We just finished our third complete season of Agents of SHIELD (let that sink in, after all we’ve been through, it’s only been three seasons so far. It would have taken some shows six or seven seasons to get to where we are now), and things are completely bonkers. An old complaint about the show was the pacing for the first half of season one, but that all went out the window right before Turn, Turn, Turn and they haven’t stopped running yet.
This post contains spoilers on life, the universe, and Agents of SHIELD. If you keep reading, that’s on you.
I have always maintained that those first episodes of the first season were just as good as anything in the second or third season because they formed the foundation for these characters, giving us a chance to get to know them and love (or hate) them because of the characters themselves, not because the show hamfistedly tells us that we should. That’s why everyone was so damn relieved when Fitz and Simmons finally connected, because time and space couldn’t keep them apart. That’s why everyone respects May, because we’ve seen her go through so much. That’s why Ward is the fucking worst. And that’s why this episode was so freaking good for all of us who have stuck around for the ride.
This show is awesome on its own, not because it’s part of the overall connected Marvel universe. I’m sure you’ve all at least heard of what Chloe Bennet said about the Marvel television side of things being ignored by the movies. She may have been speaking candidly and off the cuff, but a lot of people agree with her. There have been explanations about production times and lining up plots and all that, but those explanations have rang hollow for some time now. Re-shoots and coordination between movies are more and more common these days, and if the real desire was there, more crossovers could be done. I don’t think it has to do with that.
In reality, it’s all business. Marvel looks at their movies and sees Civil War making $900 million since its release less than a month ago. Tens of millions of people have seen it, and will see Dr. Strange and Black Panther (God I want it NOW) and Thor: Ragnarok. Then Marvel looks at their television shows and sees Agent Carter with about 2 million viewers per week and Agents of SHIELD with 3 to 5 million viewers per week. The problem, though, is that those 3-5 million SHIELD watchers and 2 million Carter watchers already go to the movies. Marvel is worried about the other tens of millions of people who don’t watch the shows. Sure, Marvel allows some cameos in the shows (Fury, Sif, Hill, etc.) but there is really no reference to the shows in the movies. It’s because Marvel doesn’t want to reintroduce Coulson because the majority of movie viewers don’t follow the show and still consider him dead. It’s because they can’t just have Natasha meeting May for coffee to talk about the Accords and Inhumans because the majority of movie goers don’t know who May is or what the hell an Inhuman is because they didn’t find out with us and Daisy and Hyde. If Marvel starts introducing television-based characters and plots into the movies, then those shows become required viewing and they risk alienating millions of movie-goers who might get overwhelmed by the nature of a connected comic universe. They’re making a business decision. I don’t like it, but I understand it.
It feels like there are so many people who watch the shows and movies and feel like Marvel should be doing it because of the large audience who wants it, but that position bias. You always hear in the news these days about a “silent majority” (thanks Trump!), but the internet is really a loud as fuck minority. So I agree with Ms. Bennet that it sucks that Marvel television doesn’t have more involvement or acknowledgement in the movies, but I understand why they’re not doing it. It sucks, but it’s business.
Which brings me to Agents of SHIELD being bumped next season to Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. It’s business. ABC explained that the bump was so the show could follow a darker theme (not lighting wise), and that very well may be the case, but think of a few things: ABC focuses on family-friendly style comedies, and bumped SHIELD to 10 p.m. to make way for two new comedies. ABC cancelled Agent Carter and decided not to pick up Most Wanted, two Marvel shows. SHIELD is funny as shit, but it’s not a comedy. SHIELD is one of the last science fiction adult dramas on ABC (if there are any left). ABC did, however, pick up Damage Control, a half hour Office style comedy that takes place in the MCU. THAT is more in line with the type of shows ABC carries.
So yes, ABC might be moving SHIELD back to 10 p.m. so it can spread it’s wings and be more adult and dark and gory. But it could also be a signal to the writers that this is probably going to be the last season, so go nuts. SHIELD hasn’t ever had a problem with going nuts (Coulson has an energy shield in his bionic hand and like 15 people went to another planet), but if the “SIX MONTHS LATER” sequence at the end of last night’s finale was any indication, we haven’t seen anything yet.
