Wednesday, December 09, 2015


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wrapped up for the mid-season (and three months) last night. Honestly, I expected the show might leave us in a more cliffhangery spot than it did; instead, we got quite a lot of closure on the season so far, and the stage set for a new main story when the series returns.

Most of the episode really worked for me. Fitz and Simmons (and Iain de Caestecker and Elizabeth Hensridge) continue to be given more to do, continue to develop, and continue to thrill me with every episode. There were things throughout the episode that first-season Fitz and Simmons would never have done -- the former trying futilely to steal Ward's gun, the latter engineering her own escape -- showing just how far these two have come.

The Inhuman trio of Daisy, Lincoln, and, Joey was a lot of fun, particularly the latter's exuberance at discovering new facets of his metal melting powers. There was too much plot to cover in this episode to give us a lot of their infiltration efforts, but what we got was enjoyable.

But a couple things didn't work as well for me. First, I felt like they really defanged the alien creature. There was something very ominous about it when Simmons was stranded on the planet and it was the shadowy, cloaked apparition that messed with your mind. Now it's basically just a corpse parasite that wears dead people as a meat suit. And sure, it may yet manifest some of its older powers, and new ones we've yet to see... but taking physical form makes it feel like something tangible you can fight, which to me makes it a lot less scary. It also too-neatly sweeps the Fitz-Simmons-Will triangle under the rug, killing a very cool minor character off screen in the process, which feels like a bit of a cop-out to me.

I also didn't like that after a season and a half of Ward making enemies of virtually every character on the show, Coulson got to deliver the death blow. Though the show tried mightily to sell the "this time, it's personal" aspect of it all, it was already quite personal for Daisy, Hunter, May, Bobbi, Fitz, Simmons... basically, everyone else. It was a combination of two issues for me, really: first, the fact that once Coulson decides it's time to kill Ward, it gets done almost immediately; second, the fact that Coulson didn't really build and nurse his grudge over time in the way that all the other characters I mentioned did. It just felt like the wrong character got to do the deed.

But at least the show did do it. Ward had been hanging around too long, in a too cartoonishly one-dimensional state of villainy. The schtick had stopped being sustainable a while ago, and it was time to move on. I don't object to the twist of keeping Brett Dalton around on the show to wear the monster's face. (As I noted above, I dislike giving the monster a face at all, but if he's going to have one, it might as well be Ward's.) Somewhere down the line, maybe a more fitting character will get to kill "Ward."

Plenty to look forward to in the back half of the season. Lash is back on the loose, as is Gideon Malick (with his new pet alien)... and yet both of those elements feel to some extent like the start of something new rather than the continuation of what's come so far. In the meantime, we can enjoy the holidays and the return of Agent Carter. I give "Maveth" a B+.

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