Feeling Gravity’s Pull.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for the Agents of SHIELD Season 5 finale, episode 22, “The End.” For more on SHIELD, watch the video above for Clark Gregg’s thoughts on the finale, and check out how the finale dealt with the events of Infinity War.
…Fitz totally died!
What an emotional and pure moment – on an episode filled to the brim with potently sad scenes. The choice to have Fitz’s final goodbye be with Mack and not Jemma was an interesting choice, and maybe not one I wholly agree with, but it was still nice to see Mack shed some tears for a guy he’d clashed with a lot this season. Something big had to happen here and since we didn’t get to see Coulson die, it’s only implied, something had to give. And it was Fitz, who perished in a pile of collapsed building rubble.
There’s a part of me that’s a little bummed that “The End” wasn’t the true end.
This past week, ABC picked up Agents of SHIELD for a sixth season, but it’s clear that this finale (acting as a bookend to Season 1’s finale, “Beginning of the End”), and the entire season really, was very much written with a wrap up in mind. This episode was designed to be more of a show closer than something teasing a continuation, as the EPs, who knew SHIELD was a bubble show, were able to see the faint writing on the wall. Unlike fellow comic book series Gotham, which just delivered a season finale that would not have worked as a final episode if the show hadn’t been renewed, “The End” was created to work as a send off in the likelihood of cancelation.
So yeah, I am a little sad that, when the show returns summer of 2019 (it’s going to be a while – maybe so that the series can avoid dealing with Infinity War fallout entirely and pop back up post Avengers 4), some of the dramatic beats this episode did so well will probably get undone. Jemma will find Fitz floating around, frozen in space – you know, the version of him who didn’t go through most of this season’s adventure – and Coulson will somehow be cured.
That being said, there was no way Coulson was surviving this season, given everything the team went through and the dire nature of the prophecy. Yo-Yo, who had one hell of a scene right at the beginning of this finale, couldn’t just be flat out wrong after all she endured and all the grief she’d taken from her team – even coming to blows with Daisy last week. They couldn’t renege on Phil dying. Death is good for a show. When done right, it’s meaningful and momentous and creates lasting memories of powerful emotion.
But when the show comes back, they’ll most likely find a way to have Coulson be around, or come back. Fitz too. I’m not a huge fan of the retro-undoing of big dramatic beats. As it all stands now though, with only this episode to go by, “The End” was a formidable and fitting close out. The Coulson/Daisy relationship is one of the best things this series has coddled and cultivated over the years so it was grand to see that “I love you” farewell at the end, as Phil left to “retire” on the beaches of (actual) Tahiti with May. Also, making it so that Mack was the new team leader and not Daisy, as we’d been trained to think would happen, was a quirky swerve.
Admittedly, when they all voted for Mack to pick up the mantle of director, it seemed odd because Mack is the most emotional person of the bunch. Should the “biggest heart” lead the team, truly? Shouldn’t we get someone who, maybe, could make tough sacrificial choices? I think so. Maybe not as extreme measures-ortiented as Fitz, but somewhere in the middle? Nope. They all wanted the guy who stubbornly always does the morally superior thing to take the helm. Even after Coulson knowingly continued to sacrifice himself so that Daisy could defeat Graviton and Yo-Yo’s warning could be heeded.
All that being said though, when SHIELD arrived on the scene, in Chicago (which got to get smashed up even in the midst of adjacent Thanos-y things happening off-screen), and Mack made that announcement to the police officers and citizens on the ground, it felt very epic and soaring. As did the team’s efforts to save the people from buildings and surrounding rubble. So Mack, while maybe not the wisest choice for the role, was able to provide us with a really cool and necessary hero moment.
Assumedly, Graviton could return too. Daisy blasted him up into space, we think. Far and away from the city, defeated badly enough to end his current reign of delusion. His duel with Daisy was a fun “we saved money for a big fight in the finale” super-powered FX showcase and the reveal that Coulson had hidden the Centipede Serum in her glove was a nice sprinkle of spice.
Also probably a good bet: Deke will return to the show. In some form. We’re left not knowing if he blinked out of existence due to Fitz dying or if he just stayed away after he left the Lighthouse earlier in the episode. Whatever the case, he wasn’t mentioned during Coulson’s somber retirement party so we’ll have to see what the final season holds.
It was good that they had him leave without having him get all crazed regarding his huge crush on Daisy, instead offering her up some useful advice about how her ties to Coulson, and the team’s overall loving need for each other, was a detriment. But then, as mentioned, after Daisy took herself out of the running for leader, they all elected Mack – the guy who’d never make the hard choice to let someone die ever. So, lot of good Deke’s words were overall.