Welcome back to my coverage of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Be sure to check out previous coverage here.
Well, we finally made it folks. This past Tuesday night brought the end of the third season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and while not without some slight flaws, it was a largely satisfying finale event. Before I get into it though, here are some brief thoughts from last week’s episode.
- Lincoln putting in a jab against Agent May with the line “Your sense of humor needs work” killed me. Go back and watch that moment if you have access to the episode because I was giggling for a good couple of minutes.
- General Talbot started taking a more direct involvement with S.H.I.E.L.D. this week by trying to demand explanations for all of their plans and actions while keeping his reasoning for asking such questions a secret. The gruff stubbornness that Adrian Pasdar brings to General Talbot holds up well against the charming secrecy of Phil Coulson.
- I’m very wrong about this, but when James started wielding that chain and infusing it with his flame abilities, it really reminded me of Ghost Rider. Now, James is already an Inhuman and that isn’t going to change, but am I totally crazy to think that maybe Marvel would be willing to reintroduce the Ghost Rider character on TV? The obvious concern is with the effects budget, but my point in all of this is that if they can handle that flame chain and make it look convincing, why not the full skull of Ghost Rider?
- Daisy has finally escaped Hive’s control! (or has she?) That was thanks to Lash’s sacrifice. I was not a fan of this result in Lash’s plotline. There are a couple of reasons, and the first has to do with the fact that show only recently started talking about how each Inhuman is on Earth for a specific purpose and the test is in finding what that purpose was. Well, the explanation that Lash’s purpose was to save Daisy from Hive’s control seemed way to simple. Yes, S.H.I.E.L.D. did have him in custody, but did that mean that they had to use him? Early in this season they set Lash up as a devastating and intimidating threat and he followed through on that setup until after the reveal that Lash is in fact Dr. Andrew Garner. Since Garner made his final and complete transformation into Lash, the character has served no purpose and the initial intimidation factor that was given to the character was then lost. The move to save Daisy and sacrifice himself felt very out-of-place, slapped together, and ultimately made the character serve as this show’s deus-ex-machina. In addition, the show has now lost out on the potential emotional storyline for May. They put in a short sequence where we see her with a sad expression, but we never get a chance in this episode, or the two-part finale, to see how much pain losing Andrew is causing her. For me, all of this ends up being a huge missed opportunity.
Now, to the finale!
I’m going to be talking about the two-part finale in tandem with one another as the results of the actual last episode played out, in direct response to the first part. Daisy’s imprisonment was a surprise to me, and a good one to boot. I was expecting her to come back and jump right in and be the agent she has always been on this team, only this time more motivated with wanting to get revenge against Hive’s manipulations. Things did not go down like that, which allowed these last two episodes to really stand out. Why is Daisy in confinement? Well, she is currently experiencing some withdrawal from Hive’s manipulations. Her attitude is the biggest example as she continues to butt heads with those who do visit her, claiming she deserves to be imprisoned and that everything that has happened is her fault and that she shouldn’t be trusted ever again. She does cooperate to the point where she shares what exact information it was she shared with Hive. This info, while thin to say the least, allowed the team to go on the offensive against Hive.
This was a really cool sequence with Mack, Lincol, and Yo-yo where it appeared that Lincoln was caught in frying pan when he came up against Hive a little earlier than expected. While the trio had to adjust quickly thanks to Mack’s “turtle-esque pace”, Lincoln’s run in with Hive was a ploy to get him to follow Lincoln to their awaiting trap. Lincoln used his lightning abilities to power a machine that affected Hive’s mind in a big way. All of the key personalities that he has inhabited, that pertain to the current story lines, were forced to separate and attempt to come through Hive individually. As Hive says, “this won’t kill me”, and it didn’t, but it was really cool to see Hive have such a moment of weakness. Brett Dalton did a great job of fitting back into Ward’s shoes while also showing shades of Gideon Malick’s brother, and stranded Astronaut Will. Essentially, Hive lost all control of the key personalities in his possession and this lapse of control is what allowed the team to get the jump on him and claim a win by trapping him in a stasis chamber.
There was a nice emotional moment between Mack and Daisy towards the climax of the first episode. It was in this scene that I really started to think about who in this cast would be getting killed off as part of the vision that Daisy had a couple of episodes back. I’ve always suspected that Daisy herself might actually end up being our victim but my suspicions deepened here as it felt like a sort of goodbye between Mack and Daisy. What really made me think it would be Daisy, however, was the very last two minutes where she confronts Hive again but instead of fighting him, she begs him to consume her with his influence again. She wants that “connection” that they shared. The withdrawal she had experienced still not having gone through her system apparently. I really enjoyed the pacing in this last scene as I started to feel really hopeless and empty. After all that happened to get her back, Daisy was just going to willingly submit to Hive.
