This article contains Agents of SHIELD spoilers.
Agents of SHIELD Season 7 Episodes 12 & 13
With apologies to The Grateful Dead, it’s been a long strange trip for fans of Agents of SHIELD which just concluded its seven season run with a finale that neatly ties up enough loose plot threads to keep even the staunchest critics happy and still leaves plenty of room for requisite fan service. Nevertheless, no one can accuse the writers of leaving any cards unplayed. The awakenings, the sacrifices, the reunions, and the redemptions were all completely earned and worthy of this final installment.
Even the most hardcore time travel fans might have a bit of trouble piecing together the mechanics of the team’s struggle to return to the original timeline, but the long awaited return of Fitz provides some clarity concerning his whereabouts and actions designed to prevent Sybil and the Chronicoms from taking control of Earth. Paired with Simmons’ painful attempts to remember her past with the team and with Fitz, the reunion of SHIELD’s power couple stands as one of the finale’s highlights. And when we’re introduced to their daughter Alya, who also happens to be Deke’s mother? Well, it’s hard to be disappointed with the conclusion of their arc.
Some might argue that the culmination of Simmons’ attempts to remember the plan she and Fitz buried deep within her subconscious via the embedded chip is a bit cheesy. I don’t care for those people. As the agents who’ve responded to the 0-8-4 message try to make sense of the various pieces of unfamiliar tech, watching Jemma slowly assemble the device offers the first inklings of fan service melded with the brilliance of the Fitz/Simmons gestalt. When she mentions that the components “need to be married” and finally realizes that the final piece of the quantum bridge is her wedding ring, it’s a classic Agents of SHIELD moment.
It’s generally better to show rather than tell, but we all recognize that time is at a premium not only for the series but for Mack’s team as well. We therefore accept at face value Fitz’s rather lengthy explanations for where he’s been and what he’s been doing. We’ve held out hope that the team could return to the original timeline, but time travel and its accompanying manipulations seem to have a funny way of getting in the way of a perfectly good plan.
Yes, it took awhile for Fitz and Jemma to build a time machine which explains why their daughter has had time to grow up a bit, but who doesn’t love a good quantum bridge that also allows travel in between timelines? It is a bit disconcerting, however, that Fitz appears ready to abandon a timeline in chaos in favor of his own desire to return home. But good teammates step in when necessary, and when Deke “I’m-already-kind-of-a-rock-god” Shaw agrees to stay in 1983, everybody seems happy. By the way, have we officially named the Daisy/Sousa ship yet?
Keenly aware of the fans, showrunners Maurissa Tancheroen and Jed Whedon take extra care constructing a nearly ten minute coda that momentarily throws viewers for a loop since Sybil’s time stream indicates that the final mission marks their last time together in person. Nonetheless, we see them meet at the New York City safehouse, and even though we quickly discern that this is a virtual meeting, this knowledge does nothing to detract from the emotion of the moment.
Arguably the most poignant exchange in the two hour Agents of SHIELD series finale finds Daisy and Coulson saying goodbye, but not before she acknowledges the debt she owes him for changing her life. And while we know she’s ostensibly referring to her nascent relationship with Kora, everyone, including Coulson, understands the deeper meaning behind her farewell. “It’s funny what can happen when someone believes in you.”
Even though season seven doesn’t rank among the series’ best efforts, taken as a whole, Marvel Agents of SHIELD ends its 136 episode run as one of the most successful science fiction superhero television offerings and earns top grades overall. If we accept the time stream’s accuracy, then we’ve seen the last of the team that Mack inherited from Coulson. It’s been an amazing run, but in the prophetic words of Lost’s Hugo Hurley, “Never say never, dude.”