Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 03×21 – Absolution

The two-part finale! The beginning of the end!

The thing we need to remember going into the finale is that someone is going to die. They will die in an explosion in a Quinjet while wearing a S.H.I.E.L.D. jacket and a holding a cross necklace. This is all we know.

This episode starts right where we left off – Daisy and a dying Coulson are trapped in a containment module on the alien planet Maveth.

Wait, what? Did we miss something? Are we going in media res here?

As Daisy tries to fix something with a lot of wires, Coulson and Daisy are discussing their own survival, seeing how everyone else died and they are the only ones left. Daisy is wearing the cross necklace.

Current “Hot Potato of Death” candidate: Daisy Johnson.

Daisy reveals that once she connects the wires, she can pilot them back to Earth – but Coulson exclaims that this is Earth. Then Daisy wakes up in her holding cell.  That makes a lot more sense.

In real life, May is piloting a Quinjet with Mack, Yo-Yo, and Lincoln ready to go on a mission. Lincoln and Yo-Yo are wearing Stark murder vests, and hands Mack the killswitch watches, just in case.

Simmons approaches Daisy in her room and asks if she remembers any pertinent information. Daisy does not – Hive’s followers tell him everything, but he does not return the favor. Simmons tells her that they are chasing a new lead on a missile silo in the Pacific, who’s staff went silent hours ago.

Pay attention, because things are about to move quickly!

As Hive and his army get ready to launch the missile, Coulson and his team are racing against the clock to stop it. Hive has Giyera on the lookout for S.H.I.E.L.D. aircraft. Our four-man crew touches ground on the island in a cloaked Quinjet and makes their way to the base under Giyera’s nose. At the Playground, Talbot asks his superior General Andaz for nuclear kill codes, and he refuses – but unknowingly divulges the location of the codes and allows enough time for Fitz to scan his face. Coulson heads to the location while May and Lincoln split off from Mack and Yo-Yo to get an uplink in place.

Against a green-screen approximating Andaz’ office, Talbot and a mo-capped Andaz (played by an unconvincing Fitz) ask the undersecretary for the kill codes. He tells them the codes must be delivered in person, so they inform him that they have a high-level A.T.C.U. agent outside.

As the missile launch sequence on the island begins it’s countdown, Coulson pulls up at the Defense Logistics Building and is handed the codes. Meanwhile, May and Lincoln have hacked into the system and established a connection (with bonus security feeds). With twenty seconds on the clock, Coulson reads the page-long kill code over his comms to Fitz, who is disabling the missile remotely via the uplink. Simmons asks Daisy what Hive meant about “absolution”, and Daisy proclaims that Hive thinks he is a savior.

With less than five seconds on the countdown, Hive watches as the missile sequence is overridden. An annoyed Giyera points out that it can only be overridden from the base. After much protesting, Hive sends general surgeon Dr. Radcliffe to bypass the override with two Alpha Primitives. For the first time, Hive is truly angry.

In the server room, Lincoln watches Hive order a sweep of the base. He is relieved that Lash (uh, Andrew) didn’t die in vain and Daisy’s intel panned out. May accuses him of trying to make them both feel better and tells him to stop. As May makes her way to secure the warhead, Lincoln spots a security camera and realizes that Hive knows where they are.

In the hallway, Mack and Yo-Yo are setting up a mysterious machine affixed to the walls. Yo-Yo is complaining about Mack’s turtle speed – and no, this isn’t a “super-speed” thing, they have to go and get the hostages! Mack says that they need to get it right – if Hive makes it through, they’ll all die. Yo-Yo gives Mack her killswitch and says she would rather die than be anyone’s slave. He tries to return her cross necklace, saying she needs it more than he does – but she gets angry. It’s not a lucky rabbit’s foot, it’s a symbol of faith. Mack pockets the necklace.

Current “Hot Potato of Death” candidate: Alphonso Mackenzie.

Yo-Yo doesn’t even know the necklace means death, and she still doesn’t want it!

At the Playground, Coulson and Fitz discuss Mack’s mission as they examine the disassembled Theta Brain-Wave Frequency Machine; the device that recalls repressed memories. Coulson comments that they are up against every person Hive has ever been.

I see what they’re gonna do here.

Simmons arrives and says that Daisy is awake, but has no idea what “absolution” means. Coulson goes to see her and updates her that they stopped the missile launch, and asks again if she remembers anything. She doesn’t, but is she is mopey about the things she did under Hive’s sway. Coulson informs her that her lockdown is temporary and she demands that he makes them permanent – she belongs in prison and doesn’t deserve his friendship. Coulson protests that Daisy was brainwashed, and she points out that Ward was brainwashed too. An exasperated Coulson exclaims that she was just going through withdrawals, but she is hearing none of it – she says she wants to feel this pain until she finds Hive. Coulson warns her that he tried revenge and it doesn’t work out, and Daisy begs to be put in the memory machine so she can remember everyone she’s hurt. Coulson tells her that they brought the T.B.W.F. machine out of storage – but not for her.

