Previously on Agents of SHIELD, “Emancipation”
Agents of SHIELD – S3E21/E22- Absolution/Ascension | Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Brett Dalton, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Henry Simmons, Luke Mitchell, John Hannah, Axle Whitehead | Writers: Chris Dingess, Drew Z. Greenberg & Jed Whedon | Directors: Billy Gierhart & Kevin Tancharoen
Part one of the two-hour finale began in a seemingly non-linear fashion with Coulson and Johnson inside a containment module on Maveth. Buh wha? Daisy was intensely focused on some wiring while Phil appeared to be mortally wounded, stating they were the “last ones”. Oh no… this better not be a flash forward. Given how frequently ABC promoted the finale event with banners of each agent that reads ‘who will die?’, that would be a mighty big swerve if they cleared the board. Everyone can kiss their crosses because it was all a dream that somehow is slightly better than reality.
After viewing “Absolution”, the opinion should be near-unanimous that SHIELD is Chloe Bennet’s show. As the old saying goes ‘third time’s the charm’ and boy, did the writers put in their work. While almost everyone was thrust in compelling, personal story arcs, Daisy shined the brightest as she sought her purpose as a more confident woman, finding a balance between her responsibilities as an agent and zealous defense of inhumans, and ultimately prevailing over her recent insecurities and after being persuaded by Hive.
Detained and constantly monitored, Daisy relayed as much intel as she could remember to SHIELD for their assault against Alveus. Jemma appeared to be the only member of her former team to visit her, on an official capacity. Simmons coldly , but Daisy isn’t looking for forgiveness from her friends or a means of redemption. Hive may have had control over her but Johnson was very much conscious the entire time. Her actions, especially towards Mack, were deemed unforgivable in her eyes.
With their heaviest hitter out of commission, Coulson orders Agents May and Mackenzie with Lincoln and Yo-Yo to infiltrate a remote launch facility, neutralize any inhuman resistance and rescue survivors. Concurrently, Coulson, Fitz and General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) are weaseling their way around DOD procedure to acquire the kill codes necessary to prevent the launch of Hive’s ‘I-Bomb’ (we had to call it something). The agency is facing possibly the greatest threat in its history – at half strength, mind you – and every asset has to double their efforts to merely deter Alveus’ scheme.
Chain of command be damned! Thanks to Fitz’s inventive use of motion capture tech and Phil’s reckless swerving on city streets, SHIELD was barely able to shut down the missile launch. The away team was able to breathe a sigh of relief before running rampant across the base to accomplish their individual objectives. May subdued a pack of primitives and Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) tagged along like a lost puppy; Lincoln had his feelings crushed by Hive after he waxed rhapsodic about how the sway he has on Daisy will never compare to Campbell’s love. That’s just mean.
In the meantime, Mack and Yo-Yo assembled the repurposed version of the memory machine used on Werner Von Strucker. Thanks to Lincoln giving the device some extra juice, Hive is swept up in its effects, leaving him completely “gonzo” as Hellfire so aptly states. Alveus is effectively incapacitated by the broken memories of the lives he’s absorbed for a millennia (but it appears his most recent meals have the greatest effect) but breaks through for a moment for tell Hellfire and Giyera to disconnect the warhead and haul ass. Alveus chases after the team and is gelled like Magellan (ah, shoe humor). High fives for everyone!
So… SHIELD won? You wish!
Everyone is resting a bit easy now that Alveus is under wraps but the pathogen remains under the control of his swayed inhumans. Now that the worst appears behind them, Lincoln informs Coulson and Mack that he’s out for good. He did all he could for Daisy but now that she doesn’t want anyone’s help, what good can he do for her? Unlike Campbell, FitzSimmons have an optimistic outlook for the future and plan to do a lot of what many young couples in love partake in… snorkling! Of course. Get your minds out of the gutter. Unfortunately, swimming in the Seychelles will have to wait because Absolution finally arrived at The Playground in the form of boxes containing Dr. Radcliffe’s modified terrigen gas. The hangar is quickly overrun by instant inhuman primitives and they tear through Hive’s containment unit like an orange Jolly Rancher.
Daisy runs off and enters the module in hopes to save her friends but the feelings of emptiness and despair rush through her mind upon seeing Hive once more. The lure is too much to bear and Johnson slumps to her knees, begging to returned to the fold. This is not. good.
