And kick it she did. As did this finale, which brought Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s awkward first season to an action packed close.
I was surprised by how low the body count was. Once it became clear they would have to use their big brains to rescue themselves, I was convinced that either Fitz or Simmons would die, with one sacrificing their life to save the other. And it very much looked like it was going to be Fitz. To be perfectly honest, if we had to lose one of them I would rather it be Fitz. It’s not that I don’t like Fitz, it’s just that I like Simmons more. The minute he handed their one oxygen mask to Simmons it looked like he was a goner for sure. Then he went and admitted his true feelings for Simmons, a certified kiss of death on a Joss Whedon show. So imagine my surprise when he survived. Or had he? It was also odd that we didn’t see him again after Fury’s rescue. There wasn't even a scene of him in a hospital bed being looked after by whoever the hell is looking after him. Fury has used questionable methods to save an agent before. Has he done so again? We'll just have to wait and see.
I’m glad that Samuel L. Jackson’s appearance wasn’t just some quick cameo. Putting aside the improbability of him getting to Garrett’s New Mexico base so quickly, Fury’s appearance was one of highlights of the episode. It is a shame Jackson is an expensive A-list movie star because I really would love to see more of the Coulson/Fury comedy double act on the show. Their deadpan reactions to Garrett’s craziness was just priceless. I wonder if Joss had a hand in writing their banter, because it really sounded like something he'd write.
Once the dust had settled and the bad guys were dealt with, Coulson finally let his (former) boss have it. And Fury just sat there and took it without once apologising. He doesn’t regret using T.A.H.I.T.I. to bring back Coulson. As far as Fury is concerned Phil is just as much an Avenger as granddad, shell head or goldilocks and therefore worth saving. He’s the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D., the very best of them and one of the very few people that Fury absolutely trusts. Which is why he’s now given him the keys to the kingdom. Or, to be more precise, what’s left of it. As sad as I am to see motel era S.H.I.E.L.D. come to a premature end, I am excited about this development. Phil Coulson, director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
If this finale did anything it was confirm that we should all get on our knees and accept Melinda May as our lord and saviour. At the start of the episode she swiped the Asgard Berserker staff from that goon who foolishly called her the Cavalry like it was no big deal and then proceeded to use it to demolish the barbershop basement of evil and all who dwelt there . Later, in a moment that gave me immense joy, she beat turncoat Grant Ward to a bloody pulp, nail-gunning his foot to the floor, crushing his larynx to shut him up and finishing him with an epic roundhouse kick. That’s what you get for calling the badass ladies of S.H.I.E.L.D. “eye candy”. With May on Coulson’s side, HYDRA never stood a chance.
Skye is now well on her way to becoming one of my favourite characters. Her journey from annoying hacker to badass S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is now all but complete (loved her strutting into the Cybertek office, cool as ice, and threatening everyone with her “bomb”). Having her end the season by saving Mike and his son was a nice way to bring things full circle. It is just a shame the emotional damage Garrett has done to Mike isn’t something that can be easily fixed. Now he’s going to walk the earth like Cain from Kung Fu, making amends for the horrible things he was forced to do. But at least he’s alive. He was another character I didn’t think would live to see season two. I was expecting him to sacrifice himself to help the team defeat Garrett.
Unsurprisingly, the injection of Raina’s hybrid Centipede/T.A.H.I.T.I. miracle drug made Garrett go cuckoo. And not just any brand of cuckoo, but full blown “I can see the building blocks of existence” cuckoo. Even Ward was like “Woah, dude, you’re losing it”. Bill Paxton was clearly having a blast here, relishing every last one of Garrett’s crazed utterings. I was a little disappointed when super Gunn took him out. As the season’s big bad, Garrett deserved a better ending than that. Then, when they showed us his fully intact body I knew instantly that he would rise again Michael Myers-style to further terrorize our heroes. And he did. And then he got atomised mid-speech by a nonchalant Coulson in the most Joss Whedon moment of the entire series.
With Garret now out of the picture, the question is what to do with Ward? This episode went to great lengths to emphasise that Ward can’t function without Garrett to guide him. He is a soldier who needs orders. What will Ward be without Garrett? He said himself, he was never loyal to HYDRA. Only Garrett. Will he use his time in lock-up to re-evaluate his life and turn over a new leaf? I hope not. Evil Ward is too much fun. Redeeming him would not only be farfetched, but dull as well. Far better to leave him as a villain the team may sometimes have to make uneasy alliances with in dire situations.
The episode ended with not one, but two juicy teasers for season two. The first saw Raina pay a visit to a mysterious, blood-covered individual to let him know that she’d found his daughter: Skye. Looks like we’re going to get an awkward family reunion next season. This is all very Alias. Hopefully Skye’s family history won’t turn out to be as convoluted as Sydney Bristow’s or, god forbid, Henry Mills’. And I pray that daddy Skye at least takes the time to have a shower before he gives his daughter an hug. All that blood will just ruin her nice clothes.
The second saw Coulson get up in the middle of the night, go down to the storage room and start writing the same code on the wall that Garrett was scribbling down earlier, the very same code we saw in ‘Eye Spy’ (I was wondering if they were ever going to get back to that). Raina’s version of the T.A.H.I.T.I. serum made him crazier but it also expanded Garrett’s minds and tuned them into… something otherworldly. Coulson seems to be tuned in as well, but isn’t full aware of it. The mental blocks Fury put in after he was revived have kept this suppressed, but it now looks like they are starting to crumble. How long before Skye starts doodling the same code? Will the serum have any effect on this ‘Darkness’ Raina said she has inside of her? And why isn’t it autumn yet?
Intel and Assets
--The team have a new base, the Playground, with the familiar looking Agent Billy Koenig (Eric did say he had a brother) to help out and get them all fixed up with lanyards. Does Fury have secret bases scattered across the globe staffed by Patton Oswalts? Are they twins, clones or Life Decoy Models?
--The opening scene in the CyberTek office was very Whedony, showing us something seemingly ordinary (a new employee getting a tour of the office) and then flipping it to reveal that something very not ordinary (this is where Deathlok and all the Centipede soldiers are being controlled from) is really going on.
--When Raina asked Garrett what she would become was she talking about herself specifically or humanity in general?
--Triplett has now been fully integrated into the team. He’s still a little bland, personality wise, but I’m starting to warm up to him. He’s a better fit for the team than (fake) Ward was, sharing Coulson’s boyish love for the work they do. There’s been no word yet on whether BJ Britt will be a regular next season, but I would be very surprised if he wasn’t.
Coulson: “Who do we talk to about getting a haircut?”
Trip: “I bring the noise and the funk wherever I go.”
General: “This is your safety consultant?”
Quinn: “He’s part time.”
Fury: “You don’t have to call me sir, Coulson, look at me. I’m dressed like I live under a bridge.”
Ward: “Reminds me of the old days.”
May: “You were never on top.”
Fury: “You didn’t tell me he’d gone this crazy.”
Coulson: “He’s really stepped it up a notch.”
Four out of four Loki blasting guns that packed a pretty good punch.
Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011. More Mark Greig.
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