Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: 'The Real Deal'
Coulson makes a big revelation as the team comes together for a long-awaited celebration
We made it, kids! It’s the 100th episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the creators really went out of their way to deliver a “love letter” to fans. That’s evident right from the opening credits, when every variation of the show’s logo is replayed to give a sense of the show’s journey thus far. And what a journey it’s been!
First things first, the cliffhanger explosion from last week has had some very interesting consequences. Noah is dead, having thrown himself on top of the probe to mitigate the blast, and much else is destroyed. But apparently, simultaneously destroying three monoliths at once has an unintended effect. The fallout involves an interdimensional portal opening in the basement of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new headquarters. And not just any dimension, either! This rift opens into something Fitz can only describe as the “Fear Dimension,” with the power to manifest everyone’s fears. Deke and Daisy see this when a Kree warrior from the Lighthouse appears in their midst; upon being killed, he disappears into smoke. One of the stranger effects of this Fear Dimension is that a forest has manifested on one of the base’s lower floors — or at least it remains a mystery until Deke reminds everyone that, as someone who grew up in an insulated space station, he actually does fear branches and flowers and bugs.
It doesn’t take long for Fitz to figure out a solution to this dimensional rift. He thinks Deke’s gravity-powered belt buckle could probably provide enough force to seal the portal. The only problem is, he can’t guarantee that operation would be totally safe. Whoever volunteers to seal the portal might die in the process. In Coulson’s view, that makes him the only possible choice. He doesn’t see anyone else as expendable, especially Daisy — he sees her has his heir, the only one who can carry on S.H.I.E.L.D. after he’s gone. Because that’s the thing — he’s dying. What Future Yo-Yo said was true. Coulson finally explains the deal he made with Ghost Rider last season. The Spirit of Vengeance’s price for taking on its power was it burned away the “alien voodoo” that was keeping Coulson alive. So now, all the dead tissue from his chest wound where Loki stabbed him way back in the day is spreading, and he doesn’t have long to live. Coulson thinks that makes him the ideal candidate for this no-win mission, but his agents definitely aren’t happy about being kept in the dark about this.
Daisy is particularly mad because they were literally just in a future world where resurrection technology was possible. But Coulson poo-poos that, saying he already came back from death once and has no intention of doing so again. His whole mission throughout this series has been to mentor Daisy and make sure she’s ready to continue the mission and the ideals ofS.H.I.E.L.D. Her stance on the matter is that S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t exist without Coulson. Only time will tell which of them is right.
But as Coulson explains to May, just because he’s accepted his eventual death doesn’t mean he’s in any hurry to get there; he fully intends on surviving his mission to seal the portal. May is also mad about Coulson keeping her in the dark, mostly because she correctly intuits his impending death is the reason he pulled back from their long-simmering romance. It’s a really touching exchange, actually; he says he didn’t want her to waste time on another lost cause, while she insists that it’s her choice who she wastes her time with.
Once he’s suited up and prepared, Coulson enters the lower levels of the base. But he’s not greeted with fantastical monsters or imaginary fears; instead, he finds himself face to face with Mike Peterson, before his Deathlok modifications. I love that the 100th episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. brought us all back to the pilot in this way. Peterson insists that everything that’s happened over the course of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is an illusion created by Coulson as he lies on the operating table. While that lie is tempting, it’s soon disproved by the arrival of the real Mike Peterson, in full Deathlok mode, who shows up to shoot his own false apparition. Deathlok also takes care of the illusionary roaches who appear, and even the visage of Hive himself, who returns to taunt Coulson one last time before he uses the gravitron to seal the portal.
After all the dangerous stuff has been taken care of, we get to the real meat of this episode: the FitzSimmons wedding! Couldn’t be more fitting for this momentous episode than to finally secure the relationship that has fueled this show for so long. It is, of course, cute as all hell, what with Simmons saying that they joined S.H.I.E.L.D. for adventure and now she’s ready for their next adventure (tears!), and the usually-talkative Fitz admitting he doesn’t have the words to adequately convey his feelings for Jemma. As a bonus, we learn that Deke is their grandson! Couldn’t be more fitting.