By: Casey Johnston (@DarthHockey)
WARNING: There are spoilers ahead for the mid-season finale of Agents of SHIELD, but since this post is two days late you’ve probably already watched it anyway. Thanks for reading.
I thought this episode did a great job of focusing on everyone. Every other episode this season seemed to tell the story of a smaller faction of the cast, but his one allowed everyone to shine and it gave each character a moment to showcase their importance to the show. With a cast as big and diverse as this, that’s no small feat, and it was done in a way that didn’t short-change anyone. Not once did I find myself saying, “I need more Coulson” or, “I need more Fitz.” I already love this show, and I think this is the best season yet, but I definitely wouldn’t complain if there were more episodes in the future that focused on everyone equally instead of a few people at a time.
Raise your hand if you were worried about Coulson going up against Ward (*raising my hand*). Clark Gregg plays Coulson as such an unassuming guy that it’s easy to forget he’s not some desk jockey from 9-to-5. Coulson may be behind a desk more often than not as the director of SHIELD, but he’s a field agent first. This episode showcased that in an exciting way. It didn’t take much for Coulson to take out Ward’s team and then subdue Ward himself. Coulson was out for revenge, and nothing was going to stop him from completing his task. When everything started going to hell in the end, Coulson stood toe-to-toe with Ward in a fight and won (yeah, Ward literally had his hands tied, but who cares).
Ward’s death was particularly brutal and personal. Because of Ward’s acumen as a fighter, I went into this episode assuming Coulson would have to shoot him. Instead, he used his robo-hand to crush Ward’s chest. It was poetic justice for Ward shooting Rosalind in front of Coulson. The end of the fight was a bit jarring. It reminded me of The Godfather when Clemenza tells Michael to shoot Barzini and drop his gun and walk away, only here Coulson dropped his own hand. I’m not sure if the writers were going for a nod to that classic film, but the imagery was there.
It looks like the writers figured out a way to kill off Grant Ward but still keep Brett Dalton on the show. I’m not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, it kind of lessens the impact of Ward’s death. He’s been such a great villain since the second half of season one that his death should have reverberated through the characters and the audience in a memorable way. On the other hand, Dalton plays a great villain but the writers were running out of ideas for him. This is a curious twist, but that doesn’t mean it has to be bad. He’s played the good guy, the bad guy, and now he’ll get to play another bad guy. I’ll have to see how this plays out, but this show has been exceeding my expectations for a while now, so I’ll just go along for the ride.
I haven’t written much about Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie. He’s been a good supporting character up until now. He’s been there for many of the major stories and twists, but he’s always played the sidekick to whomever is on screen with him. These last two episodes, Mack has really come into his own as a character. I curiously raised an eyebrow when Coulson made him the director because May was the obvious choice, but that decision turned out great. He’s stepped into that role effortlessly, and in this episode he showed that’s he willing to make tough decisions even if they put himself at risk. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the character now that Coulson is back on earth. Mack has proven himself to be a leader; it won’t feel right if he just goes back to being the team’s mechanic.
Getting off the mysterious planet was one of the tensest scenes of the series. We all know Fitz and Coulson were going to make it back to earth, but this was a mid-season finale of a Marvel show, so there was no telling if they would make it make it in this episode or not. Seeing them walk out of that escape pod allowed me to breathe easy until March.
“I’ll be damned, Tatooine.”
Thanks for reading!