Episode 22, The End, closes season 5 of Agents of SHIELD, and, as promised in the promos, not everyone makes it out alive. It’s an emotional episode that ties up the Graviton story, at least for now, and settles the question of who’ll succeed Coulson as director of SHIELD, at least for now. The season is wrapped up nicely at the end of the episode, but there’s a clear set up for season 6. I’m still reeling from everything that happened in this episode, and wondering about some of the dangling threads that were purposely left hanging.
Coulson lies unconscious in the infirmary, not dead yet, but inching ever closer. Deke listens from the hall as the team argues about whether to save Coulson or save the world. They don’t currently have a way to get the centipede serum/odium mixture into Talbot, even if they decide to use it on him. Fitz suggests that having Talbot absorb someone who has the serum might work. Mack, of course, is upset that Fitz went there. Fitz tells him it’s a hypothetical suggestion.
There Fitz goes, using big words and getting all sciencey and theoretical again. Next thing you know, he’ll try to get Mack to believe in climate change or that the earth is more than 6,000 years old.
Elena agrees with Fitz. That means Mack is also disgusted with her. Though she doesn’t want to volunteer for a suicide mission, she’s willing to, if necessary, and argues that they all should be. They all agree that Coulson would be willing to sacrifice himself, but May and Daisy say that the sacrifice would be for nothing because it wouldn’t work. Daisy says that Coulson would still be trying to save Talbot, rather than giving up on him. Robin said that Coulson would be the one to put the pieces together, to fix what’s broken. Daisy has to make the call, and she decides that SHIELD saves lives, so they’ll save Coulson.
Just as she starts to tell FitzSimmons to prepare Coulson’s remedy, Elena races to grab the serum. Elena doesn’t want to be the bad guy, but she can’t let them choose to save one man over the whole world. She feels like she’s in a nightmare and no one will listen to her, not even Mack. Mack tells her they need to hold it together. Elena says there’s nothing holding them together, but Mack disagrees. They’re held together by hope. So they’ll cling to it, and they’ll vote on which way to use the serum.
Then May smashes the vial of Odium on the floor, taking the choice away for good.
I kind of hated her in that moment.
That was totally out of character for her, just as Mack has been acting out of character. I feel like in previous seasons, Mack would’ve volunteered to replace Elena on the suicide mission, not suggested that no one should ever go on a suicide mission. How many times have we seen Mack risk his life to protect someone, or everyone? How many times have we seen May put reason over emotion? Answer to both questions–Always. I don’t get this writing.
Elena collapses, crying, “Why?” May picks up the serum and gives it Fitz, who says, “Simmons and I will prepare the remedy. Everyone else should prepare for the end of the world.”
Talbot gives Robin a globe and tries to pressure her into showing him where the Gravitonium is. She refuses, so he has Polly taken away. Robin says that she knows that if she doesn’t help him she won’t see her mother again. Talbot says that it’s true, and hands her a Sharpie.
Mack finds Elena sitting in a corridor, crying because she knows he’s going to die. He tells her that he’s not scared of dying, as long as he’s at peace with what he’s done on earth when he faces God in the hereafter. Elena says that it’s not God she’s afraid of.
Talbot exercises his right to park his giant spaceship wherever he wants, no matter how bad parking is in Chicago. He’ll absorb anyone who tries to give him a ticket or fine him. On top of a few tall buildings works out well for him.
Elena visits Coulson to make sure that he knows that she didn’t want him to die. She just wanted everyone else to have the chance to live. He would have taken her side, had he been awake.
Deke helps organize the Lighthouse, which is going public. Daisy is glad that he’s in charge, since he’s the expert on the facility. He says that he’s getting the process started, but he’s not sticking around. Living in the Lighthouse, he’s still living like it’s the future he grew up in, hoarding stuff in his room and never going outside. He wants to see the world before it’s destroyed again or he blinks out of existence.
Before he goes, Deke gives Daisy some
lemony brotherly advice: Saving Coulson is great and all, but she needs to fix the trust issues among the team members before she can lead them and they can function together as a team effectively again. When he met them, he’d never seen people as devoted to each other as they were. She needs to get that back.
Piper blows through and announces that Talbot’s been spotted in Chicago. It’s time for Daisy to suit up.
And off Deke goes, into the sunset. May he make his way to Florida and find an entire lemon orchard, along with a nice girl to make him lemonade everyday.
Until season 6, when we’ll need him back, older and wiser from his adventures, with new idioms to try and romantic stories of exotic fruits.
While the Zephyr takes off for Chicago, Jemma prepares to give the serum to Coulson. After she describes what it is, Coulson expresses his resistance to using it, again. Jemma starts to tell him that the rest of them had voted that he was going to be given the serum, but May interrupts her, thank goodness. Coulson didn’t need to hear just how thoroughly his protegés had decided to ignore his wishes about whether heroic measures should be taken to keep him alive.
