Agents of SHIELD: Review: Season 3 Episode 22: Ascension

SHIELD 3.22With Daisy begging Hive to take her back, the warhead loaded on the Zephyr and the SHIELD base crawling with proto-Inhumans, could this be the end of the world as we know it? And will Daisy finally see the prophecy that has haunted her fulfilled?

Daisy dropping to her knees pleading with HIVE to reconnect with her was a heartbreaking moment for us SHIELD fans last week, and the writers rightly stopped there, leaving us hanging on for more. They don’t disappoint here opening exactly where they left off and giving us yet another great pair of performances from Dalton and Bennet as their two characters face off. Admittedly it rather quickly devolves into another big fight, but it’s one that we want to see, because like Coulson and May and Daisy herself, we are haunted by the memory of Ward and what he did, and Hive wearing his face makes us want to see one (or all) of them punch it right through.

John Hannah deserves special mention in this episode, taking a character we have been instinctively loathing from the outset and making him, if not likeable, then at least more relatable. His palpable delight at the genius of Fitz Simmons is a joy to watch, especially when he realises just how sophisticated Coulson’s prosthetic is, and where some of the inspiration for its mods have been drawn from.

With Daisy’s prophecy hanging over proceedings for the last few weeks, it’s inevitable that the writers would play with expectations a little here, and several characters are put in mortal peril, one which was genuinely tear-jerking for me involving as it did one of my favourite new duos in the team. This being the finale, there is a genuine sense that anyone could well be ‘crossed off’ as the show would have it, and when the credits do finally roll, the death tally is perhaps smaller than expected but no less impactful for it. One character in particular parts from us in a way that is definitely surprising, and more importantly heartfelt, offering a genuine affirmation of the three dimensional nature of the character and their part in the whole shooting match.

Skipping forward six months, the show throws the audience a curve ball, with the team tracking one errant former member and giving us no clues as to that individual’s current agenda. The final sting gives us even less help, with an exchange between one man and his computer that leaves us with far more questions than answers. One thing is clear – Agents of SHIELD is here to stay (for one more season at least) and those worried that the formula might get stale look set to get satisfaction from some fairly major changes.

Verdict: In a season that has provided some of the best moments of the show to date, this is a finale that delivers. From the shock of Daisy’s initial ‘betrayal’ to the intriguing parting shots, the show is firing on maximum at every turn, and delivers some genuinely surprising stuff. It lacks the finality of Season 1’s ending or the flat out shocks of that of Season 2, but to its credit it does its own thing and owns it. Impressive stuff. 9/10

Greg D. Smith

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