During every episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this season, I’ve question why the hell any of the lower-ranked agents would want to work for this agency. It seems generally unrewarding, judging by the unusually high redshirt death count in comparison to the lower volume of episodes in season 6. Even still, no one seems as miserable as our main characters, especially by the end of this season.
I’ve always enjoyed how each season of this show has escalated in terms of scale and imagination, but at the same time, the characters are pulled through more increasingly harrowing and absurdly dark situations. It almost makes me happy that the show is ending next season, not because I think the show is bad (it definitely isn’t), but because these characters deserve happiness. They certainly don’t get it in this two-part season finale.
Let’s start with Yo-Yo and Mack, tied up together by the villainous Izel and now involved in an existential pickle. In Izel’s quest to use the three Monoliths, Mack and Yo-Yo inadvertently conjured up the character of Flint from season 5, an Inhuman from the future with earth manipulation powers. This poor kid is then forced to do Izel’s willing, and sustains some nasty injuries afterwards.
They literally willed a person into existence, and now the question is whether or not he’s “real.” Unfortunately, like many things in these last two episodes, this plot line is tabled, hopefully to be addressed next season. After their eventual escape, Mack, Yo-Yo, and the rest have to fend with Shrike-infected humans, who for all intents and purposes, are basically zombies.
At the same time, two parties are trying to access the temple in which Izel has trapped the two in—Daisy and May take a risk by bringing Sarge in, while Fitz, Simmons, and Deke try to find a way to bypass everyone and essentially beam themselves up there. It gets a bit frantic once the parties converge and the episode becomes a sci-fi zombie chase, but everything is structured well to get the characters to face some hard truths.
Take Deke, who last episode won a bit of approval from his grandparents. That goodwill was squashed, however, when you remember from episode four that Deke is a grifter acting as a younger Steve Jobs. Despite the created friction between Deke and Fitz-Simmons, it results in a really excellent character monologue from Jeff Ward as Deke, who finally goes beyond comic relief and proves his practical use.
The plot line of May and Daisy with Sarge started off promising in the same vein—they were both at different levels of believing whether or not some bit of Coulson left could be salvaged from Sarge, but the thread went in a direction that I was ultimately disappointed with. It wasn’t necessarily cliche, but even without that being the case, it faltered to a point where I felt that Sarge’s entire existence this season has been a shaggy dog story.
And since we’re on the subject on characters who just can’t get a break, we have Fitz and Simmons, who probably go through more hardships and struggles than anyone else on television. It was always a more fascinating dynamic by physically separating them rather than focusing on hackneyed romantic drama that has plagued other television shows, but the way this season ends with them is bordering on self-referential parody.
Ultimately, the climax of this season stands mainly on Izel as a bad guy, and throughout her appearances in the season, she’s impressed by being a formidable physical opponent. But despite her cruelty towards the team (especially in that fantastic bottle episode), there’s nothing that makes her interesting thematically when putting her up against them. She has her own motivation and mission, but she hates S.H.I.E.L.D. because… humans are weak, or something.
And that’s where Sarge should have really shined. The second half of this season was particularly focused on the mystery behind their relationship with each other, but Sarge makes a decision in the later episode that questions what exactly the writers’ intention with them was. I couldn’t help but feel like I had missed something big by the time the dust settled with these two.
After all is wrapped up and done, the rest of the finale focuses on setup for season 7. If you thought that season 4’s finale setting up the space-bound season 5 was already confusing and bizarre, the finale of season 6 somehow tops that. The show, even on its last legs, are freshening it up with an aura of unpredictability.
I just hope that these characters can take a break for once and enjoy themselves. There is one moment, however—it’s the last scene of the finale, and it has Daisy making a quick and rash decision when Mack, being Mack, begins to question the ethical implications of what they’re about to do. Daisy, however, does it in a snap, not caring about the consequences, because as far as she know, this will make her happy.
And you know what? She deserves to be happy.