If you thought the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s debate over Elena’s impulsive execution of Ruby was intense, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Heading into the newly renewed (and summer-bound!) ABC drama’s Season 5 finale (titled “The End” and airing Friday at 9/8c), the team came to realize that with the one-and-only-one dose of Centipede serum that Daisy procured, they can either (possibly!) save the dying Coulson’s life or combine it with the Kree odium to (potentially!) take down the gravitonium-infused Talbot, and thus save the rest of the world.
Supporting the latter option is Elena’s contention that her future self warned that they need to “let” Coulson die, to keep the Earth from being cracked like an egg. Or was that just the cryptic, prone-to-misinterpretation babble of a shook seer? Decisions, decisions….
“The problem,” after the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents returned from Season 5A’s trip to the future, “was that all of the clues we have as to what happened were so nebulous, and we keep thinking we’re encountering them,” co-showrunner Jed Whedon notes. “And now we’re facing one that we know is the definitive moment, where we have to decide our path.”
The team knows the full magnitude of this moment as well, and that fuels a heated exchange of words — and impassioned actions.
“We can tell from the last couple episodes that tensions are high,” Whedon reminds. “Everyone will weigh in on this in a different way, and they know that no matter which path they choose, lives will be lost.”
Who will take which side, though? After all, a couple of agents care for Coulson in deeply personal ways, while Elena’s belief in her future self is unyielding.
“It’s always interesting how what you think you believe and what you actually believe can be two separate things,” says executive producer Jeff Bell. For the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, “Going from the theoretical to, ‘Oh, this is real‘ makes people make surprising choices sometimes. As we get closer to that, that will happen.”
As for how this team infighting will compare to the aforementioned arguing about Ruby’s death, “It’s different,” says Bell. “I don’t think it’s more intense, but it is different.”
Speaking of prophecies and such: There also looms the fact that a future version of Elena, as seen in Episode 8, bitterly pointed out that Mack is “gone” at that point and never coming back. Will that come into play as S.H.I.E.L.D. faces this fraught finale? “It’s a question mark…,” Whedon affirms. “We know who made it [to that future] and who didn’t, and we’ll have to see how that plays out.”
As one might surmise from the above — with Coulson’s life on the line just as he and May connected like never before, another agent apparently doomed, and all as Talbot aims to super-charge his considerable powers to the max — viewers will be going through “all of the emotions” as Season 5 charges to a close, Bell says.
“I think you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll roll on your belly like a reptile,” he promises. “They’re all there, all three [emotions].”