Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series finale recap: One last job
Well true believers, here we are at last: The end of an era. Characters have been hinting all season that this will be the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. team’s last mission together, and now we see what that looks like.
The final battle against the Chronicoms starts on two fronts: Mack, Daisy, and Sousa infiltrate the Chronicom flagship to rescue Deke and Simmons, while Coulson, May, and Yo-Yo defend the Lighthouse. As you guys know if you’ve been reading these final season recaps, I’ve found the younger John Garrett character quite insufferable, so I love the way he gets owned here. Coulson calls up Fitz’s data on the barriers he once used to trap Gordon when they were enemies, and much to May’s amazement, rebuilds them. So when Garrett teleports in to try and plant bombs throughout the Lighthouse, they slap the power-neutralizing shackles on him and watch him squirm. It’s pretty delicious. Then they even call Nathaniel Malick so that he can abandon Garrett to his fate. That causes Garrett to switch sides and teleport the team out of the Lighthouse before the bombs destroy it.
Mack, funnily enough, was right all along: “I always knew it was robots who would take us out in the end.” As he and Sousa try to hold off Hunters, Sybil tells Malick to let Daisy find Simmons because their reunion increases the probability of finding out Fitz’s location. That seems like it’s about to happen; prompted by Daisy, Simmons starts to remember that she’s married and that her marriage is somehow the key. But just as Sybil is getting excited that the truth is going to be unveiled, Kora emerges from behind a corner and starts Daisy. This distraction frustrates Sybil, and honestly me as well because it just shows what a weak character Kora has been. Her motivations are a confusing tangle: She’s mad at Daisy for not telling her about Jiaying’s death despite making out with Jiaying’s actual killer Nathaniel Malick, plus she also says her mom was a monster, so I’m just not sure why she’s mad and I’m not sure she does either. But it does ruin Sybil’s plans, so thanks for that. As punishment, she immediately gets stunned by Malick and hooked up to his power-transfer machine.
Young Garrett finally gets taken care of when he teleports the team into the last SHIELD hideout and promptly gets shot in the head by the agents already hiding there. If I’m not mistaken, Victoria Hand seems to be among them, which is a fun callback to season 1. It seems all these agents were summoned together by a coded signal, and each was instructed to bring a specific package or item. With all these storied briefcases and receptacles assembled, Simmons’ memory starts to kick in; she knows how to put them together to form a machine. The last ingredient is her own wedding ring; as she says, marriage was the key. When all the parts are formed, the machine opens a portal, through which pops our beloved Leo Fitz! It turns out the place he was hiding all along was...our original timeline.
This kicks off the second half of this two-part series finale. For those who have been waiting all season for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s time travel rules to tie in with those of Avengers: Endgame, Fitz finally delivers with talk about the quantum realm and how they can travel between different timelines. His plan is actually to just straight up ditch this timeline in favor of their original, but Coulson and company refuse to abandon this dimension to the Chronicoms. In his words, this isn’t a virtual world like the Framework. These people are real and they can’t be left at the mercy of the invaders, so they decide to take the Chronicoms home with them over Fitz’s protests (like Sybil, he’s very concerned with probabilities of success). The only thing is, that requires someone to be left behind to flick the switch. Deke volunteers himself. It’s actually kind of an easy decision: Daisy has Sousa so doesn’t need him, and he’s a rock god in the early ‘80s anyway. So they say goodbye and allow Deke to become director of the survivors of S.H.I.E.L.D. in this new timeline.
Back home, we see the plan that FitzSimmons and Enoch enacted way back at the end of last season. Because that’s exactly when they arrive back in the original timeline: Just as they left, in the final minutes of last season’s finale. The Zephyr goes dark with Coulson, May, Daisy, and Mack on board, while a Quinjet carrying Fitz, Simmons, Yo-Yo, and Sousa makes its way toward the temple. They dress in hazmat suits and carry the past versions of themselves into the past Zephyr, meaning that when someone asks past Simmons “where’s Fitz?” and she says “I don’t know, I can’t know,” he is literally right next to her in a suit. That way, the first Zephyr that appears on the Chronicoms’ scanners is the one leaving into the past. So Sybil’s ships fire at it, destroying the temple as the ship teleports and allowing the current Zephyr to sneak onto the Chronicom flagship.
Daisy ends up in a fight with Malick as Coulson is confronted by Sybil and her Hunters while Mack tears his way through other troops. The Daisy/Malick fight gives some fun Dragon Ball Z vibes with the two shooting blasts of energy at each other, but ultimately I feel like it pales in comparison to Daisy’s climactic fight with Graviton from the end of season 5. Maybe it’s just because they’re on a spaceship, but I never buy that Malick has the power to rip the Earth apart (exaggerated by him referencing his lore). Meanwhile, Mack frees Kora.
Where is May, you might ask? You’re a smarter person than Sybil if it occurs to you. She thinks she’s the queen of the world with Coulson in her grasp. He tells her that the rest of the team is at the Lighthouse, so she smugly orders her Hunters to take the Lighthouse and her ships to destroy the bases. Then it’s Coulson’s turn to smugly smile since all they needed was her authorization. Then it’s May’s opportunity to crash through the ceiling and, I would say knock Sybil out, but I don’t think we see her again so it’s probably fair to say May just drops down and straight-up kills her there. Then they bring in the liberated Kora, who sends her powerful energy to the Lighthouse, giving all the Chronicoms there the same level of empathy as Enoch. When someone asks if they’re friends or enemies, the Hunters drop their guns and echo Enoch’s dying words: “Friends, as we have always been.”
Daisy’s battle against Malick takes a little longer, but when he taunts her, saying she can’t kill him without killing herself, she calls his bluff and destroys the ship, killing him and surrendering herself to the cold vacuum of space as well. Luckily, the Zephyr pulls her aboard and Kora’s energy is able to heal her in the style of their late mother Jiaying. Speaking of mothers, we then learn the real reason for Simmons’ implant: She and Fitz had a baby daughter while they were spending years building the time machine!
We cut to one year later for our final scene with the team. Coulson, Daisy, Mack, Yo-Yo, FitzSimmons, and May all gather in a bar (holographically, we eventually learn — it’s basically a Zoom meeting!). We learn everyone’s fates: Daisy has a happy life with Sousa as SHIELD commanders, Mack is still director from a rebuilt Helicarrier, Yo-Yo is on a strike team, May is lecturing young SHIELD students, and FitzSimmons are retired from the spy life to raise their adorable, exhausting daughter. It’s about as good an ending as you could hope for any of these characters — especially FitzSimmons! Love their happy ending. So despite my many qualms about this season, I think it did wrap up the show (which over seven seasons has spanned multiple eras of Marvel superhero fiction) in a nice little bow. Coulson even gets to ride off into the sunset on L.O.L.A. So long, everyone. It was a fun ride, wasn't it?
Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.