The team may have good intentions, but pushing the serum on him is a betrayal of his carefully reasoned decisions, for their own selfish purposes. He’s asking for death with dignity on his own terms, which is a basic human right. Of course I want Coulson to continue on the show, but I feel very strongly about letting people go when it’s time and they’re ready. The team needs to find a better cure or reason for him to live to convince him to choose life, not force him against his will.
May: I’m not going to detail what we risked to get this.
Coulson: I’m aware, and I’m not happy I was left out of that decision.
May: You wouldn’t wake up. But now the decision’s yours. You’re too weak to stand. Well, we’d like to see you walk out of this room and rejoin the fight. but it’s up to you, if you think more time is worth it. I’ve made it clear how I feel.
Coulson: I think I have, too.
May: But even now, the word scares you.
Coulson: I’m just having a hard enough time leaving you behind.
May: So don’t.
May is sincere about loving Coulson and wanting more time with him, but there’s emotional manipulation going on here as well.
Talbot descends onto the Chicago streets from his spaceship. His sniffs out the exact location of the Gravitonium, and raises a core of earth to reveal it. Then he pulls the Gravitonium onto his hand, quickly absorbing it.
On their way to Chicago, the team determines that Robin is on Talbot’s ship. They form a plan to rescue her and get the Chicago civilians to safety. Fitz needs to get close enough to Talbot’s ship to test the structural integrity of the buildings it’s resting on.
Daisy calls everyone together. She says that she knows that she’s been too emotional as leader, so she’s nominating Mack to lead instead. She calls a vote, and it’s unanimous in favor of appointing Mack the new director of SHIELD.
Coulson appears from the med bay and agrees with the decision. He hands Daisy her suit so that she can get ready to fight Talbot, then asks Mack what they should do next. Mack says, “We save lives.”
Mack makes an announcement to the police and all other first responders with SHIELD’s evacuation plan for the affected area of the city. Despite SHIELD”S checkered past, people are happy to hear from them and let them take charge.
Mack, May and Fitz find Robin on the top floor of one of the buildings that Talbot’s ship is resting on. Robin is okay, but Polly is still on the ship. Mack climbs up inside the damaged ship to rescue her. Fitz realizes that Mack and Polly don’t survive the disaster, so he and May follow.
Daisy gets ready to leave the quinjet and calls for Coulson to get ready as well. Coulson confesses that he’s not going. He can barely stand, since he didn’t take the serum. He tells her that Talbot is most likely beyond being treated as a reasonable person. He knows Daisy is the person for this job. She disagrees, sure that Coulson is the only one who can talk Talbot down.
Coulson: “I’ve given you all the tools you need to handle this. Now you 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. We’re out of time. Go.”
When Daisy leaves we see the quinjet scene that, in the future, was considered the last time she was seen alive, just before the earthquake that destroyed the world. Daisy yells at Coulson to go home and take the serum. As soon as she’s gone, Coulson collapses and falls into unconsciousness.
Fitz returns from helping survivors out of the building and learns that Mack and Polly are on the ship. He realizes the significance of that pairing. Robin has used her Sharpie to color the globe in as if it’s already the cracked earth. Mack finds Polly trapped in her cell and sets her loose.
Talbot senses the Gravitonium under the pavement and tries to bring it to the surface while Daisy makes an epic run down the street toward him. At the end, she uses her powers to fly into him and push him down the street, breaking pavement as they go. They stop when they hit a bus.
Daisy uses the method Coulson taught her and appeals the Talbot’s patriotic nature. He insists that this is war, and war has casualties.
Two Remorath find Mack and Polly. Mack is losing the fight, but May and Fitz save them, each killing one Remorath. I’m surprised Mack didn’t have a fit about them killing the Remorath unnecessarily, but, silly me, his no death rule only applies to certified humans. What would he do if confronted with the Guardians of the Galaxy?
Daisy continues to try to convince Talbot to back down, this time by bringing up his son. Talbot says that his son will eventually understand that he was doing what’s necessary. That the end justifies the means. Daisy says that only people who are doing something wrong use that excuse. Talbot replies that he’s becoming a hero.
Daisy makes a moving speech about the everyday heroes who live among us, to whom we all owe a huge debt of gratitude- the police officers, soldiers, firefighters, paramedics- everyone who signs up to protect what’s most important to society and has the potential to sacrifice themselves in some way, or to lose something or someone they love. That already includes Talbot, with his long military service. Daisy tries to convince him that they should work together.
Unfortunately, Talbot’s heard this speech many times before. It’s been pulled out by both Hale and Coulson, the two people he now considers his arch enemies, just before they screwed him over. He’s not falling for it this time. But he does want to work closely with Daisy. Very closely.
Talbot takes hold of Daisy and flies her up into the air, then drops down and slams her into the ground. She instinctively quakes to buffer her impact. She and Talbot create a hole in the ground around themselves that’s probably 15 feet deep and wide. Talbot tells Daisy that he needs to find the rest of the Gravitonium so that he can help the Avengers, so he’s going to absorb her. That way, he can use her quake powers to get to the buried Gravitonium quickly.
