Agents of SHIELD: 3.22 Ascension
It's not a promising start to the episode as Hive discovers that Lash conveniently made Daisy impervious to Hive's sway. It's an easy out and a quick fix that undermines the cliffhanger set up. Hive's fractured mind seems to recover quite quickly too (the power of calculation apparently - stay in school kids).
However the show moves on with such a good pace that these minor quibbles are soon forgotten. Daisy vs. Hive was an impressive fight, seeing Daisy's powers in action in new and exciting ways. They really have enjoyed their slow-mo this season haven't they?
Jed Whedon's script certainly delivered plenty of fun lines, many of them given to John Hannah's Dr. Radcliffe who I'm glad too see will be sticking around for a while. Radcliffe's excitement at Coulson's prosthetic was a wonderful little moment. Of course, only Clark Gregg could deliver that "I have a few tricks up my sleeve" line and make it work. As Dr. Radcliffe responded; "I have to say, I really enjoy the way you do things." So do I Dr. Radcliffe, so do I. When this show is firing on all cylinders it has style, excitement and genuinely fan pleasing moments. When it can afford to the show feels like the hip counterpart to the cinematic side of Marvel as opposed to the low budget cousin. That said, the shot of the Agents fighting on the Zephyr was cool it obviously couldn't quite match the cinematic majesty of similar moments in the two Avengers movies no matter how admirably they tried.
Fitz's invisible gun was very silly but in such a madcap comic book fashion that I couldn't help but buy into it. Iain De Caestecker has such a lovely, natural delivery to his lines ("I did tell you, a few times") and Fitz has come a long way since season one to believable, capable agent. Fitz and Simmons have been the real stars of this season for me, both finding new strengths and finally getting together.
Clark Gregg and Brett Dalton had some great moments here too. We finally get to see Hive in his true form and it's fun, impressive effects work. Gregg clearly enjoyed playing this scene as it is full of cool moments and his "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi" quip reminded us how much of a geek Coulson really is. Slight quibble, he said he stole the 'not really here' idea off Blake but surely the trick is Loki's? Maybe that is too much of a sore spot for Coulson...
The episode had plenty of fun teasing who would end up in dead as per Daisy's vision and there was plenty of tension. However, when Daisy ended up with the jacket there was only way out of killing one of the shows main stars... kill the boyfriend. Lincoln has never felt like part of the team until his actions two episodes back and just as I start to like him or care about his and Daisy's relationship the writer's kill him off. It's always the way.
Lincoln's sacrifice felt heartfelt and genuine. I was never that invested in Daisy and Lincoln's relationship but found these scenes genuinely affecting. Lincoln's realisation that this was the first time he had said he loved her pulled at the heart strings. Lincoln and Hive's final talk in the Quinjet was also surprising effective. It was a subtle, reflective end to a dramatic finale that painted Hive with such interesting shades, not simply pure evil. Hive has been one of the best villains in the MCU and it's almost a shame to see him go.
Moments later we have a shocking time jump. Coulson is hunting down Daisy who has now taken on the identity of Quake. She's taken to vigilante justice, trying to balance the books after being under Hive's sway. She has even found a cool new use for her abilities. This show likes to shift the status quo and it seems that Coulson is an agent again. Who is the new director? Is SHIELD an official entity again - perhaps tasked with hunting down those that haven't signed the Sokovia Accords? Will Coulson be hunting down any of Cap's Avengers? Will the Inhuman's take a back seat for a while? Are the Secret Warriors that were teased so much - but delivered so little - dead in the water now or are they still on call, Global Frequency style?
Ascension delivers a strong finale to the season and hints at an interesting season to come. The season four order came quite early in the run, so I expect everyone onboard has solid ideas and energy to carry on into the future of the show.
And what of the season overall? Despite the disappointments (as mentioned above, the much teased Secret Warriors didn't get much time to deliver) this has still been the most consistently strong season of Agents of SHIELD yet. It has certainly been better structured and more focused that season two, delivering crowd pleasing action and emotional beats. This show has had a rocky journey but for those who have stuck with it, it has delivered much to enjoy.