This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.
Agents of SHIELD: Season 3, Episode 9
Every season of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has had a turning point, a moment where the show does a 180 and becomes almost something else entirely, usually for the betterment of the show. In season one, it was when Ward made his heel turn; in season two, it was when Jiaying did the same. Tonight, that turning point may have hit season three as Coulson suffered a great loss and Ward made his move on our team.
So far this season, the relationship between Coulson and Rosalind Price was treading some familiar ground. Price was a fellow espionage guru who walked that fine line between staunch ally and aggressive adversary. It was the same ground covered with Edward James Olmos’ Gonzalez, only this time; Coulson was eager to get into both the proverbial and literal bed with his potential rival. The series did a pretty good job in building up Rosalind into a character beyond Coulson’s foil and last week, we discovered that she was a patsy for one Gideon Malick. Finally, we would get to see Coulson find a relationship that made him happy, something fans have been longing for ever since Pepper Potts’ line about the cello player in the first Avengers film. Well, happiness was not in the cards for Phil Coulson because Grant Ward’s bullet ripped Rosalind Price out of the Marvel Universe to open this week’s show.
Coulson’s reaction was realistic and intense. I have complained ad nauseam about the fact that, for the most part, Agents of SHIELD never had an awesome big bad to sink your teeth into. Garrett really didn’t cut it, Skye’s father was more of a rabid teddy bear, and Jiaying was pretty cool, but she didn’t stick around long enough to make enough of an impact. Through it all, three seasons in fact, Ward has been the constant adversary for the agents, but this week, he finally stepped into definitive arch villain status.
After Price bit it (and honestly, it was so sudden and so shocking, for a few seconds, I thought it was a dream sequence), all hell broke loose with Coulson prepping his team for an all out siege on HYDRA. It was not the clearheaded Coulson that planned the attack, but a very vengeful and almost feral Coulson. He was out for blood.
It was all a set up, as Ward was just creating a distraction (a very personal distraction) so Ward could abduct Fitz and Simmons. This is where things dovetail nicely. One of the focal points of the season thus far is Fitz and Simmons and their starcrossed love. Now, Marvel’s favorite couple (sorry Bruce and Natasha) were in true danger as Ward and Malick needed them to open a portal to retrieve the HYDRA demon thing on the other side. Now, this is where things got tricky. The big deal mysteries on Agents of SHIELD so far have been rather disappointing. The secret behind Coulson’s resurrection fell flat while Skye’s identity was not that of any long time Marvel character (I mean I like Quake and all, but remember when we all thought she was Spider-Woman). So whoever that creature is, it better be awesome! Here’s hoping.
There were other repercussions from Price’s death as well. First, we got the beginning of the Secret Warriors as Mack sent Lincoln and Gutierrez (remember the Inhuman melty dude) into the field to help Coulson and company, and speaking of Mack, how far he has come? This week, Coulson made Mack the acting director of S.H.I.E.L.D., so we had our third S.H.I.E.L.D. director in Marvel cinematic history, first Nick Fury, then Agent Coulson, and now Agent Mack. Mack seemed a bit overwhelmed but he did have May and Daisy guiding him. I was a bit disappointed that the Inhuman contingent of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t get to kick ass this week, but I guess we’ll have to wait for the winter finale (and when did that become a thing, all week with the winter finales) to see an Inhuman smackdown.
Anyway, back to Fitz and Simmons. Ward got Fitz to agree to help HYDRA by torturing Simmons. Seriously, Ward just needs to die very violently. He has now crossed the line with just about every agent, torturing Simmons, blowing off Morse’s kneecap, sexually using May, and killing Price. I guess I can’t poop on Agents of SHIELD ‘s lack of palpable villainy any longer, huh? All this made Fitz and Simmons even more vulnerable and now Fitz was going to be stuck on the alien world with HYDRA and Ward. Seriously, they have to get Fitz back soon, The Force Awakens comes out in three weeks, the poor dude can’t miss that!
In the already loaded episode, we even got a bit of action with Agent Hunter as the bad ass Brit continued to blame himself for not taking down Ward when he had the chance. One wonders how that guilt will play out and one also wonders how Agents of SHIELD will start pointing Hunter and Morse into the direction of their own possible spinoff.
But before we get there, we have an intergalactic winter finale to survive. Let’s hope all the cool set ups get paid off next week, because this episode was pretty much firing on all cylinders.
With the Civil War trailer recently dropping, I hope to see some hints and set ups for the coming hero-versus-hero conflict. The Registration Act should hit the Inhuman population particularly hard and let’s hope that is reflected on Marvel TV.
A nice little name-dropping of Alexander Pierce this week — Robert Redford’s character from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And it’s very cool that Malick is setting up Ward as Pierce’s heir apparent within HYDRA.
As I said, we got the first gathering of what could become the Secret Warriors. When that unit forms more officially, I’ll get into some history, but in the meantime, do yourself a favor and grab a few Secret Warriors trades on eBay to see some early Daisy Johnson pre-Agents of SHIELD comic book action.