This review contains spoilers.
4.22 World’s End
Thankfully, we now know that Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD will indeed return for a fifth season, so we do not have to present this season finale review with a heavy heart or with uncertainty. And it’s a good thing, because all hell breaks loose this week. Literally.
World’s End is focused on the couples of Agents Of SHIELD and the love those couples share. We get powerful moments between Coulson and May, Fitz and Simmons, and Yo Yo and Mack, but this isn’t just a hearts and flowers instalment, because Ghost Rider is back, and this time, the demonic Spirit of Vengeance has quite the budget to back him up!
I mean seriously, check out those Ghost Rider sequences. Ghost Rider cutting through Russian clones, Ghost Rider and Quake doing the super hero duo thing, fighting back to back with hellfire and earthquakes, and I defy you to find a modern day superhero movie joint that does super-powered action better than this episode. It kind of makes me a bit angry that we had Ghost Rider withheld for the second part of this season. I know, budgets precluded ol’ flamehead from appearing, but man, seeing Robbie Reyes in action this week really reminded me of just how well Agents Of SHIELD utilized Ghost Rider, and I want more!
In fact, Ghost Rider’s inclusion in the finale fixed one of the few flaws of the second half of the season. The Framework arc has been awesome. In my humble opinion, it has been the finest storyline the show has ever done, but with the lack of Ghost Rider, it sort of feels like the first part of the season didn’t really count because Ghost Rider was written out of the series “Chuck” Cunningham style.
But with Ghost Rider’s return, we come full circle as Robbie Reyes helps SHIELD take on AIDA and her robotic minions. Last week, with her Inhuman power set, it looked like nobody this side of the Avengers or Doctor Strange could possibly stop AIDA. But then a gate from Hell opened and out stepped Ghost Rider.
This week sees the end of the AIDA saga, and the build-up is so strong that the conclusion can’t help feel a bit anti-climactic. Now that Ghost Rider is in play, the agents have a weapon against AIDA, and boy do they use it. We get a lot more of AIDA spewing her hate and trying to come to terms with the emotions of rejection, and we even get an almost impossible to endure sequence of AIDA stabbing, torturing, and seemingly killing Simmons. Right in front of Fitz! (don’t worry, she’s not dead).
Through some well-done exposition, we learn that Robbie Reyes had been journeying through other dimensions and realities since he departed for story (and by that I mean “budget”) reasons. Reyes informs Daisy how brutal it is to be a passenger during Ghost Rider’s ultra-violent shenanigans and we get some really good insight into the harsh duality that Reyes must endure.
That confrontation between AIDA and Ghost Rider should be something of a cheat though, don’t you think? I mean after all, Reyes has barely been around AIDA, It’s been Coulson and company that has been the victims of personal attacks by AIDA both in and out of the Framework. So it’s appropriate when the finale reveals that Reyes temporarily moves Ghost Rider from his own body into – Phil Coulson’s! If you feel surprised by that, imagine what AIDA feels as Coulson, dear old Phil Coulson, the steady Agent of SHIELD we first met back in the first Iron Man film at the dawn of the MCU, transforms into Ghost freakin’ Rider! Yeah, that was killer, but my only complaint was that Coulson Rider (can we make that a thing, I want that to be a thing) defeats AIDA way too easily. It is just like transform/teleport/hellfire/done. I know it’s expensive, but a villain as established and motivated as AIDA should have more than a six second defeat.
Oh yeah, I should tell you, Simmons? Not dead (see, told you). Of course it is a LMD because really, how appropriate is it that an LMD, a machine that caused all the chaos in the first place, saves the day and fools AIDA. Simmons is alive and well and everyone’s favorite MCU couple is ready to bring the love and warm fuzzies into season five.
Speaking of couples, the Yo Yo and Mack drama is explored this week as Yo Yo journeys into the Framework to convince Mack to come home. Mack is still refusing to leave his daughter’s side, but events outside the Framework brings about the destruction of the virtual world. Yo Yo manages to pull Mack out, but seeing Mack’s face and hearing his wrenching sobs as his daughter ceases to exist is truly heartbreaking. But Mack emerges intact and remembers Yo Yo giving the big lug and his Inhuman lover a semi-happy ending. Poor Mack has to lose Hope a second time but at least this time, he has Yo Yo by his side to help bear the pain.
But the loss of the Framework also means we have to say goodbye to Doctor Radcliffe who disappears along with the virtual world he created. It is a powerful moment as Agents Of SHIELD loses a great character and a man who lived on the grey area of good and evil, of madness and science.
A few other loose ends to tie up. May and Coulson continue to slowly move to romance while Daisy is now alone after Robbie Reyes ventures into another world to continue his mission as reality’s dark protector. But really, all of that might not matter because in the middle of the episode, a Daisy Johnson LMD sent by AIDA shoots Glenn Talbot in the head as SHIELD is blamed for all the LMD chaos of the season. Talbot lives, but the episode ends with Daisy, Coulson, May, Fitz, Simmons, Mack, and Yo Yo abducted by some very strange customers. We end the season with Coulson waking up in his cell… aboard a starship of some sort in outer space.
After that, thank goodness the series is coming back! I guess we have some cosmic coolness coming our way next season as SHIELD moves away from Earth and deep into the realm of the Guardians of the Galaxy? Could we be seeing some Nova Corps action? Some classic space heroes and cosmic villains introduced? A mention of Thanos? All of this is unknown, but I can’t wait to go for the ride.
What a season!
Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, The Return, here.