Even the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. themselves are a bit surprised that their old frenemy Glenn Talbot has become this season’s Big Bad. But bizarre or not, there’s no doubt the newly appointed Graviton is one of the greatest threats Coulson and the gang have ever faced.
Spoilers ahead for “The Force of Gravity,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which aired Friday, May 10, 2018.
It seems the old saying is true — absolute power really does corrupt absolutely. It took less than a day for Talbot to turn his back on pretty much everyone after being infused with Gravitonium powers (and the competing, absorbed personalities that come with it). It’s a shame to see Talbot make this turn, because despite his faults, he’s always been a good man at heart. He’s butted heads with Coulson more than once, but when push came to shove, Talbot was always trying to do what’s right.
It’s that drive that makes his story so engaging as S.H.I.E.L.D. barrels toward its season (series?) finale next week. This isn’t some mysterious, all-powerful villain who has dropped out of the sky to cause havoc. Talbot is a man they’ve known and trusted for years, and it’s that connection that ultimately leads the team to figure out his motivations. Talbot is a military man who has been truly broken, between his injury, brain damage, and his time spent under Hydra’s control. What he wants more than anything is to show he can still be the hero.
After tragically killing Crusher Creel (R.I.P.) to absorb a bit of extra Gravitonium, Coulson heads back to his family home to show his son that he’s become a hero just like the Avengers he’s grown to idolize. Of course, folks like Thor and Captain America don’t also struggle with brain damage and a God complex (obvious Thor joke notwithstanding), as things quickly go sideways when he almost kills his wife and absolutely terrifies his son. Talbot sees himself as the hero of this tale, and is becoming more and more desperate to prove it to the people trying to stop him from amassing and abusing this immense power.
At this point, Talbot is almost invincible — though Fitz and Simmons do have a theory for how they can stop him. But it comes at an immense cost. May and Daisy have spent the past several weeks working in secret to find a way to save Coulson, and the best answer looks to be the old Centipede tech fused with Daisy’s mother's DNA (thanks to her Inhuman healing abilities). At this point, they feel relatively confident it’d be powerful enough to stop Coulson’s tissue from dying after being burned up (quite literally) by the Ghost Rider.
That same tech might also hold the key to stopping Talbot, as the delivery mechanism could also be used to hit him with some of the alien rage drug (first seen in the future) that kills the user. The problem is that there’s only one delivery mechanism, and they can use it to save Coulson or kill Talbot. One shot. It begs back to Yo-Yo’s warning from the future that the team needed to let Coulson die — and it seems this very well might be the moment she was referring to all those episodes ago. Is the world destroyed because the team saves Coulson, then can’t figure out a way to stop Talbot? Will letting Coulson die break that loop? Can the loop be broken at all?
With one episode left, the pressure is on to land what has been one of the show’s most ambitious stories to date. Fans are also still waiting with bated breath to see if the series will return for next season, of if this really is the end. If Season 5 is the last, there’s no doubt S.H.I.E.L.D. will end its run on one hell of a high note. That said, there certainly seems to be more than enough gas in the tank for another year (or three).
*Well, that was a long time coming: Phil “Hot Lips” Coulson and May finally got their kiss on, and it was a gloriously heroic moment, complete with a literal shield to boot. It was an amazing shocker for a relationship that’s quietly simmered for years, and however this season wraps, fans can take solace in that gloriously cool moment.
*It’s easy to forget, but Coulson can still kick some butt when the need arises. Seeing him back up Daisy and lay some hits on those alien soldiers made for some great moments, because it's been a while since we’ve gotten to see Coulson get in on the action.
*Speaking of Coulson, his condition is only getting worse. With one episode left, resolution is almost certainly coming. Be it death or some McGuffin-fueled rebirth.
*Daisy gets to have a chat with Young Papa Kasius, and really brings it home that she is not intimidated — at all — by his plans and threats. Oh, and that she’s seen the future, and his family line ends with a whimper of failure.
*The threat of that alien ship is officially over. Too bad May couldn’t reprogram those missiles to land right on Thanos’ big, purple chin. But hey, at least S.H.I.E.L.D. is holding up its end of this assault.
*It was quick, but worth noting: Before blowing up that alien ship, Deke seemingly grabbed the navigation chip. It was a quick moment, but it almost certainly means something.
*Talbot seems to be moving ahead with his plan to yank some hidden Gravitonium out of the Earth, which is seemingly what destroys the planet. He kidnaps Robin in an effort to figure out exactly where it’s located. Yeah, that’s not good.