Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Season 3 Episode 9
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD gives some long overdue focus to Ward and how he relates to his former teammates as Coulson finally goes after him.
The death of Rosalind was a genuine shock that I didn’t see coming. It was preceded by a great scene of sitting down to dinner with Coulson as the two bantered back and forth in the same way that has been so endearing all season. There is a sense of trust in this season suggesting that every piece of rivalry has been put behind them. It was a great scene that showed a really natural interaction between these two characters. It’s rare for this show to take the time to let characters have very real conversations so this was very much appreciated.
It’s a shame that she is completely taken out as this removes an engaging dynamic that was carrying the show in a lot of ways. The tension between Coulson and Rosalind has always been a joy to watch so it feels like the show is missing something by cutting that off so early. Killing Banks in the same episode removes the only two A.T.C.U. characters who could keep that plot engaging. I imagine there will be another figurehead introduced but I think that Banks should have been kept around especially since this episode made him seem a bit more fleshed out.
One thing that does work about her death is that it definitely has meaning. She has been a big part of the show since the first episode of the season and has always been a good character so seeing her killed off so heartlessly has a definite weight to it. It also makes it easier to accept that Coulson would be so profoundly affected by it.
It bothered me that this plot bears a striking similarity to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer story where a romantic partner is murdered by an ally gone bad. This episode isn’t as good as the equivalent episode on Buffy The Vampire Slayer but it is nonetheless effective. There has been so much TV that comparisons are only natural but this struck me with how similar it was.
After Rosalind’s death, the plot is centrally focused on Coulson finding Ward to avenge her. This is a bit of a mixed bag in the execution. On one hand it’s reasonable that this would push Coulson over the edge but Clark Gregg’s performance as a the vengeance fueled Coulson doesn’t quite work as well as it should. I think it would be more fitting for him to take a more subdued approach with his rage bubbling just beneath the surface. This would have been far more effective certainly. I definitely didn’t buy him trying to blame Hunter for a few seconds before enlisting him and Bobbi to help with the hunt.
Coulson’s interviews with the members of the team who have been there since the beginning was a nice touch as it provided some interesting insight into how the other characters viewed Ward. It’s a shame that much of the testimony happened off screen as it would have shown Ward to be a really complex and troubled character from early on. Fitz’ anecdote about him sneaking into his bunk to look at his family photographs could have been a really effective scene back in the day.
The most interesting testimony was from Daisy who represents a version of Ward who turned out better. She had a similar upbringing and could relate to a lot of his feelings of loss and abandonment. Daisy points out that she can understand why he would be enticed by Garrett into joining H.Y.D.R.A. given how easily she was led by her mother. It all shows that Daisy could very easily have turned out very differently.
Coulson’s plan to find Ward’s brother, Thomas (Tyler Ritter) makes a lot of sense as he’s the best lead on someone that Ward will care about. His only weakness seems to be his last surviving connection to his past so it’s a good idea to exploit it. It’s handy that Thomas has no love for his brother as well and is all too happy to help bring him down.
Ward’s conversation with his brother is less interesting than the idea of Ward having a weakness. Nothing that was said felt in any way significant and seemed to come from the standard playbook of family drama that we’ve seen so many other places. It gets the point across but not in a way that rises anywhere above the basic requirements.
Mack being left as acting director doesn’t make a lot of sense. It has never been established that he would be at all effective in a leadership role and the flimsy justification of May being emotionally compromised by what has happened recently with Andrew is laughable.
Despite this, Mack conducts himself really well by giving a rousing speech that motivates the troops. He may be in the role because there is literally nobody else but he undeniably rises to the challenge.
The mention that Daisy finally gets her team only outlines how pathetic it is. She has Lincoln and Joey as backup but that’s it. Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has completely dropped the ball on introducing some really colourful and distinctive characters to round out this team. We don’t get to see them in action as yet so maybe it’ll turn out better than I think. Hopefully her team will expand in the second half of the season.
