Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Season 7 — a review

I took a brief hiatus from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after Season 5, which I think of as S.H.I.E.L.D. in Space, or, alternately, as Cracked-Egg Earth with Kree. It ended with what I think was the first live-action appearance of Graviton, who was soundly defeated by Daisy/Quake, which made the Earth future we just lived through null and void, as insubstantial as an It was all a dream plot. Not unlike the Framework story.

When Season 5 ended, I was ready for the series itself to end. Its best episodes were all in the past. I thought that the thirteen-episode order for Season 6 meant it would be the final season. It wasn’t, but at some point it was announced that Season 7 would be. This prompted me to watch Season 6 sooner than I would have, probably.

Season 6 was more space hijinks, and a sort of Galactus story without Galactus. Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) died between seasons (we knew he was going to Tahiti to die when 5 ended), but Clark Gregg returned as a character named Sarge, who was sort of like Cable from the comics without all the cyborg parts. Again, not my favorite season, but it had the advantage of being shorter. At the end of the season, we had Coulson back, sort of, his consciousness downloaded into an LMD.

I’m happy to tell you that I enjoyed most of Season 7, the final season of the series. The main story line involves time travel, which I always find problematic, but I decided to dial down the critical part of my brain and just enjoy the ride. A lot of it was fun, a quality that had been lacking for a while.

The Big Bad of the season are the Chronicoms, led by another female villainess, this one named Sybil. The Chronicoms are tinkering with the past, apparently trying to prevent the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. This leads to a modified Zephyr hopping through time, apparently to random years, like the lead character in Quantum Leap. The time jumps aren’t completely random, as it turns out. In each year that the agents jump to, there seems to be something important for them to do to thwart the aims of Hydra or its successor, led by Nathaniel Malick (Thomas E. Sullivan), who would have died if not saved by the time-travelling S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The result is a historic overview of S.H.I.E.L.D. itself, and then a return to some of the highlights of the series since 2013.

The season kicks off in the year 1931, which allows us a brief digression into film noir.

There are the expected tie-ins to Captain America: The First Avenger, with the inclusion of the secret serum that will produce both the Red Skull and Captain America, eventually. Plus, we get Patton Oswalt‘s return to the series as the original Koenig.

From 1931, we travel to 1955, near Area 51. Agent Peggy Carter’s old partner, Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj), becomes a part of the time-travelling S.H.I.E.L.D. team, after he’s plucked from the timeline from the moment of his historically recorded “death.” In the second of the two 1955 episodes, we double down on the film noir by having the Coulson LMD temporarily experience everything in black-and-white because of a glitch.

We stop off in the 1970s, spend a long while in the 1980s. Eventually, the Inhumans become a part of the story again, along with a young version of John Garrett. He’s played this time by James Paxton, the 26-year-old son of the late Bill Paxton, who originated the role. This was a nice touch, and if you close your eyes, you can hear Bill “Game over, man” Paxton’s voice again.

Leopold Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) was MIA during most of the season, which is my one major gripe about the season, but he does return to wrap things up. De Caestecker had other projects lined up, and, honestly, the cast had been expecting the ax to fall since Season 5 (like me). I don’t blame the actor for moving on to other things, and, honestly, he seemed to be phoning it in for most of Season 6 as well. However, the love story of Fitz and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) is an important part of the series for OG fans. The character’s absense is given a semi-plausible Maguffin-type explanation, and, as I already said, he does return. All’s well that ends well.

I’m not going to ruin everything that happens, just in case you haven’t watched it yet. I can’t imagine that this season would be entertaining at all to anyone who hasn’t been watching the story develop since the first season. There were some things I wanted to see happen this season that didn’t, such as the return of a certain character who was an important early focus of the series who turned out to be a traitor. That was disappointing. However, with the return of Coulson, and the reuniting of the entire team, for the most part, the series began to have that chosen family feel again. Which is kind of a Whedon hallmark.

Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), Daisy Johnson/Quake (Chloe Bennet), Mack MacKenzie (Henry Simmons), and Yo-Yo Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) also return for the final season, and all of these actors should have little trouble finding future gigs. Deke Shaw (Jeff Ward) and Enoch (Joel Stoffer) are here as well. While neither are my favorite characters, they have grown on me, and both contribute substantially to the finale.

I do not regret watching this series. It was an uneven ride at times, but an ultimately satisfying one. This, however, was still not the best season of the show. Unfortunately. It was, however, better than the previous two seasons, certainly, and an entertaining way to spend ten hours or so.

Firewater’s Look-If-This-is-a-Contest-I-Died-Like-Seven-Times Report Card: B+

If I were grading the series as a whole, it would also be somewhere in the B range, I think. Not the best series ever—not even the best Marvel series, in my arrogant opinion—but not bad, and definitely watchable. I’m glad it was able to end on its own terms.

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