Disclaimer: Spoilers for the episode and Avengers: Infinity War below. Previous episode review here.
Ever since Franklin Hall was introduced back in season 1, fans have wondered if Graviton would ever make an appearance on the show. Friday’s episode did just that by turning Talbot into the supervillain complete with goatee and cape. As Coulson put it, Talbot looked “pretty cool actually.”
Talbot was the real highlight of the episode and the writers really gave him so great dialogue and scenes. Coulson and Talbot board the alien spaceship and Talbot starts kicking ass and ignoring names right away. Coulson’s more lighthearted, joking nature makes for a nice contrast to Talbot’s more direct, no-nonsense approach. I love how Coulson asked about the voices and Talbot simply said they just needed a General to keep them in order.
Talbot flexed his superpowered muscles by killing off a lot of characters this episode. Random soldiers were compressed into a ball and some alien member of the Confederacy was absorbed into Talbot (at least in my opinion that is what seemed to have happened). He also killed Hale after she tried to make him comply. With Hale’s demise I am not quite sure what to make of her character. She seemed like a worthy threat to Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. must was never given enough material to make her shine on her own. Her cohorts she had under her (Carl Creel, Superior, Ruby, Werner) were always far more interesting antagonists to S.H.I.E.L.D. than she ever was. The last minute recollection on her past wrongs with Coulson went a long ways in trying to humanize her and give her some audience sympathy but it was too little too late. A tragic ending for a character that had a lot of potential (given her HYDRA ties to previous MCU baddies).
Stepping away from Talbot and company for a moment, we turn our attention back to the Lighthouse where everyone continues to bicker with each other and May stops not one BUT TWO fights! C’mon Melinda, I watch S.H.I.E.L.D. for the badass ass kickings! Mack (and shotgun-axe) versus an alien. Yo-Yo versus Quake. Why are you depriving me of this Melinda?!
Otherwise, May and Quake are still hellbent on curing Coulson of his impending death, but I am not sure bringing Project Centipede into the equation is a smart option. Are we sure Coulson would want HYDRA tech strapped to his body? I am aware the film and TV sides of the MCU are mostly separate but surely that Chinese doctor from Iron Man 3 that safely removed Tony’s arc reactor could find a cure for Coulson?
Lastly, Avengers: Infinity War got a large namedrop in the episode specifically in regards to Thanos. It looks like Thanos has been the secret villain of season 5 all along. Talbot is determined that he is “Earth’s Mightiest Hero” and can stop Thanos. Does the Earth cracking happen post-finger snap? Does Talbot watch his son disintegrate in front of him and loses it? Two episodes remain so we will be finding out soon enough!
Final Verdict: The heart of S.H.I.E.L.D. is what drives a lot of character motivations. FitzSimmons, Deke and Daisy, Mack and Yo-Yo, Coulson and May; every thing each of these characters’ do is to save or protect the ones they love. Daisy and May want to save Coulson because Daisy can’t lose someone she loved again like Lincoln. Yo-Yo is trying to prevent Mack’s death, FitzSimmons never wants to be separated again, and Deke loves Daisy and left a bunch of lemons on her head. Finally, Talbot just wants to prove to his son that his father is worthy of his love and admiration again. Love can be a real bitch sometimes.