Is it me, or is he becoming a one trick pony with this absorption thing?
He begins to surround her with Gravitonium. As Daisy’s struggling against him, she notices that Coulson’s hidden the serum in her gauntlet (“find the power in your arms”) and injects herself with it. She bursts free of Talbot’s Gravitonium, and quakes him into space.
Talbot can’t breathe in space, and it’s really cold, so he freezes. The last we see of him is his frozen body floating toward the sun.
Meanwhile, Davis returns the quinjet to the Zephyr and discovers that Coulson isn’t breathing. He carries Coulson to find Jemma, who rushes off to get the serum, assuming it’s still in the case next to Coulson’s bed. While Jemma’s gone, Elena prays and does CPR on Coulson. She feels responsible for his death, after arguing so hard that they should save the world instead of him. After some extremely intense CPR and prayer, he comes back.
When Daisy and Talbot create the giant hole, it creates an earthquake that further destabilizes the building that Mack, May and Fitz are in. Fitz in buried under a pile of concrete rubble. May and Mack work furiously to dig him out.
In the middle of all this, Polly grabs Robin and rushes her down the stairs to escape the crumbling building. Robin stops and says, “Something’s different,” as Daisy finds the serum and Elena is about to bring Coulson back. Mack and Polly are safe, while Fitz is under the rubble.
When they get to Fitz, he’s conscious, but shaky and in shock. He tells them that he thinks his leg is broken and he can’t feel it. When more rubble is pulled away, it’s clear that the injury is a mortal wound and Fitz will be dead soon. Fitz wants to make sure that Polly and Robin get out safely. May assures him they’re okay, but otherwise, she just watches him die. Mack sits with him and holds his hand, talking him to him as he fades. Fitz has no idea what’s happening, but is gone quickly.
Jemma is getting Coulson settled in the infirmary when Mack gets back. Coulson’s heart is beating steadily. Jemma turns to Mack, happy that Coulson is doing well, but quickly tears up at the look on his face, as she realizes what it must mean.
Later, the team has a plaque engraved in remembrance of Coulson’s service to SHIELD in its many incarnations. They fake us out and make us think that it’s a memorial plaque for Fitz, but they’re not giving up on him yet. Jemma packs up Fitz’ clothes and personal belongings in a suitcase. She finds the tool that Deke left behind, now shiny and new again, since it didn’t go through the loop, on the table in Deke’s room. It looks like the other version might already be in the suitcase, but that could be a different, similar tool, instead.
Deke’s room is empty. Either Deke cleaned it out before he left town, or he never existed, so his hoard never existed. Choose your own character loss explanation. My Deke lives, and has discovered tick repellent. Walks in the forest are only half as frightening now.
May smashes the family heirloom monolith chunk, while Daisy burns Robin’s drawings. Davis hangs the plaque up.
The team gathers to
mourn Fitz mourn Coulson even though he’s not dead yet say goodbye to Coulson. Coulson tells them not to be sad, because it’s not a funeral. They’re all wearing black. Coulson isn’t usually this tone deaf, but he’s signing off and doesn’t want to deal with their drama any more.
This episode was filmed before their season 6 renewal came through, and was meant to serve as a possible series finale. This scene is where you can see that the most. They all reminisce about the bus and the Zephyr and how much they’ve been the team’s homes.
Coulson makes his big speech:
I’ve spent a lot of years…Sorry…(shaky sigh)…I’ve lived a life* surrounded by heroes, none bigger than all of you. Since the day you joined, same as anyone in the line of duty, heroes. Because you…because we sign on to lose each other. To get close to good people and have them taken away. We’ve all suffered losses. Never lose sight of that.
Daisy: And never forget those we’ve lost.
May: That’s right.
Mack: That’s why we’re putting that badge up in the cockpit. To never forget.
Coulson: You don’t have to forget. But you have to move on.
Jemma: No. With respect, sir, you’re wrong. We don’t move on. We hold that place in our heart. We close it off, lock the door, and we visit from time to time. But we don’t move on. Even after we say goodbye.
Coulson: I’m just sad I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to Fitz. But you’ll tell him for me.
Turns out, the next mission is to go retrieve Frozen Fitz, or Fitz 2, from space. This is retirement party for Coulson, though nobody’s drinking, so he doesn’t think it’s much of a party.
Jemma gives Coulson the Lighthouse postcard that Fitz sent to the future with the message, “Working on it,” written on it back. She wants Coulson to remember that his team always worked the problem, no matter the odds. Like the odds of saving Coulson before he dies again/bringing him back to life again?
Jemma thinks that Frozen Fitz will be a little sad to have missed the rescue mission, but he’ll be excited to learn that time isn’t fixed. Instead it’s a flowing, changing, beautiful thing. Coulson has no doubt they’ll find him. Jemma tries not to cry and to convince herself that Frozen Fitz won’t have missed much.
