Incredibly satisfying conclusions to nearly every arc of the season. Fantastic performances throughout, but dazzling standouts by Clark Gregg, Chloe Bennet, Kyle MacLachlan, Adrianne Palicki, Henry Simmons and Brett Dalton. Virtually everyone got their moment to shine and ground the finale with emotional, fist-pumping and epic moments. A world-changing final few moments punctuated by a shocking cliffhanger.
We have to wait until Season 3 to see what happens after THAT!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hit hard with epic, standout performances and an emotional intensity that didn’t pull punches or let up for two hours straight. In a word, this finale rocked!
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — After Jiaying’s (Dichen Lachman) fabricated attack by S.H.I.E.L.D. is complete, the Inhumans rally for war and Skye (Chloe Bennet) turns away May (Ming-Na Wen) and the S.H.I.E.L.D. contingent in favor of her new-found family. With tensions at fever pitch, Raina (Ruth Negga) fulfills her destiny by revealing to Skye the horrifying truth about Jiaying at the cost of Raina’s life in the process. Determined to stop S.H.I.E.L.D. at any cost, Jiaying and the Inhumans overtake the carrier with the deadly intent of drawing all S.H.I.E.L.D. forces into a Terrigen Mist trap aboard the ship. Meanwhile, Ward (Brett Dalton) and Kara (Maya Stojan) begin the slow torture of Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki) as a measure of revenge for Bobbi’s role in Kara’s capture and torture by Hydra. When Bobbi attempts an escape, she is brutally subdued and Ward sets a trap to kill the incoming Hunter (Nick Blood) looking desperately to rescue his ex-wife.
Coulson (Clark Gregg) has his own dilemma in the form of Cal (Kyle MacLachlan), whose concocted super serum sets him loose to kill everyone in the Playground, but Coulson gets Cal to see the reason behind protecting Skye, who will put herself in harm’s way opposing her mother’s plans. When Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D. clash aboard the carrier, everyone must decide where they stand and in whom they can trust amidst a desperate struggle over the fate of both sides. As the thin edge of morality cuts at those on the fence, hate, sacrifice, heroism and the final conflict of Skye’s broken family take center stage. Not everyone will survive and those that do will be altered forever by a world on the verge unprecedented change by everything we need to wade through in the wake of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season Finale!
Step aside Hatfield and McCoy. S.H.I.E.L.D. versus Inhumans is the new family feud in town.
The second season has very much been Skye’s journey. Since the finding of the Diviner we’ve been set on collision course between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans, with Skye caught squarely in the middle. A theme emerged through Skye’s struggle. She’s torn between two families. The one she’s searched for all her life and the one that took her in when no one else would and she will have to choose which is her real family.
To Skye, Cal was a disappointment and though Jiaying at first seemed good, her true motivations made her no different. The slow reveal of Jiaying was brilliantly written and Dichen Lachman portrayed her reserved nature skillfully. Jiaying’s betrayal tipped the balance between the Inhumans and S.H.I.E.L.D. toward a war that factions within both sides were eager to fight. That setup was extremely well done and the payoff through the final conflict even better.
Jiaying believed she was doing the right thing by striking first, just as much as Coulson believed not provoking was the path to peace. But Jiaying was still clinging to a vendetta as old as her daughter and Skye seeing the truth through Raina’s death woke her up. She chose sides in that moment. Not with the people in her life, but with the ideals she’d come to believe were right.
As the conflict came to a head, it was Cal and Coulson that found common ground in a moment where both Kyle MacLachlan and Clark Gregg were exceptional. As the two lobbed insults after Cal’s transformation, MacLachlan and Gregg stole the show as they came to the painful reveal that Cal had long been a pawn. Cal was working toward someone else’s agenda. Never his own.
As Cal came to the conclusion that Jiaying’s priorities superseded protecting her daughter, his final course of action became clear. Through intelligent writing we understood Cal’s misguided actions and we also understood Cal’s reversal to protect Skye. In that moment of growth, he set on his own path.
