he added points for when she rescued him and Talbot.

Hale’s assistant, listed on IMDB as Candice Lee, let’s Hale out of Ruby’s room. Hale comes out barking orders. Lee informs Hale that the mechs are down because Ivanov is dead, so she’s called in human reinforcements. By depowering the mechs, Elena returned jobs to humans that had been taken away and given to robots!

Creel is psychologically worse because he’s got Quinn and Hall arguing in his head, having nearly succumbed to madness at this point. Hale realizes that it’s imperative for them to stop Ruby from using the infuser and Gravitonium together. Lee also tells her that FitzSimmons are at the facility with the infuser.

Hale visits Creel, who explains Hall and Quinn’s history fairly coherently. Then he turns himself into concrete and bangs his head repeatedly against his bedroom’s concrete wall.

Coulson, Mack and Deke gossip around Mack’s workspace. Deke has been cheerleading Daisy all episode. Coulson and Mack finally roll their eyes at him, and he notices. He denies having feelings for Daisy, but eventually admits it when Mack let’s him know that he confessed when he was high on painkillers after his surgery.

Next, Deke wants advice on courting techniques for the early 21st century. Coulson and Mack confess that they’re both hopeless at relationships. Coulson’s been chasing May for more than 30 years, and hasn’t caught her, despite the feelings being mutual. The last time Mack saw Elena, she pulled an elaborate con on him designed to jailbreak Fitz and allow her to lock Mack in the cell instead.

This sounds like an episode of White Collar.

Deke: Well, you guys are useless. It’s lemons, then.

Phil: Come again?

Deke: In my day, when you wanted to tell someone how you felt, you’d just save up your tokens, you’d buy a lemon, and leave it on their bunk. That’s a thing here, right?

Mack: Oh, yeah, you should do that.

Coulson: 100% When in doubt, get a bunch of lemons.

It’s easy to forget how little of this world Deke’s seen. They ought to at least let him watch TV and movies. Imagine his joy when he finds lemons on sale 3/$1.

Talbot breaks into Polly and Robin’s quarters. Robin and Polly aren’t home, but Robin’s recent drawings are spread out over the table. Talbot looks through them, trying to make sense of them.

Daisy and May suit up to drop from the Zephyr into Hale’s base. Both appear unarmed, but, of course, they each are the weapon. Daisy has her powers back, and May says if she needs a gun, she’ll take it, a callback to season 1.

They send a bomb down in advance of the pod. In the chaos that follows, Daisy and May take out a lot of HYDRA agents. When they run into Hale in a corridor, she surrenders. She wants all of them to go try to stop Ruby instead of fighting each other. She tells them that FitzSimmons are at the lab, too.

Werner and Ruby check on FitzSimmons progress.Werner discovers a bit of intentional sabotage, meaning they’ll have to start over. Ruby beats on Fitz and threatens to cut pieces off of Jemma if they don’t work faster and stop making mistakes.

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Elena is still recovering in the quinjet when a soldier finds her. She speeds over, grabs his gun, and shoots him. Her new arms send painful electric, neurological shocks into her body. Elena looks like she might pass out again.

Talbot finds a drawing with five people looking on as two people lie on the ground surrounded by blood. When he sees the blood, he says, “Redrum, redrum.”

Polly and Robin return to their quarters and are disturbed to find Talbot there. Talbot introduces himself, and tries to explain his presence, in his rambling, unfiltered way. When he mentions his own young son, George, Polly becomes understanding, but Robin stays guarded. She recognizes Talbot from her drawings, and knows what comes next.

Daisy and May explain Creel’s situation to Coulson, Mack and Deke via long distance video conference. They agree to help Creel any way they can, once the threat to earth is over. Stopping Ruby comes first. Everyone is worried about the teammembers who are at the infuser site.

Deke: Daisy, you can’t go there. That’s too dangerous.

Daisy: For the hundredth time, I’m not going to quake the world apart.

