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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S3 E22 "Ascension"

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As Hive prepares to convert the world into his personal army, S.H.I.E.L.D. scrambles to mount a counteroffensive.


  • Bittersweet Ending: The team manages to prevent the warhead from exploding in the atmosphere, saving everyone from being turned into a primitive and killing Hive in the process. However, Lincoln gives his life to fly a Quinjet carrying the warhead and Hive into space, and the grief and guilt cause Daisy to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. Meanwhile, Coulson steps down as Director.
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  • Bloodless Carnage: Mack takes an axe to several Primitives and unloads two shotgun shells into another's chest at point-blank range without a drop of blood spilled.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: Daisy leaves S.H.I.E.L.D. to become a vigilante and Coulson and Mack become the ones hunting her.
  • Brick Joke: Mack finally has a real — not MacGyvered — shotgun-axe.
    Mack: I built this thing for a reason.
  • Bullet Catch: Elena attempts this with her Super Speed to protect Mack, but since she's up against a machine gun she misses two and ends up Taking the Bullet instead.
  • Call-Back:
    • Coulson uses a hologram to trick Hive, much like Blake did to him. He even lampshades it.
    • Coulson has a computer interface integrated into his artificial hand, which Fitz added after seeing one used by Radcliffe's assistant in "The Singularity".
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    • Radcliffe mentions that the Life Model Decoys are based on an older S.H.I.E.L.D. program, calling back to Tony Stark mentioning them in The Avengers.
    • Daisy mentions to Robin that she has a friend in the area who also loves animals — which could be a reference to her mind-wiped father, who was seen at the end of season 2 becoming a vet.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The wooden robin is fired for the first time since "Spacetime", but it is not the last time it will be seen.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Crowbar Combatant: Simmons can be seen using a crowbar when the team battles the Primitives aboard the Zephyr.
  • Death Seeker: Daisy thinks a Heroic Sacrifice is the only way to atone for her actions under Hive's thrall.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Lincoln's death affects Daisy so much that she leaves S.H.I.E.L.D. to become a vigilante.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: By the end of the episode, S.H.I.E.L.D. has defeated the same being who originally inspired The Devil in various religions. A literal example of the trope, too, given Hive's resemblance to Cthulhu.
  • Due to the Dead: Daisy, while on the run from S.H.I.E.L.D., helps to relocate Charles's wife and daughter, and gives the latter a wooden robin which Charles carried with him in the episode "Spacetime". She also gives them enough money to start over.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Lincoln admits his feelings for Daisy as he flies the Quinjet into space to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: In the words of Lincoln, in response to his Heroic Sacrifice:
    Lincoln: Saving the girl I love and the world at the same time? Sounds pretty right to me.
  • Dying Truce: Since they both know they're going to die in seconds, Lincoln and Hive spend the time peacefully admiring the earth from afar.
  • Exact Words:
    • Fitz tells Giyera, holding him at gunpoint, that he has a weapon on the Zephyr which Giyera will never see coming unless he lets Fitz live. Giyera buys it and tells Fitz to show him the weapon. Fitz obliges and shoots him with a cloaked handgun, lampshading his use of this trope.
      Fitz: I did tell you, a few times.
    • Lincoln mentions a desire to go travelling and "see the world" after Hive is defeated, and later lampshades the trope in his final conversation with Hive, looking at the Earth from space.
      Lincoln: Well... I got to see the world.
    • When Coulson confronts Hive aboard the Zephyr, he tells Hive, "I gave the order for the others to stay behind," and that he was "prepared" to die. He later informs Hive, "When I gave my team the order to stay behind, they just wouldn't listen." Then when Hive attacks Coulson only to discover he was a hologram all along, Coulson adds, "I said I was willing to die, sure, but I certainly don't want to."
  • Face Death with Dignity: Trapped on the Quinjet with no way to disable the autopilot, Lincoln and Hive have a very calm, cordial talk before their impending deaths.
  • Final Death: The last echoes of Grant Ward, his memories and physical body, are finally gone.
  • Heal It with Fire: All they have to treat Elena's wound with is a blowtorch.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Lincoln shorts out the manual controls on the Quinjet before flying it, the warhead, and Hive into space.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Hive is killed by the very weapon he created to change the world.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Both Hive and Lincoln talk about this in their final moments; humans have a lot of flaws and could be improved but are still worth saving.
  • I Always Wanted to Say That: Coulson notes this just before making his Star Wars Shout-Out below.
  • The Immune: Lash didn't just free Daisy from Hive's control, he made her impervious to any future attempt at reinfecting her.
  • Karmic Death: Fitz gets to kill Giyera, who had tortured Simmons while the two were prisoners of HYDRA, with a gun he had specifically designed to kill him.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: When the Quinjet reaches space and there's no escape from the soon-to-detonate warhead, Lincoln tells Hive that while he could infect him, there'd be no point. Rather than fight his fate, Hive calmly accepts that he's lost and actually seems to look forward to dying, since after living for many thousands of years, death is the only conceivable thing that he has not experienced yet. The two just admire the view and have a friendly chat about Lincoln's sacrifice.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Fitz and Simmons get into the action in this episode. Simmons wields a crowbar against the Primitives and Fitz guns down Giyera with a cloaked handgun. Then, during the fight on the Zephyr One, they take out a Primitive together.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Mack's long-desired shotgun-axe finally shows up, and he says it was purpose-built for just such an occasion.
  • Mole in Charge: When Hive finds Coulson aboard the Zephyr, he decides to kill and possess him so he can take control of S.H.I.E.L.D. from within.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The program Radcliffe runs in the stinger is labeled L.M.D. — comic fans are familiar with the acronym standing for Life Model Decoy.
