Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 episode 22 review: The End

Marvel hurts us again as an end of an era comes to Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Spoilers ahead in our season 5 finale review...

This review contains spoilers.

5.22 The End

Avengers: Infinity War spoilers ahead. See the damn movie. Yes, I’m talking to you. 

It all began with the death of a brave man at the hands of a mischievous god. When Loki killed Phil Coulson in the first Avengers film it became the spark that united earth’s mightiest heroes, but it also became the catalyst of five seasons of Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD.

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Remember back with me now, to the days of “Coulson Lives,” to the days of rumours that swore that Phil Coulson was going to become Ultron, the Vision, Deathlok, or Machine Man, and to the days before Marvel had an impact on TV. Now, here we are five years later, and we are forced to say good-bye to Agent Phil Coulson once again? Or are we?

We entered this week with a very ominous scenario. The first part of this season of Agents Of SHIELD showed us that by the end, the earth will shatter, that Daisy Johnson-Quake, the Destroyer of Worlds-will bring about the end of everything. We kind of know that can’t happen because we know Thanos will bring about the end of everything (well, half of everything), so the question remains how will SHIELD save the day from Graviton?

Plus, we were left with the ominous prophecy that it is Phil Coulson’s cure that will lead to the end of everything? With all these promises of doomsday, how did SHIELD save the day? With a heavy price.

Say one thing for the season five finale of Agents Of SHIELD: say it is expensive. I mean, things got cinematic all get-out as Graviton attacks Chicago looking for the last remnants of Gravitonium. We’re talking full on disaster porn as Chicago crumbles under Gravitons’s ship. 

It’s really the type of stuff you usually don’t see on television. While this season of Agents Of SHIELD hasn’t really shirked on the action, there are still tonnes of budget-saving scenes in dark, confined hallways. But most of this week’s action is right out in the open as Marvel brings the goods to prime time TV. 

While Graviton goes bananas, Coulson is dying. He is reluctant to take the cure because every bit of life-saving tech that has ever appeared on Agents Of SHIELD has led to disaster after disaster. Plus, there’s that whole ‘Coulson destroys the world’ prophecy. 

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So Coulson refuses the cure, and even though Daisy thinks she could destroy the world at any time, she still goes to confront Talbot. There are lots of moving pieces, and every one of them can mean the end of everything. And oh, Thanos is still out there. 

And what is SHIELD doing while Quake is saving and Coulson is dying? SHIELD is doing what SHIELD does best: it’s saving people. Talbot discovers the location of his precious Gravitonium through the Inhuman precog Robin. Talbot threatens Robin’s mother Polly in order to force the little psychic to reveal the location of the deadly element. But when SHIELD hits the scene they follow the advice of a great man from another universe to “Just save one person.” And that one person is Polly. Mack, Fitz, Yo-Yo, and May attempt to save Robin’s mom while Daisy confronts Talbot.

And that’s when the episode, and honestly, the season goes from good to great. Talbot tries to absorb Daisy’s powers while SHIELD frees Polly. All seems lost when Daisy discovers Coulson’s centipede cure hidden in her gauntlet. Remember when it is revealed that Coulson’s cure is what brings about the end of the world? Well, obviously, such a claim would make one think that the cure would transform Coulson into a monster. But that’s just not the case. 

It is the simple act of Coulson taking the cure that would crack the world, because by not taking it, by sticking the centipede tech into Daisy’s gauntlet, it allows Daisy the power up to shoot Graviton into space. Yes, you read that right, she shot the goateed mother-flipper into flippin’ space. Told you shit gets cinematic.

But there is no time to celebrate because tragedy strikes and strikes hard. Yes, recently Groot, Spider-Man, Star Lord, Drax, Gamora, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Winter Soldier, Black Panther, Falcon, Loki, Heimdall, and Mantis all die in Infinity War, but there is a death on this season finale that might hurt more than any of those. As SHIELD saves Polly, as Daisy powers up and shakes the Earth, debris crushes Fitz, slicing him in half. He dies with May and Mack looking on, bravely, doing what he has always sworn to do, protect the innocent. 

Fitz is dead, and it’s for real. Like a first responder sacrificing everything, Fitz dies thinking of others, and the pain is so real. Trust me, that commercial break lasted an eternity as I tried to fathom Agents Of SHIELD without Fitz. And that’s when Agents Of SHIELD plays one last card. Of course, there is a toast in honour of the fallen Fitz. 

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Simmons is a rock as Coulson talks about bravery and duty, as the agents, our beloved agents, all share a smile and a cry over their fallen comrade. But the comrade is not Fitz, well; it is sort of Fitz, because Fitz died under that debris. But remember, Fitz is also in suspended animation in space. Fitz slept for years to be able to go to the future and save Simmons and his friends, but now that Graviton is defeated, the world does not need saving. So all Simmons has to do is find where Fitz’s suspension pod is and bring her husband home. Fitz will live again, so who has SHIELD been toasting?

It all began with one brave man dying at the hands of a mischievous god, and that brave man is dying again. SHIELD is saying goodbye to Coulson, and as the agents drop Coulson and May off in Tahiti, it feels as if things have come full circle as we say farewell to Phil Coulson once again. I know in a universe of magic, Infinity Stones, and all sorts of technology, Coulson will fight the good fight again next season, but that does not lessen the impact of the moment of SHIELD’s farewell to its leader.

It kind of seems like this week’s finale was filmed way before the order came for season six because The End provides just that, a full circle ending. But there is another season, there are more threats and horrors that await, there is a post Avengers 4 world that will need saving, and there is a brave man in stasis who is loved by his brave wife very much.

Thank Kirby Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD is coming back for more, because I am not ready to say goodbye to these heroes just yet. See you next year, true believers!

Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, The Force Of Gravity, here.