Agents of SHIELD Season Finale Recap and Critique – Absolution

We’ve covered so much and come so short a distance in Season 3 of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Part One of this two-part Agents of SHIELD season finale was entitled “Absolution.” As a standalone episode, “Absolution” didn’t do much aside from set things up. As part one of a two-part season finale, it was a bit more rewarding. We saw Daisy hit rock bottom and take her frustration out on Hive, and we saw Coulson do a slight return to his sit-com dad directorial style. For the second-last time this season, let’s have a recap …

Agents of SHIELD Season Finale: “Absolution” – My Recap

Part One of this Agents of SHIELD finale kicked off by showing us a dream of Daisy’s: she’s on the moon with Coulson in a SHIELD containment unit running out of air and the rest of the team is dead. She holds the gold crucifix featured in her Hinton-inspired vision.

Daisy wakes in a start in a SHIELD containment unit but she’s not on the moon. She’s in the base. Mac, May, Rodriguez, and Lincoln are in a Quinjet on their way to the missile launch platform that Hive has commandeered in order to launch his missile into the upper atmosphere. Once in the upper atmosphere, Hive intends to  detonate the missile’s warhead and spread his Inhuman concoction over a heavily populated swath of the Earth. And, in case you thought becoming an Inhuman might be a fun way to spend an afternoon, keep in mind that the Inhuman concoction, “perfected” by Dr. Radcliffe, turns humans into pinch-faced Primitives, not superhuman former Chinese pop-singers.

Speaking of Daisy, she’s feeling pretty crappy about turning into a superhero version of Nurse Jackie. Simmons questions her periodically but things just aren’t the same since she nearly destroyed SHIELD’s last remaining base, broke Coulson’s leg, throttled Fitz, and nearly crushed Mac to death. Daisy tells Simmons she’s told them everything she knows but no one can figure out what Hive is referring to when he mentioned “absolution.”

Mac, May, Rodriguez, and Lincoln land their Quinjet near Hive’s commandeered missile launch facility while Coulson, Fitz, and Talbot work to determine the code that will abort a missile launch. Through some very goofy motion capture modulation, Fitz is able to make himself look like Talbot’s superior officer and instructs his underling to release the code to Coulson. Coulson pulls up just in time to receive the page-long code and recites it character by character back to Fitz who enters it just in time to stop the missile launch.

In order to free Hive’s hostages from the missile launch facility, Lincoln and Rodriguez lure Hive into a trap Mac has set up. The trap makes Hive unable to segregate the various identities he’s absorbed over time. With Hive stunned, the team helps the hostages escape. Hive starts shouting random quotations from his memories and, concerned, Giyera and Hellfire look on. Amidst the confusion, Hive shouts out an order to disconnect the warhead for absolution.

In a relatively unnecessary scene featuring Radcliffe and some Primitives, we see them work to try to determine a way to manually launch the missile since Coulson and the gang have remotely disabled it. Unable to make any headway, they are eventually attacked by May who’s nearly killed by one of the Primitives but is saved by Radcliffe who begs May to rescue him. Radcliffe admits he’s in way over his head.

SHIELD is evacuating the island when a rambling Hive stumbles out of the compound. Rodriguez pulls some fancy footwork and they’re able to take Hive prisoner using suspension gel. Huzzah!

Agents of SHIELD Season Finale
How could you not trust him with a face like that?

Daisy insists she has no right to anyone’s friendship or pity, and Coulson tries to convince her that she was acting under duress. She won’t hear it though, saying she’s no better than Ward, who was previously brainwashed by John Garrett. Talbot orders Radcliffe to determine a way to reverse the effects of the Inhuman concoction on the Primitive members of the Watchdogs. Radcliffe is out of his depth but Fitz and Simmons are there to assist. Coulson finally tells Lincoln that he has a future in SHIELD but now that Lincoln has Coulson’s approval he doesn’t want it, saying that once the Hive dilemma is sorted out he’ll leave.

Mac walks into Daisy’s isolation cell and tells her that he forgives her. A typical addict-victim scene plays out and Mac takes Daisy in his arms as she vainly tries to fight him off: when Mac wants to hug you, you get hugged. Continuing on the mush train, we see Simmons booking a romantic trip for her and Fitz to Seychelles. She says she can’t wait to get there and … go snorkeling. Fitz goes to check on how Hive’s getting along in stasis and on his way he grabs the gold crucifix that Mac had dropped.

For some reason Hive’s gel matrix container is left in an open hangar … seems like a pretty bad idea for the world’s foremost spy agency but what the heck … Fitz assures Coulson that Hive is ready for transport and Coulson puts the base on lockdown in case anything goes wrong. And just then, Fitz realizes that a pile of boxes in the hangar are from Absolution, Montana, that’s right … Absolution!!

The boxes explode: a nearby guard goes through terrigenesis and turns into a Primitive. With the base on lockdown, Fitz can’t escape. Luckily, he and Simmons are able to override the security system and he makes it out just in time. Unfortunately, the newly minted Primitives are able to bust Hive out of his containment cube. Daisy realizes something’s up and goes to meet Hive in the hangar. She kneels, cries, and begs Hive to take her back.

Agents of SHIELD season finale: “Absolution” – My Critique

I had thought that part one of this Agents of SHIELD season finale would involve the reappearance of some of the interesting folks we’ve met along the way like Mockingbird, Deathlok, Lady Sif, Maria Hill, or Nick Fury. Or, since she’s now officially dead in both the ABC production schedule and the MCU, it would’ve been cool to see a time-traveling or holographic Peggy Carter get in on the action. Instead, this Agents of SHIELD season finale involved an emotionally overblown addict-victim storyline that didn’t accomplish anything interesting. I can see why ABC decided to release this as part one of this Agents of SHIELD season finale rather than as a standalone episode. It doesn’t even have a viable cliffhanger element: Daisy begging to be taken back by Hive doesn’t provide a compelling final image, it just makes Daisy look pathetic … so tune in next week …?

Agents of SHIELD Season Finale
“No, you don’t get it. I don’t know how to act!”

As always, Brett Dalton‘s performance as Hive was stiff and one-noted. In what’s likely a character actor’s dream, he was given the chance to ham it up and portray himself as an alien being who’s experiencing a disconnected flood of each of his absorbed characters’ most personal moments. Instead of taking advantage of this moment, Dalton managed Hive’s memory lapse with the same level of yawn-inspiring depth that he’s used to portray not one but two characters on this show.

Also, what was with the big reveal? “Absolution” was the name of the town those exploding crates were from, and Hive knew that because he had them coated with the modified terrigenesis formula? Not only was that a letdown as a reveal, it made SHIELD seem pretty stupid indeed. They’re all concerned about Hive doing something relating to absolution and they take a shipment of crates from Absolution, Montana without even batting an eye? “Durr, I’ll sign for it. It’s not like this is part one of the Agents of SHIELD season finale or anything!”

Michael Bedford
Michael Bedford
Under intense scrutiny by the Temporal Authorities, I was coerced into actualizing my capsule in this causality loop. Through no fault of my own, I am marooned on this dangerous yet lovely level-four civilization. Stranded here, I have spent most of my time learning what I can of the social norms and oddities of the Terran species, including how to properly use the term "Hipster" and how to perform a "perfect pour." Under the assumed name of "Michael Bedford," I have completed BA's with specialized honours in both theatre studies and philosophy, and am currently saving up for enough galactic credits to buy a new--or suitably used--temporal contextualizer ... for a friend.