It may come as something of a surprise – or not – but the real enemy the titular heroes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have fought all season long isn't an alien, nor even their former frenemy Talbot, but time itself.
Never was that more apparent than in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 21. The arrival of Thanos; the impending destruction of Earth; Coulson's fast-approaching demise; Talbot's consuming madness.
Even the team's own self-doubts and interpersonal conflicts contain an element of time at the root of the problem.
Throw in the fact that the past several episodes have all taken place over about a single day, without time for our heroic Agents to breathe, let alone sleep? Clearly, time is not on their side.
It's actually brilliant, really, how this entire season (both obviously and subtly) carries this conflict with time. It all (seemingly) began with the heroes kidnaped to the future, displaced against their will.
Now back in their proper century, though, they have been forced to scramble and claw for every moment to hopefully achieve some sort of victory to prevent the future they'd seen.
Yet, simultaneously, time also worked in our heroes' favor. Had they not traveled to the future, the Confederacy would still have come, but the Agents would've been in jail, or, worse, in Hale's hands.
They gained invaluable information, plus a new base of operations in the Lighthouse, and a new team member in the form of Deke.
Deke's importance in the present cannot be underestimated. In this one episode, he:
- Didn't die to Talbot or the Remorath
- Located and rescued Coulson and May on his own
- Took down a Remorath using only his belt (!)
- Used his (albeit limited) knowledge of the Remorath language to help May reprogram the missile targeting and teleport out
The only other character who came close to Deke's heroics was, of course, Davis. We'll probably never get to hear his epic tale of survival, but it sure makes for some great laughs to see other people's reactions to it!
Deke: You gotta be kidding me! That is totally nuts!
Davis: Yeah, no joke. It really happened. Good thing, too, otherwise it woulda killed me.
Kim [grumbling]: I’ve had to hear *this* story enough.
Deke: Yeah, but that’s the most incredible story I’ve ever heard! And I’m the same age as my grandparents!
This episode was stuffed full of some really entertaining dialogue, so be sure to stop by our Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. quotes page for a rundown of some of the most notable lines!
Really, though, the most important part of "The Force of Gravity" was this undeniably awesome and hilarious moment:
Yup, after all that dancing around, Phil and Melinda done did it, and in epic fashion, under fire, being protected by Coulson's Shield of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
Was it silly? Over the top? Ridiculous? Sure. But it totally worked. Sometimes you just have to embrace a bit of comic book silliness and just go with it.
Like Adrian Pasdar's scenery-chewing as Talbot/Graviton, though in this episode his performance grew even more tragic and painful and amazing to watch.
Coulson and Melinda discussed the situation from a human point of view, even as everyone began to accept that they would probably have to kill Talbot to save the world:
Coulson [about Talbot]: After all our ups and downs, Talbot got shot in the head, and he waited for us to rescue him from Hale.
May: We *were* a little busy.
Coulson: Yes. But even after we didn’t come, even after Hydra messed with his brain, he still put himself in that machine. He did that for *us*.
May: We didn’t ask him to.
Coulson: We didn’t have to.
SPOILER ALERT FOR AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR!
Of course, the bitter irony here is that viewers know that Talbot won't be able to save Earth, no matter how much gravitonium he absorbs. Despite its power, it's nothing compared to the Infinity stones.
He'd be snapped out of existence just as easily as any of the others were at the end of the movie.
Knowing that and knowing the increasing possiblity that Talbot actually destroys the world in his attempt to extract more gravitonium just lends that much more weight to the story.
Not to mention the fact that Talbot's adding to a growing list of the dead, including his most loyal friend, Carl Creel.
It was surprisingly touching that Mack shared some kind words about Creel, emphasizing that while Creel had killed Isabelle Hartley, he had only done so while brainwashed by Hydra. Once deprogrammed, Creel was a decent, loyal man.
Poor Talbot. Is Creel in there now, too, a part of the cacophony in his head?
The episode's main action concluded with the team's dilemma plainly stated.
May: So we either save Coulson…
Yo-Yo: Or we save the world.
Easy answer. What would Coulson do? He'd save the world. They're Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. That's their mission, after all.
A few assorted thoughts and musings:
- Rest in Peace, Agent Kim. We hardly knew ye, but at least you got a last name before being horrifically murdered by aliens in the dark!
- As in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 20, this story also referenced the events of Avengers: Infinity War, but still hasn't reached their conclusion.
- You'd think a spy agency like S.H.I.E.L.D. would have better operational security and, y'know, erase old GPS coordinates from the Garmin in their Quinjet.
- Any bets on Robin's mother living through the next episode? She's in a rather precarious position with a super-powered lunatic, after all, and from what we've seen of the future, things aren't looking good.
With so much going on, you might want to watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. online to relive the excitement!
As of the time of writing, there's still no word on whether or not Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will see a sixth season. If it is cancelled, the upcoming season finale will double as a series finale!
Be sure to tune in for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5 Episode 22, "The End" when it airs on Friday, May 18, 2018 at 9/8c on ABC. Written by Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, it promises to bring things to an epic conclusion.
As epic as Phil and Melinda's kiss? We'll just have to wait and see! For now, join in the conversation and share your thoughts on "The Force of Gravity" in the comments section below!