“We both want the same thing.” ~ Coulson
“What I want is to snap your spine like celery.” ~ Cal
“Oh, I think you’re willing to, but want is a different thing. What we both want is to protect your daughter. You’re a family man. It was your devotion to them that made you willing to do those terrible things all those years ago, wasn’t it? Nightmarish acts of violence that you didn’t want to commit, did you? Your wife made you do it.” ~ Coulson
“You don’t know her! You don’t know anything! Say one more word, and I’ll–“ ~ Cal
“I’m not saying your wife is a monster, Cal. I think you already know she’s a monster. What I’m saying is you’re not. I know you’ve thought so for a long time. But deep down, you’re a good man. I believe that. I do. You got a big heart full of love. You wear it on your sleeve. Skye got that from you.” ~ Coulson
The love of a father is powerful and Coulson’s confrontation of Cal was one of the most genuine moments of the night. Two fathers, one by blood and one by choice, went toe to toe over Cal’s soul. Deep down, Coulson knew what it meant to Cal because Skye was as close to a daughter as anyone Coulson has ever known.
The safety of Skye was the common ground these two men shared and it was the only thing that could break Cal free of Jiaying’s control. Like any feud, it often takes two prominent figures reaching out for a conflict to end. Cal knew in his heart that Coulson, above all else, did care for Skye and the only way she would be safe was to end the conflict with Jiaying.
All is unfair in love, revenge and torture.
Coulson nailed Ward’s behavior. His logic is rarely logical. That summed up the puppy love relationship with Kara and it also added clarity to the twisted closure Kara thought a meaningless tortured confession from Bobbi would provide. Who wouldn’t eventually confess when tortured? Apparently Bobbi Morse.
We did finally learn one of Bobbi’s dark secrets. No one rises to the head of Hydra security without blood on their hands. It was Bobbi who was responsible for Kara’s capture and stood idly by through Kara’s torture. That would leave most people a little irked, but a stable agent would have understood risk was part of the job. Kara wasn’t stable at all and her faith in Ward logic was an even deeper flaw. We have to hand it to Maya Stojan. She embraced the crazy. We could see it in Stojan’s eyes.
The torture of Bobbi was dark. The writers, the production team and even ABC, didn’t pull any punches in Bobbi’s pain. Adrianne Palicki and Brett Dalton both delivered powerful, emotional jabs during their confrontation. Ward’s smugness, comparing himself to Bobbie was clearly the last straw. Palicki’s response was gritty and superb. Bobbi’s pain, anger and defiance were fiery.
“You’re such a hypocrite. You say I betrayed her? You betrayed your entire team. How many people who trusted you have died? See, I’ve seen the real Grant Ward, the one buried deep inside. He’s a coward who always has an excuse or someone else to blame.” ~ Bobbi
The ensuing fight between Ward, Bobbi and Kara absolutely wowed us. It was fantastic, creative fight coordination. But when the dust cleared and Kara realized Bobbi didn’t care if she died nor had any remorse, Kara refused to shoot. That was unexpected, but it did set up an even more sinister next step.
With May and Hunter (Nick Blood) closing in, Ward’s trap for Hunter left Bobbi an emotional wreck. Her struggle to take a bullet to save Hunter was the most selfless and heroic thing we’ve seen her do. Adding in May’s radio trap for Kara that coincided with Bobbi’s sacrifice made for intense television. The ruse worked. The irony of Ward putting three bullets into Kara, thinking it was May, was just as big a shock to him as it was us. He’ll be out for blood after this.
Ward hovering over the dying Kara mirroring Hunter’s pleas for Bobbi to survive in his arms was the ultimate comparison of sacrifice and nobility versus arrogance and malice. Love is a funny thing. It comes in all shapes and sizes. Some are meant to be. And some simply never are. This moment reinforced a strong theme of the season that some loves, despite being powerful and real, may never be healthy.
Time will tell what comes from the backfire of Ward’s plan, but revenge will be high on the list for sure. And a healing Bobbi no doubt has some soul-searching to do after such an experience. There’s no doubt that when the chips are down, Bobbi and Hunter love each other more than they do themselves. But can they ever find a healthy place together? If we know this show, they will—right before Ward shows up looking for his own closure.
We applaud the writing team this season for not giving any slack to the tension between characters. A lesser series might wilt under that pressure and leave everyone forgiving and at least cordial with some kind of reconciliation, but Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has shown fortitude. Actions have consequences. Those scars don’t get erased easily and characters don’t just flip who they are deep inside on a whim. That’s solid writing that was on full display in the finale and we hope will continue for the life of this series.
