Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Maveth

"This is how S.H.I.E.L.D. works. Make a plan, plan turns to rubbish, make a new plan."

Did the show just pull an Angel season 5 on us?

'Maveth' was not exactly the big game changer that 'What They Become' was last season. Even with that death it doesn't feel like the show's status quo has been irreversibly shaken up in any kind of substantial way. When we catch up with everyone again in March it will still be the exact same group of heroes battling HYDRA led by Gideon Malick and something that is currently wearing Grant Ward as a meat suit (some have speculated that it might be a version of Hive).

Sure, the mysterious entity, dubbed Squidward by my friends, has escaped through the portal back to Earth, but since we're still in the dark about what that thing is and what it can do, that final reveal wasn't the 'Hardhome' moment it was no doubt intended to be. The threat of this creature was seriously undermined by the fact it was taken down by Fitz. FITZ! This is supposed to be some super scary, all-powerful Inhuman, the god of HYDRA, and it was defeated by a guy who once lost a fight to a door.

If the AoS powers that be really want us to become invested in Squidward and see him as a major threat, then they need to show us why he is considered to be so dangerous. So far all Squidward has done is lumber around in sandstorms, playing mind games and possessing the bodies of the dead. Scary, yes, but not exactly earth shattering. We only know this creature is supposed to be a big deal because people keep telling us so. I know Powers Boothe may have the type of voice that can make The Tale of Peter Rabbit sound like it was written by H.P Lovecraft, but, to quote the King, it is time for a little less conversation, a little more action please.

Grant Ward is dead. Long live Squidward! Ward died as he lived, as a delusional minion of HYDRA with enough ego to power an aircraft carrier. There was no forgiveness, no last minute act of redemption, he was a villain right up until the end. I’ve suspected for a while now that Ward was going to die at some point this season. There wasn’t really anywhere left for his character to go. In truth, there's been nowhere for his character go since season one. Last season he just sort of wandered around the narrative wilderness in search of a place to settle down. Making him the new head of HYDRA was the best thing they've done with the character since season 1, but even that is not a role with a long shelf life, especially when the good guys are actively trying to kill him every chance they get.

It is obvious that Ward has only survived as long as he has because there is clearly a lot of love and affection for Brett Dalton from the cast and crew. Which is no doubt why the writers decided to pull an Illyria so that they could finally bring Ward's storyline to a close while still keeping Dalton on the show for a little while longer. I'm curious to see how differently Dalton plays Squidward from regular Ward. I'll be very disappointed if they end up being indistinguishable from each other.  I'm not sure how this possession thing works. But it sounds like the creature takes over the dead body but is still able to access the host's memories. That's how Squidwill knew everything real Will knew.

I wasn't at all shocked by Ward's death, but I was by how it came about. I figured that either Coulson or Fitz would end Ward's life. I was even expecting Fitz to sacrifice himself to put an end to Ward. That obviously didn't happen and I can't help being a little disappointed about it. Look, I love Fitz as much as the next guy, but if him dying means I no longer have to endure another scene of Fitzsimmons love angst then pass me the butcher's knife.

In the end, Coulson was the one to finally put an end to Ward and did so in a way that left everyone, himself included, a little shaken. Why did he do it? Was it revenge for Rosalind? Justice for all of Ward's victims? Or did he simply finally realise that it was time for no more half measures? Coulson has spared Ward before and more people have suffered and died as a result. Even leaving him on the planet would be no guarantee that Ward would be out of their lives forever. No, the only way to make certain that Ward would never be able to hurt anyone else ever again was to kill him, even when he was totally defenseless. Whatever Coulson's motivations, it is obvious that killing Ward was not as cathartic as he was hoping it would be. Was removing his artificial hand and leaving it behind a symbolic attempt to wash the blood from his hands? Why is it Marvel's TV heroes always get angsty about killing their adversaries? You never see the Avengers going "We came, we avenged, we felt really bad about it".

It was great seeing the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. team all working together for once. So great that I hope this planned spin-off with Bobbi and Hunter doesn’t go forward. I’d miss their interactions with everyone else too much. This episode showed that the writers are capable of balancing the ensemble so that everyone gets a moment to shine, even a recurring character like Joey. I did fear that he, being the most adorable person present, would end up taking one for the team and was seriously relieved when he didn't.


Intel and Assets

--I couldn't help but laugh when Mack called Daisy and her fellow Inhumans Power Rangers.

--Hands up if you kept saying "Don't do it, Jemma" every time Andrew asked her to release him.

--Where was Malick when S.H.I.E.L.D. was sneaking into the castle? He just kind of disappeared for the majority of the episode. Was he resting in his tent watching old episodes of It's Patsy on Netflix?

--Is this the first episode where Ward has actually said "Hail HYDRA"?

Fitz: "Hey, here's a great idea. Why don't we go to an alien world and summon a hell beast? Yeah, that's a brilliant idea. What could possibly go wrong with that?"

Coulson: "I'll be damned. Tatooine."

Hunter: "Just confirming it's really us. It is. You're welcome."

Joey: "I don't want anyone knowing what I'm thinking now."
Lincoln: "You mean that you're not a hero? That you're freaking out? Wanna be anywhere but here? We're all feeling that."
May: "I'm not."

