Agents of SHIELD Review: In Space No One Can Hear You Cry

5-18 squid

Agents of SHIELD, Season 3, Episode 21 “Absolution/Ascension”

The series’ third season wrapped up with about as best case scenario a resolution as one can get when it comes to killing off characters. Importantly the journey to that end was what was really key. This trip ran the emotional gamut, featured twists and turns, team jackets and had top-notch special effects and fight choreography. In other words, much like the season itself – satisfying to the end. For those who haven’t seen the episode yet, major spoilers ahoy.

Plot Snapshot

Daisy may be free of the physical control of Hive’s sway but the lingering effects are as bad as drug withdrawal. She is trying to help out the team but between the withdrawal, guilt over what she’s done and plain lack of any concrete information, Daisy isn’t much use to anybody. With warheads, missiles and superpowered bad guys running loose, SHIELD has no choice but to press on to save the world.

The Big Deal

5-18 daisy

Whether we knew it or not at the time, this series has been about the journey of the character played by actress Chloe Bennet. Call her Skye, Daisy or now Quake, the evolution of this character is the emotional core this series is centered around. The show built a scrappy hacker into an exemplary SHIELD agent and leader (with superpowers to boot) and tore her down to the foundation after her experience with Hive. Daisy spends most of this episode a withered husk of what she once was. The confidence and swagger that once defined her has been replaced with sunken eyes and the knowledge of the horrors she’s visited on friends and innocent bystanders alike. It took some empathetic alone time with Mack to start to pull Daisy out of her tailspin. But first given a chance for a confrontation with Hive, Daisy asks to be taken back under the sway. Lash’s cure made Daisy immune, and Hive’s rejection causes her to finally snap. She does everything she can to kill Hive but it doesn’t work. A later conversation with May sets Daisy on the path she follows the rest of the episode. It’s a motivation in common with Black Widow from the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Daisy has red in her ledger and she needs to work to wipe it out. At first Daisy believes (because of the vision she been having) it means she needs to sacrifice herself to kill Hive. Lincoln pushes Daisy out of the plane and sacrifices himself instead. This leaves Daisy (and the rest of the team) a sobbing mess.

5-18 leap

We flash to six months later, and Coulson’s yard wall has been tracking Daisy across the country. She’s on a journey of absolution that is leaving destruction in its wake and SHIELD is hunting her. It’s another major change in the arc of Daisy and will surely fuel major parts of next season.

On the Side

5-18 ward

Daisy wasn’t the only character to go through some major changes during the series’ run. Brett Dalton’s Grant Ward benefitted from a heel turn at the end of Season 1 that took him from a square-jawed (yet kind of wooden) agent to the ultimate evil taken human form by this finale. The black hat fit Ward (and Dalton) well, much to the benefit of the series which used Ward’s betrayal from within as a catalyst for a long time. This finale was a showcase for how far Dalton has come as an actor. He got to snarl and intimidate. He was manipulative in his attempts to lure Lincoln out of his hiding spot. He showed his ability with fight choreography in the centerpiece combat with Daisy. The quick shifting personalities Dalton showed after getting zapped with the guts of the TAHITI machine was eerie. Hive was ultimately philosophical as he met his end in the cold vacuum of space. The destruction of Ward/Hive marks the first original cast member to be killed off Agents of SHIELD (unless he’s that Life Model Decoy in the stinger). The show is going to miss such a deeply rooted enemy, but keeping Ward around another season would have been unsatisfying.

Observation and Speculation

*The show never seemed to get a firm handle on Lincoln, so he sort of pinballed around to fill different roles as needed – Daisy’s post Ward love interest, loose-cannon trainee agent and Inhuman expert. That lack of character definition lessened the impact of Lincoln’s ultimate sacrifice, but not enough undermine the finale.

5-18 fitz

*If there’s one legacy of the canceled Agent Carter, is that a little sweet makes the bitter go down easier. The little bit of mo-cap business that Fitz did in the beginning of the first act was riotous.

*The show gave John Hannah a little more room to be devilish this episode and he delivered as usual. After the stinger at the end of the episode, we can only hope there will be more of the amoral weasel Dr. Ratcliffe next season.

*YoYo was such a good addition to the show this second half of the season. Her flirtation with Mack and no-nonsense attitude was welcomed with every appearance, even when Mack had to take a blowtorch to her to save her life.

*Well Jemma, a romantic getaway with Fitz to the tropics is a nice idea, but have some empathy here. The last time Fitz had a surprise that led him underwater and took his breath away, it gave him brain damage – you should remember, YOU WERE THERE. Maybe a ski trip to the Alps is a better idea.

*It is sweet that FitzSimmons have their own nerdy shorthand that helps them avoid being turned into creepy proto-Inhumans.