Everyone’s true colors shine through when everything is on the line.
As the final confrontation approached, everyone had to make a choice. Which side would they stand? For some, it was simple. Loyalty, tradition and following those they’d always known were easy. For others, weighing the morality of their circumstances meant setting aside what they knew and embarking on a new path—one with an uncertain future, but a clear conscience. Skye, Cal, Mack (Henry Simmons) and Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) all faced this choice and sided with what in their hearts they knew to be right aboard the Iliad.
Trusting Skye was a huge step for Mack. For someone who has detested anything alien most of the season and was prepared to resign from S.H.I.E.L.D. to escape it, turning to her out of necessity was a defining character moment. Mack is a good person at heart and a good S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. He simply needed something larger than himself to see that others, despite their differences, were also on the side of doing the right thing.
Mack’s advice to calm Skye about her mistakes revealed part of his own feelings. Sometimes choices don’t work out. It didn’t the first time for either of them, but they both had a chance to correct that together and they made the most of it. Even Lincoln finally giving in to the truth was proof that no matter which side you started on, the side of right can always be the final choice—even if Mack wasn’t 100% prepared to accept Lincoln just yet.
“Please, just tell me where she took the crystals.” ~ Skye
“The fan room where the ship’s air circu–“ ~ Lincoln
[Mack whacks Lincoln over the head.]
“Found a saw.” ~ Mack
“I was getting through to him.” ~ Skye
“Right now, I’m in a ‘crack heads first, ask questions later’ frame of mind.” ~ Mack
We absolutely loved Mack in this finale. Henry Simmons was tough, hilarious and simply outstanding. It was fitting that he was joined by Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Coulson to defend the crystals against Gordon (Jamie Harris) trying to release the mist into the air circulation system. Their stand together provided one pivotal moment that defined healing for all three. As they sprung their trap and Gordon wasn’t able to exit of the room, all three men healed in a way they could never do alone.
“What did you do?!” ~ Gordon
“Science, biatch” ~ Fitz
“Looks like it’s batter up, Director.” ~ Mack
Fitz was the Fitz of old, Mack gave Coulson a nod of respect by addressing him by his title and Coulson had the opportunity to save the day catching the one loose crystal safely in his hand. Only quick thinking by Mack to chop off Coulson’s hand saved his life. The potential for broken allegiances to be mended between these three was finally set in motion.
In the process, Coulson proved he was willing to stop whoever was a threat and make the sacrifice play no matter the cost. The fact that the GH325 in his blood didn’t prevent him turning to stone served to prove one final point. Coulson may have been saved by alien biology, but he was very human. Mack of all people needed to see that.
After all the plots wrapped, everyone’s true colors had been revealed. The writing team did a beautiful job of layering all of these characters and slowly revealing their real motives as the story progressed. As the character arcs ended, the motivations and actions made sense and that’s the mark of a great series with great storytelling.
This is a family matter. My wife, my responsibility.
Skye’s story had as much to do with her ability to heal the wounds between those around her as her own growth. Characters that can influence the actions and stories around them are the ones that make a series run and Chloe Bennet has blown us away all season. She delivered a gusty and emotional performance for the finale that swayed Mack, Lincoln and even indirectly, her father, to do the right things in the end. It was her mother that misled the Inhumans and Skye was right, hate had taken hold.
“This isn’t about protecting me or your people. This is about hate.” ~ Skye
“No, you’re wrong.” ~ Jiaying
“It’s consumed you. You can’t even tell right from wrong. I can’t let you destroy any more lives.” ~ Skye
Skye’s plea was beautifully scripted and played by both women. Skye was right, Jiaying was blinded by her hate. So much so that she was willing to sacrifice her own daughter to achieve her goals. Cal needed to see just how far Jiaying would go in order to know what he had to do. Seeing Jiaying hurt Skye was the last straw for him.
“You don’t have to live with that pain. I will.” ~ Cal
“Oh Cal what are you doing?” ~ Jiaying
“Keeping my promise.” ~ Cal
Cal’s arc was heartbreaking. Through all his mischief, his only desire was to keep his promise to find and protect Daisy. In that final moment, Kyle MacLachlan earned a place in our hearts. Cal sacrificing the woman he loved seemed the only soul-crushing choice he could make to save his daughter. MacLachlan has been a joy to laugh at, cringe from and even despise at times, but his final moments were his most endearing and emotional ones. If he’s not seen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the future, he will be missed.
