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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S5E22 "The End"

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S.H.I.E.L.D. is faced with their hardest choice — save their beloved leader or save the world.


Tropes in this episode:

  • All or Nothing: Daisy describes the choice to try to defeat Talbot using the Centipede-Odium option as this, as if it doesn't work, Coulson would have died for nothing.
  • Always Save the Girl: May breaks the vial of Odium and simply decides that saving Coulson with Centipede Serum is her preferable choice — and that of basically the entire team, minus Yo-Yo — despite the fact that they risk the entire Earth by doing so.
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  • Backup Twin: Or rather, back-up past version which is still out there in space, in Fitz's case. He's a couple of months younger than the version who died, but Jemma only has to find him.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Fitz's death gets a triple bait-and-switch: He is crushed by falling debris, and is almost certainly dead. Then the hopeful music plays as his hand reaches out from under the rubble, showing he's alive after all. Then when they lift the rubble off him, it's revealed that his abdomen has been sliced open and he's bleeding out much too fast to be saved. Then it's revealed that the team is going to go look for the cryogenically preserved Fitz on Enoch's spaceship, waiting to be thawed out in the future. Since they've prevented the Bad Future from occurring, Fitz doesn't have to go there anymore, so they can wake him up early.
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    • After Mack informs Simmons of Fitz's death, we see shots of a memorial plaque being engraved and drinks being poured for what is seemingly a wake of sorts for Fitz. Turns out it's actually a retirement party for Coulson and the plaque is for him as well since he only has at most a few weeks left to live. The team is not grieving over Fitz, because they plan to go find the past version of him that is frozen up in space with Enoch.
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Daisy chooses Mack to be the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., a decision Coulson wholeheartedly approves of.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Averted. Following up from the previous episode, Talbot's powers don't protect him from vacuum conditions — so when Daisy quakes him into space, he's done for.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mack and Polly are trapped by the Remorath, but May and Fitz come to the rescue. For bonus irony, this is most likely where Mack and Polly both died originally, which would mean that Fitz — who believed that it was impossible to alter the timeline — just altered the timeline.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: Talbot is killed by Daisy, preventing the destruction of Earth and breaking the loop, but after we are reminded in dialogue that he has a young son who had last looked upon his father with fear and concern. Fitz dies, but his past self is still cryogenically frozen in space, ready to be woken up. Deke appears to have been erased from history, as the Bad Future he came from no longer exists. May and Coulson leave the team to spend whatever little time Coulson has left together. However, Taryan and the Confederacy are still out there — and of course, the outcome of Infinity War will still happen; based upon the timeframe of the final few episodes of the season, it's possible that this could have occurred within minutes of the episode's conclusion.
  • Book-Ends:
    • The first scene of "Orientation, Part 1" was a picture Robin drew of two people on a beach with palm trees on Enoch's refrigerator. The last shot of the episode is Coulson and May standing on a beach in Tahiti.
    • It's also a book end for Coulson's entire Series arc, of sorts. He was brought back from the dead by the T.A.H.I.T.I. protocol, and will now live out the rest of his days at the real life Tahiti.
    • Gravitonium is involved in one of the first missions Coulson's team accomplished since its formation and was the team's final mission before a membership overhaul.
  • Brick Joke: Where does Coulson decide to retire and spend his final days? Tahiti. The real one this time.
  • But Now I Must Go:
    • Deke leaves early on in the episode, figuring that either the world will be destroyed on schedule or it'll be saved and thus he'll be Ret Goned out of existence. Either way, he wants to enjoy the world while he still can.
    • Coulson isn't dead yet, but he will be very soon, so he retires from the team to enjoy what little time he has left with May.
  • Call-Back:
    • Talbot noted in an earlier episode that he doesn't need a spaceship to fly through space, just to breathe in it. Daisy kills him by quaking him so hard he reaches escape velocity and is launched into space, where he suffocates to death.
    • The first shot of season 5 was a drawing by Robin, showing two people, a man and a black-haired woman, holding hands at a beach. The last shot of this episode and season shows Coulson and May holding hands as they prepare to spend Coulson's last days in Tahiti.
    • Apparently, Tahiti really is a magical place.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Daisy acknowledges that she isn't fit to be a leader, and her last order as (acting) Director to name Mack the new Director.
  • Character Death: Talbot and Fitz both die here, though Fitz's past version is still alive in space and the team is going to retrieve him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Fitz dies after saving Polly Hinton from the Remorath warship, but the team realize that his past self is still on ice somewhere in space along with Enoch, so their new mission is to find him.
