Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Season 3 Episode 22

May 18, 2016 | Posted by in TV
Agents of SHIELD

“Ascension”

Season 3 of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD closes off with the promise of a death fulfilled and Hive’s story apparently fully resolved.

Agents of SHIELD

Daisy is still no match for Hive

First off I’ll talk about the resolution of the cliffhanger. I wasn’t sure in the previous review whether Daisy begging for Hive to take her back was genuine or not but I was glad to see that her desire was completely genuine and was only stopped because Lash had built in some kind of immunity when he set her free. Having Daisy want to relapse was a very brave choice as it shows how deep the effect Hive has on people and what that does to them when it is no longer there. It’s complex because Daisy knows rationally that Hive is evil but her desire to feel whole again completely overpowers that to the point that she doesn’t care what she is a part of.

When Hive’s attempt to reconnect with her doesn’t work Daisy’s reaction is to violently attack him as he represents all of the horrible things she is feeling at that point. Every blow she strikes feels fierce and powerful as all of her pain is thrown into this. It’s no accident that Hive has been reliving the memories of the lives he has consumed as it means that there is a lot of Ward in this fight too. Daisy will know that so is able to deal with her hatred for him while he’s at it. It was well choreographed and very easy to invest in as it had been well established exactly what both sides were fighting for. Hive still comes out of this feeling like a significant threat as Daisy doesn’t win the fight but the point of it was never to be victorious as it was a purely emotional act designed to work through some issues.

Hive has been a great villain since he has been introduced and Brett Dalton has really brought the character to life. The different angle on the character being compromised by what was done to him in the previous episode works really well. He’s still driven to accomplish his goal but he is also far from his best which gives him a certain vulnerability that he didn’t have before. He mentions that he needs to work harder to focus and seems to conduct himself with a lot more care than we have seen. It all comes out through the performance and Brett Dalton absolutely nails it.

Agents of SHIELD

Things start to look familiar for Daisy

His scene with Coulson where they talk leader to leader was really well done. Coulson comes alone -or so we think- to show Hive that he’s willing to assume responsibility for his part in creating this whole mess and makes it clear that he is willing to die if that’s the way it has to end. Hive sees Coulson as being similar to him in that they are both leaders of soldiers but the important difference is that Hive manufactures loyalty where Coulson actually earns it. Someone under Hive’s control will blindly obey him where one of Coulson’s agents will disobey him should they feel that his orders are misguided. This is proven by the fact that everyone does disobey him and proves their loyalty to him by keeping him safe through ignoring what he tells them to do. Hive can never have that because of how single minded he is.

Hive also shows his true form in this scene and I really wish he hadn’t because it looks absolutely ridiculous. It robs the scene of a lot of its intimidation factor. The show has gotten this far without relying on showing his true form so I’m curious as to why now was chosen to throw it into the mix. I was happy with Ward’s face representing Hive.

This episode marks the end for Hive who is blown up in the vacuum of space which seems pretty conclusive as exits go. Unfortunately this also means the end for Brett Dalton as an actor on this show which is a real shame as he was a really varied and engaging presence on the show. It’s probably the right time to lose him rather than coming up with increasingly contrived ways to keep him around but all the same he will be missed.

Agents of SHIELD

Hive’s real face – put it away!

I found the final moments with Hive to be really surprising and interesting. Instead of fighting until his last second he ends on a quiet and calm note with acceptance of his fate. It’s also fascinating that he’s curious about death as that is the one thing he has yet to experience so he welcomes it with open arms.

Connected to this is the promised death of a major character since the midpoint of the season. It turns out that the death was Lincoln so not really that major a character and ultimately not that impactful since he’s fairly bland as characters go.

