“Absolution” is episode twenty-one of season three of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
In the previous episode, “Emancipation”, Coulson had run a con on, well, nearly everybody – except May and Lincoln. Including General Talbot. Through this, they’d convinced Daisy that Lincoln truly wanted to see her again, and she’d arranged his escape from the base, directing him to a Quinjet which was then going to take Lincoln to see her, and her alone. Of course Daisy wasn’t telling the truth – the Quinjet was met by Hive. Lincoln also wasn’t telling the truth – he wasn’t on the Quinjet. Instead it was Lash – Andrew Garner, fully transformed. Lincoln stated that all Inhumans are created for a reason, and he believed that Lash’s reason was to defeat Hive. Hive was unable to use his Sway on Lash but, when the latter saw Daisy, he abandoned his attack on Hive and rescued her, freeing her from the influence of Sway and loading her onto the Quinjet, before he was killed by James, who was using a red-hot metal chain (foreshadowing the next season perhaps?). So Daisy is back, but Lash didn’t kill Hive. Even though it appears he could have. So the new theory is that Lash’s purpose was to save Daisy. Although surely killing Hive would have gone a long way to achieving that anyway.
Doctor Radcliffe’s experiments on normal humans to turn them into Inhumans didn’t quite please him, as they became degenerate, if strong, creatures – Radcliffe is after the next stage of human evolution, not degenerate primitives (Radcliffe may be less than happy to work with Hive now, given the constant threats to take his memory or simply eat him). Hive was satisfied, though, as they were under his complete mental control, so ordered Radcliffe to produce more of them. According to Fitz, Hive, with a suitable delivery method, could use Radcliffe’s creation to turn a substantial portion of the human race into Swayed Inhumans – and Talbot says that Hive has stolen a warhead that could distribute it.
This episode opens with Daisy and Coulson in an isolation pod on what looks like the world Hive was banished to. Daisy refers to the vision she saw at the end of “Spacetime” which showed the death of someone with a S.H.I.E.L.D. badge on an exploding spaceship; only she says she didn’t realise it would be everyone who died. Daisy and Coulson are the only ones left. She is trying to fix something so that they can get back to Earth, but Coulson says that the planet they are on is Earth.
This is actually a nightmare. Daisy is being kept in isolation on the base, as part of the security protocols. She is full of self-loathing over what she has done; even a chat with Coulson considering the problems with vengeance doesn’t help. They do want to know what the titular ‘absolution’ that Hive referred to is, but Daisy doesn’t know.
Hive’s forces have taken control of a U.S. missile facility in the South Pacific, which they are going to use to launch the warhead. Mack, Lincoln, Yoyo and May are heading to the facility in a Quinjet – although it’s flying in a rather unusual way. They need the kill codes to stop the missile from launching, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to sort of steal them, with General Talbot’s help. When the missile is stopped, Hive is really not happy about this.
Partway through everything seems to be sorted out, and people keep making constant references to it being over and what they’ll do afterwards. This is quite obviously a bad mistake – you should never make claims like that, and things start to really fall to pieces with another essentially cliff-hanger ending (and no-post logo clip yet again).