We’ve reached the grand finale of Season Six for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and once again, the fate of the world stands in the balance. The season so far has been a lot of fun, with the cast and the writers all very comfortable in their roles. We’ve enjoyed plenty of action, intrigue and some great fight scenes. The appearance of a Coulson-like character, who appeared to be a villain, added an intriguing element of mystery to the show. We got some exciting and often-humorous space adventures. And now, only our intrepid agents can save humanity from serving as unwilling hosts to a race of malevolent alien spirits—not to mention the army of angry space aliens intent on destruction.
Only Agents who are cleared to observe SPOILERS should proceed beyond this point!
This episode brings the sixth season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to a close, and before the latest episodes even aired, we knew another seventh season had been ordered.
The upcoming seventh season, like the most recent season, will unfold over 13 hour-long episodes, a format that fits the shorter story arcs used effectively in previous seasons. Recently, at San Diego Comic Con, we found out that the next season, which will air in the summer of 2020, will be the show’s final season. You can find Tor’s coverage of that news here and here.
Before covering the final episodes (the two-hour finale is actually two one-hour episodes aired back-to-back), this article includes a brief recap of the season, and if you want even more in-depth information on the show, you can find it in this conversation thread, where we’ve been discussing the episodes as they’ve aired.
Season Six of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: What’s Happened So Far
The core cast of characters, including May, Daisy, Fitz, Simmons, Yo-Yo and Mack, all returned for the new season, with Mack uneasily serving as Director after Agent Coulson’s death. We met many new agents, with two standing out from the rest. The first, Agent Keller, became involved with Yo-Yo after Mack decided romance would interfere with being Director. Sadly, Keller didn’t survive the season. The second stand-out was Dr. Benson, a world-weary and recently widowed scientist, intrigued by the opportunity to learn about space travel and alien life. Agents Davis and Piper also returned, although Davis was another who didn’t survive the season. Fitz and Simmons’ future grandson, Deke, who initially started his own gaming firm, later joined the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, and proved himself a worthy heir to the FitzSimmons science-whiz genes. S.H.I.E.L.D. continued to use the secret base called the Lighthouse as their headquarters, and while the new mission driving S.H.I.E.L.D. was hazy at best, the team spent the season focusing on alien threats against the Earth.
When the season opened, Daisy, Simmons, Piper, and Davis were on a mission to the far reaches of space: searching for Fitz, who was with the alien Enoch. Fitz thought he was on a journey to the future to join his time-traveling companions, not knowing that they had actually returned to the present. The space adventures were often played for laughs, with Enoch’s deadpan demeanor making him a great straight man. Daisy and Jemma also had some humorous misadventures, especially when they accidently got high from eating some hallucinogenic snacks. But there was also tragedy, as Enoch’s planet Chronicom was destroyed, and he was targeted by Hunters who blamed his time traveling and love of pesky Earthlings for the tragedy. The reunion of Fitz and Simmons was teased-but-then-foiled enough times that I grew weary of the game. Once they were finally reunited, they were hired by an alien woman, Izel, who was traveling to Earth and wanted local guides.
Back on Earth, S.H.I.E.L.D. faced a nasty team of space-traveling thugs equipped with a giant battle tractor-trailer—a team led by a man called Sarge, who was genetically identical to the late Phil Coulson. S.H.I.E.L.D. also battled bat-like creatures called Shrikes that invaded humans as parasites, and could only be killed with the special knives that Sarge and his team carried. It eventually became apparent that Sarge and company were working to foil the efforts of the evil Izel, who was trying to free her people from another dimension, and using races of beings as unwilling hosts for their spirits. This plot thread produced some of the best fight scenes of the season, and we got some moments of levity amidst this struggle when Deke entered the narrative—especially when his girlfriend walked unaware though a battle zone with her earbuds in, carrying an armload of boba tea. I also enjoyed the fact that Sarge’s team used a kind of “portable hole” teleportation device that looked like something right out of a Roadrunner cartoon…
The Earth and space threads came together when Izel arrived on Earth, and S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to demolish an alien tower of destruction the Shrikes were building. But countering that immediate threat was not the end of the struggle, as Izel was able to travel from body to body, and she manipulated S.H.I.E.L.D. into bringing her to a jungle temple. Once there, she could open the gate that would allow her people to enter our world—a plan that also involved using S.H.I.E.L.D.’s gravitonium device, along with the monoliths that S.H.I.E.L.D. used to travel in time during the last season.