In the server room, Hive is looking for Lincoln and taunting him. He claims that he was able to give Daisy belonging and acceptance that Lincoln never could, and he knows it. Lincoln comes out of the shadows to confront Hive, exclaiming that he will never see Daisy again. Hive challenges him to destroy Ward’s body; he’ll just take over a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent next. Lincoln runs and Hive follows. Lincoln makes his way to the hallway with Mack and Yo-Yo, and says they need the device ready now, as Hive turns the corner. Mack orders the Inhumans to stay back, but Yo-Yo runs forward and grabs two wires. She complains that Mack is too slow, and hands the wires to Lincoln, who surges electricity through them. The machine powers on, and Hive suddenly remembers every memory of every body he’s inhabited. He screams that this won’t kill him, and Mack agrees – but it’ll suck. Yo-Yo runs to get the hostages as Hive writhes in pain and Lincoln admits that he can’t hold it much longer. They decide not to wait around to see the results and run.

Complaining to his Alpha Primitives (whom he has named Ronald and Ronald Two) about how he knows nothing about rocket science or engineering, Radcliffe decides they are going to have to help him. He begs them to remember any skills from when they were human, and they pick up a hammer and pliers. That’s a start. As he tries to figure out how to bypass the override, May shows up with a gun and recoils at the sight of Ronald and Ronald Two. Radcliffe admits they aren’t his proudest achievement. May demands the warhead, but more Primitives show up and fight May.

As Yo-Yo frees the hostages on the base, Giyera and Hellfire arrive by Hive’s side – and Hive starts quoting the memories of Ward, Will, and Nathaniel, confusing and concerning the living hell out of the Inhumans. Hive exclaims that he just wants a connection and realizes that, in his words, “they need to disconnect in order to make a connection.” He orders Giyera to disconnect the warhead “for absolution”. James still doesn’t know what is going on, but follows. Hive continues to repeat memories alone to himself. (Himselves?)

As May takes out the Alpha Primitives, Dr. Radcliffe shoots one and asks May to take him with her back to S.H.I.E.L.D. – but then suddenly the warhead of the missile starts moving. May realizes Giyera is moving it and that they need to escape. Mack, Lincoln, Yo-Yo, Radcliffe, May and several hostages escape (and Yo-Yo complains about the tiny plane). As they are about to board, Hive staggers out and tries to sway Lincoln and Yo-Yo – but before he can release his spores, Yo-Yo puts a homing disc beneath him. It summons a gel matrix cube, and Hive is frozen in gel in a definitely-not-coincidental Han Solo carbonite position. Lincoln proudly exclaims that they caught Hive.

And we’re only a quarter done the finale!

In her cell below the hangar, Daisy hears commotion on the base and wonders what is going on. Talbot congratulates Coulson for bringing in Hive – they stopped the nuke, caught Hive and rescued the hostages. Finally, a success. Coulson points out the warhead containing the Terrigen pathogen is still in play, so the mission isn’t over yet. Talbot agrees, and also wants a way to reverse the Primitives. May brings in Radcliffe, who says the process is irreversible. Talbot tells him to reverse it anyway or he will become one, and he proclaims that Talbot is almost as scary as Hive. Coulson reintroduces him to Fitz and Simmons, and they start working on a way to disable the warhead and neutralize the pathogen before it hurts anyone.

Coulson tells Mack and Lincoln that they need to find Hive’s base of operations, and orders that the Playground go into lockdown – as long as they have Hive, Giyera and James will come looking for him. He commends Lincoln on his performance on the island, and officially offers him the position of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Lincoln admits that he doesn’t want to be an agent anymore. He says that Coulson’s team is made of heroes, and he isn’t one – once this is over, he is leaving to explore the world. Coulson thinks he is making a mistake, and says that he should stay for Daisy. Lincoln says he has nothing to offer Daisy that she wants or needs. Mack asks if anyone informed Daisy they caught Hive yet, and Coulson says that it isn’t a good idea and they should follow protocols. Mack leaves to tell Daisy anyway, and leaves the cross necklace behind.

Current “Hot Potato of Death” candidate: No one.

In Daisy’s cell, Mack tells Daisy that they got Hive. She thanks him for the update, but tells him he should obey protocol. He says he doesn’t give a damn; she’s his partner. She says they aren’t partners anymore and points out what happened last time they met (she shattered his ribs). Mack says he forgives her. Daisy, taken aback, angrily states that she didn’t ask to be forgived – but Mack forgives her anyway. He tries to hug her and she resists. Eventually, she gives in to his embrace, sobbing, claiming she doesn’t deserve this.

