Way to stick the landing guys! Agents of SHIELD wrapped up its fourth season with “World’s End” and damn did they pull it off! Wrapping up and tying together three overarching storylines from the course of the year: Ghost Rider returned to deal with the Darkhold, the LMD’s are more in play than ever before, and Yoyo and Mack dealt with the end of the Framework in an episode full to the brim but beautifully balanced.
With so much to unpack let’s divvy this up by storyline starting first with the Framework. Aida basically pulls the plug on the virtual world and piece by piece and person by person it begins vanishing into nothing. Radcliffe gets sent to rescue Yoyo, pretty quickly undoing the drama from last week’s closing scene. Though Radcliffe finding his pockets full of actual Yoyo’s as Daisy hacks the Framework was a cute way to pass the message.
The Framework stuff was the shortest and probably least interesting piece of this week’s puzzle. Now there were some hard hitting emotional moments, but overall the whole thing felt superfluous. Yoyo and Radcliffe track down Mack and Hope and basically just wait around trying to convince him to come back to reality. Now it was cool and creepy seeing people and even landmarks slowly vanishing around them but when you look at how this storyline shakes out it still isn’t really Mack’s choice.
Yoyo accidentally spills the beans about how Hope isn’t real in front of the girl and watching the girl beg to be real and live, the look on her dad’s face, and then Yoyo deciding to stay with them and give up her life for him, thats some heartbreaking stuff. If that wasn’t enough, that scene of Mack holding his daughter only for her to disappear from his arms? Then Yoyo taking his hand as he breaks down? Damn it SHIELD this isn’t a Pixar movie! I shouldn’t be getting this weepy. Of course they both end up leaving the Framework just at the last second and, while both emotionally wrecked, are alive and well. Sadly no happy ending for Radcliffe. As he spends his final moments lamenting the loss of his love and vanishes as he toasts the end of all he built. So yes, the Framework was the least outwardly affecting on the other stories but also the most heartbreaking.
Whew, so now we move on to the Ghost Rider / LMD mashup. We got some amazing action scenes here. Just Robbie retrieving his car gave me chills. That first scene of him confronting Aida and company though was just incredible. His chain whipping through the air, putting a hole through one henchman’s head and burning Aida’s arm terribly with blisters looking ready to pop. Just great effects work both digital and practical. We also find out here that Aida can’t heal from his burns … Oh my Mr. Chekhov, is this your gun on the table? I wonder if this will come into play later …
So much information comes so fast it was hard to keep up with. Aida has a new LMD that turns out to be a Russian higher up with government access. This allows The Russian to infiltrate a top level meeting and try to throw SHIELD under the bus. Helping this situation is Director Mace’s autopsy has apparently gone public, not only making it appear that he was murdered by Inhumans but also revealing that he was not an Inhuman himself. It appears that regardless of the direction they head next year, SHIELD will be heading back into the shadows one way or another.
So Aida’s goal is to recreate the fascist world of the Framework and she needs her version of the Cambridge incident this time being a Daisy LMD bursting into the meeting and shooting Talbot. Wow, I was genuinely shocked at this move and I was sure he was dead, but somehow he managed to pull through and ends up in a coma. Part of me thinks this would have worked better if they had just killed him off. Talbot has become a bit cartoonish and unnecessary and this would have given a bit more weight to the story.
What we get soon after this though is another action scene. One that is both brutal and beautifully done. Daisy, the real one, confronts Aida and her cronies, including LMD Daisy. But Ghost Rider showing up made short work of the Daisy LMD and after dispatching that one so swiftly, Daisy and Robbie have one of the coolest fights of the season culminating in Robbie launching one in the air with his chain ablaze while Daisy quakes the body into pieces. This was crazy comic book style action in the best way possible. Even Coulson was disappointed he missed out on the team up. The violence of their battle was shocking as well. Aside from the exploding body and the LMD burned to ash, the part where Robbie drills an eyeball out of an LMD was disturbing. Awesome, but disturbing.
We also got a double surprise towards the climax of the episode as Aida goes after Fitz and Simmons and stabs Gemma making her cry out for mercy as Fitz can only stand and watch. Of course she ends up being an LMD but damn for a second there I thought they might actually knock her off. To go from that to a confrontation with Coulson where Aida again is tricked into getting close and then Coulson reveals his big plan, he’s taken on the spirit of vengeance, Ghost Rider.
Coulson turning into the Rider and his struggle with Aida, teleporting to multiple locations only had one drawback, it was too short. Fairly quickly he grabs a hold of Aida and with Fitz looking on ignites her body burning her to a crisp as she screams in terror. Jesus Christ SHIELD, thanks for the nightmare fuel. Again as fantastic as this looked, it was a bit too quick for a villain who we’ve been facing for the bulk of the season. It just felt like they ran out of time. Again, great execution, I just wanted more.
Before heading off, Robbie mentions some deal Coulson made to take the Rider and it sounds like he will be paying a price next season. Guess we’ll be getting another visit from Robbie someday. Also did anyone else notice that when Robbie uses his new skills to open a portal, the effect is nearly identical to the sling rings from Doctor Strange? Nice touch there. So the team is still under suspicion, the Russian LMD’s are presumably still out there, and knowing they will be brought in, the team heads off for a well deserved family meal. It’s there that another clandestine group comes down on them with some impressive tech, freezing everyone in a diner. I’m thinking SWORD, another Marvel agency that focuses on offensive actions rather than SHIELD’s defensive focus. Then the tag showing Coulson locked up in what appears to be a space station? What is going on? So many questions and we’ll have a while to wait as Inhumans will be premiering before we get a new season of SHIELD.
So after all the build up, the multiple storylines, tons of characters, Agents of SHIELD successfully pulled off another season. The move next year to Friday nights doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence but at least we’re guaranteed a full season next year. With all they set up at the end of this season there should be plenty to dig into come next season. They have a lot to live up to but I feel like next year could hit even higher highs!
What did you think of the season finale? Tell us in the comments section below!