~ Rexlor Graymond
Continuing immediately in “Ascension“…
Daisy is no longer the woman she used to be; blame it on Hive, blame it on her pain, blame it on the boogie. She wants to be with Hive and will do whatever it takes to get that, until she can’t get that.
The team’s bad inventorying skills bite them in the ass and they find out too late that Hive plans to use the Zephyr to disperse his Inhuman cocktail.
Though it seemed like she was back to normal, Daisy isn’t quite over Hive. As a matter of fact, seeing Hive break free of his gel prison, Daisy rigs her containment pod to enter the Zephyr. Not to stop him, but to get him to turn her back into one of his minions. She can’t leave him alone, he got her feenin’. It seemed like she upset about Hive taking over her mind, but now she’s begging him to take her back. Even though he’s with it, he can’t turn her because Lash put the kibosh on that when he healed her; she can no longer be swayed. Pissed that Hive won’t force an issue he can’t force, and even though he genuinely apologized, she decides a fight is in order. As cool as her fighting is, it means nothing; she can’t beat Hive. Even stabbing him fifty-eleven times and breaking every bone in his body has zero effect.
Twenty-eight SHIELD agents have turned into a rough version of The Silence, thanks to Hive and Dr. Radcliffe, and the team need to find a way to hide or fight them head-on. Fitz and May go to the containment room to see if the primitives got to Daisy or if she got out herself. Realizing the primitives are using the vents to get around the base, the rest of the team splits up: Mack and Yo-Yo to the armory, Simmons to the lab, and Coulson and Lincoln to the electrical room, Dr. Radcliffe in tow, with plans to meet back up in Coulson’s office. Dr. Radcliffe brings much needed levity to an otherwise stomach-churning episode. His awe at what Fitz did to Coulson’s hand and his opportunistic quips work well with Coulson’s usual banter to ease some tension.
May and Fitz make their way onto the Zephyr to find Daisy locked up in the pod; and she doesn’t want out. Daisy says she’s done too much bad and has nothing left. May, a champ at powering through pain, tells her she has to learn to deal with it. Just as May seems to be getting through to her, Giyera interrupts with a—you guessed it— fire extinguisher to the head. What’s with this guy and extinguishers? May’s out cold, Daisy’s in the pod, and Fitz faces down the barrel of gun. But that Fitz, he’s clever; he tells Giyera he planted a weapon on the Zephyr, but he won’t be able to stop it if he’s dead. Giyera falls for it long enough for Fitz to pull out– his invisible. gun; he shoots Giyera all up in his chest with his cloaked gun. Seriously, what has Fitz been doing while no one was paying attention? The growth of this character since the beginning of this season alone is enough amazing.
With Daisy out of the now disabled module, Fitz not only notices Daisy is going through withdrawals, but that the high altitude is causing the air to get thin and colder. He proves chivalry isn’t quite dead when he gives Daisy his jacket to keep warm. You know the one with the chain he found in the pocket. And of course she finds it and thinks it’s destiny or some shit.
Mack and Yo-Yo arrive at the armory in time to get shot at by a primitive and though Mack is the target, Yo-Yo, ends up shot trying to catch the bullets before they can hit him.
On the run from primitives they found destroying the electrical system, Coulson’s trio bumps into Mack carrying Yo-Yo and they hustle into the a room before they can be ripped to bits. Yo-Yo’s enhanced speed causes enhanced metabolism (sign me up for her powers), which is making her bleed too much and too fast. The meds she needs are in the lab they can’t possibly get to, and Mack takes a moment to yell at Lincoln and Dr. Radcliffe about the situation.
Look, every time Mack seems like a cool guy, he shows his ass. It’s not Lincoln’s fault Yo-Yo jumped in front of him; she took that risk. How is yelling at people helping?
Cool-headed Coulson suggests they find something in the room to stop the bleeding because what other choice do they have? Dr. Radcliffe finds a blowtorch and everyone looks at him like he’s crazy. I’m no doctor, but I do know about cauterizing a wound, geez. Okay, maybe a blowtorch is a bit extreme. It has to be done, but rather than have a doctor do it, Yo-Yo insists Mack do it. These two can’t ever break up—that is, if they ever get together. She took bullets for him and he torched her wounds closed; that’s true love. Primitives break down the door where Simmons is hiding, but they don’t see her because the room is too hot. Realizing their eyesight was affected by the change, causing them to have infrared vision, she cranks up the heat so everyone can move around freely.
