Agents of Shield finale
I don’t usually bang on about Agents of Shield on here, because…while I enjoy the show, it doesn’t tend to excite the thinky-thoughts part of my brain. But just this once:
1). I think I’ve banged on before about Agents of Shield having masterful dramatic structure, but it really shows in this episode. The ‘original sin’ of AoS is Grant Ward’s betrayal of the theme, his undying loyalty to the man who brought him into Shield (well, Hydra of course, as it turns out) even in the face of clear proof that letting him go was the right thing to do. And five years later, Daisy Johnson is faced with the exact same choice – give up Coulson for the greater good. (A weakness of the show is that we never really saw WHY Daisy fell for Ward – aside from his being pretty – but I think the information we’ve learned since then makes it retrospectively more understandable. They really are VERY similar people).
Except, of course, Coulson, being a better person than Garrett, couldn’t countenance the idea of holding his life above Daisy’s for a minute – Garrett almost had Ward killed to ensure he got what he wanted, but Coulson gave up a chance at prolonging his life to ensure Daisy became the hero she was always meant to be. Knowing how easily it could have gone the other way gives that choice more weight.
One of the more adult aspects of AoS is that it’s never subscribed to the idea of there being Good People or Bad People, as though Goodness or Badness are independent qualities existing inside of someone, rather than contingent upon a person’s choices. The choices the characters make MATTER.
2). The dialogue however remains clunky as hell. No one in AoS talks like a human being – there’s always a slight sense of every line being written to Convey A Specific Piece of Information. (Coulson in particular falls victim to this for some reason).
3). Killing Fitz in the way they did (where it’s obvious he will be coming back, in at least some form) seems like the only option the show had. Because, realistically, once the crisis was over, there’s no possible way they could have allowed him to continue as part of Shield. Performing non-consensual brain surgery on a colleague is a real “You screw one goat” move – having turned on Daisy like that, there’s simply no way any of the characters could ever trust him again, not long-term. There is NO way to make that believeable, and doubly so because he seemed either unwilling or unable to understand the impact of his actions. Who’s to say that he wouldn’t feel completely justified in doing something equally heinous all over again the next time the world was at risk (which since he works for Shield, is something that happens with pretty regularly).
It’s something May said to Yo-yo, that none of the invincible three seemed to grasp – once you make ‘the hard choice,’ no matter what the reasons for it, people will inevitably see you differently – there’s a price to pay. (I must say though, Fitz’s dickishness on the matter I can kind of understand – he is suffering from an untreated mental illness – but Simmons baffles me. There’s something almost neurotic about it). Which is why I hope they don’t brush the magnitude of Fitz’s betrayal under the rug – it’s notable to me that he, Jemma and Yo-yo were all so certain they were right that they were willing to attack their colleagues without direct provocation. (Regarding Fitz, the Ward parallel is also useful here – Fitz’s willingness to let the whole world go to hell if he can save Jemma is not substantially different from Ward’s fanatical devotion to Daisy. Which isn’t to say that they are the same person or that their motives are the same, but that, just like May and Daisy in relation to Coulson, Fitzsimmons should be asking themselves some hard questions about their behaviour).
4). I don’t love that the moment Shield gets a female leader almost all her colleagues immediately start mutineering and undermining her at every turn, and they don’t get properly on board again until A Man is put in charge.
5). Saving the effects budget for the final episode was worth it – and I love that they used Chicago instead of New York or Los Angeles. (Partly, because I’ve been to Chicago, and it’s one of my favourite American cities). Daisy’s fight with Graviton was thrilling to watch if, sadly, too short. (I thought her final fight with Hive was probably more emotionally powerful, but man it felt good to see Daisy get an unequivocal WIN). And I have to say, the moment when Shield came to the rescue and the police officer’s response was “Thank God” felt really earned.
6). I am not touching the time travel shenanigans for one second. I’m just going to assume that, by breaking the loop, that means the future they went to no longer exists.