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Last night was the midseason finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and it really didn’t disappoint. There wasn’t nearly as much superpowered action as I was hoping to see, and the 2 biggest twists of the episode could be guessed pretty early on, but it more than made up for it with the other twists! This was a majorly-twisty episode, and I think it is pretty safe to say that S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra are not going to be the same again after what happened in this episode.
Let’s start with everything that happened on the alien planet after Fitz, Ward, Coulson, and the Hydra team went through the portal. We start right off with Fitz pretending to guide Ward to the next portal sight. However, Fitz tries to make a play for Ward’s gun and promptly gets thrown down the hill, cutting his forehead on the way down. This gets them into position to see one of the more impressive and shocking sights of the entire episode: a giant Hydra seal carved out of stone. Seeing this statue has a strong effect on Ward, who later tells Coulson that this is the first time in a long time that he’s felt like he was part of something greater than himself—greater than pure revenge.
Fitz leads Hydra straight to the underground cave where Will and Simmons stayed during Simmons’ time on the planet, where Fitz discovers Will lying on a cot. At first Ward is planning to kill Will, but seeing the NASA emblem on his jacket changes his mind. Ward then agrees to let Will guide them to the exit point using his knowledge of the terrain. En route to the exit point, however, Will starts behaving… unusual: When asked how long he’s been on the planet, he replies “feels like forever.” He doesn’t seem overly surprised to learn from Ward of the Inhumans or from Fitz of Hydra. Most uncharacteristically, he led the group directly into the no-fly zone, where he did not need to use goggles against the sandstorm. During that sandstorm he killed 2 Hydra soldiers and he and Fitz escaped from Ward and the other Hydra soldier.
Coulson meanwhile wakes up slowly after hitting his head at the end of “Closure” (3x09), dreaming of himself and Rosalind in bed together before she forces him to get up, which was a very touching scene, especially if that is Rosalind’s send-off from the series. Coulson follows the tracks until he finds Ward and the other Hydra soldier, both of whom he shoots, killing the other guy. Coulson then forces Ward to lead him to the exit point (after shooting him again for good measure). The two of them have some interesting scenes together, as Ward is now the one with faith in a purpose much higher than himself while Coulson is being driven purely by revenge. The contrast between the two is absolutely striking after Ward turned aside from his desire for revenge in order to do the “noble” thing of leading the mission to recover IT last episode.
Ward and Coulson find Fitz and Will just after Fitz discovers the truth: Will actually died when he fought IT so Simmons could escape through the portal in “4,722 Hours” (3x05). The “Will” that Fitz has been bonding with (which was a fun scene and something I had really wanted to see) is in fact Will’s dead body which was reanimated by IT, which has the ability to take over a body and absorb its memories. This explains how IT has survived the millennia and why Hydra has been sending “sacrifices” through the portal ever since: new bodies for IT to possess. And it also explains Will’s impressive knowledge of the planet’s history—it used to be inhabited by a species with 9 advanced cities around the world but which feared change, fought among themselves, and ultimately destroyed themselves. This was actually a pretty impressive reveal: even though a couple of Redditers had guessed it, the reveal was not telegraphed until partway through this episode when “Will” displayed a little too much knowledge of the planet. This discovery leads to an intense fight between Fitz and Will as the portal is opened, while Ward and Coulson have their own fight as Ward defends IT and Coulson attempts to take revenge on Ward. Fitz finally succeeds in defeating IT/Will by setting him on fire with a flare gun, while Coulson crushes Ward’s chest with his mechanical hand, which he then leaves on the ground next to Ward’s dead body.
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Back on Earth, Mack leads the S.H.I.E.L.D. team in a last-ditch infiltration of the Hydra compound in order to take control of the portal and rescue Fitz and Coulson (whom Bobbi and Hunter informed him had gone through the portal). Before they can do anything, however, they see on the scanners that Hydra had brought about a dozen new Inhumans into the compound in their stasis gel chambers. Though we learn from Malick that he has no intention of using the Inhumans against S.H.I.E.L.D., Daisy and Lincoln (and Joey) are very interested in rescuing the Inhumans from Hydra’s clutches. Mack does not want to risk any more S.H.I.E.L.D. resources than absolutely necessary because it is so heavily defended, so he decides to lead a group of 7 agents into the compound. May and the Secret Warriors take out the defenses of the compound while Mack, Bobbi, and Hunter make their way to the portal room.
I really liked the scenes with the Secret Warriors, particularly Joey’s fear and self-doubt. Lincoln and Daisy both comfort him by telling him that he’s doing just fine and they’re both scared as well. Overall, this is the first real team dynamic we get to see from the Secret Warriors, and it does not disappoint, though I definitely wanted to see more of them actually fighting. I did think they were setting Joey up to be killed off with this exchange—and we even got the payoff a few scenes later when Giyera tried to shoot Daisy in the back and Joey jumped in front of the bullets—but I was glad they decided not to kill him off. Instead, he melts the bullets with his power and the metal just sticks to his shirt. I’m not sure if melting a bullet midflight would make it lose all that kinetic energy, but I guess we can’t really look too closely at that when we’re taking it for granted that a guy can melt metal with his mind! As an aside, does this mean that Inhumans are effectively bulletproof? This is the second time an Inhuman was shot at and used his power to avoid death, after Daisy instinctively deflected bullets last season in “One Door Closes” (2x15). I think if they’re caught off-guard they can still be shot, but if they can see it coming they can react on instinct to save themselves.