It’s a damn good thing Dr. Radcliffe is with them. Hearing Lincoln and Mack mention how hot it is, Dr. Radcliffe realizes what Simmons did and leads them out and on to Coulson’s office, where Simmons is hiding. Yo-Yo needs a doctor, hell, they all need to get off the base, but every way they think of is shot down. But wait, Coulson knows a way; he calls a remote quinjet with his new and improved arm. He’ll get everyone to safety then he’s going after Hive alone; he caused this, so he’ll fix it. And of course he insists over all of their protests.
Hive puts the Zephyr into vertical flight, to ascend to 100,000 feet, for maximum dispersal across Europe. The closer to space the Zephyr gets, the more clearly Hive can think. Giyera’s dead body alerts Hive to the stowaways onboard, so he sends James to deal with them, as Coulson’s quinjet docks on the Zephyr. Hive finds Coulson, alone, waiting for him; seemingly waiting to die. Coulson is prepared to die for his role in all this; it’s his fault Hive is on earth, in Ward’s body. Hive and Coulson trade words about Inhumans and purpose, then Hive shows his true face. He gets all up in Coulson’s grill, threatening to take over his body next, then lunges for him. Well, he lunges for his hologram– the distraction, while Coulson’s team takes out as many of Hive’s men as they can.
Lincoln gets pulled from the others by James but gets the best of him fairly quickly, leaving May to knock him out. He’s distracted by seeing Daisy ahead, and doesn’t notice the firebomb James put on his jacket. Lincoln is in bad shape, but Simmons says he’ll be fine– if there’s no internal hemorrhaging and if he stays still until they get grounded. She’s not that kind of doctor, so maybe good bedside manner isn’t necessary. Daisy apologizes for all she did, for turning against him but he doesn’t blame her. She asks if she ruined them and he says they need to work on themselves before they can talk about “us”. That’s cold, Lincoln; how you gon’ break up with her at 65,000 feet? Still hurting, Daisy says she can’t live with what she did. Lincoln tells her he understands that pain and he knows why she went to Hive; he knows what it’s like to be that addicted to something. This is such an accurate depiction of not only the power of addiction and forgiveness, but the effects of PTSD. Daisy is torn about what she’s done, ignoring the fact that she wasn’t herself at the time, but instead clinging to the pain she feels and the pain she’s caused others.
Lincoln knows Coulson will need her help and she has an idea of what Coulson has planned. He changed the coordinates of the quinjet to outer space so if they get the warhead aboard, it can blow up in space, without harming anyone else. Lincoln sees the cross on her neck and knows– it’s the cross from her vision and she’s going to get on the quinjet. A few feet away, Coulson tells the rest of the team about his plan. At that moment, they have to decide who fights and who goes. Mack pulls out his shotgun axe and commits to the fight. Ever since it was first mentioned, I’ve been dying to see what this weapon would look like. Jiminy Crickets, it’s a beaut. No sooner does he pull it out, than primitives begin their assault.
Hive walks up on Daisy putting the warhead in the quinjet, preparing for flight. It seems like there may be no hard feelings, until she says Lash saved her so she could end Hive’s twisted plan. She tells him the quinjet is set for outer space, because why not tell the bad guy the plan? He counters that he can override the coordinates, because he does have Ward’s memories of how to operate a quinjet. Before she can close the hatch, she notices blood leading to Lincoln in the cockpit. He shorts out the manual controls, zaps Daisy off the ship, and quickly ascends with Hive onboard. Daisy is frantic with worry, but it’s hard to tell how much of the worry is for Lincoln putting his life on the line and how much is for the fact that he robbed her of her sacrifice. Via comms, she tries to get him to come back, saying it was her destiny to die, to fix the damage she caused. But really, wasn’t it Fitz’s since he found the necklace? The comms start going out as they talk and he tells her he loves her, in a roundabout kinda way; It’s all so very Armageddon.
Hive floats in the back, chillin’, waiting for the inevitable. Daisy begs Coulson to turn back, but he and Fitz insist they can’t, for different reasons. Listen, I know they can’t, but they were so quick to say no to rescuing Lincoln, that it bothered me. Lincoln makes his way to the back, with Hive and they talk about seeing the world and feeling connections. It’s poignant moment; the two of them drifting in space, watching the world get smaller, knowing they’re about to die, and this is their last connection.
