Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD – Season 3 Episode 10
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD closes off 2015 by bringing all of the established stories so far this season to a head.
For the most part this episode is really focused on telling the story that it has. The characters are all separated and broadly dealing with their own missions but it’s all in service to a really simple objective. For the people on Maveth they want to get back and those not on Maveth want to retrieve their friends who are there.
Ward and Fitz totally stole this episode with the constant antagonistic relationship between them. It took some real guts for Fitz to attempt to steal his weapon at the start of the episode. He never stood a chance but the fact that he’s willing to try shows that Ward no longer intimidates him. He still has a sense of self preservation but will take risks if it means there’s a small chance of bringing Ward down.
Fitz has the upper hand in the conflict initially as he is the best chance they have to figure out the exit coordinates. Ward needs him alive until then so has to put up with his attempts at betrayal. There’s almost a glimmer of frustration from Ward as he endures this but he keeps it together.
Interestingly, Fitz and I have a similar thought process about the reasons for Ward being sent here. Fitz says to Ward that he is here because he is considered expendable and as I said last week that makes the most sense. I also rightly predicted that Ward would be killed as there isn’t much potential left in his story at this point. He has well and truly burned his bridges with our heroes and has gotten about as far as he can with H.Y.D.R.A. so getting rid of him while he’s still engaging makes a lot of sense.
Coulson killing him was impressively cold blooded and quite shocking but didn’t work as well as the episode really wanted it to. After Ward murdered Rosalind last week Coulson went on a personal mission of vengeance which is all well and good but it hasn’t had the chance to develop to the point where Coulson killing him makes the most dramatic sense. The episode tried to use the dream sequence to deepen that motivation by showing how much he cared about Rosalind but Coulson needs to take a number behind all the people who have had a festering hatred for the guy for quite some time. Leaving his artificial hand behind as a sign of him letting go of his vendetta was really powerful though.
On a dramatic level it would have made more sense for Fitz to kill him since Ward was directly responsible for his brain damage. Hunter, Bobbi and May have also earned a crack at him but the development of Coulson’s desire to see the man dead hasn’t had time to settle in yet. I was shocked when it happened the way it did but it did feel a little empty.
Luckily it seems that others will have a crack at him as Ward is now possessed by the entity that H.Y.D.R.A. sent him after in the first place. Whether that possession will be entirely dominated by whatever the creature is or if some of Ward will creep through now and again remains to be seen.The fact that he brought back the artificial hand that killed him suggests the latter but I am interested to find out.
As a dramatic cliffhanger it didn’t really work as well as it needed to as it was easily predicted after it turned out that Will was possessed by the entity. Once he was stopped it wasn’t hard to figure out that the nearest corpse would be used. I’m not writing this off yet as it has a lot of potential to create some interesting plot developments. There’s also a sense of poetry to Ward wanting to be the head of H.Y.D.R.A. and now he literally is the head of H.Y.D.R.A.
As for the reveal that Will was dead and possessed that worked really well. The episode spent plenty of time building up an interesting friendship between Will and Fitz where both men managed to find common ground in how much they care about Simmons. Fitz finds it difficult to be around him but sucks it up and acts like a grownup about it to the point that he is able to forge a friendship with him.
Since so much time was spent building this up and making Will a likable presence within the episode, the reveal had real weight to it and came across as a shock when it happened. It also lead to a moving emotional moment when Simmons looked at the empty pod and realised that Will hadn’t been brought back. For a character who hasn’t been featured much the loss of him carried a lot of emotional heft due to his relationship with other characters.
Mack really proved himself as Acting Director by reminding people that Coulson put him in charge expecting him to make the hard call. He gives orders that he doesn’t let people disobey by making it clear who is in charge and is more than willing to level the place if the time that they have runs out. There was never any doubt in my mind over Mack’s ability to lead but this episode really puts any potential doubts to rest.
Seeing Daisy finally lead a very small team of Inhumans was really cool. There was a good mix as she is pretty familiar with her powers and has S.H.I.E.L.D. training, Lincoln has mastered his powers but doesn’t have the training and Joey is new to it all. As a team they conduct themselves really well and Joey’s discovery that he can melt bullets before they hit him was a really fun moment. It also showed how willing he is to put himself in danger for others as he doesn’t know that he isn’t about to die. It’s a really quick moment but says so much about the nobility of his character. Mack describing her team as the Power Rangers couldn’t help but make me laugh as well.