I have no problem with ABC ditching SHIELD and Netflix picking it up as a six to 10 miniseries, if that means the show lives on in some form and Coulson and May and Mack and Daisy and the gang get to interact with Matt and Jessica and Luke. Also, ABC could keep SHIELD around until it gets to the magic syndication mark. Traditionally, 100 episodes is the ticket, and SHIELD just aired it’s 66th. Season 4 will get it to 88, so why not eek out a fifth season just to get that sweet, sweet, syndication money?
It’s just business.
1. Daisy was super jonesing for that sweet, sweet Hive persuasion. It was tough to watch because we all knew she would regret what she did for Hive, and blamed herself because she wanted to do it all. She felt like all she deserved what Hive, and none of the love or forgiveness of her friends. When she confronted Hive in the hangar and offered herself to his cause, she was full on junkie. GOT ANY MORE OF THEM PARASITES?
It was crazy how fast she went from dependent junkie to raging fighting machine once they realized that Lash not only cured her from Hive’s persuasion, but also made her immune to his influence as well. I think Daisy wasn’t just mad at Hive, but at the world and Lash and everyone else because she literally couldn’t get her fix any more. She had no choice but to quit cold turkey. After all of that came to a head, she had the perfect thing to focus all of her pent up range and aggression and frustration on: Ward’s stupid punchable face.
Also, Daisy was kind of right (but not really) when Coulson told her she was brainwashed and she responded with “so was Ward.” However, there was a big difference: Ward was already fucked up, and Garret gave him a way to channel and focus that rage and evilness inside him. Ward torched his family’s house before he met Garret, and was a shitty brother for years. Ward needed some type of guidance, and Garret not only gave him that guidance, but cultivated his shittiness so he’d be a better Hydra agent.
Daisy, on the other hand, had no choice. Hive physically altered her brain to make her want to do his bidding. She wasn’t bad looking for someone who understood her; Daisy wanted to do good and knew a lot of information, and Hive hijacked that for his own needs. It wasn’t your fault, Daisy.
2. SquidWard was absolutely killing it last night, and I’m actually sad to see him go. It’s been a fun three seasons, but what more could they do with the guy? He went from Agent to S.O. to sleeper agent to Hydra to vengeful Hydra to company man to bodysnatched to full on alien over the course of three seasons. What else could they do?
I had opined throughout the season that because of the comics, it was possible that Hive could be separated from Ward and Ward could have been saved. We had a little misdirection with the whole Creel blood / Kree blood potential cure or inoculation of whatever it was FitzSimmons was cooking up. We even had Lash who was made specifically to fight Hive. But no. Who would have guessed they would just nuke it in orbit. Seriously. Everyone always jokes about nuking things from orbit as the only way to be sure, but how many shows actually do that? This is why SHIELD is special and we should all be grateful.
3. Daisy was so jacked up from withdrawal and regret that she wanted to punish herself for what Hive made her do. She wanted to rot in a box, and even told Coulson to use the memory machine on her to extract the information they needed. Coulson confirmed that they did bring out the memory machine, but that it wasn’t for her. The smash cut to Mack and Yo Yo and Lincoln in the hall was perfect, and it was apparent that they re-rigged the machine as a portable version to scramble Hive’s eggs.
That whole scene with Hive going through the memory therapy and getting his wires all crossed was magnificent. He didn’t know what was what and all of his memories from his prior hosts were budding to the surface. He was Gonzo, just like Hellfire so astutely remarked. That wouldn’t kill Hive, but it sure did suck.
But it was also awesome to see Hive pull from memories as he needed skills. Fly a plane? Hogface and Ward should suffice! Once he got his focus back, he was as dangerous as ever.
