So, it was Lincoln. After three months of speculating which member of S.H.I.E.L.D. would bite the dust in the Quinjet space explosion glimpsed in flash-forwards and future visions, it was poor dull Lincoln who, as of the end of this season finale, “Ascension”, is now bits of Inhuman space debris. Retrospectively, its seems obvious who would die; Lincoln was a character who never really clicked and could be written out with a heroic sacrifice in a last ditch attempt to make the audience care. It just about worked. However sacrificing himself to pay for Daisy’s sins – or as Coulson put it “all of our sins” in a weird and ill-judged painting of Lincoln as some sort of pseudo-Jesus figure – still felt forced.
As great as Chloe Bennett was in this episode in portraying Daisy’s anguish and regret and raw pain, it never really sailed. Not only because her and Lincoln’s paring was so insipidly clichéd and unconvincing from the get go but also that her suicidal motives and attitude at being under Hive’s sway made no sense. “I can’t live with what I’ve done,” she kept wailing. Calm down, you only beat up a few of your friends whilst brainwashed, you’ll get over it. Regardless, it was wise of the writers to wipe that struggling storyline clean.
What was also wonderfully handled was the final scene between Lincoln and Hive, as the two Inhumans peacefully and respectfully accepted their deaths together. Hive’s musing that he must finally face the thing he’d avoided for millennia was a nice touch; “I only wanted to make the world better,” he tells Lincoln as they gaze at the blue sphere for Earth. “I know,” replies Lincoln simply. A villain so rarely goes out as gracefully when defeated, so kudos to the show runners. In case you hadn’t guessed by this point, Hive was also blown to kingdom come, finally eradicating every trace of Grant Ward from the show. Considering Lincoln was directly responsible for Hive’s destruction, it’s probably just as well he wasn’t swayed in the previous episode. See? Forced plot wheels.
So, let’s jump back. Picking up from last weeks “Absolution” it emerges that Lash’s curing of Daisy has made her impervious to Hive’s sway; not able to return to his collective and regain her long absent sense of belong, Daisy instigates a super-powered punch up between the two but nonetheless is bested. She is dragged onto the Zephyr as Hive assembles his lackies on board to enact his final end-game. Meanwhile, Coulson and the rest try to subdue the Inhuman primitives running rampant throughout HQ. They succeed and after calling in another quinjet, intercept the Zephyr where all the players assemble for the finale – most wearing S.H.I.E.L.D. jackets to keep the audience guessing who will go boom.
The team are able to board thanks to Coulson’s hologram distraction – whereby we FINALLY see Hive’s true form. Praise needed for the effects team as he looks great, very comic-book faithful and genuinely threatening, certainly better than Downey Jr’s wonky head in Civil War.
Giyera is gunned down my Fitz’s invisible pistol (er, what?) whilst James is taken down by Lincoln, but not after our soon to be dead bland-man is gravely injured. As the plan to destroy the Zephyr in the outer atmosphere is put into motion, the team prepare to evacuate on the quinjet, Daisy, still moping in her unjustified grief volunteers to stay behind to ensure it stays on course, and that Hive doesn’t turn the craft around. Lincoln has other ideas, after frying the manual guidance controls, and hurling Daisy from the craft, the Zephyr rockets upwards with no chance of turning around. Daisy and the rest of the team can only watch helplessly, after some tear filled goodbyes, as the craft explodes – killing the two inside and safely dispersing Hive’s pathogen.
Overall, “Ascension” is not as strong as it’s first part “Absolution” but finally answers lingering questions whilst once again dramatically shifting the status quo as the audience barely have time to breathe before we are rocketed ahead to ‘six months from now’ once more. Daisy has left S.H.I.E.L.D. and is travelling the country as some sort of super-powered vigilante/fugitive, finally carrying her comic book moniker of Quake. Coulson and Mack are on her trail, but Coulson is no longer director of S.H.I.E.L.D. It’s an intriguing set up for season 4 as we are given very little.
Elsewhere in a very isolated lab, Dr Holden Radcliffe has created the first LMD (Life Model Decoy) in the MCU. Lamenting that his lab partner (and now also ex-S.H.I.E.L.D) Fitz is not there, Radcliffe uploads to the programme to the synthetic human that is hidden behind frosted glass. Speaking of LMD’s – that was the prevailing theory of what the identical Koenig siblings (Patton Oswalt) were, remember them? Yep, an answer for that in season 4 would be lovely, thanks.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return to UK screens later this year