Deke: That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying you have to be careful, because…

Daisy: No matter what, I’m not going to use my powers around the Gravitonium.

Coulson: If you won’t quake and Ruby’s powered, she’ll kill you.

Daisy: Sir, you brought me back to lead. This is what that looks like.

Coulson: You can’t put yourself at risk like that.

May: We’ll make those decisions, Phil, not you.

You’d think they’d occasionally let the guy who knows the future finish a sentence during important strategy discussions.

Coulson wants to keep Daisy alive at least as much as he wants her to lead, and it skews his judgement.

Totally here for May and Daisy leading together. May has the experience and patience that Daisy lacks, whereas Daisy has a strategic and ambitious mind, making the two of them a well=rounded team.

Daisy signs off by telling them to go through Robin’s drawings to see if there are any that fit the current situation. Deke makes a frustrated joke about women, and Mack gives him a second nickname, “Lemons”, meaning he’ll be a series regular in season 6.

Talbot holds up a drawing of the world cracking apart with a person standing on top and asks Robin who it is and when it happens. Polly helpfully tells him that Robin doesn’t work that way, just as Robin says, “Soon.” She doesn’t say who it is.

Talbot says that there are people who want to meet Robin. They need to act on the drawings. Polly says that Robin is tired, maybe he could come back tomorrow. Talbot says no, the mission is today, and puts Polly in a choke hold until she passes out. Then he tells Robin that she’s coming with him. She says, “I know.”

When the SHIELD/HYDRA coalition reaches the infuser facility, Daisy orders most of the agents to wait outside and deal with the mechs. She, Hale and May will be going in. Hale complements Daisy on her training, and asks Daisy to promise she won’t hurt Ruby. Daisy says she intends to recruit Ruby for SHIELD. She says that it’s not Ruby’s fault that she became unhinged, implying that it’s Hale’s. To Hale’s credit, she doesn’t take the bait.

Daisy feels that Ruby could eventually be a great SHIELD agent. Hale is surprised, but Daisy says that they’re about to need all the help they can get. She might need Hale to talk Ruby down if they’ve already gone through with the infusion. Hale agrees. She just wants Ruby to be alright.

FitzSimmons finish repairing the infuser just as SHIELD arrives at the facility. Werner begins preparations for the process. Against FitzSimmons’ predictions, the Gravitonium easily flows into the infuser, allowing itself to be manipulated much more easily than usual. Quinn and Hall must be looking forward to having a body.

Coulson and Mack argue over one of Robin’s drawings. Deke says, “Welcome to my entire childhood.” He’s already been into town and picked up a lemon. Then they notice that the surveillance feed on Robin’s room has been tampered with. Polly is unconscious and Talbot has taken Robin. There is a drawing on the table showing 8 people inside one larger person. Is that how many the Gravitonium will eventually absorb before it can stabilize and communicate? Or how many will die because of it before this is over?

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Ruby gets into the infuser. Werner straps her in and activates the machine. She screams in agony, just like Steve Rogers. Hale, Daisy and May rush into the room and shut down the infuser after Ruby’s absorbed 8%.

Ruby levitates out of the machine. She screams in pain because Hall and Quinn are arguing in her head. Werner runs to her. He says, “I’m not going anywhere.” She tries to touch his face, but the artificial gravity that she’s now producing crushes his skull instead.

Ruby is devastated. She wants the Gravitonium taken out of her, right now. Fitzsimmons try to explain that the infuser only works in one direction, but she accuses them of lying and throws them up against a wall. Hale distracts Ruby long enough for May to get FitzSimmons out of the room.

Ruby continues to deteriorate, but Daisy tries to talk her down. She tells Ruby that she’s been in the same place that Ruby’s in now, with new, uncontrollable powers. She tries to convince Ruby that, with practice and time, they can help her gain control.

As May and FitzSimmons are leaving, they run into Elena, who guesses that Ruby is still inside the lab.

