Disclaimer: Spoilers for the episode below. Previous episode review here.
100th episodes usually have a lot of callbacks that work to varying affects. Arrow‘s 100th episode was a nice emotional “What If?” scenario, and tonight S.H.I.E.L.D. did something similar. It made us briefly question everything we had ever watched on this show.
Our agents are safe and sound back in good old 2018. However, the explosion caused at the end of the last episode resulted in the destruction of the three monoliths in containment. This resulting destruction caused a merger of the monoliths’ powers creating a rift in the space-time continuum. This rift led to a “fear dimension” which allowed for some of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s past to sneak back into the show.
Phil Coulson revealed that the deal he made with the Ghost Rider last season burned through whatever Kree magic had brought him back to life after his death at the hands of Loki in Marvel’s The Avengers. Essentially, he was now slowly dying for a second time. Mack, Daisy, May, and the rest of the cast were, as expected, pissed off that he had kept this from him. However, it also made him the logical choice to close the rift.
So Coulson went in to close the rift and came face-to-face with Mike Peterson, sans Deathlok. Mike was one of the first characters we met in S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s first season, and one I hoped would make an appearance in the 100th episode. “Fear Mike” provided Coulson with a huge “What If?” that could have made us rethink the last five seasons of the show. “Fear Mike” told Coulson that he is still dead. That the electrons attached to his head and constant attempts at reviving Coulson have led him to imagine the last five years of storylines. Coulson is afraid of dying before his time and has imagined everything he never had: a flying car, family, a daughter (Quake), etc. It definitely had me believing in “Fear Mike”‘s story, even if the MCU film connections were to have made no sense.
Then real Mike Peterson stepped on to the scene, in full-on Deathlok, and shit got real. Deke had apparently sent out the call and wound up with a Quinjet of returning S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and Mike Peterson. Deathlok arrived just at the right time to destroy his fear persona and help Coulson fix the rift. Along the way they fought season 3 baddies Lash and Hive, and some of those alien cockroaches from the future. It was a badass, yet brief fight scene.
Then, to finish off the episode, we had the wedding of FitzSimmons. And it was about damn time! This duo have gone through the worst of the ups-and-downs. Fitz suffers brain damage after almost drowning; Jemma gets transported to an alien planet; Fitz goes full on fascist in the Framework. The S.H.I.E.L.D. writers just kept on throwing obstacles at these two, yet they persisted.
The wedding also canonized a popular fan theory concerning Deke Shaw. While speaking with Deathlok about the wedding rings, Deke said that he picked out Simmons’s wedding ring at the pawn shop because it reminded him of his mother’s ring she had been given to her by her mom. With that thrown out there my spidey sense started tingling. It went into full blown overdrive when the scene cut to General Hale and one of her minions who revealed that scanning Deke’s DNA for potential genetic matches had brought up two results: Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons. Deke Shaw is the future grandson of FitzSimmons. Where this bit of information will lead to is anyone’s guess at this point
Final Verdict: “The Real Deal” definitely lived up the buzz 100th episodes usually garner. It left us on the edge of our seats as we pondered whether S.H.I.E.L.D. was all in Coulson’s head and, worst of all, if he was going to die this episode! FitzSimmons got married with their future grandson at the wedding, and we saw fan favorites like Deathlok, Lash, and Hive return (if only briefly). Seasons 4 and 5 have really done a great job calling back to previous characters and storylines and that is what makes the show such a satisfying watch. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. knows how to reward fans who have stuck with the show since the beginning. The 100th episode delivered and promised that the rest of the season would be just as eventful.