Welcome back, true believers! Last time on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Aida rejoiced, and subsequently floundered, in her new found humanity that she acquired from both the Darkhold and Fitz within the Framework. The agents attempted to grapple with their return to the real world while also acting somber in the loss of their friend Mack, who decided to remain in the fictional world with his daughter, Hope. Yo Yo, Mack’s Inhuman girlfriend, then decided to jump in after Mack to try and convince him to escape before the program collapses. Our final shot of the last episode was Robbie Reyes returning from the dimension that he was sucked into during the first half of Season 4. With all the pieces on the board now, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to go out on a bang.
“World’s End” begins with the agents on the “bus,” attempting to figure out what their next move can be against Aida, while also on the run from the US government. Fitz, understandably, is attempting to work on a solution while also losing his mind over the fact that he had it inside himself to become a director of Hydra. When Simmons questions how on Earth Aida was able to acquire Inhuman abilities, Fitz explains that during his time in the Framework, the work he did in the virtual reality simulation translated into the real world, giving Aida her long list of abilities that she can now call upon. This is a great scenario to put Fitz in, and while I don’t necessarily see him taking the road of the villain at this point, grappling with what he did while he was being manipulated adds some nice depth. Meanwhile, Yo Yo wakes up in the Framework, only to be rescued by Radcliffe who explains that he’s been finding actual yo-yos strewn throughout the landscape, which clued him in on her location. Thanks to Daisy’s handiwork, Radcliffe and Yo Yo escape to go searching for Mack.
As Aida and Anton mull over their next move in using the Darkhold to create their own fascist world, Robbie Reyes shows up and begins taking out LMDs with his hellfire chain faster than you can say, “Spirit of Vengeance.” This was a pretty great scene in showing just how powerful the Ghost Rider is and how short Robbie’s temper can be as he nearly manages to kill Aida by just gripping her arm. Unfortunately for Aida, since the Ghost Rider is made of the same material that makes up the Darkhold, he is one of the only things that can truly harm her. I really loved this sequence of Reyes storming the gate, as it were; I thought it made for a nice return of the character of Ghost Rider, showing how his mere presence is something not to be trifled with. He’s an unstoppable ghoul and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has really managed to create perhaps the best representation of the character onscreen to this day.
Meanwhile, the most heartbreaking scenes of the night were entirely devoted to the Framework. As everything begins to break down, Yo Yo attempts over and over to convince Mack to leave, but he won’t abandon his daughter. With buildings, landscapes, and people disappearing, Mack decides to hold Hope, staying in the Framework. Yo Yo follows suit, deciding that if Mack doesn’t leave, she won’t either. As Mack holds his daughter, promising that everything is going to be all right, Hope disappears, with the titanic agent breaking down at his fresh loss. After that, Yo Yo and Mack manage to escape, though Radcliffe stays behind, his body now kaput. We even manage to get a fitting farewell for Radcliffe who, managing to find salvation for himself as well, disappears along with the Framework while sitting on the beach. The Framework was a welcome change of pace to this season, managing to show us characters we’ve known for some time in an entirely new light. This season really found a great method in splitting up the 22 episodes into arcs and other superhero shows would really gain something out of following a similar model.
Anton, meanwhile, manages to sneak into a world council meeting to discuss S.H.I.E.L.D.’s current status, telling the leaders there to renounce the organization and embrace the Darkhold. This scene was ridiculous. I can understand Anton attempting the frame job on Daisy, but proposing to rational leaders of the world that a sorcery book is going to assist them in the future is a bit much. Needless to say though, Aida had made an LMD of Daisy to shoot Talbot in the head, who managed to survive, surprisingly, to frame the agents. Luckily, the agents manage to find Aida, promising a final fight with her, as Coulson leaps her way. In the shocker of the season, Coulson grabs hold of Aida and transforms into the Ghost Rider! Yes, behind the scenes, Coulson, Robbie, and the Spirit of Vengeance came to a deal that, as hinted at, may have long-lasting implications on Coulson in the future. Now the motorcycle wielding skeleton himself, Phil destroys Aida as the team watches on. With everything wrapped up in a nice hellfire chain, Robbie takes the Darkhold and opens up a portal to the mountains, either on this world or another.
Exhausted, the team decides to stop running from the government now in hot pursuit and spend some quality time grabbing a meal at a nearby diner. This was somewhat a perfect way to wrap up the season with the team just being a family for a minute, letting their hair down, and not worrying about the next big threat to the world. Of course, this is short-lived as armed soldiers burst through the door and take the agents captive using some futuristic device that appears to freeze them in time. What would a season ender be without a kicker you may ask? Well the final stinger of this season is that we see Coulson wake up from his bed, only to realize that he’s on a spaceship orbiting the world. Without missing a beat, Phil tells himself that it’s time to get back to work and walks off to end things. More details on what I think happened here in the notes below.
Season 4 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is far and away the best season of the series. I know that a lot of viewers may have never gotten into the show due to one reason or another, but if you’re looking to wrangle in friends into becoming fans, I’d say just start with this season first. Ghost Rider, LMD, and Agents of Hydra were great at weaving a season-long story into three distinct parts, which made it feel not as long as the actual number of episodes that made up the agents’ fourth outing. The show, wouldn’t you know it, has been renewed for a fifth season of 22 episodes to coincide with ABC’s Inhumans. With that in mind, I hope they stick to the formula that was established here and create a story accordingly. Great stuff to be found here for sure.