  • Choosing Death: Coulson refuses to take the Centipede Serum. He instead gives it to Daisy as a power-booster in her fight against Talbot.
  • The Constant: The Lake Ontario post card with Fitz's "Working on it" note. Jemma plans to show it to the version of Fitz currently frozen in space as proof that the timeline can indeed be altered.
  • Continuity Lockout: Enforced. The final four episodes of the season coincide with the events of Infinity War, occurring within the span of twenty-four hours, so the final few minutes do not spoil the events of the film for those who have yet to see it, as opposed to Season 1's Winter Soldier spoilers.
  • Continuity Nod: (The real) May finally gets to drink some Haig. She serves it to everyone at Coulson's farewell party and is seen taking the bottle with her when she leaves the hangar, presumably to stow it in her luggage so she and Coulson can share the rest of it.
  • Cutting the Electronic Leash: As everyone says their goodbyes to Coulson, Mack says he'll make sure to call him as often as he can, to which Coulson replies that his phone is going straight into the ocean.
  • Cutting the Knot: May solves the dilemma of saving Coulson or killing Talbot by smashing the vial of Odium.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: S.H.I.E.L.D. hijacks the phones of everyone in Chicago to give them instructions on where to flee and warn off the authorities from trying to fight Talbot. Apparently they've done enough to repair their reputation (again) that everyone who hears the message is supremely grateful and don't hesitate to do as told.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Or a building, in Fitz's case. His death is extremely sudden. Funny enough, nobody really bothers to mourn him, as there is another version out there, waiting to be found by the team.
  • End of an Era: This episode officially brings Coulson's tenure as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent to an end; he's explicitly not coming back next season.
  • Exact Words:
    • Before Daisy is about to confront Talbot, Coulson tells her that he's "given her all the tools she needs" to face him, and if talking to him doesn't work, she should "find the strength in her arms" to beat him. It turns out he slipped the Centipede serum syringe into her gauntlets.
    • Daisy tries to get through to Talbot with a Rousing Speech and says they should "join forces". Talbot thinks that's a great idea.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Despite only having a few weeks left at best, Coulson does not plan on letting it get him down, instead he wants to spend his last days as well as possible alongside May. He also wants to go parasailing, as it's the one thing from his bucket list that he hasn't done.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since Infinity War happened around the same time the event that tore Earth apart would have happened, we know Earth survives past the film's end, so of course the team had to prevent the Bad Future from happening to enable the ending of the film.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: After injecting herself with the Centipede serum, Daisy's eyes glow red with the extremis part of the formula, and she blasts Talbot off into space.
  • A God Am I: Talbot said he was becoming the most powerful being in the universe. That is the most explicit of his worsening god-complex.
  • Grave Humor: Not a gravestone, but Coulson's memorial plaque notes that "He gave us his wisdom, his love, and his life (a couple of times)".
  • The Heart: Daisy chooses Mack to be the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. because he has the biggest heart on the team, metaphorically and literally.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Coulson gives up the Centipede Serum to Daisy and is now going to die.
    • Fitz was previously supposed to be invincible by way of the timeline, but by convincing May to board the ship with him to look for Mack and Polly, he sealed his own fate instead.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Daisy's Rousing Speech to Talbot about heroes seems to have gotten through to him, as he takes her hand to stand back up. Then he says that both Coulson and Hale have given him near-identical speeches in the past right before screwing him over (and in Hale's case, torturing him), and that he's not going to fall for it this time.
    • Fitz at first appears to survive the debris falling on him. Then Mack lifts some of it off and we see that he's too badly wounded to be saved, bleeding out shortly after.
  • Ironic Echo: In the previous episode, Talbot makes a point of mentioning that he doesn't need a spaceship to fly in space, but he does need one in order to breathe. This ends up being Foreshadowing for the finale as he dies after being blown into orbit by Daisy, where he can't breathe (and is visibly frozen while drifting towards the sun).
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Fitz dies after some debris cuts his abdomen and he bleeds out before he can be saved. However, in a subversion, the team decides to Screw Destiny and find Fitz's past counterpart, who is still out in space as a Human Popsicle (as per Enoch) and now no longer needs to be because they've broken the sequence of events that led to the Bad Future.
    • Talbot gets this quite straight when he is thrown into orbit by Daisy. Even if that didn't kill him, eventually atmospheric re-entry would do the job. We see him freeze solid from the coldness of space.
  • Kirk Summation: Daisy tries to reason with Talbot by pointing out the destruction he's causing, and how he doesn't need superpowers to be a hero. Talbot responds with Shut Up, Kirk!.
