Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3x10 "Maveth" (Be Careful What You Wish For) [Contributor: Alice Walker]

Original Airdate: December 8, 2015

In a follow-up episode that would have played out a smoother arc had it aired back-to-back with last week's "Closure," we pick up right where we left off: at a perilous crossroad. Ward is dragging Fitz through the alien planet on the hunt for the Evil Alien. Maybe named Death? Creepy Man? For now, let's just call him Death and keep it simple. Coulson is hot on their trail and psyched to kill Ward for murdering Ros. Meanwhile back on Earth ,we've got Director Tank... I mean Director Yum... I mean Mack, gorgeous righteous Mack, in charge, trying to sort out how to: save a rouge Director and technical wiz, prevent Death from coming to Earth, stave off HYDRA, and keep all of his agents from killing themselves in an attempt to save one another.

I had exceptionally high expectations for this episode, largely because I am guilty of letting the marketing hyperbole get to me. But S.H.I.E.L.D. usually has killer midseason finales, and while it was nowhere near as good as season two's "What They Become," a game changer that saw Raina and Skye go through Terrigenesis, it does rank higher than Season 1's "The Bridge," a forgettable episode where Mike Peterson had a fake-out explosion death. Second place is nothing to sneeze at, and this episode had a few good things working for it. Let's dive in.


Everything about Mack today and every day. Was it really just a year ago he was possessed by aliens and we had all written him off with a shrug? We were fools. This man is a gem and if he jumps ship with Bobbi and Hunter for Marvel's Most Wanted, I don't know what I'll do with myself.  Coulson left him with a mess and he does what it takes to handle it. He made the hard call to send away all backup with orders to blow them up if Coulson and Fitz didn't make it through the portal, pointing out that they couldn't lose their best agents in one fell swoop. It was tough, logical, and the opposite of what we've seen Coulson do. Not bad for his first week.

Daisy finally launched her task force of Inhumans, which went fairly smoothly considering they were going up against HYDRA and parts of the ATCU. Mixing powers in with regular operatives is smart, and it's nice to see this storyline unfold so organically. Unfortunately, Jemma did not get the message that the Power Rangers were on the way to rescue her, and she released a very reasonable sounding Andrew Gardner out of his containment unit to keep HYDRA away from her. He does, then proceeds to brutally murder all of the other Inhumans in sight. It's ugly but Jemma makes it to safety, along with May, Bobbi, and Hunter.


If it was disappointing to see Rosalind getting shoved into the refrigerator, this week was even more of a bummer as she embodied the tropiest of dead girlfriend tropes — visiting Coulson in his dreams to give him a pep talk. Still, it works, and he wakes up on the alien planet... and this is where logic is stretched mighty thin.

Fitz leads Ward on the worst field mission ever, but not even the darkness or the foreboding atmosphere can keep his sass at bay. He's running his mouth right up until he finds Will's secret bunker and dives in. So, somehow when Simmons was giving him the planetary rundown, she mapped out where the secret hideout was, and he managed to find the right rock on the first try? Okay, sure.

Ward interrupts their awkward hello and we get our first warning signal when Will intones, "it feels like I've been here forever." No hun, you've been here 14 years and no leg injury would make you forget that! Fitz convinces Ward that they need him as their spirit guide, and they make their way through the No Fly Zone. This is the point where Ward apparently forgets that he is a super spy and lets the two men walk shoulder to shoulder out of earshot, letting them plan their escape. We already know Ward is the second coming of James Bond, so why did he make such a rookie mistake?

... For plot purposes of course! Fitz and Will need to break off from the pack (warning sign #2 when Will unflinchingly kills the HYDRA agents) so that Fitz can discover the awful truth — saving Jemma cost Will his life. Death now inhabits his body. I knew it was coming, but man, that stung. Fitz blows up Death and his promises to Jemma are nothing but dust in the wind.


Folks, it's time to talk about Grant Ward. It's been a long road and we've known it couldn't go on like this forever. Ward had been pushed to the limited of a supervillain; the show either needed to let him go or find something new to do with him. As it turns out, they did both.

Coulson somehow tracked him down, but instead of killing him straight away he instead lets him act as guide (not 100% following the logic here) and it does give them a chance to chat. It seems that seeing that HYDRA-shaped altar (that looked straight out of Neverland) on the new planet gave him some clarity and purpose. Ward felt part of a bigger picture and could finally let go of his quest for revenge and closure. He admitted his shortcomings and admitted he was really just looking for a father figure. He sounded at peace, and while it came too late, I hope it was genuine.

Coulson is unmoved and after they grapple, he straight up crushes Ward’s windpipe with his bionic hand. I repeat — Director Coulson crushed Ward to death. Big time. It was intimate, personal and shocking. I expected Ward to die, but I didn't expect it to be so brutal or cold blooded. Neither, it seems, did Fitz, who watched from the sidelines.  When they returned back to base for hugs, kisses, and grief, the look that Coulson leveled at Fitz was unreadable but filled with foreboding.  Has he finally gone dark? In killing Ward did he become like him? I don't know, but I am excited to find out.

And then, just when you thought you lost Will and Ward - two of the broodiest, hunkiest men on the show - in one hour, we get our Marvel special. At the very end we see Gideon Malick's car ride get interrupted by... Ward. Except this isn't Ward any longer; this is Death inhabiting his body.  Dalton is again asked to flip this character on its head, as an ancient zombie version of himself, and he seems up to the challenge (that head tilt though!). Death had Will's memories so it seems likely that he will have Ward's now as well. What will he do with them and how will these two bad guys join forces? Intriguing questions that need answering when the show returns. 

Highlights and low lights:
  • "I'll be damned. Tatooine." Never without a snappy one-liner, are you Coulson? 
  • Despite the fact that we ended with a Lincoln/Daisy kiss, this episode was all about Mack/Daisy for me. Between her refusing to leave her partner then passing out from the vibration stress oh-so-gracefully into his strapping arms... the potential is almost too much for my shipper heart to take. More please. 
  • Was the castle explosion supposed to kill Andrew? I honestly couldn't tell, but I feel as though we haven't seen the last of him 
  • Ward's subtle nod to Garrett when he was explaining Inhumans to Death/Will was a nice touch: "I don't like it, but that's the way the wind is blowing."
  • At some point Jemma has to realize that she got a TON of Inhumans killed because she didn't think she could protect herself, right? 
  • Joey is showing signs of being a real person and I'm interested to see who they pair him with and how he develops.
That's all for now everyone. The show is on hiatus until March, with Agent Carter stepping in for the next ten weeks. Thanks so much for reading, and I'll see you in the spring. Until then, let these Mack GIFs be my holiday gift to you.



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