Only their proposal and wedding. Maybe some major adventures and important character development. Certainly nothing that would have affected Jemma. Nothing like that time Fitz had a robot hold a gun to her head so that he’d have to go through with doing brutal, risky surgery on Daisy against her will and without anesthesia. Oh wait.
Everyone hugs Coulson goodbye. The actors are crying real tears here. Mack says he’s going to call Coulson for advice, but Coulson’s throwing his phone in the ocean and going off-grid.
Finally, Coulson gets to Daisy. She asks how long he has left. He tells her Simmons estimates that he has days, maybe weeks. He left Daisy a letter on her bunk, mostly telling her
how to get Excalibur out of the stone before Mack where the buried treasure is how Fury’s toolbox works how to summon a Koenig how proud he is of her. And let’s be realistic. There’s something in there that will lead to their next mission, after they thaw Fitzicle.
Daisy and Coulson hug and tell each other, “I love you.” Daisy thanks her dad for the spaceship. It makes sense that the guy with Howard Stark’s flying car would give his daughter a space ship.
Coulson opens the cargo bay door, takes one last look at the team, puts on his aviator sunglasses, and walks out onto the white sandy beach of Tahiti, where May is waiting for him. Kinda weird that no one said goodbye to her. Still some tension over the odium thing?
Coulson says it really is a magical place.
They hold hands and lean together as they watch the Zephyr fly over.
Daisy puts the iconic hula dancer on the dashboard of the Zephyr as they take off for Jupiter.
The entire sequence from the time that Daisy confronted Talbot through Fitz’s death, was some of the most powerful work this show has ever done. Adrian Pasdar and Iain de Caestecker in particular found new depths and nuances in their characters. We may get some form of each back, but I’m going to miss these versions like crazy.
Clark Gregg, as always, is the rock this show is built on. He is quietly incredible every week, and this sequence showed, once again, how much he can do even without speaking.
Natalia Cordova-Buckley gave Elena an intensity and passion all season that came to a head in this sequence and believably made her the other keystone, along with Robin. In that sequence, as she said her prayer and performed CPR, Elena was like some combination of a saint performing a miracle and a good witch performing a spell, using the power and energy she’d built all season. Robin was her prophet, reading the energy shift as it happened.
Seriously- We have Elena saying an incantation, all of the elements represented (earth, air, fire and water- Daisy in a hole, most of the cast up in the sky, fire on the Zephyr, Daisy taking the serum), various forms of magical circles, a trinity of magical actors, a resurrection- there’s a very spiritual, ritualistic feel to the sequence. Y’all can duke it out with Mack as to which religions were represented besides Elena’s Catholic prayer.
Between Elena, Coulson, and Fitz, all three have odd relationships with time, life and death at this moment. Coulson has come back to life through TAHITI, made a deal with demon and dimensional traveler Ghostrider, and now his life hangs in the balance. He sacrificed himself this time to give Daisy the serum so that she could break the loop.
There are two Fitzes alive at the same time, and this one realized that Mack and Polly wouldn’t survive the loop. He sacrificed himself so that they’d survive, helping to break the loop. His life also hangs in the balance in that moment.
Elena has met her future self, who died and was brought back to life over and over. She’s also sacrificed her arms and was ready to sacrifice her life. In a sense, future Elena did sacrifice her life so that she could keep giving advice to her younger self on how to break the loop. Otherwise Future Elena could have tried harder to find a way to die that would have destroyed her body enough so that it couldn’t be brought back.
The way that the slow motion sequence is shot, when the loop is broken, it’s like the magic happens because of the sacrifices made by the three of them. Everyone has been so angry with them all season, and disagreed with their choices, sometimes to the point of violence, but all three have been steadfast in their beliefs that they were making the right decisions. It’s paid off, and the loop is broken, through the magic or energy created by the three of them by sheer force of will (and some help from Jemma, too.)
- Daisy was wrong- Coulson didn’t insist that they save Talbot the man. He realized that Talbot was probably too far gone.
- May was wrong. It wasn’t essential for Coulson to be cured to put the pieces together.
- Yoyo and Fitz were right- someone did have to act as bait and bring the serum to Talbot themselves, getting close enough to be absorbed, and even nearly getting absorbed.
- Granted, Daisy didn’t put the serum into Talbot, but everyone has wanted her to use her powers to stop the end of the world all season. She and Deke were the only ones in the present day who were absolutely against her using them. If anyone thought they could talk her into it, they would have tried again. As it stands, what Coulson did is very close to what Fitz did to get her to close the fear dimension. He sent her into a situation she couldn’t survive without enhancing her powers in a way she was absolutely against, and tricked her into taking the serum by placing it in her suit and making it her only option for survival. The show just conveniently forgot to address that issue afterwards.