The Finale Episodes (#612/613): “The Sign” and “New Life”
Mack and Yo-Yo are chained to a column in the jungle temple, and Izel dips into their memories to try to recreate the monoliths. But a young boy appears instead. It is Flint, and when Izel realizes he can control minerals, she enters his body and uses his power to recreate the monoliths. S.H.I.E.L.D. plans a rescue, and Sarge, Daisy, and May fly a Quinjet down to the temple, with Sarge wielding his Izel-killing sword, and the team using bullets forged from Sarge’s other Shrike-killing knife blades. Daisy and May hope that if they can “exorcise” the alien possessing Sarge’s body, Coulson might become himself again. Izel sends out her Shrikes to summon a human army to protect her, and the S.H.I.E.L.D. team is soon dealing with Shrike-infested people that can only be stopped by killing the hosts—a nasty business. They begin referring to these infected people as “zombies,” an apt description of their foes.
Back at the Lighthouse, Fitz, Simmons, and Deke put their heads together, and Deke admits he brought his team into the Lighthouse to help him develop new technologies. His entrepreneurial approach is played for laughs throughout the show. His inventions include a “Shaw Drive,” modestly named after himself, which adapts the Zephyr’s space drive for use as a portable teleportation device. He also develops a wristband that can keep Izel from possessing people who wear it. Disappointed that Fitz doubts the efficacy of his teleporter, Deke takes it and jumps to the jungle temple. Using the anti-Izel bands, he clumsily rescues Mack, Yo-Yo, and Flint, and they head for the Zephyr (which had been previously flown down by Mack, Yo-Yo, and Izel).
Daisy heads out alone to draw off Izel’s zombie army, and May and Sarge enter the temple. Izel is well along in her summoning plans—she’s created a glowing portal, and now just needs to send a signal to the other world. Sarge attacks and tries to stab her, but can’t bring himself to do it. May, instead of relying on her normal fight moves, tries to inspire him with a heartfelt speech about love. Instead, he stabs May with his sword and pushes her through the portal, telling Izel that he has sent her signal. This is heartbreaking to watch, as everyone realizes that while Sarge was an enemy of Izel, he was no friend to S.H.I.E.L.D.
On the Zephyr, joined by Daisy, the team fights a zombie horde. Deke repairs the Quinjet so he can rescue the team on the Zephyr. But while they are fighting, one of the Shrikes enters Yo-Yo’s mouth and burrows in. It is only a matter of time before she becomes a zombie.
At this point, we’re halfway through the show, and if you wondered what was going on with the Chronicom Hunters, you’re about to find out: We join Enoch, who is meeting with a fellow Chronicom anthropologist. The guy shows him a tablet, revealing that all anthropologists have been re-designated as Hunters—including the guy Enoch is talking to. Uh-oh!
As S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ is absorbing the news that May is down, Hunters start teleporting into the Lighthouse and shooting everything that moves, decimating the S.H.I.E.L.D. forces. They seem to know everything about S.H.I.E.L.D. and their procedures. Fitz and Simmons realize that while they were prisoners of the Hunters, they had been put in mind-reading devices that drew out all their memories of S.H.I.E.L.D. Together they head for Deke’s laboratory—a place they hadn’t known about when their minds had been read. They decide that the contents of the lab can’t be allowed to fall into Chronicom hands, set bombs to destroy everything, and then pull the pin on a grenade, preparing to sacrifice themselves. Hunters blast in, but just before they let go of the grenade, one of the Hunters suddenly blasts his teammates…and speaks to them in Enoch’s voice. Enoch tells them he can help, but only if they are willing to change the natural course of their lives forever.
