Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finale recap: Absolution / Ascension
A vision fulfilled
It’s all led to this. In true Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fashion, the third season finale wrapped up story lines, introduced new mysteries, and said goodbye to some important characters, paving the way for a new direction in season 4. We’re not entirely done with Inhumans, but it’s safe to say they probably won’t be as big of a deal next season, and there’s definitely going to be a new Big Bad to contend with. So we might as well dive into this recap, eh?
We start on the Blue Area of the Moon, where Daisy and Coulson are in the containment unit. Coulson is asking how long they think they can survive here. “We’re the last ones,” he says as Daisy (who is wearing Elena’s cross) tries to fix a device to get them home. Is this real life? Or just a fantasy? (It’s a dream. Or a premonition. Or the show screwing with us.)
In actual real life, May and Mack and Elena and Lincoln are on a jet flying to where Hive is holed up with the missile. Daisy is stuck in a containment unit and she’s feeling pretty messed up after Hive’s mind control. She’s upset that she hurt people, but right now, the team’s got bigger things to worry about. Like, you know…this missile. With Hive, they’re up against everyone who he’s ever been, which makes things difficult. And also, Simmons doesn’t know what “absolution” means, and Daisy doesn’t know, either, so they can’t make much progress. May and the team infiltrate the island from the water in stealth mode while Talbot tries to get the kill code for the missile. Only problem is, it has to be hand delivered by a Department of Defense official, and he can’t get it without cutting red tape. But Fitz does some super awesome vocal capture work, tracing the call and basically green screens himself as Gen. Andaz. He makes a video with Talbot to send to Secretary Thomas where he says they have someone from the ATCU coming to get the codes in person.
Enter Coulson, who gets into the defense logistics building. May and her team are trying to get the uplink so Coulson can input the code in time, and the code that Coulson has is…well, uh. It’s complicated. I am admittedly lukewarm on Phil Coulson but I have mad respect for the fact that he can rattle off those numbers and letters so damn quickly. The team manages to stop the missile just in time, and oh boy, Hive is PISSED. He forces Radcliffe to fix the missile despite the fact Radcliffe has no knowledge about that whatsoever.
May’s team is still trying to get the hostages out of Hive’s base while Mack and Elena are trying to make sure Hive doesn’t get far. When Mack tries to give her the cross back, Elena won’t take it. (Maybe she’s less sentimental and pissed at his “turtle speed.” We can’t all be super, Elena.) An angry Hive runs into Lincoln and talks about Daisy to draw him out. Personally, I don’t think Lincoln going after Hive is so smart, but Lincoln gets him to engage enough so that he can lead Hive to Mack and Elena, who, along with Lincoln, manage to electrocute Hive’s brain in an attempt to fry his memories. It seems to work somewhat: Hive is definitely off the charts as his memories of all the people he’s inhabited go haywire at the same time: We see Malick’s brother, Ward, Will. (He even remembers Ward’s specific memories, like pushing FitzSimmons into the ocean back in season 1.) He attempts to come back to himself by repeating “I want connection,” which makes Giyera and Hellfire uneasy because their boss is completely losing it. He does manage some info, though: “We need to disconnect the warhead for absolution.”
NEXT: Saved by SCIENCE!
Radcliffe is still trying to figure out how to manually deploy the missile (no dice) and even attempts to ask his new Primative friends to help (also no dice). May finds him and takes down the Inhumans, and he ends up saving May from them before begging her to take him along on her rescue mission because he’s done with this Inhuman stuff. Elena gets the hostages out, and as they attempt to escape, Hive shows up and stops them. What did they do to him? They won, of course, as Hive gets trapped in a gel matrix unit.
Coulson comes to see Daisy to let her know they entered the kill code in time. Daisy is just bitter because she thinks she deserves the blame for everything. She doesn’t deserve pity or friendship. Coulson tries to tell her she was brainwashed, and yeah, well, so was Ward. The difference is, Daisy wants to FEEL pain. Coulson says vengeance won’t help (boy does he know), and Daisy goes so far as to ask if she can be put in the memory machine. But then she hears them all come back from the plane, where Hive is catatonic, trapped in the gel chamber.
