This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.
Agents of SHIELD: Season 3, Episode 10Well, the mid-winter finale certainly was eventful. Somehow, the episode brought every myriad storyline together in an episode that was well paced and focused but not really as epic as Marvel promoted it to be.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I was wringing my hands over Fitz’s fate and I was yelling for Coulson to put a bullet in Ward. I got emotionally invested and I certainly enjoyed the watch, but all this week Marvel was promising a profound game changer and while some status quo changes did occur, they weren’t all that resounding.
Take for instance the big one, Grant Ward. Yeah, there was a conclusion to the Grant Ward story– sort of, but by episode’s end, Ward was still the big bad, he’s just a little more, well, infested. Let’s back up so I can explain. Ward was in full HYDRA mode, going off planet to bring back the HYDRA death beast thingie that tormented Simmons and her astronaut beau Will. Ward forced Fitz off planet and it’s kind of cool that some of Earth’s first contact with alien worlds in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is taking place on Agents of SHIELD, but this wasn’t a friendly visit as Ward and company wanted to bring the death beast back to help them (say it Pinky) try and take over the world.
Fitz wasn’t exactly cooperative and managed to run across astronaut Will. Fitz knew that bringing Will back to Earth was a one way ticket to the Simmons friend zone but good old Fitz did his duty. Or tried to because Will was actually now possessed by the alien. It was all very Prometheus and it was a bit telegraphed, but still, while Fitz struggled with the beastie, it was heart-in-throat stuff because who doesn’t love Fitz? The dude just makes this show, with his unlikely bravery and his dry humor, he really is the most likable character on network Marvel TV (Luke Cage is the most likable dude on all of Marvel TV, and I’ll fight you if you think otherwise). But Fitz survived, alien Will did not, and you know what, neither did Ward.
Last week, Ward crossed a line by killed Rosalind Price right in front of Coulson. S.H.I.E.L.D.’s director was hell bent on revenge and entered the alien portal to take down Ward. Well, the two had their showdown this week, and Coulson certainly got the better of HYDRA’s favorite son. We waited three seasons for it; we waited since the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and now Phil Coulson has killed Grant Ward with his own bare (albeit bionic) hand. It was a moment of ultimate catharsis, a moment punctuated by Coulson’s melancholy visions of pure happiness with Price, and a moment that forced Coulson into becoming a killer. And the episode didn’t just have Coulson double tap Ward, oh no, it had Coulson slowly crush Ward’s chest with the former director’s robot hand.
Don’t get me wrong, the death of Grant Ward is a huge moment for Agents of SHIELD. After all, Ward has been a part of the show since day one and if Ward was truly gone, this would indeed be headline news. Ward may be gone, but that alien entity, the one inside poor Will, was not and by episode’s end it was revealed it now inhabited Ward and had arrived on Earth. Now, Ward is gone, but Ward is still the big bad which is why I am saying that the epicness and impact of the episode is a bit in question. But with a new alien Ward ready to take on S.H.I.E.L.D., well, the second half of the season should prove interesting.
Every member of S.H.I.E.L.D. was front and center this week with some highlights, including the reluctant Inhuman Gutierrez using his melty powers in really cool ways during S.H.I.E.L.D.’s assault on HYDRA, some cool action sequences with Hunter and Morse, and some signature May ass kicking. May had some personal issues of her own. You see, HYDRA had many crated up Inhumans in their HQ. This included Garner, May’s ex-hubbie and the Inhuman killer known as Lash. Simmons freed Garner in order to help her escape and in turn, the monster took down many a HYDRA dirt bag but he also tore the snoozing Inhumans to shreds. Both May and Simmons will have to deal with the consequences of that little bloodbath as we move forward.
A rare occurrence also occurred this week. Good old Mack experienced some character development. Usually Mack is the rock of the group, but he is always a rather flat player in the world of S.H.I.E.L.D. He is always good with a quip or a sudden burst of violence, but Mack rarely changes. This week, Mack proved himself to be every inch the leader S.H.I.E.L.D. needed to win the day. With Coulson off the reservation, Mack stepped in and proved worthy of the Director position. He was willing to sacrifice himself to save his men and there was more meat on Mack’s persona than ever before.
It’s funny, after two and half seasons of being the show’s focal point, Daisy Johnson has kind of gotten short thrift this season. It seems like her purpose this year is do cool Inhuman power stuff and save the day for the other, more human, players. You know what? It’s working. The show is way more effective when focusing on Fitz and Simmons or Morse and Hunter and having the power stuff in the background or held for a special moment.
And that’s what we ended on, a very human, very special moment as Fitz and Simmons embraced as our Agents won the day. But at what price? Coulson and Fitz each killed a man possessed by the HYDRA entity, yet the monster still lives in the body of the Agents’ greatest foe.
Good stuff but the series still hasn’t given that extra little shock or push that could finally put it over the top and make it truly great.
Not a whole heck of a lot, I can’t think of any analogous being to the HYDRA parasite in the comics. With the portal made of black goo, I kind of want it to be a Venom symbiote, but it’s not.
Before the season began, Marvel made a big deal out of the arrival of the Secret Warriors. It still hasn’t really happened yet even with Gutierrez and Lincoln front and center this week.