Coulson and Mack catch Talbot trying to escape the base with Robin. They try to talk him down. Talbot turns the gun on himself, and Mack gets Robin out. Bucky Talbot continues to threaten to shoot himself, because he can’t trust his own mind. Cryo isn’t available, so Coulson uses HYDRA compliance catchphrases to get Talbot to turn the gun onto Coulson, then Mack ices Talbot. Will cognitive recalibration work on Talbot as well as it worked for Hawkeye and everyone else in the movies?

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Ruby draws Daisy closer using the Gravitonium’s power. Hale tries to convince Ruby that they need Daisy’s help. but Ruby is only interested in violence at the moment. She tells Daisy, “I want to crush you,” and begins using her new power to crush Daisy’s windpipe.

Hale yells at Ruby to stop, and she does. They have another confrontation about Ruby feeling like she’s not good enough and Hale realizing that she pushed Ruby too hard. Hale tells Ruby, again, to listen to Daisy because Daisy’s on their side. But, now that Ruby’s calm, Hall and Quinn start yelling at Ruby to be set free, and that seems to cause her unbearable physical pain. It looks as though her mind is fracturing from the battle going on inside her head. Hale still tries to talk her through the process of mastering these new changes.

Elena comes back into the room and sees Ruby, the person who cut off her arms and has caused her to feel unbearable pain in the last few hours alone, never mind the rest of her life. She sees and feels the quakes that Ruby is causing, and decides that Ruby must be the Destroyer of Worlds. She says as much to Daisy, who tells Elena over and over to get out of the room, that she and Hale are handling it.

Elena doesn’t listen. She uses her speed and one of Ruby’s chakram’s to slit Ruby’s throat. Hale sits on the floor, holding Ruby as she dies in her arms. She gives Elena a look that could kill. Ruby floats several feet into the air and a powerful energy wave, accompanied by a bright light, emanates from her body as she dies. Everyone in the room is left unconscious.

When Daisy wakes up, Hale is gone. May and FitzSimmons reenter and ask what happened. Daisy says she had everything under control, and Ruby was coming around, then Elena killed her. Elena says, “No, I just saved the world.”

Gonna guess that didn’t break the time loop. It was just the kind of impulsive decision Elena would make every time. If she didn’t kill Ruby, someone else would do something to end Ruby and make Hale go to Qovas the way she does in the tag. Creel’s mental state got worse, not better, with time, and they couldn’t afford to be patient with Ruby, given her new powers and her volatile nature even before she was infused with Gravitonium. Either Ruby would end the world, or someone would end Ruby, causing Hale to go to Qovas and bring about the end of the world in a slightly alternative way.

The only thing that could have helped would have been if Afterlife was still in existence, with its full complement of experienced and powerful inhumans who could help Ruby the way they helped Daisy and Raina. Since SHIELD destroyed that option, it was death and/or the apocalypse.

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Hale appears in the room where she meets Qovas and impatiently calls for him. He angrily answers, threatening to punish her for coming to him without an invitation. She’s got puffy eyes from crying for hours, and her hands are still covered in Ruby’s blood. She rubs at the blood, like Lady MacBeth.

She tells Qovas that SHIELD has his Gravitonium, and although they won’t give it up willingly, she knows where they’re hiding. Qovas is surprised that she’s fine with him killing them. She says that she doesn’t have any reason to stop him.

4 episodes left.

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Deke: Lighthouse rules- club them from behind, don’t stop swinging until they stay down.

I love Deke’s ruthless practicality. That’s got to come from his beloved Grandma Jemma. Best not to give the enemy a chance to fight back, if you know they’re evil and out to get you. Just. take. them. down.

Lemons aren’t that weird a gift in a deprived place like the Lighthouse. We’ve already heard that Deke’s mom used to give him oranges as Christmas presents. Lemons have the same types of nutrition as oranges, plus bright, fresh, distinct flavors would be coveted in a place where most of the food that’s grown has to be bland staples.

