Danny Hale reviews the season 5 finale of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D….
With Graviton seeking out the Earth’s deepest reserves of gravitonium, Coulson at death’s door and an impossible decision facing our team ‘The End’ truly allowed for some amazing moments and admirably wrapped up a thrilling season.
This week began exactly where last week left off with the choice to save Coulson or stop Graviton by harnessing the centipede formula. The ensuing debate was heated and Natalia Cordova-Buckley did an excellent job of letting Yo-Yo’s fears come to the fore; she has seen first-hand what happens to her in the future and knows that Mack does not survive so it’s understandable she would start to unravel. So when she grabbed the centipede formula from Daisy it really upped the tension; her desperation was palpable and even Mack was struggling to reach her. I had hoped Daisy passing authority to Mack would have resolved the conflict but May made the decision for them all and smashed the odium vial. Elena’s exclamation and descent into despair was heart-breaking to see even if I did have faith that they would manage to change her future. But for her, in that moment, she felt she lost everything. I’ve really enjoyed Yo-Yo’s arc this season; as her first as a series regular I was delighted to see the writer’s really use her this year and explore the more grey areas of her character.
Daisy passing the torch to Mack both showed great growth for her character and made a lot of sense for our team; Daisy has clearly been struggling with her ability to lead and hold the group together. With Mack leading it allowed us to see S.H.I.E.L.D. being S.H.I.E.L.D. again, getting civilians to safety and providing disaster recovery. They head to the crash site and retrieve a shaken Robin from the wreckage. I was glad Fitz and May had the same realisation I had as Mack went off in search of Polly; that neither of them survive to see the future. The moment was effectively sold and I felt the stakes rise again as I instantly feared for Mack’s safety. Of course, it is then May and Fitz to the rescue as they interrupt and dispatch two marauders. But now that the timeline has changed, everybody else becomes vulnerable and soon Fitz is buried under piles of rubble. Bloody hell this scene was tough; I was so scared Fitz had lost the use of his legs or damaged his spine that the reveal of his lower half coupled with the realisation on May and Mack’s faces hit with so much more weight. I watched the finale with a room full of people and during this scene you could have heard a pin drop. It was a very traumatic death and made the more powerful by the fact that Mack and Fitz never really resolved their recent disagreement. But as he sat with him, calling him Turbo as the life left him their bond never felt stronger. The following sequences, Simmons being told the news, the team installing a new remembrance plaque all expertly led us to believe all hope was lost. But in a stroke of genius we learn the team’s next mission is to locate the Fitz who is still in cryo-sleep from episode five Rewind. waiting out the current timeline to join the agents on the Lighthouse in the future. It’s a nice little sliver of hope that the team clings to, preventing the finale from being INCREDIBLY depressing. It still doesn’t take away from the horror every time Fitz utters “I think my legs are broken” and doesn’t undermine the sorrow of his death. On the bright side, once they find him he can get engaged and married all over again!
Seeing Graviton lower the spaceship onto Chicago city was a great visual, heightened by the mainly interior settings we’ve had throughout this season. His descent to street level, extraction of gravitonium and the sight of so many civilians added a much needed cinematic flair to the episode. It was also fairly obvious that Coulson didn’t take the centipede serum so I was glad they didn’t drag out that particular reveal. Seeing Coulson so weak and in such pain was grim but his speech to Daisy and insistence that she is ready for this battle was powerful and an amazing payoff for Daisy’s journey on this show. While Daisy versus Graviton was never a fully-fledged fight there were enough big moments to satisfy my appetite. The peak being Daisy’s sprint down the street, quaking herself into a dive and then slamming Graviton into the concrete. This gave Daisy a window to try and appeal to Talbot’s humanity giving appropriate attention to his connections to our characters and the good man he was. After all, Talbot has been an ally on this show far longer than he has been a villain and while he is too far gone to save, it was nice to see Daisy try. The neat little reveal that Coulson had, literally, given Daisy “all the tools” she needed to beat Graviton was delivered very well; just as he attempts to absorb her she injects herself, discovering the centipede serum planted in her gauntlets. This new power allows a single blast from Daisy to send Talbot hurtling through the atmosphere and out into the cold of space.
While people may not have gotten the Daisy vs. Graviton battle they wanted, the emotional core of this entire series was present this week. Coulson’s decision to live out his last days / weeks on his own terms and his goodbye to Daisy were incredibly moving. Both their performances were strong and drenched in genuine emotion making this parting the hardest of the week. May’s absence from Coulson’s goodbye was heart-warmingly apparent and seeing her step to his side on the shores of Tahiti, finally getting to share their time together swelled my heart. The final shot of both agents watching the younger generation fly off on their next adventure works amazingly well as a final chapter but also as a fresh start. With a 13 episode season 6 confirmed for next year, now is the perfect time for me to rewatch the entire show; this season in particular will be quite enlightening a second time around. Thanks for reading along and I hope you’ve enjoyed the season, AoS fans are truly wonderful. Until season 6, peace out true believers.