On the other side of the glowing gateway, May draws the sword out of her abdomen, surprised to find herself alive. The room on the other side is a duplicate of the temple on the Earth side. There are three robed figures standing where the monoliths are back on Earth, each with a medallion that corresponds to a monolith. They march to a pedestal, and begin to insert their medallions. May comes up behind them with her sword raised. On the Earth side, Izel and Sarge await their alien hordes, and instead see the three unused medallions come out of the portal. Izel realizes May is not dead, and up to no good. She draws her own sword, and walks through the portal. She and May engage in an epic swordfight that reminds me of the duel in the Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood. In a show that has staged some spectacular fight scenes over the years, this rates as one of the best. Mack, Yo-Yo, and Daisy arrive, and Daisy quakes Sarge, revealing an ugly alien monster under his human-appearing skin. Any hope of finding traces of Coulson in this creature has disappeared. Mack and Sarge engage in a knock-down, drag-out fistfight, until Mack sees that Yo-Yo is beginning to succumb to her Shrike infestation and rushes to her side. Meanwhile, Daisy stands in front of the portal, and Izel sneaks out behind her—only to have May appear behind Izel and kill her. May falls, as the wounds that didn’t slow her down in the other dimension clearly affect her here on Earth. Mack gets hold of a sword and cuts Sarge in half. Yo-Yo barfs up Shrike goop, and it looks like she will be okay. May has a touching death scene with Daisy by her side.
Then the temple doors suddenly open, and a cool and capable Simmons emerges, leading a Hazmat-suited team. They give May an injection and place her in a cryo chamber, so it looks like that wasn’t a death scene after all. Simmons loads everyone onto what appears to be an advanced version of the Zephyr, and they take off just as Chronicom missiles destroy the jungle temple. Simmons states that she has had plenty of time to prepare, which implies there has been some time traveling going on during the final battle. She says that the Chronicom Hunters are attacking the Earth and have captured Fury’s black box of S.H.I.E.L.D. secrets. S.H.I.E.L.D. has decided to use Life Model Decoy and Chronicom technology in order to recreate an expert on S.H.I.E.L.D. history—one who can lead the fight against the Hunters. They fly over a New York that doesn’t look like it does today. We see Enoch, who is back to his normal appearance, and then a figure in a natty suit steps out of a chamber. It is Coulson—not Sarge; or at least a reasonable facsimile of Coulson. Clark Gregg continues his great acting job, as it is instantly and immediately apparent that this is everyone’s old friend, returned to the fold.
It’s clear from this ending that the writers are leaving us with plenty of mysteries to be solved in the final season of the show. Why is Simmons acting so unusually cool? When did S.H.I.E.L.D. develop the capability to bring agents back from death’s door? Where did the advanced Zephyr come from? What kind of time travel has S.H.I.E.L.D. been using? Has S.H.I.E.L.D. been able to reconstitute itself after the devastating Hunter attack on its HQ? What happened to the rest of the world while the team has been in the jungle? It seems that we’ll have to wait until next summer to find out.
This season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was well constructed and nicely paced. We got a lot of space adventures, often with a humorous spin, which alternated with the grittier battles being waged back on Earth. There were grand fight scenes, and the mystery of Sarge to untangle. The finale was a satisfying close to the season and featured an effective mix of adventure, humor, and heartbreaking moments. I’m glad Sarge is gone, as without the mystery of his existence to solve, he was an unlikeable character. And it will be good to see old-school Coulson back in the mix, in a form that will be awkward for many of the team to deal with. I thought May got a great death scene, but I’m not sorry she survived, as she is one of my favorite characters on the show. The finale did a good job of wrapping up the current plotlines while still leaving me wanting more.
Now I’m looking forward to hearing from you. What did you think of the finale, and the season as a whole? What were your favorite fight scenes, quips, and character moments? What are you looking forward to seeing during the final season?
And as we wait until Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next year, let’s remember those immortal words of the late Stan Lee, “Don’t yield, back S.H.I.E.L.D.!”
Alan Brown has been a fan of S.H.I.E.L.D. from its comic book beginning over fifty years ago. He still remembers reading that very first adventure in Strange Tales #135.