After seven seasons and 136 episodes, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has finally come to an end. This final season saw the team travel through time, then fight Chronicoms and HYDRA in a new timeline that quickly went off the rails.
That’s a big task in and of itself, but the finale succeeds thanks to doing what the show is best at: being completely absurd, but totally earnest.
[Ed. note: This contains spoilers for the seventh season of SHIELD, including the two-part finale, “The End is Always at Hand/What We’re Fighting For.”]
Behold, the deus Fitz machina
As the finale opens, things aren’t looking good for the Agents. They’re still in 1983 and there’s nothing left of SHIELD but their group and a ragtag group of survivors. The only hope lies in Leo Fitz, who the Chronicoms and Nathaniel Malick know is capable of stopping their plans, but he’s been MIA all season and Simmons can’t remember where or when he is because she and Enoch repressed all her memories of him. The good news is that their Chronicom buddy Enoch (RIP) left pieces of a device with various SHIELD agents over the decades, and when assembled together, brings the genius right to his friends.
Fitz and Simmons decided to live a normal life while they could, even having a daughter named Alya. But by the finale, it was time to deal with their Chronicom threat back home. The Agents know they can’t leave this timeline to suffer, so they do the next best thing: use their ship’s time drive to bring the enemy fleet back with them to 2019 via the Quantum Realm. What follows is a conclusion to the threat in a way that’s nothing if not inspired.
Yes, Daisy uses her Quake powers to kill Malick and destroy the fleet, and it’s awesome. But the true savior of the day was the power of empathy. It’s thanks to the respective powers of Melinda May and Kora — Daisy’s sister who died in the original timeline, but who is very much alive in the new one — that the Chronicoms stop attacking. It’s cheesy, but it also honors Enoch’s memory, as he considered the Agents his friends and family.
With so much time travel and the use of the Quantum Realm, this season feels a lot like Agents of SHIELD’s version of Avengers: Endgame. Going into the finale, it would’ve been reasonable to assume that one or two of the Agents would sacrifice themselves to save everyone else.
This didn’t turn out to be the case at all. In fact, the show refreshingly gives each of the main cast their own happy endings. Whether it’s Fitz and Simmons retiring to raise Alya or Daisy traveling through space with Kora and Sousa, the show laughs at the idea of bittersweet endings. Coulson, once dead but now revived as an LMD, makes peace with his new lease on life. In fact, he’s decides to travel the world in his flying car, Lola. May went from being a gruff instructor to a teacher at Coulson Academy. Despite Enoch’s grave warning of their breakup before his death, they’ll all still be together and in each other’s lives, thanks to VR hangout sessions. (Except Deke, happily leading SHIELD in the other timeline.)
So much of the MCU feels like homework, and SHIELD certainly did at times. But like all jobs, the best moments come from the coworkers and what you do together. And if you’re good enough friends, you’ll always keep in touch, even if one of you is on the other end of the galaxy.
Farewell, Agents of SHIELD. Thanks for the memories and the shotgun axes.