It is the 100th episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! The 100th episode! That’s so crazy! Let’s strap into what is bound to be an emotional roller coaster. If you didn’t see last week’s, click here.
Our episode starts with one of Fitz’s D.W.A.R.F. drones exploring the wreckage of the three Monoliths after last week’s explosion. Where the Monoliths used to be is now a giant rip in spacetime (what we will call “The Rift”). We don’t get a great look, however, as the drone is destroyed… by the alter-ego of May’s dead ex-husband, Lash.
Instead of the regular Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. title card, it glitches through all of them from the past five years.
Fitz calls Coulson and May into his makeshift lab in the Lighthouse – he has something to show them. He shows the footage of his D.W.A.R.F. exploring the lower levels of the bunker, where it found a forest complete with sky underground, below them. His theory is that the Monoliths blew a hole to another dimension. The good news is Daisy may not be responsible for the apocalypse; the bad news is it may have already begun.
Simmons is taking care of the recovering Yo-Yo, who lost her arms last episode in a gruesome attack. Mack comes and visits, and Yo-Yo tells him that the visions that future-Yo-Yo told her are coming true. Meanwhile, in a store room, Deke and Daisy go looking for medication. (Deke tries eating orange-scented disinfectant spray. We love you Deke.) As Deke and Daisy talk about their childhood, they are attacked by a Kree Reaper with an axe, who almost kills Deke. Daisy shoots him, still lacking her powers, and he fades to mist.
Gathered back in Fitz’s lab, he tells the team that, based on the Reaper and the footage he recovered of Lash destroying the drone, the Rift must have torn a portal to a fear dimension. (This is further confirmed by Deke’s admitted fear of pretty forests – he hates bugs.) Fitz deduces that the only way to stop it is for someone to go down and sacrifice themselves. He asks Deke for his anti-gravity belt buckle (which Deke protests heavily, thinking he is asking to sacrifice himself again). He is going to reconfigure it into a Gravitonium bomb to temporarily hold the Rift shut, but someone will need to go down and activate it. Coulson agrees to do it before anyone can even volunteer.
Everyone argues with Coulson, trying to find a better way. Coulson isn’t having it – he is Director, and he is going. He can’t lose anyone else, and he needs Daisy to lead S.H.I.E.L.D. when he is gone. Daisy and Coulson fight, and Daisy yells at him that there is no more S.H.I.E.L.D. to lead. Coulson tries to protest, but is slowly having what appears to be a heart attack from his illness spreading. He passes out.
Coulson wakes up later and finds Deke, sending him on a mission to the surface. As they are all on the Most Wanted registry, he is the only one who can do this.
Coulson returns to a very emotional team, who are also very pissed off with him. He is dying. He knows he is dying, and has since they ran into Ghost Rider last season. He chose not to tell them. Coulson admits that the deal he made with Ghost Rider would burn through the Kree blood serum that is keeping him alive, and a crying Simmons explains that the tissue surrounding his stab wound from Loki simply never recovered – it’s tissue that has been dead for years. There is no cure, and soon, Coulson’s heart will simply stop. Daisy leaves and Coulson finds her, and tries to make her see why she has to lead once he is gone. Sobbing, she tells him that there is no S.H.I.E.L.D. without him. They hug.
Yo-Yo wakes up from a nightmare, and Simmons is there to reassure her. She does admit that the pain is just beginning, and then tells Yo-Yo that they have all suffered enough. She begins to smother her with a pillow. Mack enters and smacks Simmons’ face off, revealing her to be an LMD android. The faceless mass of wires turns towards the team, and the real Simmons shoots it, causing it to fade to mist.
It’s spreading. They need to close this Rift, fast.
Up in River’s End, the cop that arrested Deke last episode takes the information to Hale. One of his officers believes that Daisy Johnson was the one who bailed him out. Meanwhile, Deke passes a pawn shop (the window has a bunch of Coulson-related memorabilia – more on that later) and fails at making a call on a payphone.
May finds Coulson and asks if this is why they have been taking things slow. He considers himself a lost cause, but May says that she gets to decide who she wastes her time on. They talk about Daisy leading the team when he is gone, but Coulson admits that though he has made peace with death, he is no hurry; he intends to close the Rift and return alive. He leaves to find Fitz, who gives him a containment suit and the Gravitonium bomb. Before he leaves, he makes Fitz promise that he will “go through with their other plan”. Fitz protests, but Coulson says that people need something to believe in.
Coulson heads down to the basement, and instantly loses communication with the rest of the team. While down there, he discovers his worst fear:
Wait, Mike Peterson!?
It’s Deathlok! It’s Deathlok before he was Deathlok!
Mike Peterson was the subject of the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s very first mission, in their very first episode. He’s even dressed the same.
