It’s here. It’s finally here. The epic two-hour season three finale of Agents of SHIELD is here! Man, was it a doozy. This episode managed to successfully embody exactly what a Marvel property should be: action-packed, a little weird, an emotional roller coaster, and peppered with some pretty darn funny moments to lighten the mood. In my opinion, this finale gives a completely satisfying ending to the season’s major arcs and sets up a new direction for season four that I cannot wait to see. Since the episode was so jam packed, I’ll try to hit the highlights.
The episode opens with Daisy in custody at the SHIELD base, beating herself up for all of the terrible things she’s done under Hive’s control. She’s definitely having a major teenager “nobody understands me” break down, and no one is handling it very well. Coulson tries to console her by reminding her that she wasn’t in control because she was brainwashed, but Daisy snaps back, “so was Ward. We make the perfect pair.” Okay, I got chills. I feel really bad for Daisy, but the whining does go on for a bit too long until Mack comes in and literally hugs her into submission. Sometimes their partnership bond seems a little forced, I’ll admit, but here they really show that they’ve got a great relationship. Mack forces Daisy to hear him tell her that he forgives her for attacking him, for all the things she did, for everything.
Meanwhile, a team infiltrates the base where Hive is about to launch his warhead full of Inhuman pathogen into the atmosphere. Through some totally awesome, multi-layered spy-magic, they prevent the warhead from being launched (and Fitz gets to be adorable). Mack, Elena and Lincoln trap Hive in some version of the old memory machine previously used on Coulson and Kid Von Strucker, which brings all of Hive’s previous hosts’ memories out in one big jumble. It generally works and Hive is disoriented enough to get himself caught in the old ACTU’s stasis gel matrix. Unfortunately, he had enough presence of mind to tell his loyal followers Giyera and James to grab the warhead and skedaddle.
Back at the base, Lincoln is finally accepting a few things that I’ve been shouting at my TV screen all season. He declines Coulson’s offer to become an agent, realizing that he’s really not cut out for this life and he’d rather just go see the world. Even if that means leaving Daisy? Lincoln also admits that he’s not really good for Daisy, which only comes after Hive (who recovered some of Ward’s memories) taunts him that Lincoln will never make her as happy as both Hive and Ward. Messed up, but I appreciate that Lincoln is finally being mature and admitting that he’s really not in the place he should be.
With Hive now in custody, everything is smooth sailing and nothing goes horribly wrong. Just kidding! This is Agents of SHIELD, where nothing ever goes right for our heroes. Sneaky Hive planned ahead, and he sent a nice gift of Inhuman pathogen to the SHIELD base, which explodes and turns a bunch of agents into fugly Primitives. So nice to be able to just–poof!–make a small army wherever you need one. They break Hive out of the gel matrix and deliver him right to his new high altitude warhead delivery method: the SHIELD Zephyr.
Daisy, knowing that Hive is on base, hacks her way onto the Zephyr before he takes off to… beg him to take her back. This scene made me so sad for Daisy. Watching her beg and cry for Hive to give her back the high of being infected is seriously tragic. Oh how the heroic have fallen. Fortunately, when Lash saved her, it somehow made her completely immune to Hive’s sway (how convenient). So in lieu of joining Hive, Daisy decides to fight him. Thus follows a very cool borderline Matrix-style fight scene between the two bitter foes, but sadly Daisy isn’t a match for Hive. Hive stows her on the Zephyr and takes off to meet with his cronies.
The Primitives are still in the SHIELD base, left there to take care of the last of SHIELD. This whole sequence was awesomely horror-movie-esque. The Primitives move through the vents (“they’re in the vents!”) and stalk their prey like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park (“clever girl”). Elena takes a bullet in the gut trying to protect Mack, causing me to yell at my TV that they better not kill her! But she pulls through.
On the Zephyr, Hive indicates the beginning of part two of the episode by explaining to James that they are now “ascending.” Very clever, very clever. Also on the Zephyr are Agents May and Fitz, who are stowed away unbeknownst to Hive and his followers.
Now at this point, I am realizing that whoever is going to die must be on the plane. Since we know that the death takes place in a plane, in space, with the cross necklace, the whole episode is spent waiting for all of those factors to converge. It doesn’t help that the freaking cross necklace keeps changing hands. First Elena gave it to Mack, then Mack tries to give it back to her. Then it falls out of Mack’s pocket and Fitz picks it up. Now Fitz has the necklace and is on the plane, and I’m losing my mind.