As the second episode began, Hive had largely recovered from whatever it was Lincoln, Mack and Yo-yo had done to him; yet, he still couldn’t grant Daisy’s request. I didn’t think about this during the episode, but Hive made a comment about how Daisy was no longer capable of being possessed by him. It occurred to me, as I write this, that it probably has something to do with Lash’s magic that removed Hive’s infection in the first place. Daisy seems rather unaware of this as well and takes Hive’s refusal personally as the two engage in a fight. With Daisy still recovering, her powers can only go so far and Hive gains the upper hand and takes her back into his own custody. Before Hive and his followers take off in the Zephyr though, May and Fitz are able to sneak aboard.
May and Fitz are trying to stop Hive from being able to release the toxin that John Hannah’s Holden Ratcliffe had created for Hive, the one that turns every human into an Inhuman. Mr. Giyera, that pesky “Magneto” like Inhuman, gets the jump on the two and has them against the wall when Fitz pulls a clever little trick up his sleeve. I still don’t know how he managed it, but Fitz claimed he had hidden another weapon inside the plan that would destroy everything to save his life. Turns out Fitz had a pistol in his hand that was completely invisible, allowing him to take out Mr. Giyera, once and for all. Now that is a worthy secondary adversary. Giyera was handled well all season by being used as the constant thorn in everyone’s side.
The interaction between Hive and Coulson was top-notch in the finale. Coulson has felt a lot of guilt over killing Ward, and by extension allowing Hive to get to Earth. We finally got to see Hive’s final form, and I have to say, the effects team did an incredible job putting it together. On my second watch through, I was looking at it thinking it might be a practical effect with prosthetic makeup. It probably isn’t, but it looks like it is and that is damn good quality for television. My only wish was that this new face was left on for the rest of the finale. I get that it didn’t make too much sense with the angle of Ward coming through Hive a bit, but the effects were so cool that I wanted to see it for a bit more. Coulson got some great jibes in at Hive in this scene as well, once with his “I’m just here to lend a helping hand. Pun, absolutely intended” and then later with his “help me Obi-Wan,” Star Wars reference. This was talked about a lot in connection to Captain America: Civil War, but isn’t it great that both franchises are in the same house so we get to have these crossover references? Coulson’s distraction also allowed more members to get aboard, increasing the amount of potential victims.
With the team reunited, we got treated to a little S.H.I.E.L.D. jacket and cross necklace musical chairs as we knew from Daisy’s vision that whoever was gonna bite it in this episode would be wearing that jacket. So, it turned out to be Lincoln that bid us farewell. It was predictable in that Lincoln’s whole arc this season was proving how much he cared for Daisy. He only joined S.H.I.E.L.D. because of Daisy, so this result was inevitable. I’m quite happy about it, if only because my preferred characters got to live another day. I would have been really upset if Fitz or Simmons were the one to go. Not only am I super happy that they are a couple now, but that character progression for them would not have made sense if one of them were going to die. With Lincoln being the odd duck, we get to keep the core group in tact while also replacing him with a great addition in Natalia Cordova-Buckley’s Yo-yo. She really came into her own as a character in the past few episodes and the relationship she shares with Daisy and Mack is ripe with potential for dramatic and emotional moments in the future.
This isn’t to sell Lincoln’s final moment short at all, as it was a very effective scene between him and Hive in the Quinjet. Once Hive realized it was over, and with Lincoln injured, the two just floated beside each other ready to share the only final connection possible: death. This was a great way to send off both Lincoln and off course Brett Dalton’s time on this show. He has been an amazing antagonist for the past two seasons but there were times where it felt like the writers were just trying to find excuses to keep Dalton’s characters around, just so he could stay on the show. Thankfully they orchestrated a fitting end to a great character.
The six month time jump for the squad was interesting. Daisy’s choice to abandon S.H.I.E.L.D. took me aback, but it makes sense in connection to all the guilt she has felt even before the weight of Lincoln’s death hit her. It was Lincoln’s choice to sacrifice himself, but I’m sure that Daisy feels a large part of the responsibility for it as well. It was also really cool to finally see Daisy being referred to as Quake, if only in newspapers now. The time jump also gives the show another reset. I’m reminded now of The Walking Dead season 6 finale in that the writers of that show should take a note from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A full season is meant to tell one cohesive narrative. The Walking Dead has failed to do that over the past couple of seasons and the reactions have not been favourable. While S.H.I.E.L.D. has no where near the audience size that The Walking Dead has, I find it interesting that they are able to wrap up almost all of their consistent storylines with tact and unpredictability while also setting things up for the future.
I want to give a huge shout out to John Hannah who consistently delivered some great humor throughout his six episodes on the show. The comedic charisma he shared with us in the Mummy movies came through here in the show, and I’m really hoping the tag scene at the end means we are going to get to see more of his character.
That wraps up my coverage for Season Three of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’ve had a great time covering the show and I hope you’ve enjoyed what I have had to say. Thanks for a great season!
Finale Rating: 8.5/10
Season Three Rating: 8/10