4. Speaking of, by the end of the episode, I never saw Hellfire killed. He got knocked the fuck out on the Zephyr when May and Fitz and the team were taking it back. He was kind of an ass before he became an Inhuman, but once he turned, he was always under Hive’s persuasion. He never got a chance to be himself - he only got to be his worst parts. Hopefully he is involved in the team next season.
I mean, all of his scenes were on point. He was smiling and nodding at scrambled Hive, while at the same time asking Budget Magneto what the ACTUAL hell was going on. Or when he was asking Hive if everyone, ladies included, was going to look like the Alpha Primitives. I was dying.
5. I had two favorite scenes, and the first was when Fitz and Talbot were trying to get the missile codes from the military. Fitz went full Serkis with the motion capture, and the scene with him doing vocal and face exercises was perfect. He was a complete nervous wreck and the actor who played the General Fitz was imitating nailed it. The entire scene, with the Ocean’s 11 style scam to get the missile codes was amazing. But Fitz standing on a book and not knowing what to do with his hands was the best. That was a long ass code, too. I loved how Coulson kind of took a deep breath and just started reading. When it was all said and done, the code was a full page long. That’s some fast typing, Fitz.
6. Apparently May watched The Incredibles, because who knew a Quinjet doubled as a sub? It was cool seeing Mack and Yo Yo and Lincoln and May in the Quinjet talking about how it wasn’t made for what they were doing, only to later realize that Budget Magneto was on the radar and anything flying at them would be seen miles away. Usually we see planes hitting the deck and flying mere feet above the waves. This took it to a whole ‘nother level.
7. Yo Yo and Mack (YoYo Mack?) were amazing together, and I’m glad she’s probably going to be okay following that shot. Yo Yo went full Quicksilver. NEVER GO FULL QUICKSILVER, especially in a Whedon joint. She’s lucky to be alive! I was dying when she was complaining about how slow Mack was working. “This isn’t about my super speed. This is about your turtle speed. Work and then stare. Work and then stare.” Or when she got fed up and just put the shit together because she watched him do it and just worked faster. She’s the best.
I also saw another Quicksilver moment in her when she rescued the hostages: She opened the door, and then when they wouldn’t get up, said “Come on!” and then they followed her out to safety. In Ultron, when Quicksilver tried to get the police start evacuating, they didn’t do anything, so he had to come back and shoot off a gun to get them off their asses. This was Yo Yo’s GET OFF YOUR ASS moment, and I loved it.
8. I cracked up when the team froze Hive in carbonite, and Dr. Radcliffe was all excited with the delayed “YEAH!” I hope we see more of him next season.
I mean seriously: “I can tell by your mustache that you’re an important man not to be trifled with.” COME ON.
9. FitzSimmons is love. FitzSimmons is life. Ever since we first met them way back in the first season, they have had awesome chemistry. That streak continued last night when Fitz caught Simmons trying to plan a romantic trip, and he flat out told her “everyone knows I’m the romantic one.” She had to begrudgingly agree. I was on the floor when she told him she was going to do something with Fitz on that island that would take his breath away and Fitz lost all of his words. SNORKELING, Fitz. Duh.
And Fitz’s camouflage gun was AMAZING. When May and Fitz were trying to get Daisy out of the containment cell, and Budget Magneto knocked May out, Fitz straight up told him there was a weapon on the plane designed to kill him. HE WASN’T LYING. Remember: Budget Magneto can control inanimate objects that are in his line of sight. Fitz knew that. The gun was invisible, and Budget Magneto couldn’t see it. SURPRISE MOTHERFUCKER!
10. And Mack’s Shotgun Axe was the motherfucking TRUTH. I swear he looked at the screen and said “I didn’t spend all season making this not to use it!” I stood up. In my living room. And watched in amazement as Mack hacked and shot his way through those Alpha Primitives. This show doesn’t hold back, and knows what we want to see: SHOTGUN AXE!
11. May to Daisy: Your powers are not what made you an agent. I DID. After that line, I was ready to do whatever May demanded of me. She’s powerful.
