Synopsis: SHIELD is in tatters, with rival factions vying for power. As Coulson works to unite his SHIELD with another faction, a community of enhanced people comes into play–and he and his new allies have vastly different ideas about how to handle them.
Series: Season 2.
I’ve Watched: All of S2.
That two part season finale was something else. It was nearly perfect from start to finish, it followed the flow of an epic story line, and it provided closure on so many fronts.
Wow. It was amazing.
Don’t listen to me, go watch. I don’t really want to say this…but it really triumphed over the Avengers movie (there we go, I just betrayed my childhood.) But where Avengers 2 gave me glimpses of cool character work and lots of explosions…The Agents of SHIELD finale made me feel all the things. It tore my heart out, it built me back up, it pitted characters I knew against other characters that I knew. It had real, lasting consequences for all the characters. It made me happy, and I rejoiced to see the protagonists piecing their broken relationships back together. Or severing them further, in some cases.
This was personal. And it really took that and ran with it. (In addition to giving us the most evil season cliffhanger ever.) Where do I even start?
Mild spoilers for all of season 2.
The characters I’d previously identified as the wild cards (in my midseason review) continue to be so. You never have any idea what side they’re going to fall on in any given moment. What their motivations really are.
Especially when it comes to Ward, there are times when I honestly don’t know how much of what a character is doing is real and how much is an act. And the show is really good at playing with our expectations–obviously, we’re all watching Ward to see where his character journey takes him. But he’s a liar and a manipulator. We’re often left guessing what he’s saying because he means it and what he’s working towards his own advantage.
Raina can never be counted out of anything–she’ll always find a way to change things. After she achieved her life’s goal (killing and torturing many along the way), only to find that this achievement upended everything for her (“My insides feel like gravel. I cut myself when I move.”), I was really excited to see where her character went. Once she came to terms with her existence, what would be her new goal? What would she want? This ending to her story, I did not see coming. And in many ways, it’s sad, because she did have a powerful arch going and was compelling as a character.
Gordon too, got to serve as a bit of a wild card–we never knew him well enough to predict, but we knew both about his relationship with Raina and Jiaying. Enough to believe he might to one thing, yet understand when he did the other.
And so much closure (ironically enough). We’re given a powerful sense that now starts a new chapter in SHIELD’s story. The old era is ending–last season, that was quite literally the case with SHIELD going up in flames, but here, we get it in an emotional sense. People are changing, their roles are changing, and whatever comes next won’t look like what came before it.
Ward’s entire story line gets a sense of closure here, even though it isn’t over. Throughout the season, we didn’t know where he was going, but it’s amazing to see where he lands. It feels inevitable now that it’s happened, and yet for so long, it really wasn’t.
Skye and Cal’s story gets an ending, on this amazing bittersweet note. Skye’s plot lines with her parents in general is filled with tragedy. May’s coming to terms with a lot of things, and maybe finally even choosing to move beyond the dark place she’s been in for so long. Fitz and Simmons are changing their dynamic (which doesn’t work for me personally, but that’s because it was very powerful for me, having fiction acknowledge that romantic attraction and deep platonic friendships are distinct things that don’t necessarily overlap.) Bobbi and Hunter move past their problems with pretty much the only thing that can push aside something like that. Also, Bobbi is epically awesome, forever.
This show is really good at changing the game such that things that would have been unthinkable earlier in the season develop in an organic way. Plenty of characters get put in tough spots where their loyalties go up against each other, or against their sense of morality. And it’s really cool that loyalty to your friends is not the end-all-be-all for what a person might do. Because yes, when friends legitimately disagree on a moral issue, they may put doing the right thing first. Because sometimes, the right thing to do is hard.
And what does this really mean for the Inhumans? Are they getting put on the index? Because if Jiaying had a point anywhere, it was that any kind of profiling tends to go badly.
Also, some cool details.
- Skye in quarantine following the death of her teammate and her exposure to the alien mist that’s supposed to “evolve” her. She looks awful, which is a nice touch–the last time she’d been in bad shape, it was an informed quality, where we were told she looked like death but saw her looking fine as ever. So it’s nice that this time, no one has to tell us how she’s supposed to look–we actually see it.
- Gonzales and cohorts seem to think they have some kind of democracy, which…well, technically they have more of an oligarchy. Putting a vote to five people does not a democracy make. Also, you have to love his vendetta against secrets. You’re part of a spy organization, dude.
- Skye gets a really interesting action sequence in which she takes out a bunch of shooters by virtue of them coming into the room never knowing where she’s going to be. And the camera just follows behind her the whole time–I think it might have been one take.
- Bobbi also gets a good action sequence in the finale.
“Sometimes that’s the price of doing the right thing. No one will understand. And it hurts like hell.”