Time is running out to save the world from Graviton (and Coulson from himself) in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 finale. Will it be “The End” for our beloved agents?

Look at your choices

The painful tug-of-war between destiny and decision has been a running theme in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5, but this idea just about explodes in the season finale. The episode, titled “The End,” has no more time to play with theory: It’s decision time for all of our agents, and the fallout is acutely consequential.

With Coulson’s life quite literally on the line, emotions are at their most painfully raw, and the team’s clashing calculations lead to some dramatic developments. Coulson himself is — finally! — back in the position of decision-maker, even as the team struggles to make decisions for him. Mack too becomes a critical actor in this regard, as does Daisy.

“The End” serves as a crucial development in Daisy’s series-long arc. Faced with a series of choices that will define the fate of the world, Daisy also confronts her own essential identity, and makes a call that will dramatically impact any stories to come.

Stay close

Fraught and angry though parts of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 finale may be, the episode also reinforces the profound bonds that have kept Team Coulson together through thick and thin. When the gravitonium hits the fan, S.H.I.E.L.D. almost can’t help but go into recovery mode. Whatever cruel words or painful strikes have come between them before, “The End” highlights just how enduring — and indeed, how selfless — the connection between these people truly is.

Sacrifice play(s)

The question of sacrifice, of the value of the lives of yourself and of others, was a pressing issue in Avengers: Infinity War. It is this, more than any other connection, that truly links “The End” to that film. Preserving the once-clear line between evil and good is a vital challenge for everyone, but characters like Mack, Fitz, Daisy, and Elena struggle particularly with this weighty subject.

Oh yeah! GraviTalbot thinks about it a time or two as well.

With the fate of the world at stake from every angle, look for echoes of the debates waged by the Avengers as they contemplated Thanos. (And Thanos’ own debates, for that matter.) When catastrophe looms, what kind of losses should be justified, or rejected, or even embraced? What can you give of yourself at the literal point of no return? And what price might be exacted, that you hadn’t even known you were going to pay?

(Look, it’s the season finale people! Things get heavy.)

Really cool VFX

There are some damn cool VFX shots in “The End.” Shoutout to you, Mark Kolpack!

Ending and mending

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 finale may be titled “The End,” but we’re only saying goodbye for a little more than a year, when the show returns for 13 episodes next summer. (I know, it’s a long wait, but it’s better than nothing!)

But the season finale is prepped and ready to be a farewell tour for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which means that there are a couple of things to look out for. The poignant nostalgia for days past, a proud herald back to the S.H.I.E.L.D. that once was — that’s all to be expected. Sweet moments of (occasionally romantic) resolution and sad farewells — yes, “The End” has those too.

But while the end of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 finale contains within it much resolution, it is not, as such, a hard conclusion. That means there will be plenty to animate the fan imagination over the long hiatus before season 6, as… let’s call them possibilities… flourish in the wake of significant events.

Bonus hint: Raise a glass.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 5 finale, “The End,” airs Friday, May 18 at 9:00 p.m. on ABC.

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