- Daisy was never seen alive again after the day that the world cracked apart because she’d been absorbed by Graviton, who then used her powers to destroy the world as he searched for and tried to extract more Gravitonium than he could handle.
- Talbot’s body is frozen, but he has an enormous amount of Gravitonium in his system. Human consciousness lives on in Gravitonium, and it seems unlikely that anything about space would change that. How resilient has the Gravitonium made his body? If he was thawed out, would he come back to life, as supersoldiers have been known to do? Given the way he could change his shape, it appears to just be a convenient shell at this point anyway. I doubt that he actually needs air to breathe. It’s possible that he and the others in the Gravitonium just hadn’t learned the extent of their powers yet, and they’re capable of shapeshifting, surviving extreme temperatures and going for long periods without breathing now. At the very least, like Hall and
OatesQuinn, Talbot just needs to find a new host body to take over.
- Given the amount of Gravitonium in Talbot’s body, and the value of Gravitonium, there will be a race to salvage it. Anyone who tries to remove the Gravitonium from his body may set off a shock wave the way Ruby’s death did.
- Actually, since they pointedly showed us the shock wave when Ruby died, then didn’t do anything else with it, and didn’t show us a shock wave when Graviton died, the odds are about 99% that he’s frozen, but not dead. Bets on who picks him up and thaws him out?
- The solar system is pretty crowded right now, with Thanos and the Children of Thanos out there, whoever remains of the Remorath that came with Qovas and could have escaped in escape pods, Papa Kasius’ ship on its way or already here, and possibly other Confederacy members who might have been hiding nearby. The last of the Asgardian people are also potentially on their way to earth. Someone’s bound to pick up the Gravitonium’s energy signature before long and investigate.
- Maximus, the exiled Inhuman prince, is still hanging out on the moon, as far as we know. I wouldn’t put it past him to finagle a ride to earth from one of those bypassers. Fingers crossed that he does so- He’s the only character from that series, besides Lockjaw, that I’d like to see again. With Loki possibly really most sincerely dead this time,** Maximus could be a reasonable replacement trickster.
- Robin said, “Something’s different,” not, “The loop is finally broken.” Daisy is now strong enough to destroy the world by herself. She may actually be the Destroyer of Worlds in some versions of the loop. Daisy has also left earth unprotected, while she’s off getting Fitz back from cryo storage near Jupiter.
- If someone thaws out Talbot, he could destroy the world without Daisy there to stop him. If someone separates the Gravitonium back out of Talbot’s body, then they’re free to use it to destroy the world themselves. The loop doesn’t always play out exactly the same way every time. Future Yoyo suggested that she had told her younger self almost every way she could think of to break the cycle, but nothing worked. That suggests that the only way to truly stop the cycle is to change one of the fixed points. They may not have done that yet, so they may still have to deal with a continuing threat to the earth next season. Or the world could end anyway, despite the loop having been stopped.
- For now, it was left open to the viewer to decide whether Deke vanished because the time loop was fixed or he took off to see the world, the way he told Daisy he would before the last mission started. I choose to believe that he’s off eating ice cream and trying out idioms on squirrels. Given that nearly every guy who’s been attracted to Daisy has ended up dead, his odds aren’t good.
- I still think that, logically, Deke was right about the multiverse. He shouldn’t disappear, since he left his own timeline when he traveled back in time. Because of that, changes to this timeline shouldn’t affect him. Dr Strange has already told us that the MCU is a multiverse. So has Ghostrider. We just have to work out the minor rules.
- SHIELD stands for: Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division- It was founded as a spy and international enforcement agency, which fundamentally means that agents will get their hands dirty at times with things like killings, abduction, coercion, espionage, robbery, suicide missions, secrecy and lies. Nick Fury may have taken that philosophy too far, and kept too many secrets, but the principles the agency was founded on are still good and the job it was meant to do is still necessary. Espionage, law enforcement and undercover operations in the real world are forced to use these tactics to be effective. They dress it up with code names and it’s legal for agents/officers in the line of duty. By putting the emphasis only on saving lives, as in search and rescue operations, Mack is fundamentally changing the character of SHIELD, away from a proactive agency that tries to avert or contain crises, into a reactive agency that cleans up after disasters and hopes that someone else will discover and solve the problems that cause them.
- It shouldn’t be a problem to consider worst case scenario solutions during a brainstorming session for a mission to stop the end of the world. That’s what Fitz was doing when he mentioned Talbot absorbing someone with the odium/centipede serum mixture, and what Elena was doing when she said she or someone else might have to volunteer for a suicide mission. Suicide missions are a thing, they even have a name. If Mack can’t handle that concept, he shouldn’t be an agent any more, never mind in charge.
- The whole point of brainstorming in a group is to list every idea and let everyone inspire each other to think of new things they might not have found on their own. Brainstorming is supposed to be done without judgement. Then you throw out the unusable ideas when you examine the practicalities involved.