In the lab, Fitz complains that it will take decades before they find a cure. He asks what Simmons is working on, and she lies rather obviously. Fitz approaches her computer and ruins the surprise – she was booking a trip for two to the Seychelles. Fitz playfully calls it uncharacteristic and claims that he is the romantic one, but doesn’t think it’s the best time to leave. Simmons disagrees; after they catch Hive, they need a vacation – and she’s going to do something on the island that will take Fitz’ breath away. Fitz’ mind goes places, before she reveals that she is going to take him snorkeling. Fitz gets an alert that Hive’s gel matrix cube needs to be inspected and signed off on before it’s allowed in the base, and leaves to the hangar. He puts on a S.H.I.E.L.D. jacket, and picks up the cross necklace, asking who it belongs to. Simmons tells him it’s Yo-Yo’s, and he helpfully decides to return it to her. He puts it in his coat pocket and leaves.

Current “Hot Potato of Death” candidate: Leopold Fitz.

In Daisy’s cell, she asks Mack what it’s like for a man of faith to comes face to face with the devil. He tells her that he doesn’t believe Hive is the devil. Daisy points out that he makes you do terrible things to the people you love, and love him for it; if he isn’t the devil, he’s the closest they’ll ever see. She demands that Hive be destroyed, because he can’t be contained. Mack says that the devil is also capable of consuming people with rage and hatred, and Daisy claims this isn’t about revenge. Mack points out that Coulson is locking down the base; they’re safe.

As Mack says this, Coulson puts the base into lockdown.

Fitz signs off on the gel matrix container, and asks O’Brien when the hangar door is going to get fixed. He reveals they have engineers working on it – they were waiting on a parts shipment. O’Brien then starts examining a package that was delivered, and Fitz realizes that it was delivered from Absolution, Montana. Before Fitz can stop O’Brien, Giyera and James detonate the warhead and the Terrigen pathogen starts leaking into the hangar. O’Brien inhales the smoke and immediately undergoes Terrigenesis, becoming a Primitive.

Simmons questions what the noise was, and Coulson reveals that there was an explosion in the hangar. Worried for Fitz’ safety, Simmons asks what she can do. In the hangar, Fitz is trying to re-enter the base, but the base is on lockdown. The Primitive O’Brien pulls another agent into the smoke, and he becomes a Primitive too. Simmons demands that Coulson unlocks the door, and he says he can’t; they’re on lockdown. He pages Fitz and lets him know that they are working on getting him out there. Meanwhile, the two Alpha Primitives pull two more agents into the mist, doubling their ranks. As the two remaining agents try to use Icers on the Primitives in vain, a terrified Fitz explains how to override the lockdown for this specific door and Lincoln volunteers, but the server room is on the other side of the base. Simmons attempts to recreate a code that she saw Fitz use to override the lockdown, but she’s a biochemist and not an engineer. As the two agents are dragged into the mist, Simmons gets the door open and Fitz escapes, beating back the Primitives with a fire estinguisher.

After trying to break down the door, the Alpha Primitives instead turn their attention the gel matrix cube and free Hive. Yo-Yo exclaims that there are S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel in the hangar, and Coulson sadly proclaims they need to cut their losses.

In her cell, Daisy and Mack are horrified as they come to the conclusion that – because of what Daisy has told him – Hive has the plans to the Zephyr One and knows it has high altitude capabilities. He no longer has a nuclear missile, but he has his delivery system. Mack leaves the cell to warn the others. Agents volunteer to stop Hive as he approaches the plane, but Coulson doesn’t want anyone to die or be swayed. Meanwhile, Daisy hacks her way out of the cell beneath the hangar and raises the containment unit – making her way to the Zephyr.

Hive is fried and still having trouble remembering how to fly, when an angry Daisy confronts him. She asks if he has any idea what he has done to her, and he admits that he does. He notices she is in pain. Daisy then does the unexpected – she gets down on her knees and begs Hive to take her back.

Thus ends the first half of the finale. Though it is never fair to judge a two-parter by it’s first part, I will be forced to do so. This episode was an 8/10 – it’s clearly a set-up episode, but it had some great moments and it’s interesting speculating who is going to die at this point. Lincoln and Yo-Yo definitely finally feel like they belong, and that doesn’t bode well for either of them. Neither does Lincoln leaving to see the world or Fitz and Simmons’ vacation. What’s next? May is retiring tomorrow? Mack just found out he’s going to be a dad?

I don’t have any theories or speculation this episode, as it was a two-parter and I watched them together. However, at this point, the TV was paused and I was asked by my sister-in-law who I thought would die; I came to the conclusion that May was the most likely candidate. However, she thought it would be a redeemed Ward, another friend guessed Fitz and my brother guessed Mack, so it was up in the air at this point. Currently, however, Fitz holds the necklace.

Will he be the fallen agent? We will find out next episode.