Danny Hale reviews the season finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4…
‘World’s End’, while not perfect, successfully closed an incredible season of television with the return of Ghost Rider, some staggering visuals and many teases for what’s to come next year.
It was a great move to open this week’s episode with Robbie Reyes, wasting no time in setting up the finale and giving us the payoff we’ve been looking for since his reveal last week. His immensely visually pleasing confrontation with the LMDs also showcased just how much of a game changer he is. Ghost Rider is a big name hero to appear on this show and therefore should represent a much greater power than our team. To see him wipe out the LMDs in a single blow therefore was so satisfying to watch and to know that the Spirit of Vengeance desperately seeks to destroy Aida gave hope to the good side for the first time in a long, long while. I do worry this will be the last we see of Ghost Rider (on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that is) but I am so beyond grateful for his and Daisy’s tag-team takedown of that LMD; it was thrilling, powerful and satisfying as hell to see.
It’s near impossible to pick an MVP from this week so I’m going to sling the praise around. Natalia Cordova Buckley was so excellent and her performance was one of the strongest I’ve seen her deliver. On top of that I loved that her venture into the Framework allowed the return of Radcliffe, one last time at least. Once it was quickly established that the Framework itself was fading it created a great sense of urgency to find and attempt to rescue Mac. The culminating scene as Elena watches Mac willingly give up his ‘real’ existence for his ‘fake’ child only to turn and do the same for her lover was heart-breaking to see but this pure act of devotion is surely what drove Mac to return with Elena to the real world. The sequence from Daisy’s point of view watching and waiting for Yo-Yo and then eventually Mac to awaken was nerve-wracking. I really did give up on Mac in those moments making his awakening all the more affecting.
I think it was inevitable that AIDA, Fitz and Simmons would all share a scene this week and it was appropriately HORRIFYING. As soon as she appeared it was clear there was no coming back for Ophelia, her mental state had clearly deteriorated and any hope of her redeeming herself seemed very far away. And that was before she stabbed Jemma . . . and electrocuted her. The ensuing reveal that Simmons was in fact safe and sound was wonderfully delivered by her shooting AIDA in the back. While of course this will do nothing to stop AIDA, it was a satisfying moment for Simmons none the less.
Coulson and May got into it a bit this week, despite everything else going on around them. It’s a little remarkable we even got these great character beats in an episode that had so much to resolve. Coulson explained about the bottle haig and quite sweetly suggested they take a few steps back and see where things end up with them organically. It’s a nice move since I think given May’s large absence this season things have gotten very muddled between the two. Cue complications; so, Coulson gets the drop on AIDA and the pleasure of stopping her himself but at what cost? Coulson and Ghost Rider clearly make some sort of deal off-screen unknown to all but Robbie and Phil. All we see is Coulson don the Spirit of Vengeance and deliver sweet justice to AIDA. What this means going forward is just one of the questions I have about season 5.
I suppose it’s an extension of just how amazing this season was and Mallory Jansen in the roles of AIDA/Ophelia/Madame HYDRA that her end felt a little lacklustre. It feels a little weird to say as when I think of how it went down it sounds great! I just think this episode suffered from some pacing issues resulting in the delivery of AIDA’s death being almost overshadowed. I definitely felt like ‘World’s End’ would have benefitted from being a full-hour. That said, the character moments were there, the action was incredible and the season truly came full circle with Ghost Rider’s return and the focus back on the Darkhold. This season, week in week out has been the most pleasant of surprises; I was waiting for the momentum to inevitably drop, for the show to stumble but it just kept barrelling forwards so while I have some minor gripes with ‘World’s End’ it does not overly take away from the incredible full season.
There is so much more I wish I could talk about; Radcliffe’s PERFECT end scene (really going to miss that guy), the LMD Daisy attempting to assassinate General Talbot which will have very big and very real ramifications going forward and the lingering effect the Framework has had on our team. I actually liked that Mac’s experience with Hope has had an almost positive effect on him. I am sure the memories will always bring him pain but it has also shown how pure Elena’s feelings are for him and how strong their bond is. Daisy’s speech to Fitz has me divided; I loved it in the sense of it showed how much we’ve seen Daisy grow this year and for her to look back at her renegade days does seem trivial now, especially after everything the team has faced. However, I hope this has not cancelled out what Fitz has felt and experienced in the Framework and while the others assure him he has nothing to apologise for there is still a massive amount of issues he is going to have to deal with.
Well that’s it, season 4 is over and, for me, without a doubt ends the strongest season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to date. And with the recent confirmation of a fifth season the thoughts of where this show will be taken is extremely exhilarating. The final reveal of Coulson in what appears to be outer space was awesome and raises even more questions. This could be a major shift for the show but with Talbot, the Superior and other ties still on earth I am sure our team won’t be gone long. Next up, The Inhumans! What a time to be a nerd.