The entire season was slow, then they jammed everything into these last two episodes. Not how I would have planned out the season, but at least the show goes out on a high note.
We pick up right where we left off, with Jiaying collapsing and claiming Gonzalez said Inhumans should be exterminated. Lincoln and Skye get Jiaying off to the doctor while Gordon and another dude hijack one of the SHIELD jets. They fire on one of the Afterlife buildings and fly off. Jiaying accuses Skye of being part of this before being whisked away. Skye is confronted by May, and the girls fight before Skye blasts her away, telling her she is not welcome here.
It is total chaos within SHIELD. No one can find Bobbi (eventually Fitz and Hunter figure out she left with Agent 33); no one knows what happened to Gonzalez because Jiaying had her people secure the scene (eventually they find out); Weaver wants to fight back (Coulson stops her, at least until they figure out what is going on); and it is unclear whose side Skye is on.
Lincoln blames Skye for bringing SHIELD to them, and Jiaying defends her daughter before sending them both away so she can heal. In actuality, Gordon has to bring her a hostage – she basically has to suck the life force out of another human in order to heal. Gordon is in on the plan with Jiaying, who feels confident Lincoln and Skye are also on their side.
Skye confronts Raina, and Raina is her usual “you won’t believe me anyway,” woe-is-me self. She had a vision that revealed the truth, “the thorn that protects the rose – or in this case, the Daisy.” Skye thinks it is metaphorical crap, when clearly it isn’t. Raina’s destiny is to help Skye become who she is supposed to be. Jiaying is misleading her people, and it is Skye who is destined to lead. Skye returns to Jiaying, shocked at how quickly she healed. Jiaying advocates to stop hiding and start fighting. She wants Skye by her side, but she clearly still has allegiance to SHIELD. Jiaying gives Skye the bracelet that Gonzalez brought to her, and tells her to bring it back if she decides to join with the inhumans.
Bobbi is being held in an abandoned warehouse, where Ward and Kara want her to admit what she did was wrong: that sending Hydra to the safe house where there might have been one agent over blowing her cover and getting dozens killed was the wrong choice to make. Kara believes she needs this to move on, but Bobbi refuses. She maintains she made the right call. The torture begins, with needles going under her fingernails. As an added Ward bonus, he fed her a concoction of a paralytic and a pain killer so that she couldn’t adjust to the pain over time; instead, the drugs will wear off and she will be hit with all the pain, all at once. Pretty solid plan.
By now, SHIELD has figured out that Jiaying set the whole thing up, and while Weaver won’t back down on the war idea, she does give Coulson three hours to dig up more intel. Coulson tries to talk to Cal, but he is mad, madder than normal, and they suspect it has something to do with the vials of liquid he had on him. A preliminary screening by Simmons shows that it wasn’t one drug; it was all of them: a mix of steroids, amphetamines, gorilla testosterone, and a drop of peppermint. He should be dead from all those drugs. And in fact, when Coulson is hammering him with questions, Cal has a massive heart attack and collapses. They rush him to the sick bay and give him the paddles, but that doesn’t work. Coulson needs him alive, so Simmons injects him with adrenaline. This works, but it brings back Cal as some kind of Mr. Hyde monster with incredible strength. It was his own concoction, designed to give him superhuman strength so he could join his inhuman family. Turns out adrenaline was the missing ingredient. The sick bay can only keep him enclosed for a few minutes before he breaks out and starts trashing the lab. Coulson and FitzSimmons blast him with icer bullets; it barely slows him down. FitzSimmons lead him into an empty hangar, where Coulson pins him to the wall with an SUV, then locks it in place with a battering ram. It won’t hold him forever, but it will give him some time to talk to Cal.
Night falls, and Jiaying and Raina meet. She is grateful for Raina’s visions; they will make her a valuable advisor. Raina has seen what happens, she knows Jiaying’s plan, and feels there is only one thing that can save the Inhumans from death and destruction: Skye. She wants to reveal Jiaying to the other inhumans, but she won’t have a chance – Jiaying stabs her in the throat. Unfortunately, Skye was on her way to bring the bracelet back to her mother. She sees this and is aghast. Jiaying tries to play the “she threatened me” card, but Skye knows better. Skye realizes that Jiaying killed Gonzalez, and she is the one who wants a war. Jiaying again tries to defend her position, but it’s not working. One of Jiaying’s minions knocks out Skye and she is taken captive.