FINAL VERDICT: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. grew up before our eyes in Season Two. After shedding early awkwardness, it now stands confident and tall on its own. This is the show we were hoping to see and it didn’t disappoint.
Writer and Executive Producer Jeffery Bell who scripted the first half along with Executive Producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen who penned the dramatic conclusion deserve amazing props for bringing home a fantastic second season in stellar fashion. Outstanding one-liners, incredibly well crafted threads and fascinating character development are just a few of the reasons this finale was one of the best episodes in a season full of quality television. It’s rare that a finale finds a way to bring such satisfying closure to nearly every character and thread, but these talented writers managed to weave a winner that left us wanting more right away.
Directors Vincent Misiano (Part 1) and Billy Gierhart (Part 2) had a considerable challenge in creating two separate episodes that felt like one. They nailed it. The final two hours of Season Two was produced at a level that felt more like a feature film than two episodes of television. Perhaps that’s fitting. Marvel’s universe is so connected that television and movies shouldn’t feel different and Misiano and Gierhart together delivered a seamless finale that was also one of the best entries of the series.
Skye’s power move to knock the quinjet into the ocean was a visual effects gem. Mark Kolpack and his team blew our socks off all season long. We’ll give the same props and a shout out he did on Twitter to his Producer Sabrina Arnold, his coordinator Briana Aeby, his VFX Editor Ryan R. Moos and VFX Supervisor Kevin Lingenfelser from FuseFX. All the stunning sequences of quinjets, powers and other elements that wowed us during the finale deserve praise and this outstanding team has earned it.
The finale also contained spectacular stunt coordination and creative combat artistry. Fight coordinator Matt Mullins deserves huge props for doubling Ward and for helping to orchestrate some those incredible moves. Alicia Vela-Bailey was fantastic during Skye’s battle with the Ginga Ninjas. Doubling for Bobbi earlier in the episode gave Vela-Bailey a huge role to play in the success of two huge fight sequences and by our novice eyes, she killed it. Tara Macken’s work doubling both May and Kara was also outstanding. Stunt Coordinator Tanner Gill has assembled one hell of a team for this show and the stunt work, especially the fight sequences, in the finale were absolute thrillers.
Lincoln stopping May from killing Alisha (Alicia Vela-Bailey) made a huge point that had been danced around all season. The Inhumans were misled. Gonzales was right. Both good and bad people gain powers but things done to good people can change them. Jiaying’s role for years had been to carefully select those that were worthy of entering the mist. She prepared each person for years beforehand. She observed and weighed them based on her good heart.
Only those without darkness were allowed to transform. But anyone, powered or not, can have their soul stripped from them and end up becoming the thing they dread. Jiaying did just that. She lost herself, and in the process guided her people down a horrific road for which there will be continued consequences and mistrust on both sides. In fact, with the upcoming Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War and the prospect of fish oil producing more Inhumans at random, it’s only going to escalate.
We honestly never thought we could have genuine empathy for Cal. After all he’d done this season, it seemed too elusive. But in what was perhaps the most beautifully written moment of the night, he did just that. Words on a page can be magical in the right hands and both Kyle MacLachlan and Chloe Bennet sprinkled pixie dust and tears as they parted ways for the final time as father and daughter.
“It’s paradoxical, isn’t it? My love for my family is what drove me mad. I know I’m going away for good, but I was hoping you might come visit once in a while?” ~ Cal
“I will. I promise. That would be, let me guess ‘the best day ever?’ You have a lot of those.” ~ Skye
“No. Just one. July 2, 1988.” ~ Cal
Skye’s birthday. Cal won’t have to live with the regrets he’s accumulated and the madness he created. TAHITI made sure to erase those horrors and let him start anew. Skye however, will carry on. Strong, confident and determined, Skye sees her family clearly now. Her birth father, as unstable as he was, loved her so fiercely that he broke himself trying to repair his family, but her adopted family has given her a home. A covert team of super powered individuals with a stealthy, nimble jet now gives her purpose. It sounds like the perfect starting place for a third season to us. We don’t plan to miss a minute. Especially after that shocking last few seconds leaving Jemma’s (Elizabeth Henstridge) fate unknown!