I really enjoyed Ward’s interactions with Malick as it’s pretty obvious that Malick is completely using him while Ward is unaware. For such a smart character he is remarkably naive a lot of the time. Malick has a very clear agenda and will most likely toss Ward aside as soon as he gets what he wants. It’s painfully obvious that Malick tells Ward what he wants to hear so that he’ll follow orders. He knows that sending Ward to the planet -now named Maveth- is the most likely away to assure success but it will be interesting to see how that plays out if and when Ward succeeds.
Ward gets a lot of focus in this episode in ways that make him a compelling villain. He kills Rosalind because he wants to see Coulson suffer and sends H.Y.D.R.A. goons after him knowing he will survive but wanting to toy with him anyway. Murdering Rosalind so casually shows him as a sadistic and unpredictable presence who has no real morality holding him back. There’s a sense that nobody is safe from him. His treatment of Fitz and Simmons in this episode shows how much he enjoys injecting confusion into their relationship which -to him- is far worse than killing either of them.
I feel that Ward is completely irredeemable at this point. In a lot of ways this episode feels like the show preparing to close off this character completely. It does feel like the right time to have him killed off as it would be better to lose him when he is still a viable threat rather than have him constantly foiled and escaping to threaten them another day.
It’s clear that this episode was more about putting the pieces in place for a midseason finale that should be really busy and action packed. I am eager to see what will happen when the mysterious Inhuman is brought back to Earth.
A really engaging episode that manages to surprise with a character death that came as a very big surprise.
Rosalind’s death was a genuine shock especially with it being part of a really good character driven scene where she and Coulson sat down to dinner together and simply talked. Natural conversations like this are rare on this show so seeing it was appreciated.
Having Rosalind killed at this point is a real shame as her dynamic with Coulson was carrying the show in a lot of ways. The tension between them was always a joy to watch so the show is definitely lacking by cutting this off so soon. Killing Banks in the same episode makes me wonder how the A.T.C.U. will play into the show from now on.
One thing that does work about Rosalind’s death is that it had weight and meaning. It gives Coulson a defined reason to go after Ward but Clark Gregg doesn’t fare so well performing Coulson being angry and vengeful. I thing it would suit Coulson to keep his anger just beneath the surface rather than project it outwardly like he does here. His threatening of Hunter didn’t feel believable at all.
Coulson interviewing all the members of the team who were around from the beginning provided some interesting insight into Ward. The most engaging testimony came from Daisy who is able to understand what makes Ward tick in ways that others can’t.
Coulson finding Ward’s brother, Thomas so that he can use the only living person he cares about against him makes a lot of sense and it helps that Thomas has no love for his brother so is willing to go along with it. Ward’s conversation with his brother gets the necessary point across around genuinely caring about him but comes across as far too standard to be compelling.
Mack being acting director doesn’t make sense in the context of the episode as there is no acceptable justification for May not being given the job. He conducts himself well with a rousing speech so settles into the role really well.
Mentioning that Daisy finally gets her team outlines how pathetic it really is. The show has dropped the ball on setting up a colourful cast of Inhumans for her to lead into battle. Hopefully this will be rectified in the second half of the season.
Malick and Ward’s interactions prove that Malick is completely using Ward by telling him exactly what he wants to hear so that Ward will do what he wants. I doubt Malick will keep him around when he brings the Inhuman back from the planet that is now called Maveth.
Ward is given plenty of focus here by showing how compelling a villain he is. He casually kills Rosalind and shows no remorse when doing so. He also enjoys putting Coulson through his paces and generally torturing him. His lack of morality suggests that nobody is safe which is definitely a good thing.
I feel that murdering Rosalind makes him completely irredeemable and I get the sense that the show is getting ready to do away with him. It’s better to do this while he’s still a viable threat rather than allowing him to become a joke by constantly being thwarted and escaping.
This episode was definitely more geared towards putting the pieces in place for the midseason finale next week. Everything is set up to make a compelling and action packed episode.