That wasn’t much of an ending for Ivanov, the much anticipated, feared, and unbeatable Superior, if he’s really gone, after everything. It would have been better to have him be killed as part of Aida’s machinations in the big season 4 blowout, instead of quietly limping out a year later. After everything he did, all of his invincibility, all it took to kill him was Elena jumping out of a window and landing on top of him. It wasn’t even a very big drop. She didn’t even use her powers.

We lost Werner von Strucker tonight, descendant of a head of HYDRA, much abused by both SHIELD and HYDRA. There go my hopes for a crossover to The Gifted. Unless someone salvages his brain and keeps it alive in a jar, then builds him lifelike LMDs.

Redrum= Bonus reference to The Shining, in which a man is slowly driven mad by ghosts in a haunted hotel, tries to kill his wife and telepathic son, violently injures himself, and is finally killed. Redrum is murder spelled backwards. This better not foreshadow Talbot’s death. In this episode he injures the mother of a telepath and kidnaps the telepathic child, then almost kills himself.

The drawing that showed two people surrounded by blood and five people nearby, showed Ruby’s death. Ruby bled out while being held by her mother, with five SHIELD agents nearby (Daisy, Elena, Fitz, May, Simmons). They weren’t all in the room, but you can bet that Hale will remember that all of them played a part in Ruby’s death. Talbot says redrum while looking at this drawing. He could be referring to Elena being haunted by what Ruby did to her, or Ruby being haunted by Hall and Quinn.

I don’t necessarily agree with Elena’s decision to kill Ruby, because it would have been better to keep Hale as an ally, and helping Ruby learn control was worth a shot. But I don’t necessarily disagree either, for the reasons I stated in the summary. The odds that she’d learn control before going insane were slim, and then it might be too late. Under normal circumstances, that’s not a reason to kill her when she could be imprisoned instead, but in this case, the fate of the planet depends on these decisions.

Elena deserves some compassion, since she’d been in horrific pain all day from her uncalibrated arms. She wasn’t thinking clearly. Otherwise, she might have remembered that her future self told her that the change that matters is letting Coulson die, not anything to do with Ruby. It’s about time she told the rest of the team that bit of news, and gave them time to digest it.

Hale and Coulson are paralleled as parents in this episode, with both living for their daughters and wanting to protect them, but finding that it’s outside their control. Both Daisy and Ruby have been so out of control that others have been driven to take drastic action against them. Daisy is a series star and a hero whose team is made up of heroes, so she gets to live. Ruby is a guest star and a villain who maimed a regular and developed dangerously unstable powers, so she dies (or appears to die).

There is a theory out there that the other half of Ruby’s DNA is from Red Skull, which would make sense. Invitro fertilization was possible when Ruby was born, and undoubtedly HYDRA would have more advanced technology, would even have been working on cloning or creating a child of Red Skull for decades. Ruby had greater than normal human capabilities before the Gravitonium. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had some tesseract properties infused into her embryo as well, since von Strucker senior was working on that at the time.

So, it might have been more than the Gravitonium that caused to energy wave and burst of light when Ruby “died”, if that’s what happened. She may have just left her physical body behind, or have evolved out of her original body into a new one that’s more like the Gravitonium. Hall and Quinn were yelling about wanting to be let into a new body. They’d had years to figure out how to merge Gravitonium with DNA, or life force, or simply set the Gravitonium’s energy free when given the chance, to look for new bodies to possess so that they could each have their own.

Ruby’s story could be far from over. There are also the Supergiant and Sinthea Shmidt theories for Ruby’s true identity. Both characters went through intense physical transformations. Supergiant became a powerful, bodyless energy being, and Sin was quickly aged up from a child to an adult in order to become Red Skull’s successor on short notice. My current theory is that Ruby is a combination of these two characters. Hall and Quinn could be Ruby’s recalcitrant Brothers of Sin.

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