- Through brainstorming and gentle nudges, Coulson, Fitz and Elena got Daisy to the point where she needed to be mentally, in order to be inspired to take the serum herself. But she wouldn’t have done it if someone had directly told her to do it. She needed to hear Elena and Fitz say they’d sacrifice themselves to kill Graviton, and she needed to realize that Coulson did sacrifice himself. They inspired her to use the serum on herself, something she didn’t want to do, but had to do for the greater good. That’s been her journey this season- She had to learn that sometimes the sacrifice play means doing something positive, or taking something on, that you don’t want to, for the greater good, not just running away from the situation.
- I don’t understand the logic of putting Mack, the guy who hates his job, and constantly threatens to quit, in charge of the whole organization. This is the guy who’s so burned out that he can’t handle the purpose that the organization was created for anymore, and hates what the two original directors, Howard and Peggy, were- a scientist and a spy. He very specifically said insultingly nasty things about both Fitz as a scientist and Elena and everyone else working as spies this season.
- Mack’s words about the “good book” a few episodes ago sounded very pretty in the moment, but for weeks most of what he’s said has been garbage. You don’t run a spy and law enforcement agency based on bible verses. It’s unconstitutional, for one thing.*** His decisions were more emotional than anyone else’s. He said so himself when he told Fitz to stop making decisions based on evidence. There have been moments where I thought Mack could be a good leader, like when he suggested they vote, but right now he’s too biased. Mack’s experiences in the Framework are affecting him at least as much as Fitz has been affected by his own, but Mack’s gone in the opposite direction from Fitz and decided that he can force the world into being under his control and into nonviolence. He’s spent too much time in the Lighthouse bubble.
- The reasons for choosing Mack were blatantly misogynist. May and Daisy were considered too emotional because they cared about Coulson too much, while Elena and Jemma were considered too evil, since they’d mutinied. Fitz and Piper were also tainted with evil, while Davis’ return from the dead is suspect. But supposedly Christian, anti-intellectual, anti-science (seriously, go back and listen to his speech to Fitz), manly man Mack, is the real director that we’ve been waiting for. We saw how well that type of leader worked out in season 4 with Jeffrey Mace.
- I think Jemma is the one whose thought process and talents are most suited for the directorship long term. She doesn’t get overemotional or panic. She survived Kasius, Maveth, working undercover at HYDRA for Whitehall and a rescue operation within the Framework. As a doctor, she’s able to make hard choices in a timely manner and not fret over them. She played an administrative role for Jeffrey Mace. But she’s also observant and sensitive to people’s needs, and a logical, strategic thinker when it comes to missions. She wasn’t considered this time because they don’t have another doctor and it would be too much for her to play both roles, and also because Coulson is so obsessed with Daisy.
- But Jemma is the Peggy Carter of this group, and not just because of her accent. She’s the one who can do it all without breaking a sweat, knows who she is and where she stands, and doesn’t need anyone else’s approval. Fitz is a lot like Howard. They are suited to eventually running a reinstated SHIELD, or being an important part of the administration. Or leaving and reforming a new, better institution.
- Is this storyline, with Mack as the director who refuses to make difficult decisions, meant to dovetail with Avengers 4 and everyone will have to learn how the make the sacrifice play and the hard choices that they refused to make this season?
- There were a lot of selfish, short-sighted choices made this season, especially by the people who were supposedly trying to save Coulson. The right to make one’s own medical decisions about one’s own body is a fundamental right that Daisy and May tried to take away from Coulson for half a season. It turned me off of the Philinda romance, honestly. May was so manipulative, at the end, trying to emotionally blackmail Coulson into taking an experimental treatment that he’d already refused multiple times. Let the man die with dignity, if he’s ready. I love him, too, but he’s been through a lot, and is in a lot of pain.
- There’s still time for a better solution to Coulson’s illness to turn up, since this is a comic book show. And there are movies in between the end of this season and the beginning of season 6. Usually, I would say no body=no death, but in Coulson’s case, we’ve seen his body numerous times. I won’t believe the MCU is completely getting rid of a fan favorite like Clark Gregg until he himself says he’s done and doesn’t want to play Coulson anymore.
- I am trying VERY VERY HARD not to be resentful that Mack and May didn’t lift a finger to try to save Fitz (such as to ask if the centipede formula was still available to use on him) or to get Jemma on the radio to say goodbye, when they saw how badly injured he was. Fitz sacrificed himself to save Mack and Polly, but no one will frame it that way or point it out to Mack. And I’m beyond upset that he didn’t get to be part of the final goodbye scene.
- The Two Fitz’/Spare Fitz scenario doesn’t make complete sense to me. I think they’re using a loophole that doesn’t actually exist, but I’m going to let it go. Real Fitz, who had all of that glorious character development that could’ve continued to be built on, is dead and gone.
- I understand how the time travel argument works, I’m just not convinced that it’s safe to assume the loop is broken and it’s okay take Frozen Fitz out of cryo because he won’t be needed in the future. I wanted a conversation of some sort between May and Robin where May tried to confirm that the loop is broken and that they haven’t set up an even worse future, even if it was just Robin showing May the drawings that are now relevant.