Bobbi is in bad shape but she still won’t apologize to Kara. She fights through the pain, rams Ward’s head into the table, and the two start fighting. Kara joins in with a gun, which Bobbi easily knocks away. Ward finally gets the upper hand on Bobbi and shatters her knee to keep her down. Kara takes her gun back from Ward, and levels it at Bobbi, but can’t pull the trigger. She’s “not feeling it.” Ward knows what to do. They set a trap, tying Bobbi to a chair in a room, with a big ass gun behind her, pointed at the door. When a rescue team arrives (which they will, because Ward turned on her cell phone so Hunter can track her) as soon as they walk into the room, the gun will fire and splatter brains all over the place.
Everything is going downhill, fast, on the ship. Gordon and a few minions have blipped aboard. The SHIELD agents they didn’t kill are now being held prisoner. Lincoln fries the power and communications boxes, but a hardline emergency beacon cannot be turned off without the secret code. With the ship secured, Jiaying boards. Mac (who has decided to stick around and see this last mission through) was not caught up in the sweep. He skulks around until he finds Skye in a prison cell. Seeing her prisoner has made him decide that she is with SHIELD, which is good, because he needs her skillz – her hacker skillz, so they can get eyes on the command center of the ship.
Jiaying has brought with her several crates filled with blue crystals. One crate will go to the HVAC room so it can be distributed through the ship; the rest will go on one of the jets. Back to that emergency beacon, Jiaying doesn’t want it turned off; she wants it expanded so it lures all of SHIELD to the ship. Weaver and Oliver both refuse to help her, so Jiaying locks Oliver in a room and tosses in a blue crystal. It stone-ifies him immediately, and Weaver agrees to expand the beacon.
Back at HQ, Coulson attempts a conversation with the still-stuck Cal. He knows all Cal wants is to protect Skye, that he is a family man, that his wife talked him into committing acts he didn’t want to. He knows that deep down, Cal is a good man. Jiaying is the monster; he is not. Cal has calmed down considerably, and he admits that ever since he reassembled her, piece by piece, she hasn’t been the same. Before Whitehall, an elder would sacrifice himself so she could live on, even though she begged them not to. “She had a good heart. It was just torn out.” Cal supplied lives to his wife, a whole village of them, but it was never enough. He changed himself to be worthy and thought that if he could find and protect their daughter, he could fix her. Coulson points out that Skye needs to be protected from Jiaying. Cal grabs Coulson, but not to kill him. “Please let me help you.”
Ward and Kara see that Hunter has come to rescue Bobbi – but he has also brought May, which Kara worries will muck things up. Ward will take care of it. The two split up and engage in a few, smaller fights with random agents. May puts out a notice to her tactical team to meet up in the southwest corner, and “do not lower your guard until you see my face.” Kara overhears this and smiles. Poor idiot, doesn’t even realize she is being set up. The southwest corner is where Ward was last seen. He sees May, grabs her and pumps her belly full of bullets, but of course, it isn’t May; it is Kara with a May face. So Ward is extra pissed. Meanwhile, Hunter has found Bobbi, but when she saw him turn the doorknob, she threw herself in front of the bullet. Hunter rushes to her side, May shortly after, and they rush Bobbi back to HQ for treatment.
The team has gone dark and Fitz sees that the beacon has gone wide, so Coulson readies a team that includes Fitz and Cal. Though the device that tracks Gordon is broken, Fitz has modified it to keep Gordon in one area. SHIELD jets from all over are answering the beacon, and soon a whole formation of jets is headed straight for the ship. Before Fitz heads out into the field, Simmons approaches him and wants to talk about what happened at the bottom of the ocean. Nothing happens of course, even though she clearly is dying to tell him she loves him too, but that damned British decency keeps getting in the way. May has her own heartfelt moment, calling Andrew just to hear his voice – a call he hasn’t gotten from her since Bahrain. She doesn’t think this situation is going to end well.
Lincoln is starting to have his doubts about Jiaying’s way of doing things. Gordon defends her, reminding him that she will do whatever is necessary to protect Inhumans. “Remember how far she went to save you.” Gordon also tells him that SHIELD turned Skye against them, so when Skye finds him, he zaps her away. He thinks she is planning an assault with SHIELD. She explains that Jiaying set this whole thing up, Raina is dead, and she plans on exposing huge segments of the population to the blue crystals. Lincoln seems to buy this, and tells Skye where the crystals are. Mac sneaks up and knocks Lincoln out – he’s in a “cracking skulls first, asking questions later” mood.
