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.
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