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Who lives, who’s lost: This is how it all ends in the series finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for “The End is at Hand,” and “What We’re Fighting For,” the series finale of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.**
Well, it’s over. Considering this is likely the last time we’ll ever see our favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, let’s start at the end. So how did the series end — and more importantly — where did everyone end up?
First up, the world is saved. The timeline is restored. The team retires. We’ll get into that a lot more below, but first of all, here’s a rundown of where the team all lands once the dust settles.
Deke: Before we get to the big final showdown, the team has to bid farewell to one recent addition a bit early in Deke. To get the timeline back on track, someone has to stay behind in the broken one to pull the trigger and send the rest of the team back. Deke has spent a good bit of time in the 1980s, and more than anyone, was thriving there. So when someone has to stay, he decides to embrace his inner rock god and stay behind for good. Even cooler? Once the dust settles, the remnants of 1980s era S.H.I.E.L.D. turn to Deke for leadership. Yep, that’s right — Deke is finally calling the shots.
Mack: Mack remains a company man, and continues to run S.H.I.E.L.D. after the Chronicoms are defeated. He seems to be making some good progress, too, in getting the agency back online. Our parting shot of Mack shows him supervising the construction of a new and improved helicarrier.
May: After connecting with her emotional side this season in the wake of her trip to the other dimension (at the end of Season 6), May retires from active field duty to pass on her knowledge to the next generation of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. She’s teaching at Coulson Academy, and her star pupil is Flint, the time-displaced Inhuman from the aborted future timeline.
Fitz and Simmons: Fitz and Simmons, finally reunited with their daughter(!?), retire to the countryside. They seem happy to finally be free from the rat race of constant world-saving. If anyone deserves a slow, happy life, it’s FitzSimmons.
Daisy (and Sousa): After making a love connection in recent episodes, Daisy and Sousa remain together a year after the battle with the Chronicoms. They’re also still working for S.H.I.E.L.D., though nowhere near Earth. The duo, along with Daisy’s long lost and time-displaced sister Kora, are out in deep space serving as emissaries for Earth to alien races, presumably. So Daisy gets her happy ending, and the man out of time gets to explore the cosmos.
Yo-Yo: Yo-Yo is also still with S.H.I.E.L.D., using her super speed on field missions with her team of Piper and a (presumably LMD/Chronicom tech) version of fan favorite Agent Davis. It was a fun nod to fans to show those two back in action, especially Davis, who was tragically killed by Izel a season ago.
Coulson: Coulson remains alive and well in his hybrid Chronicom/LMD form. After saving the world from the Chronicoms. He’s essentially taken a sabbatical from S.H.I.E.L.D. to travel the world and check some adventures off his list. Despite their love connection in the past, he doesn’t end up with May — at least not explicitly. Though the door is left open for them to reconnect down the line. So there’s still a chance they’ll get their happy ending. But Coulson gets his own happy ending of sorts, as Mack sends Coulson a restored version of Lola, his beloved cherry red 1962 Chevrolet Corvette — complete with all those flying sci-fi upgrades, of course.
Welcome to the multiverse
As many fans have suspected, most of the current season has been taking place in a splintered, alternate timeline outside of the “mainline” MCU that fans know from the first few seasons, as well as the movies. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s connection to the MCU has always been a bit nebulous, but here we realize exactly how they’ve been playing so fast and loose with the rules this year: It was all part of Fitz’s plan. Fitz wasn’t just hiding out in a different part of the timeline, or in space, so to speak — he was holding down the fort in the original timeline, while the rest of the team had to soldier on through this twisted splinter in the multiverse.
Fitz and Simmons figured out they needed Daisy’s sister Kora (who died before Daisy’s birth in the original timeline) as part of their plan to use her Inhuman abilities to reprogram the Chronicoms to give them empathy — so they gamed out their best projections on how the altered timeline would play out, just like Sybil did with the Chronicoms, and Fitz stayed behind in the “prime” timeline to keep them tethered to eventually return.
Even cooler? We get a very tangible connection to the MCU proper when it comes to connecting those timelines back together. The workaround Fitz figured out to connect the realities? The Quantum Realm, the same McGuffin fans have seen before in the Ant-Man films, as well as Avengers: Endgame. So yeah, it’s all connected. They use the Quantum Realm to pull the Chronicom fleet back to the MCU’s “real” present time, and use Kora’s abilities to stop the Chronicom soldiers from attacking, turning them essentially into allies.
As for this season’s other big bad, Nathaniel Malick (another character who was supposed to be long dead in the OG timeline), he gets a final face-off with Daisy. Quake powers vs. quake powers. It’s an epic battle, which ends with Daisy blowing up an entire Chronicom ship, with Malick right in the middle of it. It almost kills her, too, as the team has to pluck her body out of the vacuum of space. Thankfully, Kora uses her energy-creating abilities to revive her. So, one big happy family.
And that’s the theme that runs through the heart of the episode, and inspires the series finale’s title: “What We’re Fighting For.” Not surprisingly, the answer is family. Fitz and Simmons spent years off building their time machine and mapping out their plan, and had a daughter along the way. So they were fighting for her. Daisy had a chance to connect with the sister she never knew she had. Mack and Yo-Yo are fighting for one another. Coulson’s fighting for the found family he made himself in this team.
No matter the timeline, it seems John Garrett just can’t catch a break. After being betrayed by Malick, he agrees to help the S.H.I.E.L.D. team escape from the bombed-out Lighthouse base. But once he jumps them out to the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. hideout, he’s shot point blank in the head by agents when they land. Oops. It was a shocking scene, but considering how bad Garrett has been regardless the timeline, he certainly got his comeuppance.
Sousa gets to make the move on Daisy this time around, planting a kiss on her as she heads off on a mission. Mack’s approval is hilarious.
Seeing Simmons process her scrambled memories and slowly remember her life, and Fitz, was some beautiful acting by Elizabeth Henstridge. She really dialed into a woman breaking down, and remembering all she’s sacrificed over the past few years in just a brief, broken few moments. Well done.
Mack and Sousa using the Chronicoms as a makeshift, duct-taped missile was a great bit of classic, goofy S.H.I.E.L.D. weirdness. It was also a chance for Sousa to be creative and useful, showing that no matter the time period, he’s an asset.
Having Deke left behind in the alternate timeline was sad, but it made sense. He really had found a home in this version of the world — and with Daisy moving on romantically (and his crush now fizzled) — he was able to make a new start in a new world. Also, his fart noise interrupting Sousa was just perfect. Perfect. Deke’s goodbye with Mack was also a tearjerker. They really have become true friends though all this.
“On THREE, dammit!”
Was the final plan a bit convoluted and McGuffin-y? Sure, but it was fun and action-packed, even if it was a bit silly. This is a show that’s told plenty of big stories, and plenty of small stories, and it went out with a big one.
The coda at the end of the episode was an interesting way to wrap the story up. Did it work? Mostly. It’s hard to craft an ending, especially one with so many moving pieces and characters. But there’s no doubt this is a good one. Fans should enjoy it, and most importantly it leaves the door open to where fans can imagine all the adventures and stories that could still spin out after the series has long-ended.
Which is what makes comic book stories, and this series itself, so much fun in the first place.
The story never ends.