Mike explains that he is a manifestation of Coulson’s mind, but he isn’t Coulson’s worst fear. He says that Coulson’s worst fear is dying. He explains that none of these past five years even happened: Coulson was just stabbed through the heart by Loki, and doctors are struggling to revive him. They’re failing. He himself is just an EMT standing over him. Coulson never went to Tahiti, or space, or the future – he created this world to teach the students he never got to teach (like Fitz and Simmons), to raise the daughter he never had (like Daisy), to build a team, to be a hero. What makes more sense – that Coulson’s head was on fire, or that electrodes attached to his brain hurt? That he went to an alternate dimension where he was a history teacher, or that he was reminiscing about time lost with his dad, who was a history teacher?
This is getting deep, man.
Waiting for any sign of life from below, the team are startled not to hear from Coulson, but from an incoming plane. Dammit, did Deke get caught? They prepare to dock, and Daisy and May pull out pistols – only to see a Quinjet land. Aboard is Deke, with all the remaining S.H.I.E.L.D. redshirts. Also on board is Deathlok, (the real Mike Peterson), and Agent Davis.
Long time, no see, guys!
Deke, you can be a hero sometimes.
Down below, Mike tells Coulson that the scariest thing to face is dying, but he is ready to walk into the light. He gestures towards the Rift. Coulson admits that he isn’t buying it, so the Mike-thing gets angry and tries to drag Coulson there himself. Suddenly, he turns to mist as the real Deathlok shoots a rocket at him.
Deathlok, saving the day!
Deathlok flips over Coulson, shooting vrellnexians and Lash and other manifestations with his rockets like a total BAMF. Coulson activates the bomb, and it starts pulling him and Deathlok in. In a last ditch effort, we see the scariest manifestation of all: Hive himself. Coulson and Deathlok tag team him and take it out, closing the Rift.
They did it! No one died!
In River’s End, Hale’s assistant Candice tells her that they were unable to find any information on Deke Shaw; it’s like he doesn’t exist. She suspects him of being an LMD. She also reports that there have been multiple Daisy Johnson sightings all over the place. Hale sighs and realizes it’s a diversion, calling off the investigation.
Coulson enters the elevator after his mission and stands with Fitz and Deke.
Fitz is really well-dressed. Could it be…?
Fitz is glad Coulson made it, and they agree they have one hero to thank. Deke, thinking they mean him, goes on a way-too-long humblebrag monologue including planting fake Daisy sightings, Zima and tucking his pants into his shoes so insects can’t crawl up. Fitz and Coulson both reiterate that they obviously meant Deathlok. Coulson then points out that the elevator has been stoppes for over a minute, and asks if Fitz is stalling.
Don’t worry; it’s gonna be great.
The elevator doors open and we see the forest that should not exist, not yet collapsed from the containment of the Rift. In it stands some assorted S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Simmons is there in a flowing white dress, holding a bouquet of flowers.
It’s happening! I’m so happy I could cry!
Eagle-eyed fans may have noticed their wedding rings in Robin’s visions of the future. (They also noticed Yo-Yo wearing full-sleeved gloves.) I did not. Kudos to them!
Next to Simmons is her maid of honor Daisy and her one solitary bridesmaid, May.
(Pickings were slim.)
Fitz takes his place next to his best man Mack, who is excitedly filming the ceremony on his phone for Yo-Yo, and his groomsman Davis. Coulson takes his place as the officiant, and not wanting to waste another second with all this couple has been through, the wedding begins.
As Fitz and Simmons tearfully exchangs their beautiful vows, Deke and Deathlok share polite smalltalk about life as a cyborg. No one objects, and it is time for the exchanging of rings, which Deke got at a pawn shop (alongside Simmons’ dress and Fitz’ suit). He specifically picked Simmons’ ring because it looked just like the one his mom (and prior, his grandma) used to wear.
In River’s End, Candice runs a DNA scan on Deke Shaw to rule out the possibility of him being an android. His DNA didn’t come up with a match in their Most Wanted database: it came up with two.
Dr. Leopold Fitz and Dr. Jemma Simmons.
Deke is their grandson! That’s why the ring is his grandma’s ring! They don’t know! Aaaaah! Fitz and Simmons have a daughter! They have a family!
At the wedding, Deathlok asks if Deke is here for the bride or the groom. He replies, to be honest, he doesn’t really know either.
Wow, what an episode. It really felt like a tribute to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., both what it has been and what it has become. The clear setting up for Coulson’s death before faking us out with a wedding was clever.
I loved this episode a lot, and it is one of the best-acted in the series. It also felt very Buffyesque. The fan service was also on point, seeing old familiar faces. I do feel more could be done with the Rift – but I suspect that this is not the last time we will be seeing it.
I give this episode a 9.5/10, and in the words of Jemma Simmons, I can’t wait to share our next adventure together.
Tune in next week for the 101st episode.