“I have a cybernetic hand; I’ve been to another planet. This stuff happens in S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Holy crap was that a fantastic ending to the season. Everything was tied up, but boy was the end of the Framework dark as hell. I loved seeing Agent Burroughs all through the Hydra arc, as he was the background extra sent to retrieve AIDA in her first appearance, who she summarily killed just as he was given a name in dialogue. I remember writing something at the time about how they finally gave the poor bastard a name just to have him killed by a crazy lady robot. So having him have a meatier role as part of the SHIELD resistance seemed like a cool little reward for folks in the audience who pay attention to such minutiae.

And while even though AIDA was defeated, the whole team seemed like they had each taken a giant hit. Except Coulson, who is hilariously languid about everything, as evidenced in that quote, above. All this stuff is just another Tuesday to him. Frozen in place in a diner, extracted by shadowy SWORD agents, and deposited on some kind of space station? Time to get back to work. And Mack, who seemed pretty philosophical about his whole thing. Welp, having ten years as Hope’s dad was better than nothing. What’s for dinner?

Did that seem as abrupt to you as it did to me? Or was it just Henry Simmons’ powerhouse acting selling the instant non-existence of Hope wrecking him so emotionally?

And let’s spare a minute for poor, tortured Dr. Radcliffe; trapped in a world that he actually made. Sitting on the beach, waiting for the world to end, watching a beautiful sunset and having one last dram.

But of course the thing I like most about writing these columns is the observations and speculations. You guys can get your recaps anywhere, but I love trying to figure out where they are going. The bargain Coulson made? If I had to guess, the series ends with Coulson becoming Ghost Rider, so they never have to explain why The Avengers don’t know he’s alive. What happened to Ivanov? Brain still in a jar, somewhere. Maybe a TV version of M.O.D.O.K. Reyes says, “Hell is relative. Dimensions, space, planets; it’s all connected.” I can’t be the only one who got thrilled with a character actually saying that Jeph Loeb line out loud, and seeing Ghost Rider return to Ghost Rider Land by whipping up one of Doctor Strange’s sling ring portals. Can we just get a movie guy to show up in this show? Somebody from Thor: Ragnarok, now that they’re in space? Somebody from Guardians? Or maybe Coulson in one of the Netflix shows? If it’s all connected, it’s all connected, baby.

And speaking of them being in space now… did you notice they’re in space, now? That scream of crazy-ass fanboy delight you heard this morning was me in California when I was screening the episode and they revealed they’re in space, now!

So let’s break that end down: getting in one last full meal at a diner before being arrested, a shadowy group of grunts and a mysterious, officious dude cut the place off (“You have a two-minute window.”) from reality and freeze-frame our main cast using a high tech device similar to Obadiah Stane’s sound paralysis doodad from the first Iron Man flick. Hey, it’s all connected, right? Coulson wakes up after… a while? Long enough for him to have accepted his current condition with his trademarked languidly.

It’s S.W.O.R.D., right? It has to be S.W.O.R.D. Back in the first season when Ward killed a guy at a secret base that wasn’t S.H.I.E.L.D… it was paramilitary and off the grid and staffed by guys in uniforms but no identifying markings save for their ID badges? I called it that that was an Earth-bound S.W.O.R.D. depot. Nothing ever came of it , and it wasn’t mentioned again. But Good ol’ Joss Whedon actually created S.W.O.R.D. when he was writing Astonishing X-Men. So there’s a family connection. And S.W.O.R.D. is actually a thing in the MCU, with Erik Selvig saying he was going to  “cross-reference with the S.W.O.R.D. database” in Thor: The Dark World. Based out of a space station, yo. I can’t believe I’ve been talking about all the hints they’ve been dropping about S.W.O.R.D. for two years. The Kree show up, the guys have been off planet, why not?

I feel like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is finally going to start letting its freak flag fly.

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