Three out of four famous desert plants.
--
Mark Greig is never in the room where it happens. More Mark Greig.

9 comments:

Søren Fogh said...

It is indicated in the episode that the Inhuman doesn't have his powers on the planet. IT only had Will's physique to subdue Fitz so Fitz putting up a fight but loosing is very plausible imo. Faced with death everyone, including Fitz, finds strength to fight back.

migmit said...

And that bit when Daisy voiced all that stuff about Joey's superpowers? Awesome.

I think that releasing Lash was probably a good idea. I mean, yeah, normally it would be absolutely crazy, but — desperate times, desperate measures. Hydra and it's evil god is probably a bigger threat right now.

And I'm surprised Coulson killing Ward didn't remind you of Giles suffocating Ben.

Billie Doux said...

I've enjoyed your reviews and sunbunny's this season, Mark, even though I haven't been quite as enthused about AoS. It's not grabbing me the way a Whedony show should, and I'm not into Brett Dalton like I was into Amy Acker (I liked your reference to Illyria) but it'll be interesting to see what they do with Squidward.

migmit, I thought of Giles and Ben at that moment, too.

Morgan India said...

considering how big the Ward/Dalton fan base is, I'm glad they've found a way to keep Brett on the show while ending Wards main storyline. I was never really into the Iliryia storyline on Angel but I'm looking forward to seeing Dalton as Squidward. And not because I have a small collection of tweets from Dalton and loved him in Until Dawn.

Coulson continues to piss me off and I honestly did not care at all about his relationship with Rosalind. For someone who had, until last week had been using Rosalind, I didn't bit into his rage and vendetta against Ward for her death. If Ward had killed May, that would feel a lot more personal on both ends.

Also Luke Mitchell is really pretty.

Anonymous said...

Why does this show feel like.…....?
As if it's caught between balancing plot and character but crumbles under the pressure.
Definitely not something you really want to watch again.

sunbunny said...

Definitely thought of Giles and Ben.

Morgan, why would you even suggest Ward kill May?? That would be a) HORRIBLE and b) impossible. She's Melinda Freaking May. *May puts on sunglasses, walks away from massive explosion without turning around*

Lamounier said...

Meh.

Actors should be more careful when raising fans’ expectations. Jennifer Garner said Alias would go out with a bang (or something like that). It didn’t. Sarah Michelle Gellar said wonders about the final arc of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The final arc was not great. Brett Dalton decided that the twist on this episode was as big as Hydra’s reveal on Winter Soldier. Dude, seriously?

I’ve watched a couple of interviews with Brett Dalton, and he seems to be a really nice guy. I can see why the writers want to keep him around. But it seems like this entire Blue Planet / Hydra God plot was all a big move to keep Dalton on the series. Where is the juice? Where is the danger? Where are the stakes?

This was not a bad episode. If you leave all the hype aside, it was a decent arc episode, but The Powers That Be clearly thought it was more than that. There was a big reunion scene at the end, the type that happens after a huge battle... but there wasn’t a lot of huge in the battle that happened.

Maybe it’s because Ward was way past his expiration point, or because Ward getting possessed by the Hydra God was predictable, but his death scene didn’t have much of an impact. Also, because I’m a little slow, it took me a while to understand what Coulson was doing to him.

I think I cared more about the revelation that Will was dead than with Ward’s death. No, really, I was really sad that Will died. It’s so sad that the dude spent fourteen years isolated only to end up illyried by Hydra God. In the other hand, it’s smart to have Will killed off. It prevents “4,772 Hours” from becoming a love triangle generator, elevates the character to the “best one off character” category and emotionally tortures Simmons a lit bit more.

One evidence that this series needs to slow down a little bit and stop trying to cram too many things into one episode is the lack of a proper Shield vs Hydra battle. I mean, we freaking heard Bobbi taking out Hydra goons instead of watching it. And Malick was conveniently taking a nap through most of the episode. Come on, writers, you can do better than that. You’ve shown it, why can’t you be consistent about it?

Lamounier said...

The big reunion scene says a lot about this show, and how I feel about it:

- Mack hugs Bobbi and Hunter: that’s a story that needs more attention and spotlight.

- Skye and Lincoln kiss: that’s a dull romance I don’t care about.

- Coulson and May hug: that’s the good AoS TV series I’ve become a fan of. I do like the friendship of those two.

- Simmons looks for Will, he isn’t there, our hearts are crushed for her but we are on the edge of our seats wondering how she’ll react when she sees Fitz. She turns and sees Fitz. Elizabeth Henstridge is terrific displaying Jemma’s mixed feelings. Jemma is happy and relieved because her everything is there. But she understands that Will, who was everything for her when she had nothing left, is gone. And so there’s also sadness, and crying on Fitz shoulder. Fitz and Simmons hug: that’s the terrific television the writers have been delivering through Fitz and Simmons. Now where is that on the rest of the series?

mazephoenix said...

Poor Will. What a sacrificial lamb he was. I felt badly for him, solely introduced to create pointless melodrama and then killed off.
May wouldn't die. She's too badass.
Ward can please die now, even while possessed by evil deity. Ilyria he is not.