While watching last year’s Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD season finale, I remember being confused by one moment of it. People dressed in blue hazmat suits took the heroes wounded from the final battle to the mobile plane base, Zephyr One. For the season premiere this year, I noticed that there were no extra crew members aboard who could have been in those suits. I dismissed it as an oversight. However, in tonight’s Agents of SHIELD series finale, they paid off that moment and closed out an impressive run for the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s flagship series. While they didn’t connect to the larger MCU as directly as they had in the past, these final hours of the show showed they are still very much in that universe.
Without getting into spoilers (yet), the series finale of Agents of SHIELD delivered on all fronts. If you were a fan of this show, you definitely enjoyed it. If you are one of those Marvel fans agnostic about this series, you may not have connected to the characters but you definitely had a good time. The first hour was all big action set pieces, set in space and on Earth. The second hour changed the dynamic considerably and wrapped up all the loose threads. The final act of the show took place one year later, after the events of the episode, to show where the surviving characters ended up. They even brought back a few familiar faces, that longtime fans of the series would be happy to see.
Ultimately, the series finale of Agents of SHIELD was about the show and its characters. Any connection to the larger MCU was just convenient happenstance. But, they got in one last coup, anyway.
The Series Finale of Agents of SHIELD Wrapped Up Their Big Adventure
Image by Mitch Haaseth via ABC
The finale started off right in the mix, showing the team on the Zephyr landing on the main Chronicom ship. Desperate to rescue Lili Henstridge’s Jemma Simmons and Jeff Ward’s Deke, the bad guys formed a plan to ensure their success. They destroyed all of the SHIELD bases, but still needed to find Iain De Caestecker’s Leo Fitz. Tamara Taylor’s Sybil may have been able to see all the timelines, but in none of them (apparently) had she ever seen Star Wars: A New Hope. Many TV shows and movies have replicated the “Wookiee prisoner gag,” but Agents of Shield duplicated the Empire’s best trick instead. (No, it was not spinning, that’s just a good trick.) They let their quarry rescue the prisoner in the hopes they led them to the location they sought. It went as well for the Chronicoms as it did for Tarkin and company.
The series finale of Agents of SHIELD may be the end of a particular era of Marvel Television, but they scored one last coup. After being the first to introduce time travel to the Marvel Universe (in season five), they introduced the idea of the Marvel multiverse. Fitz beat Tony Stark again, this time figuring out the quantum realm after using chronicom technology to view all of the potential timelines. The explanation of how it all works is not dissimilar to the way Tilda Swinton’s Ancient One explained branch timelines.
However, unlike in Avengers: Endgame, the branch timelines don’t blink out of existence once the heroes leave. Thus, Deke has to stay behind in the new timeline, where he is both “kind of a rock god” and, apparently, the new director of a decimated SHIELD in 1983. Everyone else zipped their way through the quantum realm back to their original timeline.
Paying Off “Plotholes” and the Character Journeys
Image by Mitch Haaseth via ABC
This brings us back to the blue hazmat suits. Thanks to some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff, the four people in that scene were apparently members of the team from the Agents of SHIELD series finale. What I thought was a plothole ended up being a very interesting twist and clever misdirection by the storytellers. Honestly, I feel the need to watch the episode again to truly get a grasp on it. They moved very fast in that final hour, and all of it was important and fun. However, the plot part of it wasn’t as satisfying as they way they paid off the characters’ journeys in the end.
Most importantly, the most commonly guessed fan theory about Fitz and Simmons was correct. Because they were able to take as much time as they needed to create the time-traveling Zephyr and save the world, they ended up having a child. The kid looks to be about six or so when we finally meet her. The rest of the characters all got their final moments to shine, both as super spies and people.
We’d be remiss to not mention Thomas E. Sullivan’s Nathaniel Malick, one of the main villains of this season. He was the worst in the best way. The show did try to fake us out a bit when Chloe Bennett’s Quake took him out with a Guardians of the Galaxy-style rescue from the vacuum of space. Yet, their superhero showdown was some delightful powered fighting, and the end sufficiently epic. I do wish we’d had a little more time with Dianne Doan’s Kora, to get a better sense of her character. However, the storytellers and performers did a great job selling the cruel manipulative way that Malick was able to turn her into a villain.
The Agents of SHIELD Series Finale Gives Us Happy Endings All Around
Image by Mitch Haaseth via ABC
Also like the original Star Wars trilogy, all of our characters get a happy ending. Even Deke, left behind in the screwed-up timeline, ends up in a place where he’ll likely thrive. Sure, he’ll miss his friends and family. But, arguably, as the director of SHIELD he’ll likely get to see them all again.
As for the rest of the team, the final act “one year later” meet-up was a bit of a cheat. Still, since it is unlikely that Marvel Studios will revisit these characters, they deserved it. We see a fully functioning SHIELD with Henry Simmons’ Mack in charge, happily in a relationship with Natalia Cordova-Buckley’s Yo-Yo. Quake is with Enver Gokaj’s Daniel Sousa, who like Peggy Carter got a second chance at life and love. Also, they and Kora are in space on Zephyr 3, presumably starting up SWORD.
When this show first premiered, people treated it very harshly. As just a street-level look at the Marvel Universe it was interesting, but the show truly came into its own when Captain America blew up SHIELD during The Winter Soldier. The series and the MCU may have drifted further apart, but Agents of SHIELD was quintessential Marvel storytelling. Even with all the gun battles and killing bad guys, the series stuck close to the heroic ideals exemplified by Marvel Comics stories. While not as popular as the Avengers, this team earned their place in Marvel live-action history. And it’s a series that many will find and enjoy on streaming services for years to come.
What did you think of the series finale of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD? Do you like where the characters ended up? Do you think they went too soft with the ending? Share your reviews in the comments below.
Featured image by Mitch Haseth via ABC
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.