Fitz finds a message embedded in the beacon signal, code from Skye, alerting them that it is a trap. Coulson tells the other jets to fall back. He and his team are going to finish this. Jiaying sees the jets fall back and figures someone, probably Skye, must have warned them. “No reason to wait,” she says, and tells her minions to break the crystals. “Either they are Inhuman or they are dead.” Skye confronts Jiaying, who tells her daughter she is going to find descendants to help her build a better world. She says goodbye and an Inhuman who can create clones of herself creates a human wall to keep Skye away, allowing Jiaying to escape to the jet with another crate of crystals. She starts fighting the clones, but is getting her ass handed to her. Lincoln finds May and the two of them come help Skye. Lincoln frees her of the power-inhibiting gloves her captors locked on her, and Skye goes to find her mother, promising not to hesitate in killing her if the need arises. They need to take out the original Inhuman in order to stop the clones. May’s first instinct is to shoot, but Lincoln won’t let her. Instead he electrocutes clone girl into unconsciousness.
A second message comes in through the beacon, alerting Fitz and the team to the fact that the crystals are in the HVAC room. Mac is already in the room, sitting on the crate of crystals, waiting for Gordon to show up. He does, and the two fight sporadically. It is tough to fight someone who can blink in and out of existence. Coulson and Fitz find Mac, and Fitz sets up the disruptors in case Gordon comes back.
Cal finds Jiaying and tries to talk some sense into her, tries to make it about Skye, but Jiaying doesn’t care. Gordon zaps Cal into a sealed room so Jiaying can continue on her mission. Gordon goes back to the HVAC room but by then Fitz has the disruptor up and running, and Gordon is trapped. Fitz and Coulson both have huge pipes, while Mac wields an axe (No one wants to use guns around the extremely unstable crystals). Gordon can still blip around a little bit, but he can’t leave the room. It turns into a bit of a Three Stooges gag, with our SHIELD agents trying to capture Gordon. He blips up behind Fitz, which is the wrong place to be – Gordon impales himself on a pipe that Fitz is holding. As he dies, Gordon drops a crystal he had clutched in his hand. Coulson makes a heroic dive for it, and catches it in the nick o’ time. Of course, the crystal does start to turn his hand into stone. Without missing a beat, Mac slices off Coulson’s hand with his axe before the stone can kill him.
Skye stops Jiaying from boarding the jet with her batch of crystals, and makes one final attempt to talk some sanity into her mother. Jiaying, for her part, tries to talk Skye into joining her, how powerful they could be together, how they could launch a revolution. Skye says Jiaying can’t tell right from wrong anymore, so Jiaying does what she thinks she has to: start sucking the life out of her daughter. Skye gathers her strength and uses her powers to blow the jet off the ship and into the ocean. This is enough for Jiaying to let go of Skye, and Skye only has a few moments to regain her strength before the mother/daughter fight turns to fisticuffs. Cal frees himself and joins in the fight. He doesn’t want Skye to make this sacrifice. He steps in, takes Jiaying, and snaps her spine in half.
A relative calm falls upon SHIELD as the episode draws to a close. Coulson is “looking into options” for his hand (no doubt Tony Stark will design something super-useful for him); Bobbi has months of reparative surgery ahead of her, but she will make it; Mac isn’t quitting the team; May has requested a few days off for the first time in forever; Andrew is helping Coulson with his plans for a new program, one he is working on with Skye; it is insinuated that residue from the crystals may have made its way into fish oil pills.
Cal and Skye say a tearful, heartfelt goodbye – for now. He knows he is going away for good, and Skye promises to visit. But he is not going to prison. Coulson set him up in the Tahiti program, essentially giving him a new life, with no memory of the insanity. He is now Dr. Winslow, a vet setting up a new practice. Skye visits him and introduces herself as Daisy. He has no idea who she is, but Skye is happy to see him happy. The new program Coulson has been working on is a team of people with powers. Skye is leading that team, and she wants to keep them secret, anonymous, not out in the open like the Avengers.
Ward is drinking himself into oblivion over his lost love. A couple Hydra thugs come in and hand him a scrap of paper with “all the names they could draw up.” Ward is pissed, he wants more names. He is done “flying solo;” he misses having a team. Basically he is looking for people to head up a new, reincarnated Hydra. His goons remind him that there is no leadership, there is no one left. Ward still wants more names. It seems that he is now the de facto leader of Hydra.
In the final “stay tuned” scene, Simmons is working on something or other in the Kree liqui-stone room. Fitz is the epitome of British awkwardness when he tries desperately to ask Simmons on a date. She agrees, and he leaves her to her work. Suddenly, the Kree doodad breaks from its box, turns liquid, and slurps up Simmons before returning to its solid form.
That was an exhausting two hours of television. Before this finale, I didn’t care about season three of “Agents of SHIELD.” But this finale was so good I am ready for the next season. (And more than that, I am so excited for another season of “Agent Carter”!)