- I loathe when shows take this cheap way out after writing themselves into a corner. I can picture it now: Season 6, episode 1…Jemma wakes up in the morning after having a terrible nightmare in which the earth cracked like an egg, Talbot became Graviton, Coulson was dying, and Fitz died after becoming “evil”. She hears the shower running, and, hoping beyond hope that her season long nightmare was just a dream, she goes to the shower stall, pulls back the curtain– and there’s Fitz, all fresh and clean after their escape from Hale at the diner the night before. They decide to have leftover pie for breakfast, to celebrate being back together again and defeating Aida.
- Robin drew Coulson and May on the beach in Tahiti at the very beginning of the season, which means that outcome has been a possibility all along. That makes me wonder if the world is really out of danger. I have the impression that Robin can’t see the path to the solution, she just keeps pruning the loops away, getting them closer and closer to the fixed version. This may or may not be the end of the troubles caused by the loop.
- Spoilers for Blindspot: On the other hand, Luke Mitchell’s character died this season on Blindspot, so he’s free to come back and play Lincoln Campbell next season, with the explanation that the Kree nabbed him and Hive from the quinjet before it exploded. And Brett Dalton can play a TAHITI’d Ward, since the Kree would want to get rid of Hive. Then they’d bring back Grant, fine specimen that he is. That may be how the Confederacy found out about earth’s resources to begin with, especially Gravitonium.
- Coulson made a convenient reference to the fact that everyone has lost someone. Daisy lost Lincoln, May lost Andrew, Coulson lost his cellist, who could have been activated as an inhuman off camera, Mack lost Isabelle Hartley, who wasn’t inhuman, but was a formidable woman. Not sure who Elena lost, maybe someone we haven’t met before. How many will guest star or be mentioned again as having been TAHITI’d and kidnapped by the Kree?
- Where is Lola, anyway? I can’t remember the last time we saw her, but I don’t remember her getting destroyed either. Is she hidden is a safe-garage somewhere?
- Where is Fury’s toolbox, anyway? I think Jeffrey Mace was still using it, but have we seen it since everyone went into the Framework and that version of HQ fell? Is it buried in the rubble, or was part of Davis’ story that we never got to hear that he was hiding the toolbox?
- The letter that Coulson left for Daisy is quite the dangling thread, when you think about it. Coulson was quite determined that Daisy would be his successor, and was beyond all reason about it. Does he know something about the future? He’s an ultimate nerd, a collector of arbitrary facts and information, and he loves to solve mysteries. Like Fury, he probably has back ups of back ups scattered all over. What other pieces has he put together, but kept to himself so far? What would he hand down to Daisy? What would he pass on to someone else, and who? Will some of the Avengers get letters?
- Overall, I liked this season a lot. It was a bit claustrophobic at times, but the use of the Lighthouse tunnels, and the reuse of them for the 2nd arc, gave the season a cool symmetry and tied the two halves of the season together in an undeniable way. The future version of space and the way people lived was supposed to be claustrophobic. The present day Lighthouse was supposed to already be claustrophobic for Shield, since their apocalypse as an organization has already happened.
- This whole season was about worst case scenarios, how you deal with them, and what those choices say about you.
- Coulson was ready to accept the end and the worst, ride it out as it came, and accept his fate.
- Mack feels that you shouldn’t fight to survive if it means that you have to kill other people. Or at least he feels that way this week. He’s not being written consistently, so he’s hard to analyze. I assume this is because he lost Hope again in the Framework, both the concept and his little girl, and he’s still having a hard time coping with more loss.
- Daisy chose to cling to Coulson, the only parent who’s ever truly loved her and taken care of her, even at the expense of ruining everything else. Early in the season, she also worked hard to keep the entire team alive and together. As time went on, that narrowed down to the point where only Coulson mattered. Daisy also chose to believe the future rebels’ half-formed ideas about who destroyed the world, which turned out to be wrong. She hampered the search for a solution by refusing to regain the use of her powers.
- Elena put everything into believing the words of her future self and trying to stop that future from happening again. She believed so strongly that she was willing to risk EVERYTHING. She was willing to go on a suicide mission, she lost her arms, and she’s either lost, or nearly lost Mack, but it worked. It was her dedication to making sure they broke the loop that made the difference. She created small changes all the way through the last several episodes that built into getting the serum into Daisy’s gauntlet and having Fitz realize that Mack and Polly would die on Talbot’s ship without help.
- Fitz and Jemma both believed that using the scientific method, logic, and reasoning would carry them through this crisis as well it has the others they’ve been through. They tried to keep their emotions from interfering, but they’ve lost each other too many times for them to be blasé about being separated during what could be their final moments. Even so, they eventually put that rule aside and did what needed to be done, though it called for them to be in different places. They tried to put each other first, but they’re too dedicated to SHIELD and to doing the right thing for it to last.