There was a bit of a disconnect between the dialogue talking about how difficult the mission would be and how difficult it actually seemed to be. The taking of the castle seemed to happen oddly quickly and definitely looked like it was far too easy. I would have liked to see a more intricate infiltration. Much of them defending their position felt like more implied threats than actual threats as well.
Andrew’s return felt completely divorced from the rest of the episode. I get that the idea was for Simmons to make an ill conceived deal with the devil but the exchange that led to his release was far too quick for that to resonate properly. It felt a bit like she only protested to be polite. I never quite got the impression that she was so backed into a corner that she had no other choice but to unleash Lash. The fact that he turned on the other Inhumans as well is something that Simmons will have to live with but, as above it didn’t carry the weight that it needed because the rest of the episode was so busy. This was a good idea and should have been given the opportunity to develop over the course of an episode of its own. At least Lash is on the loose and will inevitably return now.
Lastly, I feel that I have to point out how effective Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD has been at teasing viewers around the planet currently identified as Maveth. It’s a Hebrew word that means Death which to comics fans means a lot. Thanos is known for being obsessed with Death to the point where he is in love with the entity responsible for the concept. I’m pretty sure that she won’t be introduced in this show but the mention is definitely supposed to lead people down this path. I’ve so far tried to connect the planet Maveth to the Negative Zone, Ego: The Living Planet and now the show is teasing Death. Good job producers on mining the Marvel comics lore to keep people guessing.
There’s a lot of potentially good stuff to mull over while the show is on an extended break. The cliffhanger wasn’t as strong as the debut of the Inhumans last season but I’m definitely curious. According to what I’ve read, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD doesn’t return until March 8th so in the meantime, please join me when I review Agent Carter when that returns in January. Until then, True Believers!
A strong yet occasionally underwhelming ending to the midpoint of the season that sets things up nicely for the second half.
For the most part the episode is heavily focused on telling the story that it has. The characters are all broadly dealing with their own missions but it’s all in service to a simple objective. For those on Maveth the main objective is to get back and for those not on Maveth they are tasked with helping them get back.
Ward and Fitz stole the episode with their antagonistic relationship. It took guts for Fitz to try grabbing his gun as he never stood a chance but it shows that Ward no longer intimidates him and that he is willing to take advantage of the fact that he is essential in getting them home where Ward is completely expendable.
As predicted this is a logical time for Ward to die as his story will potentially stagnate from here on out. He has burned his bridges with his former teammates and has taken the H.Y.D.R.A. story about as far as it goes so it’s better that he is killed while still being an engaging villain.
Coulson killing him was really cold blooded and came across as a genuine shock. It didn’t make much dramatic sense for Coulson to be the one to do it as he is pretty much at the back of the line when it comes to a desire to kill him. Dramatically speaking Fitz, Hunter, Bobbi or May would have made more sense.
The episode attempts to build Coulson’s hatred for him with dream sequence involving Rosalind but her death is too recent for him to really earn the all consuming revenge that the episode wants him to have. It was a good moment but felt a little unearned.
Ward being possessed by the H.Y.D.R.A. entity is interesting and I wonder if it’s total possession or whether Ward will still have some of himself in there. Either way it’s a good way to keep him around for a little while longer. It also manages to be fairly poetic as Ward wanted to be the head of H.Y.D.R.A. and now he literally is.
The reveal that Will was long dead and possessed by the entity made Ward’s possession really predictable but that doesn’t undermine how well used Will was here. The time spent developing a friendship of sorts between him and Fitz gave the reveal weight and made it a genuine shock. This is complimented by a powerful emotional moment when Simmons realises that Will isn’t coming back.
Mack really proved himself as Acting Director by demanding his orders be followed and showing willingness to make the tough call on leveling the place before their people were retrieved.
Seeing Daisy finally lead her team of Inhumans was really cool. There was a good mix of experience and Joey’s willingness to sacrifice himself before realising that his powers would protect him says a lot about the nobility of his character.
At times the dialogue and what was actually happening was fairly disconnected. Everyone said that the mission to take the castle would be difficult but it seemed to be really easy and over quickly. I would have preferred to see a more intricate infiltration.
Andrew’s return was completely divorced from the rest of the episode. I get that the idea was for Simmons to save herself by making a deal with the devil and the resulting death of the rest of the Inhumans is something she has to live with as a consequence but it got buried under how busy the rest of the episode was. It would have been better to devote a full episode to this story.
That’s it for Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD until March now but in the meantime I will be reviewing Agent Carter when that returns in January. Until then, True Believers!