‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Season 3 Finale Recap: “Absolution” & “Ascension”

     May 17, 2016

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And it all comes down to this. The two part season finale for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season manages to course-correct from the awful penultimate episode last week, shoehorning in the events of Captain America: Civil War into the mix. S.H.I.E.L.D. has always done a great job with its season openers and finales, and this third season follows suit with a strong culmination of storylines, and, more importantly, a tantalizing glimpse of what is to come. There’s a death in the team that, while performed amazingly in terms of the follow-through, doesn’t quite hit the target in my mind. The absurdity of the game of “hot potato” that the two final episodes play with the cross and the S.H.I.E.L.D. jacket to hint at who will die in the finale was something to behold … in a ridiculous sort of way.

Anyway, onto the episodes! Daisy is still reeling from being controlled by Hive, even dreaming of being lost on the alien planet from earlier this season with Coulson in a containment unit. When she awakens, she struggles with the implications of what she’s done. I know that a big Marvel trait is to have the characters have an almost crushing amount of guilt when it comes to their mistakes, though I wish they could have bucked the trend as sometimes it can feel a bit stale. Not to say that Daisy is in the wrong necessarily for doing what she did, but she was under mind control from Hive and it was totally out of her hands. The revelation later on, however, does manage to put this in perspective (more on that in a bit).


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Image via ABC

As Hive enacts his plan into turning everyone on the planet into “Primitives” thanks to the stolen warhead in his possession, S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to demonstrate why the Sokovia Accords don’t work. Talbot goes through the proper channels to immediately put a stop to Hive and is told that because of the red tape, it will take at least two weeks for action to be taken to stop the end of the world scenario. I do have to give the show props for showing why Pro-Registration doesn’t work in a better way than Civil War did. When the team storms the island where Hive is setting to detonate the warhead, they manage to hit him with a machine that scrambles his brain and makes him drift between his personality and the personality of the deceased Grant Ward. It makes for an interesting twist as the villainous Inhuman loses all composure and is trying to finish his plan while combating with the personality of his dead host.

The team pulls off a big “W” by managing to capture Hive in an amber prison before bringing him back to S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ. Unfortunately for them, Hive’s followers managed to sneak in a “Primitive bomb” turning numerous S.H.I.E.L.D. agents into Hive’s slaves. Further, Fitz had been trapped in a room with a bunch of these mouthless monstrosities, but manages to get saved by his teammates in the knick of time. Hive is freed by his servants while Daisy manages to make her way to him by jimmying her containment unit in her cell. Shockingly, when Daisy confronts the main antagonist of this season, she begs to be taken back into his possession! Quake had become addicted to Hive as any other drug and wants to rejoin the fold. This made for a nice twist/cliffhanger to the first part of the season finale for sure, really pushing forward the horror of Hive and the tragedy of those he controls in that they are never truly freed.


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Image via ABC

Our second half of the season finale begins with a pretty well thought out and well choreographed fight between Daisy and Hive. Taken aback by not being able to be controlled by Hive any longer, which is something she desperately wants, Daisy unloads on him with a series of hand-to-hand moves in unison with her earthquake abilities. It’s clever and it works well, combining Daisy’s training as an agent along with her Inhuman status. The rest of the team is frantically running from their former teammates who were changed into Primitives, and Simmons gets to shine by discovering that the Primitives can’t see if things get toasty, so she ups the heat in the headquarters.

Hive manages to beat Daisy and launches into the sky with his plan of transforming humanity into his slaves still intact. The rest of the team then manages to follow suit, though May and Fitz had stowed aboard the propelling aircraft while the rest of the team follows suit in their own quinjet. Coulson manages to have a face-to-face with Hive, and the two engage in a conversation that allows for Phil to show off his sense of humor, with Hive revealing his true face. Hive looks great and I was surprised how well it worked considering he’s basically a big tentacled monster. Coulson managed to pull a fast one on the monster though as it’s revealed he was in fact a hologram the whole time.