Talbot wants to reverse the Inhuman formula on the Watchdogs, and when Radcliffe says the process is irreversible, Talbot isn’t having it. It’s okay, Radcliffe: Fitz and Simmons are great at figuring out impossible things. Speaking of impossible things, Coulson now thinks Lincoln would be a great agent, so I guess he’s proven himself. But Lincoln doesn’t want to be S.H.I.E.L.D. anymore. Once he’s done with Hive, he’s out. While Coulson thinks he can have a future here, Lincoln’s not so sure. And, well, he has nothing Daisy wants. Mack, for his part, isn’t happy they’re choosing not to tell Daisy they have Hive, so he throws down his partner loyalty card (and the necklace) and does it himself. He’s also the only one who walks straight into her room, telling her they’re partners, even though Daisy doesn’t think they’re partners anymore. Mack forgives her for her actions and Daisy doesn’t know what to do with this forgiveness or this genuine talk, so she breaks down as Mack gives her the comfort and understanding she needs. When Daisy talks to Mack about how Hive steals souls, Mack tells her we can make a choice: Let the darkness grow, or let the light come inside. Mack is so underrated but one of the best characters on this show, you guys. I want to keep him around forever.
Fitz realizes Radcliffe is in way over his head with this formula, but Simmons isn’t paying attention because she’s distracted with something secret. Is she making him a card in Photoshop? No, she’s BOOKING THEM A TRIP. To the Seychelles. Who would’ve thought? (Apparently not Fitz: “We both know I’m the romantic one.”) But Simmons has had enough tragedy, so “a little fun won’t kill us.” You’re speaking way too soon, but I’m going to let it slide because this moment is adorable. Their flirting is interrupted by Fitz getting called away to check the gel matrix, and as he leaves, he picks up the cross necklace Mack as dropped. Hot potato! Coulson seals up the base as Fitz reassures them the gel matrix is stable enough for transport, but there’s trouble in the air: Hellfire and Giyera are coming. Fitz notices that “Absolution, Montana” is where the ports of boxes near him were itemized and before he can put the pieces together, it explodes with Radcliffe’s formula. Fitz is trapped, and now with new Primatives that used to be agents. And Coulson put everything on lockdown, so by the time they override, it could be too late. Coulson attempts to talk him through getting out but there’s nothing he can do, and Simmons is trying to figure out how to save her best friend. Thanks to some inside science work, Fitz escapes.
And that’s just the beginning of problems. Fitz is out, but the Primatives are still there, and they smash the gel and get Hive free. (“Well, that’s not good.” No kidding, Coulson.) If Hive wasn’t pissed before, he’s pissed now. Mack and Daisy are watching the whole thing from the containment unit, and Daisy realizes she told Hive everything, including the plans for the Zephyr and the fact that it has high-altitude capabilities. Hive has his delivery system now for the gas, and he’s also got his new missile. Enter Daisy, who gets out of containment and manages to bring her unit right to the hangar to meet Hive (who is still shaky with memories.) Is this her revenge? Maybe, maybe not… Daisy just asks him to take her back.
NEXT: I hope you’re satisfied
And he does! Well, not really. He says he can’t because of what S.H.I.E.L.D. did to her… Apparently they made her impervious. Daisy freaks out about Hive’s refusal and quakes, using her powers to try to attack him. Daisy and Hive battle it out with each other, which includes some badass Hive Matrix moves (with superhero landings!) and Daisy stabbing Hive a bunch of times to no avail. Hey, at least it’s something. Daisy’s knocked out eventually, and put in the containment unit on the plane.
The team is trying to get to the hangar when Elena feels Daisy’s quakes and Fitz realizes there’s a malfunction in Daisy’s module, which means she’s taken the module to the plane to stop Hive. But that’s not the worst news: Those Primitives that were turned when the mist was released earlier? They don’t have original thoughts of their own, only previous memories of weapons and the like… So at least 20 agents are infected and know this base inside out. Mack and Elena attempt to secure the armory, but the Primatives have already foiled that plan, and when they try to enter, Mack’s shot — except not. Elena takes the bullet for him, gravely injuring herself, and as the Primatives kill the power, the team rushes to barricade themselves. Trapped in this room, there’s nothing they can really do for Elena without proper equipment, but Radcliffe finds a blowtorch and, hey, good enough. Elena wants Mack to do the honors — you know what, I’d trust Mack with my life, too.
