Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: World’s End Review
ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 4, episode 22, ‘World’s End,’ would have made for a suitable series finale, to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; but did make for a much better season finale. The episode covered more ground in an hour than seemed possible, yet didn’t seem all that rushed (android loose end aside). All the more remarkable, given how many season-wide elements were brought together, and all the principals getting some quality time in.
The single biggest call-back element, of course, was Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna); and despite the episode not being all that much about him, he took his place on the front line in definitive fashion – allowed to go all out on Android Anton (Zach McGowan) plus one, and leaving a lasting impression on OP Aida (Mallory Jansen).
For the opening round, Reyes’ rage against the machines came up a little frustrating, since he hadn’t been briefed on Aida’s upgrades. Ah, but how he expressed that frustration – sometimes the promise of a rematch is better than the original match.
There was something delightfully familiar about how this finale was rolled out. There was a noticeable balance of weight, wit, and wizardry, that seemed more like what I’ve come to expect from Mutant Enemy, than, say, the heavy-handedness of last season’s finale.
Speaking of familiar, someone said Hellmouth: drink! (Wait, was that a thing anyone agreed on? Ahh, do it anyway – I got caramel smoothie).
It goes without saying that Daisy (Chloe Bennet) & Reyes made for a helluva fighting team, for round 2 of the rumble-with-robos. Coulson knew it – he said as much. Hell, there might’ve even been some chemistry, there (not that I care – I’d just as soon take Lincoln out of the conversation). What Coulson & Reyes brought to table, however, was more than just a genuine surprise (not in hind-sight, though – Coulson’s a compulsive grenade smotherer, that way), it may leave an aftertaste for some time, down the line.
Always something good about having something really bad to look forward to, on some shows.
Something I always appreciated about Joss Whedon‘s ‘verse was how he’d follow his setups with memorable moments – not just punchlines – and that Whedonesque serve & spike was well in evidence, here.
This finale came heavy on the twists, with a number of “you can’t do that” moments, involving key characters; but also heavy on catharsis. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) will likely be dealing with his alternate history for a while (as he should), with Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) just as determined to see him through it (as she should). The rampaging elephant, teleporting into the room, however, was Aida.
Say what you will, regarding the merits of the character, something of a case was made for Aida’s mindset; making her more than just the crazy ex-girlfriend/ fling. The impulsive woman scorned angle, closing out the fantasy-gone-wrong arc, went well beyond Aida, though.
With all the fury Aida was bringing, it might’ve been easy to miss May (Ming-Na Wen) giving Coulson (Clark Gregg) grief – over a celebratory bottle of spirits, opened for all the right reasons, with the wrong person – but it was important to see the two address the Valentine-pink elephant in the room, before agreeing to a do-over, without the customary ‘never-mind’ we typically get from this scenario (and yes, it’s kind of a trope).
Simmons got some cathartic licks of her own in – that satisfaction spawning not just from what Aida did to ‘her,’ but from what Madam Hydra had done to Fitz, while he was around her finger. Even with all that, most of the episode’s pathos actually came out of Yo-Yo’s (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) effort to get Mack (Henry Simmons) back from his Framework attachment to digital daughter, Hope (Jordan Rivera). Between the both of them, a case was made for Radcliffe (John Hannah) being the saving sage of the hour; but there was something almost single-mindedly selfish about Yo-Yo’s efforts, as she got caught up over losing Mack to a precious memory.
So caught up, in fact, that she forgot the one about the subject of sensitive conversation always winding up behind you.
Still, to the show’s credit, some last minute self-awareness didn’t turn into a precocious act of self-sacrifice, on Hope’s part (trust me, it was thing that could’ve happened), and what we did get proved just how selfless Yo-Yo’s devotion really was. Granted, the Framework made the final decision a lot easier, I imagine; but if there wasn’t a reason to pull for the Yo-Yo-Mack before, there sure was, now.
I think the single boldest step taken, this finale, was making the end more about resolving core relationships, than a big bang climax.
Don’t get me wrong, the climax had both flair & flare to spare, with GR getting even more out of that gloves-off budgeting (turned out where he was going, he didn’t need roads), and Aida going out at the same pace she came in (no last-minute epiphanies, cooling off the chaos).
I’ll admit, I had my doubts as to whether there was any way to credibly redeem Daniel Radcliffe; but it turned out that the Framework did wonders for more than just Ward, after all. While his World’s end wasn’t as dramatic as, say, Inception‘s collapsing dreams, Radcliffe’s toast may have actually been the most bittersweet twist to the whole arc – let alone the episode – serving as something of a palate cleanser for what comes next.
So what does come next? After a little throwback to the first Avengers film’s post-credit scene (complete with a touch of tech from the first Iron Man), to say that the sky’s the limit, regarding series prospects, would be a laughable understatement. All speculation aside (Agents of S.W.O.R.D. came to mind), I’m just glad the show still has prospects.
Like the old Whedonverse, Agents has been quite dependable, when it comes to delivering grand finales. Unlike the previous season, however, the showrunners managed to close out an even bigger downer of an ending on a high note. I’m not sure how long the series can maintain its current trajectory; but I eagerly await the next stop on it.
Back to work, indeed, Coulson. Cheers.
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