After half a season of teasing variations on the choice between saving Coulson and saving the world, the choice that Future Elena predicted would be their downfall, the Agents of SHIELD have finally reached the end of the line. There’s no question that the final, life or death choice that the agents are left with at the end of episode 21 is the one that she was referring to. Up until now, the team has been split down the middle, with half the team unable to face watching anyone close to them die, no matter what repercussions it might have on the world, and half believing that sometimes a few (or one) need to be sacrificed in order to save many.
Coulson, the potential sacrifice in question, has been making his feelings on the matter clear for months. He intends to die when his time comes and doesn’t want any heroic interventions made to stop nature from taking its course. But we’ve all seen how important he is, not just to the team, but to keeping the world running smoothly. Are there times when one particular person is more important than a random group of people, because of the contribution that one person will likely make to the future? How would that even be decided? How many lives would it be reasonable to trade for Phil Coulson’s life? How many lives might he save if he lives?