There’s one person who isn’t in hiding with the team, though: Simmons. She’s almost attacked but saved when Elena starts screaming from her injuries, and that’s when she notices the furnace. While Elena is stabilized, Radcliffe realizes the room is getting hotter and that Simmons has cranked up the heat to blind them, knowing their eyes are damaged. SCIENCE! Clever girl, indeed. They manage to get to Coulson’s office, where Simmons is waiting (appropriately armed), and realize that May and Fitz have gone to the Zephyr. (You can basically see Simmons trying to figure out how to yell at her boyfriend that he got himself into trouble AGAIN). But there is a way out of here: Coulson has a remote quinjet. He wants to go in and rescue Daisy alone because it’s on him to stop Hive. “I have to say, I really enjoy the way you do things,” says Radcliffe as the quinjet appears. Clearly, Radcliffe hasn’t seen a helicarrier come to rescue a flying city in Sokovia.
Hive gets the Zephyr in the air (he can fly it because Will and Ward exist in his memories) and plans to send the jet to 100,000 feet — ascension, y’all! He then plans to drop everyone in the containment unit before the warhead detonates. But there’s a flaw in his plan…and it’s the fact that Daisy’s going to be saved. How did they know that this plan would work? They’ve got TWO spies on the inside: Fitz and May! Daisy is still beating herself up over being a liability and tells May what happened with Hive. She doesn’t think her powers are good enough, but May doesn’t care about her powers. “Your powers didn’t make you an agent. I did.” May continues to give her the Hawkeye Dad Speech About Making Your Own Choices And Getting Off Your Ass (my favorite), but Giyera shows up and attacks them. Out of options, Fitz tries to talk his way out of being shot and shoots him. Yay, Fitz! May and Fitz get Daisy out of containment and realize the Zephyr is getting higher, which means the air is getting thinner. Since Daisy is still going through withdrawal, Fitz gives her his jacket — with the cross in the pocket.
Hive realizes there are stowaways as the quinjet arrives, and Daisy realizes she’s wearing the outfit she’s seen in her vision. Coulson meets with Hive, where Hive is confident he finally has what he needs to defeat everyone: Coulson’s body. He shows his real face (yes, finally, we see the REAL face of Hive, octopus tentacles and all), but Coulson has a few tricks up his sleeve, including the fact that his team will never leave him behind and the fact that he picked up the hologram trick from Blake. Surprise!
NEXT: “What the hell just happened?” “We won”
Hellfire takes on Lincoln, who manages to take him down, but not before Lincoln is distracted by Daisy (the real Daisy!) and Hellfire uses a ball of fire to injure him. Mortally wounded, Lincoln is dragged away by Simmons and Fitz, who try to save him, though they kind of know nothing can be done. Daisy shares a moment with Lincoln, apologizing for the way she treated him, but Lincoln understands. I know a lot of people have reservations about Lincoln and Daisy, but I’m not going to lie: The conversation makes me emotional. What can I say, Marvel makes me emotional. Coulson has one plan left to stop “Hive the Terrible.” He’s remotely set the quinjet on new coordinates to outer space, so if they can steal the warhead and get it onto the quinjet, it’ll explode away from harm. (Never let it be said Coulson didn’t learn from Tony Stark’s selfless sacrifice in 2012!) Lincoln notices Daisy is wearing the necklace and remembers her vision and begs her not to go, but obviously she doesn’t listen.