  • Law of Inverse Recoil: Averted. The Quake blast that sends Talbot into outer space is strong enough to crack the ground below Daisy; she was lying down as she performed her Finishing Move.
  • Little "No": Yo-Yo lets out several, when May breaks the vial of Odium, because she believes the future can no longer be changed.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: This episode shows what Team Coulson was doing during Infinity War. It may not have been a reality-warping titan, but they were still plenty busy.
  • Made of Iron: The Meteor Move that Talbot pulls on Daisy would probably pulverize a normal human being. Other than Daisy's quaking abilities, we previously never saw how resilient she actually is, so her ability to survive that seems rather out of thin air. However, we have seen her survive a fall from a great height by quaking the ground below her, so that's what she probably did.
  • Meteor Move: Talbot grabs Daisy, lifts them both above the skyscrapers, then slams her down into the street, creating a sizable crater. It doesn't kill her, but she's weak enough that she can no longer put up a fight.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Davis drags a dying Coulson onto the Zephyr One, Elena immediately realizes that she wasn't ready to see Coulson die, outright saying "What have I done?!" while trying to revive him.
  • Mythology Gag: Daisy attempting to reason with Talbot is similar to the ending of the Civil War. In the comic, seeing the damage around him causes Captain America to stop fighting Iron Man and surrender. Here, it is not enough to get Talbot to stand down, since both Hale and Coulson had tricked him in the past.
  • Only Sane Man: When everybody is arguing again on what to do with the Centipede Serum, Mack calmly proposes to put it to a vote. May smashes the Odium before they can decide.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: In "The Last Day", Voss shows Daisy silent footage of her leaving a Quinjet while arguing with someone aboard, claiming it to be the last anyone ever saw of her and afterwards, the world cracked apart. The scene comes to fruition, and Daisy is revealed to be arguing for Coulson to return and take the serum to save his life, but the team has figured out a way to Take a Third Option and she succeeds in changing the future.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Robin, the poster child for Dissonant Serenity, gets genuinely upset when Talbot separates her from her mother, Polly.
  • Passing the Torch: After Daisy steps down, Mack is now Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., with Coulson's approval.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Yo-Yo is pretty blunt in telling off the rest of the team on how Coulson's life apparently matters more to them than the fate of the entire Earth. Daisy agrees with her, and this is the main reason she appoints Mack the new Director.
  • Ret Gone: After the world is saved and the Stable Time Loop is broken, Deke disappears since the Bad Future he comes from will no longer come to pass. At the end of the episode, his room at the Lighthouse, which was shown earlier to be packed to the ceiling with hoarded junk, is now completely spotless since he never existed to fill it with junk in the first place. Both versions of Fitz's pocket tool were also shown sitting on the table in his room, and now only the original is left. Even if Past Fitz is rescued, the chain of events that led to FitzSimmons Jr. hooking up with Owen Shaw wouldn't happen.
  • Retired Badass: Both Coulson and May retire at the end of the episode so they can spend what time Coulson has left with each other. Given the circumstances, it is left ambiguous as to whether May is retired for good, although hints in this direction had been dropped earlier in the season, particular after the leg injury she sustained upon arrival in the future.
  • The Reveal: It turns out that in the original timeline, it wasn't Daisy who destroyed the world, but Talbot after absorbing Daisy. Why Daisy got blamed even by her friends remains a Riddle for the Ages, although perhaps the victorious Confederacy deliberately spread stories blaming her to keep suspicion away from the fact that a mortal being can absorb and manipulate gravitonium, or the timeline was already changed and Talbot wasn't originally to have absorbed the gravitonium.
  • Screw Destiny:
    • Despite all the fatalistic warnings that the time loop couldn't be broken, the team does exactly that, saving the world from being shattered. Even Robin can detect that something is different when Jemma finds the Centipede Serum missing and Daisy pulls it out of her gauntlet. To hammer the point home, Robin's drawings of the Bad Future are burned and the last piece of the White Monolith is shattered.
    • When Mack heads into the Remorath ship to rescue Polly, Fitz and May realize that those two didn't survive in the future and choose to board the ship themselves to avert that fate. Doing so saves Mack and Polly, but Fitz is killed by some rubble as they're exiting the vessel. However, the team opts to Screw Destiny yet again by rescuing the previous Fitz from cryostasis.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The team manages to break the loop that kept resulting in the destruction of Earth, the death of Mack and the enslavement of the surviving humans at the hands of the Kree.