I was kind of wondering just what Joey could actually do for the Secret Warriors, as his power seems far less combative than Lincoln’s or Daisy’s, but seeing him stop bullets and then reinforce the doors to the portal room definitely gave him a purpose on this team. I really hope that these 3 are not the final form of the team (and at least one new member is rumored to be coming in the second half of the season), but I do think that this is a good start. Didn’t I predict at the beginning of the season that we’d see the team together for the first time in the midseason finale? Yes, I (sort-of) did! Though I thought it would be more than just a second iteration with 3 members; I was expecting something closer to the final form.
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We didn’t see Bobbi, Hunter, and Mack fighting quite as much as the Secret Warriors (we didn’t see a ton of fighting from either group), but they did get a couple of funny moments, like Hunter waving his hands so they could pick themselves out on the infrared scan and Bobbi leaving the two of them behind to crack some skulls. I did feel like they had a role to play in the episode, but it really wasn’t a lot. Of course, since that left more time to focus on the Secret Warriors, which is who I really wanted to see, I was okay with that; after all, Bobbi and Hunter cracking skulls is what Marvel’s Most Wanted will be about, right?
Simmons managed to escape from Hydra very creatively, by using that shiv she’s been carrying around ever since “4,722 Hours” to cut through the zip ties holding her hands. She then found the Inhuman stasis pods along with the pod holding Andrew. Though she was hesitant to accept Andrew’s offer to protect her, she eventually gave in and released him when Hydra started to close in. Andrew almost immediately Lashed out and killed the Hydra squad—we didn’t see them die, but we did hear the agonized screams while Simmons listened and closed her eyes. When Simmons found May and told her what had happened, May’s immediate reaction was fear (she did shoot him, after all), and then going to find him. When she found the dozen stasis pods all broken through by energy beams, it may have been one of the most gut-wrenching moments of the episode. Of course, we should have expected that when he was left alone with Inhumans, but the fact that Lash murdered a dozen defenseless people really drove home his animal nature that much more. Malick’s reaction to seeing the carnage was simply shock—but what was he really expecting? I highly doubt that Lash would ever follow IT; he’d probably turn on IT and try to kill IT!
In the end, Mack sends the whole team back to Zephyr One while he and Daisy remain behind to wait until the portal opens and hope that Coulson, Fitz, and Will come through instead of IT. Daisy nearly passes out from the vibrations of the portal opening, and we don’t see how they actually get through, but Coulson and Fitz both survive and return through the portal. Mack orders May to destroy the castle while the four of them fly up to the plane in Andrew’s containment module. The episode “ends” on perhaps the happiest moment possible, as May and Coulson are reunited, Daisy and Lincoln share a tender moment, and Bobbi greets Mack. Simmons is left disappointed that Will did not return, and receives a consoling hug from Fitz. It’s very bittersweet, but the best we could expect after that episode. Of course, knowing the show, was anyone really expecting the end teaser not to be a shocker?
The teaser before the credits shows Malick driving to the airport. However, a figure stands in the road looking at him: Grant Ward, holding Coulson’s mechanical arm and looking very much alive. We also see something moving under the skin of his forehead, showing that he is most definitely under ITs control. How did he manage to get through the portal when it looked very close to closing when Coulson and Fitz went through? We don’t know; hopefully next half-season will answer that question. For now, all we know is that IT is now loose on Earth!
I liked this midseason finale: it wrapped up quite a few storylines for the first half-season and set a couple major ones in motion for the second half. I liked seeing the team dynamics with the Secret Warriors as well as the dynamic between Fitz and Will. I don’t know if the episode was quite as game-changing as they were saying it would be, but I suppose that IT being loose on Earth is enough of a game-changer for me! I want to know how IT managed to get back, but that’s really the biggest confusing moment from the episode. I think my biggest disappointment for the episode was the lack of on-screen super-powered action. We definitely have enough to talk about and think about to keep us occupied for the 3 months before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns.
On that note, we need to talk about just what the announced premiere date means. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was announced to be returning on March 8. Agent Carter premiers 7 weeks earlier on January 19. That means that at least 3 Agent Carter episodes will have to be doubled up if Agent Carter is going to conclude before Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. resumes. The obvious guess is that the first 2 episodes will run together and the last 2 episodes will run together, but that still leaves another doubled episode in there somewhere. When do you think it will be?
What did you think of this episode? How do you think IT/Ward managed to get through the portal? Let me know in the comments!
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