Agents of SHIELD Season 4 ended on a very high note with World’s End. The season began with Ghost Rider and ended with Ghost Rider; and as a Ghost Rider fan, the action in this season’s last episode is the best GR action I’ve seen since the first movie. I’d go so far as to say that the action and effects here are better. Well, compare the technology from 2007 to today and the fact that Agents of SHIELD is a TV show, AOS has really delivered. Hopefully, Robbie Reyes continues to show up in Season 5, or this particular episode paves the way for Marvel to greenlight a separate Ghost Rider series.
Let’s recap for a bit while reviewing the episode at the same time. First the obligatory warning, SPOILER ALERT!. But if you can’t wait to know what’s happened, and since our livelihoods here depends on your flaming devil-may-care attitudes, please read on.
The episode picks up where the last one left off. Robbie Reyes returns in the SHIELD base and takes his car. The scene quickly shifts over to the Zephyr to May and Coulson. This episode, by the way, feels rushed and would have been better off as a two-hour special like what Supernatural’s going to or has done (depending on when you read this). They talk about keeping out of both Aida’s and the US government’s radars. May is still pissed about that bottle of alcohol (Hague is it?). I’ve yet to try Anton’s vodka with onions. Have to find some pure vodka first. We the shift over to Fitz and Jemma discussing on how to kill Aida. Fitz is still guilt-ridden while Jemma is anxious if Fitz is okay with killing the love of his alternative life. Their discussion is cut short when Jemma is alerted to the gradual erasure of the Framework.
Yes, the Framework won’t continue as an alternate dimension within the show. Either it’s due to Aida’s anger, or the point of its existence was simply as a vehicle for her become a real person. The end of the framework, however, means the end of any hopes for a good LMD Grant Ward or the return of Tripp. Sorry, Skyward and Tripp fans. Then again, Ward hasn’t been around for a couple of episodes. Maybe it’s been done off-screen? We’ll be doing a lot of speculating later. Now the degradation of the Framework can’t be good for Mack and Yoyo who just entered it in the previous episode.
Last we saw Yoyo, she was strapped to a chair after entering the Framework. Radcliffe comes to her rescue thanks to Daisy guiding him from the other side. The road to redemption has been pretty long for this character and quite dramatic. Radcliffe tells Yoyo that it may be too late as he notices the gradual degradation of the Framework. Fitz and Daisy do what they can in the background to delay the process and provide a way for Yoyo to escape.
Aida’s own journey with human emotions continues to be unpleasant as she let herself be consumed by anger, rage and regret. She and Anton discuss their plan to remake the world but their discussion is interrupted with the arrival of Robbie Reyes in his flaming 69 Charger. Haven’t seen those flaming wheels since the first episode. Yes, yes. Budget, we know. He really needs his own series. Anyway, he tries to take the Darkhold and fights an Anton LMD and an unidentified one. He kills both and injures Aida in the arm. Robbie notices that Aida has become a real person and she shoots him with lightning, triggering a full transformation. Aida is shocked that her lightning doesn’t hurt the rider and teleports away with the Darkhold. Ghost Rider is furious that she got away. This sequence is perhaps more action-packed than the Ghost Rider fights in the first film. The effects look more realistic too.
General Talbot calls Coulson to attend an international intelligence inquiry that wants to investigate the recent events. Coulson says no because of the threat of Aida. Daisy then tells Coulson that Robbie is back. The next scene shifts to Daisy meeting with Robbie. Like we said, this episode is fast-paced. Robbie explains that he’s back because of a tear that Aida created when she created her new body. The same effect when Eli was conjuring carbon spikes out of thin air. The tear was big enough for him to escape.
Meanwhile, Aida is puzzled that her healing factor (probably taken from Jia Ying) has no effect on the wound inflicted by Ghost Rider. Anton explains that her body and Ghost Rider come from the same place. Which means, if anyone can stop Aida, it’s Ghost Rider.
The other guy with Anton was actually duplicated from a Russian analyst supposed to be in the SHIELD inquiry. He and Anton show up at the inquiry and state their intentions that SHIELD must be brought down and even urge everyone there to read from the Darkhold. Talbot objects but then Daisy Johnson suddenly shows up and shoots Talbot in the head. Luckily, Talbot is still alive and that the Daisy that shot him was one of Aida’s Daisybots. The team shows up shoots the two Russian LMDs. They escape but leave behind the Darkhold. Daisy catches up to her double and meets Aida as well. Robbie however quickly destroys the double, and he and Daisy dispose of the other LMDs. Aida escapes before Robbie can kill her.
The team determines that Talbot’s assassination was to be Aida’s ‘Cambridge Incident.’ If the security footage leaks to the world, it would become the root of the Framework. Coulson suggests using the Darkhold to bait Aida since she’s afraid they might use it against her. Daisy also suggests that Aida’s terrified of Robbie. Robbie tells Coulson that Ghost Rider is thirsting for Aida’s destruction. Something Coulson keeps in mind. He suggests going back to the base and face their problems head on. He also tells Fitz and Jemma to temporarily get over themselves and work as a team again. It’s strange to think that they used to just be the team pop tarts who would always be in the background last Season 1. If there’s one thing we learned from The Flash, background characters can be made more interesting, but SHIELD does so without having to give them powers.
Back at the Framework, Radcliffe becomes Yoyo’s guide and tries to help her win over Mack. He really doesn’t have to but he tries to make up for the damage he has done. At the other SHIELD HQ, things and people also continue to disappear and Radcliffe tries to talk Mack into leaving the framework which he refuses. Mack tries to evacuate the refugees to a safer place on a bus. Elena tries to re-acquaint herself to Mack to make him remember and convince him to leave. Their talk is cut short as everything continues to disappear including the people in the bus leaving Mack, Yoyo, Radcliffe and Hope. Mack decides to take Hope home and wait it out.
