Steven Slatter reviews the Season 5 finale of Agents of SHIELD.
Looking back over the course of season five and it’s quite astonishing how far it’s come. Arguably this has been the most consistently exciting, emotional and high stakes season to date. It’s taken the audience on a thrill ride, week-in-week-out, with stories so thought provoking and out of the box that you’d be amazed it hadn’t been done before. We saw old friends appear, new ones made, and favourites fade away. This season, and the finale in particular, was fantastic.
The opening sequence started things off nicely. The main team (Mack, Fitz, Simmons, Yoyo, Daisy and May) were arguing whether to use the Centipede serum to cure Coulson or destroy General Talbot. Regardless of their feelings for one another, and ethical stance, the dialogue portrayed their intentions to be pure, allowing individuals to have a voice, which was nice. Additionally, the background characters (Deke, Pipe etc.) weren’t forgotten.
Although the action may have taken a back seat for most of thr finale, the cinematic feel was undeniable. Past episodes have had scenes both action and dialogue heavy in dark, confined spaces, and it’s clear to see now that’s because they were saving the budget for the finale. The effects really helped to seal the season with a kiss, if nothing else your eyes were satisfied, amplifying the gravitas of this episode.
The story was superb, it could have gone in any direction, making the outcome more exciting and unexpected. Talbot’s transformation arc to a supervillain was a little short; Daisy defeated him a little too easily but nevertheless it was satisfying, even if a character trait was a tad confusing. Talbot says, during the fight with Daisy, “I’ll just absorb you, and then use your quake powers” (or something along those lines). It was never established that once absorbed he gained that person’s abilities; it was an area that perhaps should’ve been further explained.
The idea that SHIELD has been in hiding, as the public’s trust in them was greatly weakened from the events of previous seasons, was an interesting stance. Bringing them back to the forefront was bold and I loved it, the montage of SHIELD saving people during the Daisy and Talbot fight, with a narration from Mack, was very much a fist pump moment.
It’s during this saving montage that we see the most impactful scene to date take place. As Mack, May and Fitz save Robin and her mother, Daisy powers up to defeat Talbot once and for all. It’s during this shake that debris crushes Fitz, slicing him in half. The scene was just outstanding, Iain De Caestecker’s performance was incredibly emotional, Henry Simmons (Mack) crying next to his best friend surely made knots develop in many audience members throats, as perhaps the most loved character is killed off. You can wipe your eyes but the emotion didn’t stop there. Elizabeth Henstridge (Simmons) also gave an exceptional performance, as Mack, in a sequence with no dialog, clearly explains through facial expressions the bad news. The emotion that pouring out of her face was enough to make the strongest well up (but not me of course, far too macho!).
The adverts served to remove the emotional tension, but afterwards I couldn’t help but feel cheated. After everything, the team sit around and toast to their fallen comrade Fitz and, as you begin to wonder what the next season will be like without him, we’re reminded that he is in suspended animation in space; the team simply need to find him. I appreciate it will be a different Fitz but still, a slight irritation.
The final scene with the team saying goodbye to Coulson, as he goes to live out his remaining days on a tropical island with May, was excellent. It could easily have served as the final ever episode of Agents of SHIELD. It all began with his reincarnation after his death at the hands of Loki, how wonderful would it be to end with his imminent death. The effects budget at this point was clearly used up as the background was obviously green-screen and looked cheap.
The ending was bizarre. It came across as all hunky-dory, everything will be ok, but there was no mention of the Thanos situation and loss of half the universe. They could’ve easily made this episode even more impactful, matching The Avengers: Infinity War climax by actually killing off a few main characters, which at points seemed like the direction it was heading in anyway.
Regardless of any negativity I may have had at times, the season five finale was superb; it kept you guessing while at the edge of your seat, it was emotional and most importantly highly entertaining. We know that a season six is already in the works and the chances that Coulson and Fitz don’t come back are slim. Either way, I look forward to future seasons, especially if it’s as exciting as this has been.
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