  • Series Fauxnale: When this episode was written, the production team didn't know if the show would be renewed for another season or not, so it was written to be able to fit with either scenario. The show ended up getting renewed a week before this episode aired for a sixth season, albeit one that will not air until after the fourth Avengers movie is released.
  • Shooting Superman: As the cops are trying to order Talbot to stand down, a civilian points out to one of them that guns aren't likely to be of much use against him. The cop stares at his weapon for a moment, then agrees. They're both right, as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents fired at him earlier, and he just pulled the bullets into orbit around himself before sending them right back.
  • Small Steps Hero: What are Mack's first orders as Director when S.H.I.E.L.D. reaches Chicago? To save lives.
  • So Proud of You: Coulson's parting words with Daisy are how proud he is of her, and that he loves her. He also left a letter in her bunk with words to the same effect.
  • Space Is Cold: Talbot's body floating in space develops a layer of ice over it, making him the third character in the MCU to fall victim to this trope (after Yondu and Ebony Maw).
  • The Stinger: Averted, unlike nearly every episode of the series, presumably as a result of it being a Series Fauxnale — they hadn't expected another season, and so didn't include a teaser for it.
  • Take a Third Option: It seems that Team Coulson has two choices: lace the Centipede serum with Jiaying's DNA to save Coulson, or with Odium to stop Talbot. Coulson ends up sneaking the vial of Centipede serum to Daisy to give her enough power to defeat Talbot. It also comes in handy to heal the injuries inflicted by Talbot's Meteor Move attack.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Daisy tries to talk down Talbot by telling him that he is already a hero as a military man and convince him to stand down. Sadly, it doesn't work, because Hale gave him pretty much the exact same speech right before imprisoning, torturing, and brainwashing him.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The Centipede-enhanced Daisy kills Talbot by quaking him with such force that he reaches escape velocity and breaks free of Earth's gravitational pull. He is last seen drifting through space as an ice cube.
  • Tonight Somebody Dies: The trailer teased that not everybody from S.H.I.E.L.D. will make it out alive (the "In Remembrance" plaque is shown in one trailer). Ironically, it wasn't anyone known to be dead in the future (Coulson, Mack, Polly, and Daisy), but Fitz, who survived in the original Bad Future timeline.
  • Unfit for Greatness: Daisy believes she can't hold the team together, and so shouldn't be the leader. She decides to yield leadership to Mack.
  • The Un Reveal: It is never explicitly stated that Deke no longer exists, though the episode hints as much when his room is shown to have radically changed and his copy of Fitz's pocket tool is gone.
  • Wham Episode: The team breaks the loop, with Daisy killing Talbot and preventing him from quaking the Earth apart, and Mack and Polly Hinton surviving. However, Fitz dies, making him the first original and loyal (i.e. not Grant Ward) member of Team Coulson to be Killed Off for Real. Coulson, meanwhile, goes to meet his own fate.
  • Wham Line:
    • Daisy plans for Coulson to talk Talbot down, but he insists she'll need to do it. When she asks why, he says "Because I can barely stand." Then she notices he's supporting his weight by holding on to one of the support handles and realizes he never took the serum.
    • Robin pauses her escape and says, "something's different". That is the moment that the time loop was broken.
    • The funeral at first appears to be for Fitz — until Simmons notes, "He doesn't know he's already fixed things, frozen out in space," revealing that the team remembers he's out there on ice and can be found.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Talbot asks Robin to point out the location of where he will dig up buried Gravitonium on a globe with a marker. Just a simple dot will do. It's later shown that she colored in more than half of it, which corresponds to the destroyed part of the Earth in the future.
    • Once Mack removes some debris from Fitz, we see that Fitz is too badly injured to be saved as he is bleeding profusely and is moments away from death.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Yo-Yo calls out the team on how they are essentially dooming the whole world in favor of saving Coulson, even though he repeatedly told them he's made peace with his death.
    • When Coulson finally wakes up, he gives a more gentle version to Jemma and May, noting how the team went against his wishes.
    • When Daisy finds out Coulson didn't take the Centipede Serum, she gives a brief one to him before going off to fight Talbot about how much they fought (sometimes with each other!) to give him that chance. This ends up being the actual context of the previously-shown video of her running off (said to be the last time anyone saw Daisy before the world broke).
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Even in his current state, Talbot refuses to hurt Robin to get what he wants, on the basis that she is just a kid. Her mother, however ...
  • Your Days Are Numbered: We already know this about Coulson, but by the end of the episode he's estimated to only have days remaining, weeks at most.

"Gotta say ... it's pretty magical."

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