Questions, Comments, Concerns and My Reaction on Twitter…
- Make sure he’s secure. Somehow I don’t think the restraints are gonna hold.
- Woah. That was badass Skye. Once I was but the learner. Now “I AM” the master. Kinda familiar??
- The Force is Strong with Skye!!
- I’m half crazy…Uh..full crazy I think Cal.
- It is the thorn that protects the rose .. or in this case the Daisy. NICE.
- I need to heal. Holy SHIT. #Mummy flashbacks!
- Gift horse? More like Trojan Horse I think.
- SHE said it right after I tweeted it!! #TrojanHorse
- Bobbi, bondage, sweater, needles..Ahhh! Bobbi needs a safe word!
- I’m glad I prepared properly with wine. I think I’m gonna need it.
- The generosity of others. I kinda saw that scene the other way Jiaying.
- Ward’s logic is rarely logical. You got that right. Dude is NUTS.
- That’s your apology? It was far better than your “it’s everyone’s fault but mine” apology to the group on the bus.
- I’m not a Polar Bear Phil! Want some hot cocoa?
- Skye’s father took three. Somebody got The Hulk’s number? We might need him. o.O
- The question is .. did Raina “see” that coming??
- May have another one to drink? What was in the vials? Miracle Grow??
- No. I’m here to take out as many as I can! That’s the FULL crazy we were expecting Cal. lol
- Ward has a habit of really pissing off women that can flat out kick his ass.
- OMG Bobbi’s knee! That hurt!
- OMG .. they did NOT take Cal OUT of the cell. Dammit. They did.
- Somehow I think the adrenaline was what he needed. I hate it when I’m right.
- Well, there’s no more Hyding his agenda now.
- It’s the peppermint that did all that. The rest was just for color.
- I gotta admit. I think these will just piss him off. I think you’re right C.
- There goes the feeling in my legs! I think that amped up Cal’s sense of humor too. lol
- Closure. With the door closed. I see what you did there. lol
- Just you and me tremors. Wow. Mack Attack and Quake!
- Expand the beacon. Invite them all. Jiaying is one cold bitch. I get why, but geez.
- That was the gutsiest, most fatherly move I’ve seen Coulson make.
- That was a badass trap you set May.
- Don’t bother. AHHHH!!! The neighbors are gonna call the police. #AgentsofS.H.I.E.L.D. is causing a noise complaint!
- If Ward wasn’t evil before, he’s gonna be out for blood now.
- I take back MOST of what I said about Mack this year
- Right now, I’m in a crack heads first, ask questions later kinda mood.
- Do good Melinda. And come home safe. Wow. Andrew said it again 7 years later. Feels.
- Maybe there is. #FitzSimmons lives. It just takes a finale to get back to that.
- Is anyone else freaking out that we STILL have 30 mins of this left??
- You brought him. This should be crazy Cal time!
- Hi Honey…Didn’t see THAT coming Jiaying?
- That was Skye, a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Ladies and Gentlemen.
- I batted over .400 in little league. Hell yes!!!
- Science biatch!! (Line of the night!)
- WTF!!! Coulson!!!!!!!! Mack is NOT your father. (I don’t think).
- You’re better than I imagined. And I imagined you perfect. That hits the heart Cal and Skye.
- July 2nd, 1988. THE BEST DAY EVER. Man. The feels that hit.
- A Rising Tide? Cute. You guys waited 2 seasons to use that one. lol
- It’s a magical place. Holy hell. I’m stunned at where this went for Cal.
- Terrigen bomb! Code named Omega3. Whaaaaa… #CivilWar, here we come!
- Well, now we know what you were talking about with that LAST scene @MarkKolpack & @FUCHIPATAS! Holy mackerel!!
- You both are geniuses, Mark Kolpack & Ann Foley! Beautiful work on both fronts in this finale! WOW!
- Is everyone okay after that tear-jerking, white-knuckling, game-changing #AgentsofS.H.I.E.L.D.Finale?? NO? Me neither. O.O #AgentsofS.H.I.E.L.D. ROCKS!
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: 2×21 & 2×22 “S.O.S.”