What follows is a really good scene of the majority of the agents coming together and fighting in unison against the Primitives, with even Fitz and Simmons lending a hand. We haven’t had much opportunity to see the team come together in this way, with characters being separated by their own individual subplots and troubles, but this made for a nice bonus for those who have been with the series for its full run. Also, we got to see a really badass looking “Shotgun Axe” that Mack had finally gotten his hands on, which was some great fan service to be sure. Meanwhile, Daisy is trying to figure out who among the team will be killed based on her vision of the future from a previous episode. Lincoln is injured in the process by James, who manages to pull a “Gambit” and charge an object next to Lincoln’s side, taking a chunk of him with it.


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Image via ABC

As Daisy realizes that the vision of death was her own, she saddles into the seat of the spare ship and sets it on a course to the sun to destroy Hive and his plans. Shocker, though, as Lincoln has snuck aboard and uses his powers to knock Daisy out of the ship, saving her life. Lincoln and Hive soar toward the sun as Daisy pleads for someone to save her Inhuman boyfriend, to no avail. In what is most likely my favorite scene of the season, Hive and Lincoln accept their deaths quietly, floating next to one another as they await their ends. I wish we had more “quiet” moments like this in the series, not necessarily between hero and villain mind you, but it worked so well here and was that much more heartfelt.

There you have it, as far as who dies. And while Lincoln’s death was certainly powerful, I have to wonder if it would have hit home harder had it been a more “permanent” cast member? Granted, Lincoln managed to establish himself this season, but having someone from the show’s beginning may have been a bigger risk overall. Obviously, I wouldn’t want them to go with either Fitz or Simmons because that would feel cheap after everything they’ve gone through, but taking the risk of maybe having it be May or even Coulson would have gone a longer way in my mind. A minor complaint though since again, the Hive/Lincoln scene was worth the cost of admission here.

Thought the season finale was over with that? Well you’d be wrong, as we slam but to a title card of “Six Months Later.” “Quake” has now become a household name as Daisy has apparently become something of a terrorist, spreading fear while also cracking open banks. Coulson and Mack are hot on her trail, awaiting for a meeting between Daisy and the family of the future-seeing Inhuman from earlier this season. Daisy may have now become something of a Robin Hood figure, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, and she has also improved her control of her powers drastically. As Coulson and Mack close in, Daisy uses her powers to propel herself over a building, leaving the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents scratching their heads. Mack and Coulson even manage to leave another tantalizing bit of info that there is a new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. that they need to report to.


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Image via ABC

Ultimately, a strong showing to the end of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s third season that manages to hit all the right beats but still has a few stumbles along the path.

 

“Absolution” Rating: ★★★ Good

“Ascension” Rating: ★★★★ Very good

Season 3 Rating: ★★★ Good

(Ratings Key

Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.

-Dr. Radcliffe is really starting to grow on me, and with the final reveal that he’s creating “LMD’s” in his lab as now a full member of S.H.I.E.L.D. is another interesting bit of info to bring people back for Season 4.

-What is an “L.M.D.”? It’s a Life Model Decoy, which was always employed by Nick Fury in the comics to create a robotic double of himself. Could the next season be Agents vs. Robots?

-Speaking of next season, I hope they decide to completely move away from the Inhumans. If this means kicking the Secret Warriors to the curb, I’d be fine with it. The Inhumans’ movie have no official release date, so constantly using the show as a platform to build them up is something of a lost cause at this point. Focus energies somewhere else moving forward.


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Image via ABC

-Big piece of news just recently dropped that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be moving to a 10 p.m. time slot with a promise that Season 4 will shift towards a darker and grittier theme. Considering Marvel’s success with their Netflix outings, I’m all for this.

– Fitz – “Many men on the moon!”

– May – “Every time I see his face I want to punch something.”

– Hive – “S.H.I.E.L.D….AGAIN!”

– Mack – “We don’t all have super speed.”

– Coulson – “That’s a lot of people to outsmart.”

– Radcliffe – “I’m going to call you Ronald, and you, Ronald 2.”

– Hive – “This won’t kill me!”

Mack – “Nope, but it will suck!”

– Talbot – “Like betting on Wrestlemania stupid!”

– Radcliffe – “I can tell from your moustache that you are a man not to be trifled with!”

– Coulson – “We’ll discuss the consequences of your science fair later.”

– Hive – “Killing me won’t make the pain go away, or will it? I can’t remember.”


– Lincoln – “Hey Electric Company, can you light things up?”

– Coulson – “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only…”

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Image via ABC

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Image via ABC


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