We are fast approaching the finale here, ladies and gentlemen! The finale of season 5, that is…unless, of course, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. DOESN’T get renewed for a sixth season, in which case we are fast approaching the series finale. Events are certainly getting epic enough for a real ending, and I love how much the last part of this season has served as a bookend to so many crucial events from season 1. As Jemma Simmons notes in this episode, the very first mission for Coulson’s team involved John Garrett’s Centipede Serum, and now their latest does as well. That would make it a fitting end for the show, but of course I think we’d all love to spend even more time with the gang, especially if the ending of this season coincides with the devastating ending of Avengers: Infinity War.
The Centipede Serum could hold the key to both saving Coulson’s life and stopping Talbot’s reign of terror, but when this episode opens, the team isn’t in a position to do either of those things. Following Talbot’s heel turn last week, the Confederacy has taken Daisy, Coulson, and May prisoner. Coulson and May are stuck in a cell together, where Qovas brags about the cowardice of human guns and weaponry in comparison to his Remorath and their love of hand-to-hand fighting. May is more than willing to take on Qovas without a gun, but with missiles aimed at the Lighthouse, she can’t exactly act on it yet.
For her part, Daisy is now a prisoner of Kasius’ father Taryan, who longs for Inhumans just as much as his son did/will. Daisy, however, has had more than enough of this damn family. The trick to her imprisonment is that her unconscious body is being carried through the Confederacy’s base while Taryan speaks to her mind through astral projection, but Daisy’s been around the block before. By concentrating, she’s able to activate her quake powers just enough to break the inhibitor on her forehead, reviving her body so she can kick the crap out of Taryan’s goons. She wakes up just in time to join up with Coulson, May, and Deke, who had been able to break them out of their cell but lacked the quake powers necessary to take on the aliens.
Talbot, meanwhile, is on his own mission. Walking through the Zephyr, he takes control of the Quinjet and heads back toward Earth — but since he’s moving the ship via his own Gravitonium powers rather than actual piloting, it’s invisible to Mack’s radar. Talbot’s first stop is the hospital room of Carl Creel. Even while shaking off the after-effects of touching the Gravitonium, Creel still remembers his loyalty to Talbot. Unfortunately, by now the version of Talbot most people knew is long gone. Gravitonium is nothing if not addictive, and Talbot is desperate for more. So while professing that he’s only there to help Creel get the voices out of his head, really he just wants the Absorbing Man’s powers. Talbot touches Creel long enough for him to take on the properties of Gravitonium, at which point Talbot devours him, desperate for even more power. Talbot’s next stop, though, is personal. With Talbot piloting the Quinjet himself, it’s hard for Mack and Yo-Yo to track him. Luckily, though, they know Talbot the man, and they correctly surmise he’s going to visit his family.
Coulson, May, Daisy, and Deke are ready to leave the Lighthouse, but first they need to take care of those pesky missiles. The Lighthouse itself is probably strong enough to withstand such an alien assault, but the people around it aren’t. So the team splits up — Coulson and Daisy go to retake the Zephyr, while May and Deke go to redirect the Remorath missiles. Given everything we know about everyone’s feelings for each other, this has the dynamic of a mismatched double date, but Coulson and May do kiss before they split, which pleases Daisy immensely.
It sure seems like a not-insignificant portion of Talbot’s motivation for becoming Graviton was to impress his son George. As soon as he arrives back home, Talbot starts showing off, levitating George’s toys and offering to take him up to a real-life spaceship. But once his wife starts talking about S.H.I.E.L.D. and “everything going on in the world” (there are some cuts to news footage of the devastation wrought in New York by Thanos’ Black Order, which means we’re about halfway through the events of Avengers: Infinity War), Talbot loses his cool and hurls her against the wall telekinetically. He gets even angrier when Mack and Yo-Yo pull up outside.
Despite their good intentions, Mack and Yo-Yo are no match for Talbot’s new powers. He takes control of their guns and fires their own bullets at them. Yo-Yo can’t even superspeed close to him without getting blown back. The only thing that makes Talbot stop is George pleading with him to stop hurting people. This gets through to Talbot. There is a part of him that does want to be the hero, so he declares that he’ll find even more Gravitonium so that he can become powerful enough to fight Thanos. Flying off, he tells George to keep watching the news. For all the recent nods to the events of Infinity War, the biggest parallel between this season and that movie is their stories of men who think they can heroically fix all the world’s problems by themselves, and end up wreaking devastation and havoc as a result. Talbot’s determination to rip Earth apart in order to get at the alleged stores of Gravitonium beneath the surface sure sounds like the kind of cataclysm that gave us the Lighthouse future.
May gives Qovas the hand-to-hand fight he craves while Deke works on redirecting the missiles. The distraction works! Qovas gleefully thinks he’s won by firing the missiles, only to realize they’re actually heading straight for his own ship while May and Deke teleport away. With Coulson and Daisy in charge of the Zephyr, the team is pretty much reunited and ready to take on Talbot — until Coulson passes out from blood loss, that is.
After experimenting with the Centipede Serum and Jiaying’s skeleton for the whole episode, Fitz and Simmons think they’ve come up with a solution for both their problems. They can fill one Centipede Serum with Jiaying’s blood and save Coulson, while filling another one with Odium and using it to stop Talbot. Unfortunately, that sample of Centipede Serum is the only one left in existence, which means the team now has to choose between saving Coulson and saving the world. Like I said at the top, things are certainly feeling epic…
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