Agents of SHIELD: Absolution/Ascension

Well begun is half done, and this two-part finale certainly started off with a bang, dropping us into the middle of the SHIELD team stopping Hive and his minions from firing a nuke. And by the first half an hour it looked like SHIELD might have gained the upperhand, capturing Hive and stopping the nuclear launch. But we knew it wouldn’t be that easy. And it starts as a game of pass the cross.

YoYo: This is not about superspeed. This is about your turtle speed.

We knew Hive wouldn’t stay in the gel matrix, and that bringing him to SHIELD HQ was basically beginning a horror movie set on the base. And by the end of the hour that’s exactly where we were. With Daisy on her knees begging to be let back into the Hive collective and everything. It was ugly.

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What wasn’t ugly was the Daisy-Hive fight that followed. Once again, Chloe Bennet’s fighting abilities have matured to greater heights, and her one on one with Brett Dalton, who has also improved by leaps and bounds over the three seasons, which was partly powered and partly hand to hand combat was a highlight of the evening. But with Elena’s cross being passed from character to character, the question was which one would the roulette wheel land on?

Talbot: I have to admit, I thought sending Inhumans in after him, I thought that was a stupid gamble. Seriously stupid. like, betting on Wrestlemania stupid.

We knew that someone was going to die tonight. And when Yoyo took a bullet to the gut for Mack, it looked like at least one “death on the team” was exactly who we assumed it would be from the beginning of this half season. But with FitzSimmons planning their first romantic trip together, him, May and Daisy with the cross on the zephyr with the Inhumans, and dozens of primitive humans running around the base in the dark, the chances of it being that easy again were slim. Especially once Yoyo stabilized and Coulson announced he wasn’t going to lose anyone else.

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And once they left the base and were all on the zephyr, it was just a matter of who. Those of us betting on more than one got their wish too–but perhaps not the way we expected. In the end, two did die, both on the Quinjet, in space, with the cross floating before them. But it was not Yoyo, Mack, Fitz or even Daisy, who seemed determined for it to be her for most of the second hour. Instead that honor went to the weakest link in SHIELD: Lincoln! And he got to go with Ward.

Coulson: I hunted you don’t and killed you, unleashing this Ward-reboot nightmare hellbeast on the planet.

Yes, Ward, because despite all the Hive nonsense,t hat’s who the show spent mosty of the two hours letting shine through once “hive’s” mind was damaged. Having Dalton as Hive allowed for a lot of callbacks this season, all the way back to the beginning of the series, and once he was trapped with Lincoln on their irreversible way to space, it became clear this had been on purpose–a protracted goodbye so that this moment would have real impact, even for those who always found Lincoln a dull presence. It also speaks to how far Dalton has come in three seasons (and how much mileage the show got out of him) that the man once derided as the most painfully wooden character on TV in this decade had the emotional depth to even make Lincoln’s acceptance of his fate feel touching. Clipboard04

 

So the show got to give us a double death finale without losing anyone strategically important to fans on the team. In fact, one could say they’ve upgraded, replacing Lincoln’s dour token Inhuman-who-isn’t-Daisy with firecracker Yoyo, whose relationship with Mack is one of the most delightful additions to the series this season. I hope to see her promoted to series regular during the offseason, joining Coulson, may, FitzSimmons and Mack on their team. We’ve also had another apparent addition as well. The less than good doctor Holdan Radcliffe and his fabulous one liners got himself rescued and cottoned to the core team far more than any of them really wanted him to, and in the final button scene of the season, is revealed to have entered into a working relationship with the team of FitzSimmons, probably to everyone’s coming consternation, and setting up to be our bad guy (or at least guy who makes terrible choices) replacement next season.

 

Radcliffe: “It’s not a hunch. It’s science! It’s a science hunch.”

As for next season, the show has already gone there, with a final scene before the button time jumping along to a full six month later. The only constant of this series has been change, ever since that first season landed with such a dull thud. Some of the changes have been good–SHIELD’s destruction at the end of the first season comes to mind, the Inhuman twist at the winter finale mark of Season 2 was another. Now it looks like things have changed yet again. Coulson and Mack working a stakeout trying to track down something….which turns out to be Chloe Bennet now sporting her third character name in four years and a really awesome new look. Skye begat Daisy begat Quake, and the events of this season apparently have lead her to have gone rogue once and for all. SHIELD’s on her tail, but Coulson speaks of them reporting to the “director” to Mack (apparently they are partners now), so it looks like there’s a new sheriff in town as well.

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With Agents of SHIELD now shifting to 10pm on ABC, as part of the continuing triage to have less low rated Disney mandated franchise shows doing damage to their ratings, we’ll have to see what other changes are in store (and if they can figure out how to re-employ Bobbi and Hunter now that their spin off’s gone belly up for good) for Season 4.

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