12. For the past few weeks, the show has teased that SOMEONE would die, and the focus was on that damn jacket and Yo Yo’s cross that she gave to Mack. Throughout the finale, the jacket and cross went from character to character, like a stressful shell game. We knew the jacket and cross would end up on the Quinjet, but it wasn’t until Lincoln shot Daisy out of the Quinjet and took Hive for a wild ride that we were sure. To be honest, I didn’t like the weeks-long teasing of SOMEONE DYING DUN DUN, but the way it was actually done this episode was good.
I’ll miss Lincoln. He was Daisy’s lobster, and she knew it. That whole end scene had a big Captain America: The First Avenger vibe, and closely mirrored the scene of Steve and Peggy talking over the radio as he dove Red Skull’s jet into the snow. I won’t lie, I got misty eyed.
13. I don’t know why, but seeing Hive and Lincoln accept their fate while floating through space was oddly calming, and I loved it. Hive hasn’t been a completely evil character all season, he just wanted to make the world an Inhuman world. Hive longed for connections (between he and other Inhumans) and just wanted more. He realized the lengths Lincoln would go for Daisy and the rest of the world, and saw that Lincoln had made connections of his own (albeit less literal than Hive wanted). There was nothing they could do to change what was about to happen, so why not stop fighting and just enjoy the view. That was an absolute perfect end to Hive.
14. Whatever complaints you may have had about the CGI this season, they sure did NOT skimp on the big Hive reveal. When Hive was threatening to take over Coulson’s body while Coulson stalled so his team (who never listens to him) infiltrated the ship, the CGI looked amazing.
But that whole exchange led to my favorite moment of the episode, and one of the top few scenes of the season: Coulson revealing that he was just a hologram, and saying “I’ve always wanted to do this: Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope!” That plus the team freezing Hive in carbonite (come on, that’s EXACTLY what they were going for) was tops. TOPS. What a way to end the season.
15. SIX MONTHS LATER.
That hard cut to the near future was jarring, but welcoming. We learned quite a few things: Quake (!!!!!!!) has been busy knocking over Banks and robbing from the rich and giving to the needy, and is busy keeping promises. It looks like Lincoln’s death and Hive’s violations really took a toll on her, and she ran from those that cared for her. Coulson and Mack are on the hunt, and almost got her after she helped take care of Charles’s family.
When Daisy got away, Coulson remarked that the Director (WHAT) wouldn’t be happy, and Mack asked where they would be reassigned to. So in six months, Coulson either gives up the power and becomes a field agent, or the position is taken from him. I have a hunch that Maria Hill will be coming fairly shortly. Or, since Civil War, is Stark / Fury back in charge of SHIELD? WHERE IS TALBOT AND THAT IMPORTANT MUSTACHE?? So many questions!
And then we see Dr.
Potter Radcliffe in a lab after the last of his hearings talking to AIDA (his artificial intelligence), celebrating her birthday. Dr. Radcliffe was using some old SHIELD designs to create a LMD - A LIFE MOTHERFUCKING MODEL MOTHERFUCKING DECOY! Is AIDA the first? What about the Koenig’s? I DEMAND ANSWERS!
For those of you who might not be aware, AIDA is “Artificial Intelligence Data Analyzer” created by a member of the Squadron Supreme. It looks like the show possibly changed AIDA’s origin to be a creation of Dr. Radcliffe. Next season is going to be absolutely nuts, no matter what time of the week it airs.
16. Welp, this is it for this season. I hope you had as much fun reading these longwinded treatises as I had writing them. I’ll be around, look for me mucking it up in the comments in and around io9, and come say hi on twitter! You can find me @Coolest_Breezy. It’s going to be a long summer, and SHIELD traditionally returns near the end of September. I’ll be reviewing The Walking Dead when it comes back in October, but now that we don’t have Agent Carter, I’ll have some extra time as that’s one less show for me to review. What do you think? Flash? Legends of Tomorrow? Supergirl?
See ya’ in the fall, nerds!