The group takes on the remaining Primatives (along with Mack and his Shotgun Ax of Awesome), and it’s just such a treat to see all the agents fighting and working as a team. How far we’ve come! Mack realizes Hive went for Daisy, who is moving the warhead into the quinjet with her powers. Daisy says this is her purpose, but Hive isn’t concerned about her sacrifice. He can manually override the controls because Ward is still in his memories. But wait, there’s ANOTHER spy on the inside: Lincoln, who despite his injury, has managed to short the manual controls and get in the quinjet. He blasts Daisy out of the quinjet, who realizes she doesn’t have her necklace anymore as Lincoln flies away.
You know what happens to people in Marvel shows/movies who sacrifice themselves by flying planes into the abyss while saying goodbye to their loved ones, right? Daisy gets on the comm just like Peggy Carter did so many years ago and begs him not to do this, even when Lincoln tells her THIS is his purpose as an Inhuman: to save the girl he loves. And so Lincoln tells her he loves her before the comms short out and the jet explodes, killing both Hive and Lincoln. The world has been saved, and Daisy is left in an emotionally distraught mess. Speaking of being an emotionally distraught mess, this feels like unnecessary torture, especially after Civil War’s Peggy Carter story line. (Also, did I mention Marvel really likes making people fly into outer space to sacrifice themselves when there’s some sort of bomb involved?)
“So what now?” Simmons asks after the team finds Daisy and realizes what happened. Well, that remains to be seen…next season. Six months later, Coulson and Mack are staking out a meeting between a young girl and a mother while newspaper headlines proclaim that massive quakes are being caused by a person, not nature. Daisy — hooded, goth-like, clearly in hiding — shows up and gives the girl a wooden bird. This is Robin, Charlie’s daughter, and apparently Daisy gave the family money, too…and directed them to her father, Cal (or at least the line about the person that worked with animals suggested as much). Coulson orders Mack (and “units”) to move, and they pursue Daisy, who disappears. When Coulson mentions they struck out again, Mack’s answer is to ask where they’ll be assigned.
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So, we can infer that maybe S.H.I.E.L.D. is gone for real…perhaps given to Talbot? Or did Coulson step down as Director after everything that happened? Is Coulson now hunting Daisy for a reason — to bring her home? Or is he part of another master plan because she turned against them again? Where’s Elena, and is she still BFFs with Mack? Where’s May? Are Fitz and Simmons enjoying their vacation and “snorkeling”? Why do we have to wait until September for answers?
But we don’t end there. Radcliffe is back to being a happy scientist in a spiffy lab. He’s still kind of obsessed with Fitz and Simmons but apparently has been working with them, though Fitz isn’t there to celebrate with him today because according to his A.I., “he’s “organizing a surprise for Jemma.” What’s Radcliffe celebrating? A project: L.M.D. Phase 1.
Life Model Decoy, everyone. We don’t see the person Radcliffe has created, but we do assume it’s going to play a big part next season.
- “Everytime I see his face, I want to punch something.” —May, who is never getting over her anger
- “Like betting on WrestleMania stupid.” —Talbot on sending Inhumans in for Hive
- “I’m going to do something with you on that island that will take your breath away.” (Cue every FitzSimmons shipper holding their breath along with Fitz.) “Snorkling!” Jemma Simmons is a gift.
- Simmons: “What happened?” Elena: “Mack lit me on fire.” I am HERE for this relationship. This is exactly how I like my OTPs, you guys.
- “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” Not only was this a good line, but it parallels the midseason finale, when Coulson landed on the planet and made the joke about Tatooine.
- Could…Fitz and Simmons have had a real, genuine happy ending with potentially no horrible things happening? I think pigs are flying, but I’m so happy. I hope they’re on a plane to the Seychelles by now.
- Radcliffe theories: In the comics, Radcliffe is a businessman who is intent on the idea of creating super soldiers out of androids. One of his scientists went rogue and created an A.I. named A.D.A.M.: Autonomously Decisive Automated Mechanism. (The A.I. here is a girl, but that means nothing.) So does this mean we’re getting A.D.A.M.? (Does this mean I have to keep typing out acronyms?) This show likes to mess up comic history a bit, so I don’t think they’ll follow this story line to the letter but I’d wager it’s a good guess.
- Also, L.M.D.s are a big part of the Secret Warriors comics.