*Hellfire always the bastion of practicality wanting to change the Inhuman formula so the ladies don’t go all bald and scary looking. A real humanitarian he is.

5-18 hologram *Remember that one episode with the hologram? That trick worked for Coulson faster than you can say “Help me Agent Coulson.”

*The effects on the SquidWard head were some of the best in the series’ entire run.

*The dramatic radio conversation between Lincoln and Daisy was reminiscent of the end scene in Captain American The First Avenger between Peggy Carter and Steve.

5-18 axe

*We finally got our shotgun-axe. That may have caused a few whoops across living rooms everywhere.

Word to Live By

“It’s not a hunch – it’s science!” – Dr. Ratcliffe. New rule, Agents of SHIELD must have one Brit with a big bag of one-liners in the cast at all times.

Verdict

5-18 neck

This finale checked off all the plot boxes it needed to and managed to spin the story forward for next season. The time jump may have been a bit of a cheat, but burning episodes watching Daisy turn to Quake isn’t really necessary. The team’s sudden interest in wearing their team jackets and passing the Necklace of Doom around rubbed up against the point of being laughable, but there was enough other stuff going on that it was easy to ignore those out of character moments. In all it was a satisfying ending to a satisfying season of superspy fun.

Craig Wack

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

You may also like...

  • ChainedVase

    For now all I’m going to say is that I was totally right about it being Lincoln, so there. My sister tried to say it was going to be May but that was just to be mean, because that was neve an option.
    Also, seriously you guys, why not more May?? Jeeeze, Emo Daisy, please continue to whine about your feelings to Melinda “The Cavalry” May, whose great beloved sacrificed himself to save your emo ass.

  • AbbySaurus

    I’m glad you included the “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi…” That was great.

    I’m still processing my feelings about the episode (Dammit, Lincoln.), but I’m satisfied. For now.

    • right? like i feel like i have a lot to process. But i liked it. Also now they’re all posting emotional goodbyes and that gives me sads.

  • That…. it was a lot. I laughed more than i thought i would and i love that the show still has that balance. But damn you guys. I know it was time for HIve to go. There is no way that Ward can come back but I already miss Brett. He’s been so….. amazing. like ya ok s1A was not everyone’s favorite but if you look at that guy and you look at last night? How far has this show come? How far has Dalton come? Hell look at fucking Chloe! She was making me cry all over the places.

    For next season:
    I’m not going to make it all the way to Sept but I agree with @chainedvase:disqus i dunno where MingNa was that prevented her from being in more at the tail end of the season , but here is hoping she’s the not pictured new director so that changes POST HASTE.
    I’m gonna need Fitz NOT to keep working with John Hannah. I feel like that would be a way he somehow starts working for a bad guy like A.I.M and i just don’t want that for my science baby. However more Hannah forever and always (also Mo Tanch said yes probably to that so yayyy)
    Hey emo kid? i see you have feelings. I get it, lots of feelings. Just…. let’s not forget that your Papa Coulson and Mama May have had MORE feelings and maybe you should get your shit together.

    Final thoughts:
    I was always a Lincoln apologist because I love Luke, and now i am sad. His crying, his feelings in the jet? I’m going to miss that Aussie. (however that whole “we have to work on ourselves” garbage was a big NO for me)

    ALSO I NEED A SHOTGUN AXE ACTION PACKED MACK FIGURE LIKE NOW , K THX BYE

    good bye pretty faces. miss you already https://www.instagram.com/p/BFjWdVRsfo2/?taken-by=ann.foley

    • AbbySaurus

      Dear Fitz…RUN AWAY RUN AWAY!

    • ChainedVase

      Yes all this. When Hive said the thing about Rage, we were like, “Yesssss, Evil Cheekbones! Now we can have Angry Cheekbones!” I’ll miss his face.

      • and they just both look so sad up there in that screenshot! don’t be sad boys! you wanna come hang out with the hive mind for funsies?

  • Jelinas

    Kudos to Brett Dalton. As I watched this ep, it occurred to me how far he’s come since the arrogant Ward of S1. I didn’t know he had it in him.

    And kudos to Chloe Bennett as well. She’s just gotten better and better. It was chilling when she asked Hive to take her back. And I cried, like, A LOT during her Peggy/Cap moment with Lincoln.

    I think Luke Mitchell was serviceable as Lincoln, but I agree that the writers didn’t quite seem to know what to do with him. I found it hard to connect to his character when his sole motivation seemed to be DAISYDAISYDAISY. While I could certainly believe that they were attracted to each other, the level of TWUE LOVE required for Lincoln to even stick around to this point was preeeetty hard for me to accept.

    May was criminally underused in the back half of this season.

    YoYo + Mack is kinda my everything. I also really hope that they bring back Gaius Charles as Mack’s baby brother.

    All in all, a pretty solid season with probably the best season finale in the show thus far.