Congratulations to Agents of SHIELD for hitting 100 episodes! That’s no small achievement, and through all the show’s ups and downs, it’s kept us coming back long enough to reach this point. This week’s episode gave us plenty of sorrow and joy, so let’s take a look and see how it went.
1. Impending Doom
We as viewers knew that Coulson was dying, but this is where the rest of the team finds out. It was a dramatic moment, to be certain, filled with emotional pleas and a solemn sense of weight.
What really sold the moment was how it showed each character reacting to the news. From Simmons trying to choke back tears to May’s mix of fear and frustration, every reaction was perfect for the characters and felt natural from each of their actors; it really shows just how much we’ve come to know all of the SHIELD agents we’ve been following. I particularly like the conversation he has with May, where she tells him “Who I waste my time on is for me to decide.” They haven’t had quite the romantic arc of Fitz-Simmons, but that makes their chemistry just as appealing in its own way.
Additionally, the cause of his illness ties together several points from throughout the show’s run. It began with his initial stabbing by Loki back in The Avengers, went to his T.A.H.I.T.I. healing, and is the end result of playing host to Ghost Rider. It’s nice when the show brings in past plot points to create a cohesive narrative, and Coulson’s end coming about as a result of all his adventures as part of SHIELD is very fitting for the character.
Coulson’s talk of symbols was a recurring theme this episode. SHIELD needed to stand as a symbol, and the marriage between Fitz and Simmons is a symbolic gesture; it came up frequently, and while it didn’t quite pay off into anything besides the wedding (see below) it’s still telling for Coulson’s character, his ideals, and what he hopes to leave behind.
That said, I’m still going to keep an eye out for any further mentions of symbolism this season, to see if anything else comes of this.
3. Dead All Along Theories
Hey, did you know that Ash from Pokemon was in a coma all along? Or that all the babies in Rugrats are figments of Angelica’s imagination?
Of course not, because those are stupid theories that fans make up to make shows unnecessarily dark. I’m not a fan of those, but it still came up in this episode.
When Coulson is facing the phantasms from the fear dimension, he sees Mike Peterson, pre-Deathlok, who tries to convince him that everything that has happened over these past several seasons has all been in Coulson’s head as he lies dying on an operating table after being stabbed by Loki.
For a minute, it even started to sound convincing, talking about how each of the characters on Coulson’s team fulfilled a deep spiritual need of his, and the things he saw and experienced are from his dying mind trying to piece everything he glimpsed in his last moments together. It even tied in Daisy’s earlier statement about how without Coulson there is nothing, as a clever bit of setup.
Of course we all know it’s not true, no matter how tense the moment was, and Coulson came to soon enough, but you better believe there are fan theorists trying to prove that it really is the case.
4. Return of Deathlok
Not only did we see J. August Richards return as Mike Peterson, but he came back as Deathlok as well. I suppose it would have been nice to have a super-powered cyborg around in, say, outer space in the future, or when they’re fighting killer robots, but he’s been off doing his own thing.
Still, bringing him back for the episode was great, and I hope we get to see at least a little more of him before the end of the season. His return is a good callback to previous seasons, as well as a connection to Marvel comics, and it’s nice to have a variety of powered-characters around.Continued below
5. Fitz-Simmons Ties the Knot
What a great way to end the episode. After all the crap Fitz and Simmons have been through, they finally actually marry. No one’s getting sucked into outer space or the future, no one was replaced by a LMD (as far as we know), just the proper progression for their character arcs.
Of course, then we get the twist that Deke is their grandson. The way they hinted at it was clever, using the ring that he found for them as a clue (technically something of an ontological paradox, but not something I’m going to worry about right now) before revealing it via DNA analysis, and it justifies his presence more than “he’s an amusing character, let’s keep him around.”
And so ends the 100th episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s been quite a ride to reach this episode, but it brought back old logos, old villains, and old allies, paying tribute to the history of the series while setting up a sense of dramatic loss, character growth, and a lovely finish.
Of course, we still have the rest of the season ahead, so there’s much more to come. There is a significant chance that this will be the last season, so we’ll see what else they have in store next week.