It did work because of the effect it had on Daisy though. The whole thing completely ripped her apart at a point where she was feeling at her most vulnerable. She was dealing with the withdrawal associated with being free from Hive’s influence and the realisation that she couldn’t go back to him so losing the man she loves was that final straw. Lincoln acquits himself heroically with complete confidence in what he is doing to the point that he identifies it as his purpose because he was the only one who could prevent Hive from taking control of the Quinjet by frying the controls and lock it on course. Like Hive he accepts his fate with dignity and the moment they share just before their lives end is really powerful.

Agents of SHIELD

Mack’s new and improved Shotgun Axe

Daisy’s emotional moments over the comms reminded me a little of Peggy’s final conversation with Steve in Captain America: The First Avenger but not done quite as well. A lot of it has to do with the Daisy/Lincoln relationship not feeling real before this point but it’s impossible to deny how excellent a performance Chloe Bennet gives in this scene.

The mechanics of the death really confused me though. Since Daisy had the vision where she saw exactly what happened then surely that means she would have to be there to see it. I kept waiting for a camera to be activated that would let her see inside the cockpit but it never came. The scene plays out exactly as we saw it but there’s no way Daisy could have seen that.

In the previous episode the crucifix was being passed around like a cursed object and that continues into this episode. At first it appears as if there is only one S.H.I.E.L.D. branded jacket to worry about and the last person to wear it gets stuck with having to die. Initially that looks to be Daisy as it helps her keep warm through her withdrawal symptoms but the possibilities are blown wide open when all of the reinforcements that show up are wearing the same jackets so it really does become all about the crucifix.

Agents of SHIELD

Lincoln and Hive share their final moments

Once Daisy realises that events are shaping out exactly as she has seen them she goes right into sacrifice mode and is willing to be the one who gives up her life for the good of everyone on Earth. She sees that as being her destiny to help make amends for the horrible things she has done but never quite gets to since Lincoln takes the opportunity away from her. Coulson’s line about him making up for everyone’s mistakes was really powerful but the whole situation was pretty heavy on the Jesus imagery since Lincoln was effectively dying for the sins of the team with a cross nearby. I don’t think Lincoln has earned the title of Jesus quite yet.

The whole episode works in general as there’s a great sense of pace and tension to it as the limited time frame is made very clear. I found the set pieces to be really exciting throughout and most of the characters managed to get enough time to shine. Fitz taking down Mr. Giyera with an invisible gun, Mack’s awesome looking shotgun axe, Simmons figuring out how to blind the Primitives and Coulson getting to say “help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” when he is communicating via hologram. It was all so tightly constructed and really showed what this show is capable of when it has all of its strengths on display.

I found the flash forward to 6 months in the future to be full of interesting content. Having Daisy on the run as something of an Inhuman Robin Hood makes a kind of sense for her as it puts her back to a similar situation as the beginning of season 1 but she has everything she has learned over the course of the past 3 seasons to inform what she does next. She is keeping her promise to Charles Hinton to look after her family and has been dubbed Quake. It is also revealed that Coulson is no longer the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. but who that is and why that is remain a mystery. Is Nick Fury back in charge or is it Talbot? My money would be on Talbot.

Agents of SHIELD

Daisy on the run

The reveal that Dr. Radcliffe is working on the Life Model Decoy is really exciting as well. Fans have been wondering when these things would show up and it looks like we’re getting them next season. It also seems like his A.I. will be getting a body and may be the villain of the next season. It’s clear that a lot has happened that we need to be caught up on and I’m excited to see what the developments are.

Verdict

An excellent finale that wraps up the Hive story in a really satisfying way with a wonderfully subtle final moment. Lincoln’s death wasn’t as effective as it could have been but the effect on Daisy was powerful. Most of the characters got great moments here and the flash forward to show what will be developed next season was really interesting.

Overall
  • 9/10
    Ascension - 9/10
9/10

Summary

Kneel Before…

  • a satisfying resolution to the Hive story
  • impression set piece moments
  • great moments for most of the characters

Rise Against…

  • the character death not working as well as it could have for a variety of reasons
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User Review
9/10 (2 votes)