This review contains spoilers
In order to top the gleeful sight of Coulson skydiving through an alien portal at the end of last week’s episode, Maveth would have needed to be one of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s best episodes ever. I’d argue that it isn’t, and thus feels like a bit of a let down. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad episode, per se.
Ultimately, last week’s Closure proved to set too high a bar. While that episode was frenetic enough to suggest that anything could happen, Maveth was a predictable dawdle by comparison. It did have a few good moments, though.
Primarily, I enjoyed the action back on planet Earth. Blair Underwood’s Lash cameo was suitably tense, for one. The Secret Warriors fared very well on their first outing (that bullet stopping moment was particularly impressive), as well. And Mack’s leadership in the face of a potential no-win scenario really showed how far that particular character has come.
He’s always been cool, but now Mack feels like a genuine candidate for leadership should Clark Gregg’s Coulson ever leave the show. I rarely single out Henry Simmons for praise, but he’s become a reliable anchor the show while the other characters run about in their various side arcs. Good job, sir.
Over on the blue filter version of Tatooine, though, there was less to enjoy. After the hype about this mysterious, deadly creature, I would’ve liked to actually see it in action a bit, rather than disguising itself as a returning guest star for the entire episode. (That said, the reveal of the skeletal leg was pretty effective.)
And even though Ward has never been my favourite character, I’m very glad that this won’t be his final episode. His speech about joining HYDRA in search of a father figure and some revenge felt like Brett Dalton casually reading out a list of character motivations while the cameras just so happened to be rolling, rather than a big important monologue from a villain two and a half seasons in the making.
Despite these complaints, the final five seconds spent on the alien planet were a bit more enjoyable. After his emotional revenge movie moments from last week, it felt totally plausible that Coulson would ‘kill’ Ward. And seeing Fitz incinerate the alien big bag was fairly bad ass, as far as action beats for Iain De Caestecker go. The grim looks on both Agents faces when they returned suggest that we’ll see some emotional consequences for both after Christmas, which is never a bad thing.
All in all, though, I wasn’t a huge fan of Maveth. It felt like a lot of things were moved around to make room for the alien planet action (for instance, Bobbi’s big fight scene takes place off screen, Mad Max: Fury Road style), but then all we actually got from the galactic jaunt was another sand storm and lots of walking and talking (until the last possible minute).
And, on top of that, none of the big baddie beating moments will stick. Neither Ward nor the alien slug thing stayed dead until the end of the episode, because of the need for a midseason cliff hanger (How did WardSlug get to Earth?!) to keep us intrigued enough over the festive break.
I’m trying not to lose sight of some important things, though. Season 3 has arguably been the most consistent Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. run to date, so we probably shouldn’t complain too much. Hopefully, WardSlug and Mallick will make the next 12 episodes good ones.
Have a good Christmas, folks!