Back at HQ, Coulson and May scout the area and talk about the bottle Hague and how to proceed with their relationship while Jemma and Fitz are busy keeping the framework intact for Mack and Yoyo. Aida suddenly appears threatening to kill Jemma.
At Mack’s house, Hope overhears Yoyo and Radcliffe talk about that everything’s not real including her. Both continue to try convincing Mack to leave the Framework through a doorway Daisy just created, but Mack can’t leave Hope alone. Elena too decides to stay as everything in the house slowly disappears until at last Hope does too. Elena staying and Hope’s disappearance become the most intense emotional moments in this episode. Equal to the previous where Jemma tries to comfort a crying Fitz. SHIELD’s writers are really giving it their all assuming they know the show might not get renewed while others slack into complete disinterest.
Back to the story, at SHIELD HQ, Aida confronts Jemma intending to kill her while Fitz tries to talk Aida out of it. But Aida is clearly psychotic. Jemma tries to stab her with a screwdriver, but Aida uses Vijay’s power to turn the tables and stabs Jemma instead. Fitz tries to get Aida to spare Jemma and offers her the Darkhold, but Aida electrocutes Jemma to death, intending to kill everyone in front of Fitz. Aida teleports to Coulson’s location.
This scene felt odd as if the writers could do better. Fitz didn’t seem be as emotional as he should, but it turns out that Simmons was an LMD. But still, Fitz could have done better and made this scene more emotional. Simmons’ ‘death’ didn’t shock me as much as it should have but because the writers know it to be false and seem to be telling the viewers the same thing. Don’t worry, Simmons is okay with all the LMDs walking around. True, a smart viewer would have seen through the death immediately. It’s worth a try to shock them just the same.
At the portal, Aida shows up in front of Coulson intending to get the Darkhold. She suddenly gets shot from behind by Jemma. But before she can go to kill Jemma, Coulson stops her and surprisingly transforms into Ghost Rider. Yes, it’s a big surprise. Could Robbie actually change his appearance? No, it turns out, Coulson gambled the spirit was desperate enough to get a hold of Aida to move to another body, the same way it did to Mack when it wanted to get to Eli. Aida teleports to various places trying to get Ghost Rider to let go. They end up back in SHIELD HQ where Fitz and Jemma witness how Aida gets burned alive.
Unfortunately, this is the part of the episode I was disappointed in. I’ve grown to love Aida but we know she has to go, unfortunately in a very anti-climactic way. The same anti-climactic way the show got rid of Lucy Bower. I wished there was more action but if the Rider lets go, Aida would have teleported away. But there could have been more drama as she could have begged Fitz to help her or told Fitz that she loved him. But her passing really felt like a loss though as you’ll feel sorry for an android who wanted nothing more than to be human. Like if Disney burned Pinocchio after becoming a real boy. But Ms. Mallory Jansen did a great job with what she was given. Fitz didn’t feel all that sorry though as he may have sifted through his emotions faster than expected, except for the guilt.
Back at the Zephyr, Yoyo wakes up from the framework having managed to leave at the last minute. It seemed for a moment that Mack would become a casualty, but he wakes up as well. It was also an emotional moment for Daisy seeing them lose Hope and almost losing Mack.
We then see Coulson and Robbie discussing Coulson’s deal with Ghost Rider. The spirit returned to Robbie after killing Aida. Aside from Jemma and Robbie, Coulson opts to keep it from the team, though they’ll surely ask how Aida was defeated given that Robbie was with Daisy at the time. Perhaps they know except for the real nature of the deal which we may later see in Season 5. Speculation here, Coulson’s going to start seeing visions soon.
As a nature of a season-ender, this episode closes the tension between Yoyo and Mack’s relationship after they discuss Hope, Mack realizes he can still have a future with Elena, perhaps to have a daughter again with her.
Robbie says goodbye, hopefully temporarily, taking the Darkhold with him to keep it out of the wrong hands. Robbie surprisingly uses his chain to create a sling portal to another location. They really made a couple of Doctor Strange connections here with the portal and earlier telling Coulson about the never-ending war between dimensions. Before leaving, Robbie tells Coulson that he doesn’t envy him, meaning Coulson’s deal with Ghost Rider could have implications in the future.
Mack and Yoyo arrive to tell the others that the government is on its way and that Talbot is still alive. Fitz volunteers to stay behind and explain everything but Daisy convinced him otherwise, that separating one’s self from the team because of guilt wasn’t the answer.
Back at the framework, Radcliffe drinks whiskey at the beach regretting that he passed on the chance at being immortal and lamenting the loss of Agnes. It’s quite a shame to lose this character introduced last Season 3. He’s as quirky as he was in The Mummy trilogy but a flare more dramatic in AOS. His performance was great especially in Farewell Cruel World as he took Fitz to the portal sincerely saying that the Framework as it was then, was never his intent as he only wanted everyone in it to be happy. Radcliffe raises his glass and just disappears.
In the penultimate scene, the team eats together in a diner. Completely together for the first time. The lights suddenly turn off. The team surrenders to their unknown captors, but they turn on a device similar to the one used in Iron Man 1. The team is then taken away. In the last scene, we see Coulson waking up from a bunk bed, seemingly imprisoned. He gets up and opens a window to reveal that they’re now in space.
Overall, the finale is good but not great. It was a little too fast-paced and could be more nicely done as a two-hour special. But it would be tough to cram expensive effects in a two-hour TV show. Robbie wielding his chain while untransformed is clear evidence of working with the budget while those moments with him transformed were awesome.