Six months averting worldwide catastrophe, Coulson and Mack are on a stake out, hoping to find Daisy. Judging by the newspaper clippings in their hotel room, she’s been busy; either helping people or wreaking havoc. Daisy arrives and talks to Charles Hinton’s widow who is in the park with her daughter. Daisy helped them relocate near her dad, who she mentions. Coulson sees its and calls for backup as he and Mack go after her. She takes off before they can arrive, going into a nearby alley, quake herself into quasi-flight. So this is what she’s been doing.
Badass moment #1 Daisy was already a beast at close combat, but she stepped up her game by adding quaking to her fight repertoire. It’s a shame it took anger from being rejected by her brainwasher to bring it out of her. But hey, I’ll take it. This fight scene is awesome. Hive and Daisy giving as good as they get. She picks up a knife. Tussle with it; he stops it from entering his chest, she quakes it in. Pulls it out and stabs him repeatedly while he is completely unbothered. Quakes him into a pile of broken bones; he gets up and sets his own bones, no casts necessary.
Best line: “I don’t want you to die. I want you to suffer.” ~Daisy
Second best line: “It’s not a hunch, it’s science. It’s a science hunch.”~Dr. Radcliffe
Funniest line: “So, uh, when we blow this thing, three continents worth of people are gonna end up looking like these buggers, yeah? Even the ladies?”~James
Including Absolution, this was an amazing two hours of television. The action in this episode was so damn good. Watching Daisy kick ass using her Quake skills during her battle with Hive made for a phenomenal fight scene. And the fight scene with the regs vs. the primitives was excellent. It’s easy to forget May isn’t the only one who can kick ass. Coulson and Mack got several good hits in, but FitzSimmons really brought it. Having read the Secret Warriors comics, which features Hive, I was hoping he would take this form at some point. I’m excited to see where next season goes. When Coulson and Mack miss catching Daisy, they mention calling the Director; who could that be? May or General Talbot? Dr. Radcliffe has established a relationship with at least FitzSimmons, and is working on a secret project—something that looks remarkably like humanistic AI judging from the shadow behind the glass. I was hoping he would stick around; he’s smart and hella funny.
Overall, this season has been damn near perfect. Many loose ends that had been hanging about for the better part of two seasons were tied up pretty nicely with the death of Hive/Ward. It was great to see the culmination of the physical training Simmons had been getting, as well as the evolution of Fitz. Since they’re no longer just bookish scientists, they should be able to hold their own out in the field. Coulson coming to the realization that most of what happened with Hive was his fault was perfect and he seemed to feel genuine remorse; if not for taking Ward’s life, at least for the results of that decision. The writers churned out quality work, giving the actors so much good stuff to work with. Everyone had great moments to shine, but Elizabeth Henstridge in “4,722 Hours”, Chloe in the last six episodes of the season, and Brett Dalton the entire back end of the season were superb.
It was evident rather early on, that someone on the team was going to die. I mean, it’s the Whedonverse, it’s pretty much expected that someone we love will die, most likely unexpectedly. I’m probably one of the few people out there who is okay with who died; I don’t feel cheated or robbed. I actually really liked Lincoln and I hated to see him go. Quite frankly, I was so pissed with everyone else’s behavior toward him, I’m not sure I would have cried if any of them had died. Okay, maybe a little tear. To me, Lincoln dying, especially the way he did, under those circumstances, is a huge death because he took Daisy with him. She’s no longer with SHIELD, she’s broken and alone. That is the real death.
But now I’m gonna say something unpopular. I’m sad Hive/Ward is gone. Everything led to this: Ward’s love for Daisy, his betrayal, his failure at redemption, his death by Coulson’s hand. It had to end this way, right? He had to die, yet, I never wanted him to. I always hoped for redemption for his character, because he had been through so much. I get why he had to go, but I don’t like it. I watched this episode three times, and I can’t tell if I’m crying more for Daisy and Lincoln or Ward. Yes, I’m a Ward apologist and I don’t care who knows. Since killing Rosalind is what made him irredeemable, I’m glad we got to keep him around as Hive for a little longer.
~ Teanna W
AoS - S3E21/E22