Guys, we need to talk about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - is probably a sentence you never thought you’d read. But after last night’s finale, I certainly need to talk about it. So here’s your spoiler warning in case you haven’t seen the episode yet and still want to…
COULSON BECAME GHOST RIDER!!! It’s like the showrunners took the feedback about how awesome and fun the show was with Ghost Rider in it and figured, “Hey, lets see if making Phil Fucking Coulson the Ghost Rider will kick it up another notch.” Of course it wasn’t permanent, and the Rider was back in Robbie Reyes by the end of the episode, but it still made for a great climax. We all knew Ghost Rider would take care of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s AIDA problem, but I don’t think anyone saw that coming. Coulson is always good for a snappy quip but it’s nice to see him kick ass every once and awhile.
Having one batshit moment would be enough for most shows, but this finale really went for it. Daisy shot General Talbot in the head… but it was a Life Model Decoy of Daisy! Poor Simmons was stabbed and electrocuted by AIDA in front of a sobbing Fitz… but it was a Life Model Decoy of Simmons! Fitz was in on it, of course - and seeing him wipe away his fake tears after AIDA left was my everything.
Now that the show has been picked up for a full 5th season, we have plenty of questions we can expect to be resolved. What price did Coulson pay for that Ghost Rider help, that earned even Robbie’s pity? Who are the shadowy agents that captured the team at the end? How will S.H.I.E.L.D and the Inhumans recover from the damaging footage showing the Daisy-bot shooting General Talbot? For that matter, how is poor General Talbot doing?
AND WHAT THE HELL IS COULSON DOING IN SPACE?
Overall, I think this season really delivered in a lot of ways that the show doesn’t always get credit for. The storytelling pods worked to keep things moving - maybe Netflix could take some notes on how to plan and execute a tight Marvel plot arc. Characters we’ve invested seasons in developed in interesting ways. Fitz and Simmons grew as a couple. Daisy stepped up into her leadership potential. Phil and May started to come together in a satisfying way - all it took was some robot duplication to bring emotions out into the open. Mac proved he’s the best human being ever, in the Framework or out of it. Characters we’ve missed returned in the Framework in a way that was equal parts fan service and actual plot device. And frankly there are no diminishing returns to Grant Ward, at least for me. If this show continues to bend over backwards to bring Ward back in the future, I’ll be there for it. He’s probably my favorite villain after David Tennant’s Kilgrave, because they each became well-rounded enough to challenge the idea of “pure villainy.” Seeing him as a good guy in the Framework was satisfying.
Even the Doctor Strange tie-in worked better than expected, because they took a minor slice of the magical world (the Darkhold) and made their own full plot around it. It wasn’t just a throw-away movie plug. And it gave us Ghost Rider, which they handled so well. Between him and the LMDs running around everywhere, the show proved it could take weird concepts from the comics and incorporate them in useful ways into the show’s universe.
I know, I know, this show isn’t exactly Breaking Bad, but whatever. Robots and flaming skulls get my vote every time. Until next time, shine on, you crazy Agents!