Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 episode 12 review: The Real Deal

It’s never been truer… Coulson Lives! With spoilers ahead, here's our review of Agents Of SHIELD's 100th episode...

This review contains spoilers.

5.12 The Real Deal

It’s hard to believe that there have been one hundred episodes of Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD. It seems like just yesterday that Jeff Loeb hit the stage at San Diego Comic Con in his Coulson Lives t-shirt and introduced the cast of Marvel’s inaugural TV series.

One hundred episodes later, Marvel has turned a cast of unknowns into some of the most beloved characters in the MCU. For five years, fans have fallen in love with and had their hearts broken by Coulson, May, Fitz, Simmons, Mack, Yo Yo, Hunter, Morse, and yes, even Ward. Fans have travelled to the future, to Hell, to a virtual reality, and to distant galaxies in a show that has been far bigger than anyone could have dreamed.

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And yes, there have been bumps along the way as Agents Of SHIELD has taken a different form than originally promised. At first, fans were expecting a series that would tie directly into all the film happenings of the MCU and feature film characters bouncing in and out. And we got that for a bit what with Nick Fury and Lady Sif stopping by for some TV fun, but mostly, the series has been about turning the main cast into Marvel legends.

This week’s 100th episode is evidence that this legend making has worked. There was so much emotion this week as Coulson and company struggle to close a tear in the fabric of reality and save the day one more time. And it centered on the man that it all began with – Phil Coulson.

Remember when Agents Of SHIELD debuted, it was not too long after the original Avengers film. Loki had stabbed Coulson and there was a Coulson Lives! movement sweeping fandom. There were tons of rumours that Coulson would be turned into the Vision (in the days before JARVIS was turned into the Vision) as fan theories ran rampant. All of a sudden, Marvel announced that there would be a new series on ABC focusing of Phil Coulson and everyone was like, “Huh?” But now, five seasons later, Coulson has lived in our hearts and minds along with rest of his team.

Which is why it hurt so much to almost lose him this week. On the 100th episode, Coulson reveals his ailment to his team. Turns out, when Phil agreed to take on the mantle of the Ghost Rider last season, he undid the alien tech that cured him from Loki’s wound. 

Coulson is dying once again, but before he goes, he has one more mission. Using one of Fitz’s doodads, Coulson has to close a breach in time and space that leads to a fear dimension. The fear dimension conceit allows Marvel to bring back some Shield favorites. The Host, Deathlok, Lash, and more all return this week as Coulson and company must face their greatest fears to save the world one more time. Viewers must also face their greatest fears as it seems like Coulson will once again be taken. It hurt when it happened in film, and it will hurt when it happens on TV. But Coulson, dying or not, is always up to the task.

I really dig how the special 100th is more of a self-contained episode. The series takes a break from the Breaker of Worlds, General Hale, Kree storyline to just allow us to spend some time with Coulson and company as they save the world and remind us why the world needs SHIELD. Think about it, the SHIELD introduced in Iron Man and Avengers has pretty much been broken since Captain America: Winter Soldier, but it’s really been stronger than ever on TV thanks to a very special group of agents.

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This week, as Coulson prepares to meet his death, he reminds his team that they have to keep fighting for the legacy of SHIELD. And fight they did, Deke went out of the bunker to get some reinforcements as Fitz and Simmons scienced the crap out of the problem. Coulson has to venture alone to seal the breach and take on the fear delusions of past foes.

Coulson confronts a fake version of Mike Peterson as J. August Richards makes a welcome return to the series. But this is not a happy reunion, at least not at first, as the fake Peterson shows Coulson the director’s greatest fear- the prospect of nothing since Loki’s assault being real. Peterson tries to make Coulson believe that all the events since Agents Of SHIELD arrived have been a delusion. Coulson buys into it for a moment until the real Peterson, Deathlok his own damn self, arrives and helps his former boss.

Coulson seals the breach and is still with us- for now. Sadly, he is still dying and I’m sure we will have some tears to shed at a later date. But for now we have tears of joy as the episode ends with the events all SHIELD fans have been dying for since day one – a wedding. Before Coulson goes to seal the breach, he makes Fitz promise him something. And we all know what that is. Yes kids, Fitz and Simmons tie the knot! After all these years of getting pulled apart, Coulson pulls Fitz and Simmons together and the future of SHIELD is secure with their union.

How do we know? Because during the ceremony, Deke reveals that Simmons’ wedding ring is identical to his mother’s, so yeah, Deke is the product of Fitz and Simmons’ union. Didn’t see that coming did you? Unfortunately, this info comes to the attention of General Hale as well, so let’s enjoy the love while we can.

All in all, shocking reveals, a pleasant trip into nostalgia, and an intense mission all remind us why this show has endured. Here’s to another 100 and let’s say it one last time because we may not be able to say it any longer- Coulson Lives!!!