    • Hive's tentacled form really resembles his comic counterpart from Secret Warriors when revealed in full. However, the color is more characteristic of Apocalypse, whom this incarnation strongly resembles in origins and goals.
    • The newspapers after the timeskip mention several "Quakes" in reference to Daisy's rogue activities. Quake is Daisy's code name in the comics.
    • Radcliffe's A.I. assistant is called AIDA, like Tom Thumb's.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: Lincoln's dead, Daisy's gone rogue, and Coulson is no longer the director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Nothing Left to Do but Die: After bringing the Quinjet to space and with no way to return back to Earth, Lincoln and Hive simply await their deaths.
  • Not Quite Flight: After the six-month timeskip, Daisy is shown using her quake blasts as repulsors to launch herself off the ground.
  • Obi-Wan Moment: Both Hive and Lincoln are reasonably calm, watching the Earth as they wait for the warhead to explode.
  • Pet the Dog: Hive shows a surprisingly human side in his last moments.
  • Reality Ensues: Once the Quinjet is in orbit, it loses maneuverability without an atmosphere to operate in.
  • Red Herring: The cross necklace, which Daisy had seen floating just before the orbital explosion, ends up passing from person to person in the two-part finale, thus never making it clear who would end up with it. The S.H.I.E.L.D. badge, which she's seen someone wearing in the explosion, also becomes this when just about all the cast members are wearing clothing with the badge on their shoulders.
  • Required Secondary Powers: It is noted that Elena is bleeding out from her bullet wounds faster than expected because of the increased metabolism that Super Speed powers likely entail.
  • Retirony: Lincoln announces his plan to leave S.H.I.E.L.D. after stopping Hive. His death is all but assured after that.
  • The Reveal: We finally see Hive's tentacled form, and it's both awesome and horrifying.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Hive tells Daisy that he can't reinfect her thanks to Lash, she flips out and tries to kill him.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Coulson notes how Lincoln's sacrifice makes up for the sins of others... and of course, he does it while battling the original inspiration for Satan in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, while a cross floats by, and he talks about how this was his purpose all along.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: The only reason the cross was an indicator of who would die was because Daisy saw it in the future vision. If she hadn't seen that and told Lincoln about it, he wouldn't have stolen the cross from her before his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Sequel Hook: A six-month timeskip opens up a lot of new threads for next season.
    • Daisy is now a vigilante being hunted by S.H.I.E.L.D., and Coulson is running The Team trying to catch her.
    • Coulson has apparently stepped down as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and someone else has taken the post.
    • Radcliffe has been exonerated (to some extent) and runs an old S.H.I.E.L.D. program labeled L.M.D. to create a body for his A.I. named AIDA.
  • Shout-Out: Coulson takes advantage of his hologram transmission to lean forward and say "Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: After the time-skip, in which she's become a fugitive vigilante, Daisy sports a punk-ish look, including an Expository Hairstyle Change.
  • Stealth Pun: This episode takes place shortly after Captain America: Civil War, meaning that the Civil War was followed by the death of Lincoln.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Hive really did want to make the Earth a better place. Lincoln acknowledges his good intentions in their final moments.
  • Taking the Bullet: When a mook tries to shoot Mack with a machine gun, Elena uses her speed to jump in front of him and catch most of the bullets. Unfortunately, she misses two and gets hit in the stomach.
  • Taking You with Me: Daisy plans to do this to Hive by having the warhead blow up in the Quinjet with them both in it after flying it into space. Lincoln ends up doing it for her.
  • Time Skip: Six months have passed after S.H.I.E.L.D. has stopped Hive's Evil Plan. Somewhere along the line, Daisy has gone rogue, Coulson is no longer Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Radcliffe has made a body for AIDA, his A.I., using S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Life Model Decoy program.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: In this episode, we find out which of the cast dies in the flash-forward that was shown halfway through the season, and in Daisy's vision. It's Lincoln.
  • Took a Level in Kindness:
    • For most of Radcliffe's appearances, while he's horrified by what his work has done, he still shows clear For Science! tendencies. Post-Time Skip, however, he's struck up a friendship with Fitz and Simmons, and ruefully comments on how they've lost too many friends, whereas before, he would be apathetic at best to such things.
    • Hive too, in his final moments, as he is relatively kind and cordial towards Lincoln as he is about to die.
  • Trailers Always Lie: All of the marketing around the "Fallen Agent" storyline included Joey among the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who might die. In the end, he isn't even in this episode.
  • Vigilante Man: A newspaper's headline sums up Daisy's post-time skip status as "Hero or Rogue?"
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Hive says he wanted to make the Earth a better place. Lincoln even believes him.
  • Wham Shot: The timeskip. Daisy is on the run from her former friends, seemingly having become a fugitive vigilante, and Coulson is a field agent.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The fates of Elena and James aren't covered by the timeskip. Elena was last seen being taken to the hospital, while James was knocked out by Lincoln and May on the Zephyr.
    • The possibility of reversing the effects of the Primitive process is floated, with Talbot pressuring Radcliffe to try even though he insists the transformation is permanent. Some Primitives were still alive in S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, so it's not as if the need for a cure had evaporated. Whether or not Radcliffe got around to it during the timeskip isn't made clear.
  • Worst Aid: Trying to cauterize a wound with a propane torch is a terrible idea in real life. This is lampshaded, as it's considered the best of two bad options, the alternative being to let Elena bleed out on the table, and she still needs urgent medical attention.


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