So Fitz and May find where Daisy’s being kept on the Zephyr and attempt to let her out, but she’s back on the “I should be punished forever” trip. May looks straight into Daisy’s eyes and reminds her exactly who made her into the heroic agent she is today–May herself. Momma May feels are very strong with this one. Rudely, Giyera interrupts their moment and Fitz has to adorably talk himself out of being shot in the face. One should never doubt Fitzy-boy though, because he surprise attacks Giyera with an invisible gun. An invisible gun. Fitz, you are the literal best.
On the ground with the rest of the team, Coulson decides to be the big boss again. To take care of Hive, who he still feels responsible for bringing to Earth, Coulson is going to go on a solo kamikaze mission to take his ass down. No one else gets hurt. And then he jumps out a building into a plane. Like a boss.
Once he gets up to the Zephyr, he has a face to face with Hive himself, in all his tentacley glory. Let me take a moment to give major props to the Agents of SHIELD visual effects team for making Hive look really super cool. I was incredibly impressed. After a nice back and forth in which Coulson makes an amazing pun about his hand, he reveals that he’s 1) not actually alone and instead accompanied by his whole team, and 2) a hologram. So, of course he’s gotta make a Star Wars joke (“help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only h–”). That’s right, now all the agents are on the Zephyr, which means literally any of them could be the one in Daisy’s death vision! You’re killing me here, guys. My heart can’t take this stress.
The team gets in a scuffle with James and some of the Primitives, in which Mack breaks out his muhfuggin. Shot. Gun. Axe. Unfortunately, Lincoln gets hit by some kind of explosion that sidelines him pretty much immediately. C’mon guy. Daisy is freaking out over Lincoln, worrying about his injury and about whether she ruined everything between them by betraying him multiple times. Normally, they don’t really do anything for me, but this scene was really poignant. Lincoln sees that Daisy now has the cross necklace secured around her neck and knows exactly what she means to do. He begs her not to sacrifice herself, despite the things she’s done and the hurt that she’s feeling; he begs her not to let herself die for it. Of course, she doesn’t listen.
The team’s new plan is to get the warhead into the Quinjet that they’d flown here, set it on course to outer space where the Inhuman pathogen can’t reach Earth’s atmosphere, and blow it up. Daisy gets the warhead ready on the jet, but Hive is there waiting for her. So is Lincoln. He zaps Daisy out of the jet and takes off with Hive and the warhead in tow, manual controls fried and no way to stop or alter course. Over coms, Lincoln explains to Daisy that he realized that this is his purpose. He’s the only one who could disable the controls. He’s saving the girl he loves and the world at the same time, and it just feels right. Daisy cries into the headset that there’s so much more she wanted to say to him, and then the line goes dead. Cue all the tears.
Honestly, I was hoping that Lincoln would be the one to die because I didn’t really like him, but this final episode really redeemed him to me in just about every way. The scene clearly paralleled Captain America’s death scene in The First Avenger, with Peggy crying into the coms as he sacrificed himself to save the world. I think Lincoln showed himself to be deserving of that comparison during this episode.
There is another person on the Quinjet with Lincoln, however, in his final moments, and that’s Hive. In another poignant and bizarre scene, Hive and Lincoln float side by side, gazing down upon the Earth. Lincoln realizes that he does get to see the world before he dies afterall. Hive muses that the Earth looks beautiful, and all he wanted to do was make it better. Even Hive is redeemed somewhat in these peaceful final moments of life as he accepts the finality of their situation. Seriously, this scene is so beautifully crafted.
And with this we say goodbye to two of Daisy’s boyfriends.
So what lies ahead for our beloved agents? In the six months since averting the end of the world as we know it, a lot is changing. Daisy is on the run from SHIELD: a rogue, unregistered enhanced person who is still out there doing some kind of heroism. Coulson and Mack are hunting her down, but it’s not immediately clear to what end. What is clear is that Coulson is no longer the Director of SHIELD. So who is the new Director? My sincere hope is that they bring back Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill, who currently acts as Director of SHIELD in the comics and has a very flexible sense of morals that gets her into trouble more often than not.
The most exciting development, however, comes from good old Dr. Frankinhuman, aka Dr. Holden Radcliffe, who was rescued from Hive’s clutches by SHIELD early in the episode. He’s been working with Fitz and Simmons apparently, and has a new invention he wants to share with them: codename LMD. Now, if you’re familiar with SHIELD in the comics, you may recognize this acronym, which stands for Life Model Decoy. LMDs are literally robots that look like people and are used for various purposes by SHIELD, often taking the form of real live people (hence “decoy”). I am out of my mind excited for the introduction of LMDs in season four, especially if that means Brett Dalton can come back as a Ward-bot. The possibilities are endless.
So that’s that. Another marvelous season of Agents of SHIELD is over. It was a wild ride and I can’t wait to get back on in a few months for season four!