- The Invincible Three, Fitz, Jemma and Elena, made difficult decisions and took great leaps of faith in order to break the loop. They also made great sacrifices. In doing so, they dragged the rest of the team along with them into a new timeline, though the rest of the team will never acknowledge that it was their actions that made the difference. Coulson may have given Daisy the serum, and Daisy may have sent Talbot into space, but that couldn’t have happened without the arguments and sacrifices of the Invincible Three and Coulson himself.
- May tried to retain her usual logic and objectivity, but she’s lost too much in her life already. HYDRA/the Framework taught to trust her own judgement, and that it’s okay to be a little selfish. For her, saving Coulson became very real, while saving the world remained an abstract concept. Like Daisy and Mack, it clouded her judgement and she became unable to put the greater good first.
- What I don’t understand is why May just stood there while Fitz was dying. I understand not knowing what to say or not being able to say anything, but she could have at least been kneeling down next him, holding his other hand, showing some emotion. They’ve been teammates for 5 years. She’s watched him grow up. It was like his death meant nothing to her. She’s shown more emotion over the loss of Ward.
- I disagree with Mack about a lot of things, but he’s clearly the friend you want with you when you’re in pain. Or buried under heavy stuff.
- I’d like to see the effect of the Framework on May explored more next season. She may not have been The Doctor, but she was his right hand woman and a good little HYDRA soldier. She must have committed atrocities and become more hardened in there. She didn’t have Coulson or Andrew to help her through her emotional hard times, just HYDRA telling her that she was doing the right thing. What kind of voices is she hearing in her head now?
- I’d also like to see more exploration of the hero who becomes a villain while trying to save the world. The MCU has touched on this many times, but Graviton was still a unique take on the trope. The Netflix shows go overboard on it in a twisted way by starting with a sociopath. The movies have used the self-aggrandizing hero with Iron Man, then reigned him back in, and the self-aggrandizing military man General Ross, who they haven’t reigned in. Talbot was a truly good man who lost his way and fell to bad influences along with mental illness/traumatic brain injury. He desperately wanted to do the right thing, right up until the end.
- It’s been a long time since SHIELD had an ongoing villain who lasted very long. They could stand to have one who’s morally ambiguous and lasts for several seasons, if they have that left. Someone that they need to work with sometimes, and reign back in occasionally. That’s one of the few things that the DC shows have done better than the MCU shows, other than maybe Madame Gao, who does love to give good advice to vigilantes.
- I wonder how the show will handle the fall out from this divisive season. Will they pretend that nothing happened and have Daisy/Mack and Elena/Jemma forgive and forget? I don’t know if I can. Where is pure and innocent post-Framework Fitz going to fit into all of this? Are they going to watch him carefully to try to stop him from becoming that “evil” guy who saved the world? The guy who was the only one who understood that they were fighting a war with serious consequences? Actually, Elena and Coulson understood it as well, and eventually Jemma did. The others never left their fantasy bubble.
- Which ties in so completely with Infinity War that it’s ridiculous. In both, we had several specific points along the way where the crisis could have been averted, but the characters refused to take the drastic measures required. They didn’t want to make the hard decisions and sacrifices, so they had to live with the terrible consequences of acting too late.
- Orientation (Part 1) S5 Ep1 began with Enoch getting ready to start his day. This was the first image of season 5. The 2nd photo is the last image of the season.
- In the first shot of episode 1, the camera panned from the Tahiti drawing, to a drawing of Enoch’s delivery van under the moon, to a drawing of the people inside Talbot. Did the team actually change anything of any importance this season, since the ending scene was part of the prophecy all along? Does it mean something that Tahiti is so obviously greenscreened? Is Coulson unconscious again and this is another fantasy sequence of some sort? Was everything after the slomo sequence a dream? Tahiti and the hula dancer virtually always signal a connection to an altered reality of some kind.
- Season 6 will be the season of planet-hopping and/or dimension-hopping. Astral plane, here we come!
Grade for the Season= A
Full image of Robin’s drawing, which includes the flyover by the Zephyr:
*Winter Soldier callback. Peggy Carter says “I have lived a life,” when Steve looks at her family photos and thinks about how everything’s passed him by. Coulson is as much one of the backbones of the MCU as Peggy is.
**Steve Rogers gets this reference.
***I know they aren’t currently a government organization. They’ve continued operate under the same rules as when they were. Even if they aren’t bound by the rules of a federal agency, it’s offensive to turn SHIELD into a religious organization, which is what Mack’s insistence on using the bible for guidance would do. SHIELD came out of World War 2 and the fight to end the slaughter of millions of Jews. I don’t think Peggy and Howard would want their organization to become based on religion, especially a single, exclusive religion that denies the validity of all other religions.
Sorry for the wonky formatting. WordPress is being non-compliant today.
Images courtesy of ABC.