Danny Hale reviews the tenth episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3…
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s mid-season finale was full of surprises and rounded off an incredible 10 weeks. We picked up right where we left off last week and begin with Fitz and Ward alongside other HYDRA soldiers on the mysterious blue planet. Mere moments into the episode Fitz makes a move for Ward’s gun earning him a hard punch in the face and a threat from Ward to keep him in line. For both Fitz and Simmons’ sake I’m glad Ward overpowered him but still very happy to see Fitz standing up to his onetime friend.
Director Mack meanwhile begins to formulate a plan with the crew as Bobbi and Hunter return. They need to rescue Coulson, Fitz and Simmons and ensure that HYDRA’s mythical beast does not make it to earth. On top of that Daisy spots trucks arriving at the castle and upon investigation it appears that HYDRA are stockpiling Inhumans. Malick it seems wants to present these Inhumans to their creature once it returns through the portal. Mack’s plan involves splitting into two teams, one to rescue Fitz or Simmons and the other to secure the portal chamber. Mack, Hunter and Bobbi take the portal while May, Daisy and newcomers Joey and Lincoln begin the search for their friends.
Ward and Fitz exchange some more jibes before Fitz stumbles across the hatch into Will’s home? Cavern? Fitz put a lot at risk here but thankfully was able to convince Ward to let Will be their guide. It was nice to see Will on-screen again and great to see him interact with Fitz. Given their situation there was no room for animosity or jealousy, in fact Fitz told Ward to ‘grow up’ for suggesting any such drama. As a result it was nice to see them team up and work together to double-cross HYDRA. I did notice Ward glanced at Will’s badge but I was unclear if he knew what it meant. Will explains how ‘it’ attacked and he managed to allow Simmons to escape but beyond an injured leg Will seems to be in good health.
There was a short, sweet scene where we got to see Rosalind again. It was really nice to see her for the last episode as she may not appear at all once the show returns in the New Year. I sympathised with Coulson who seemed to know that this respite would only be brief and as he asked to stay there with her I wondered if a part of him was content to die where he landed on that planet and never have to leave Rosalind again. But Coulson’s work is not done. He awakens, adjusts his pack and makes to follow Ward. Loved the ‘Tatooine’ line also.
Simmons is being held in a small camp littering the grounds in front of the castle. In true new Simmons fashion she starts to cut away at her restraints and luckily we see outside that Lincoln cuts the power. Once plunged into darkness Simmons makes her escape silently and thankfully doesn’t attempt to fight off the armed guards. With most of the soldiers investigating the blackout Simmons finds herself in a dark room where she locates all the Inhumans alongside Andrew, also great to see him here for this episode. Andrew/Lash attempts to convince Jemma to release him as armed guards approach her location. Knowing that it probably isn’t the wisest course of action but maybe her only chance for survival Simmons consents. We hear Lash decimate his foes as Simmons makes a quick disappearing act. She is reunited with May soon after and there is an immediate sense of tension when Simmons shares what she witnessed. May seems to absorb the knowledge but casts it aside in lieu of the mission. It was tough to judge how May was taking the information but I’m happy to just let her do her thing. Simmons and May reunite with the rest of the team in the portal chamber where we see a handy timer on the wall counting down to when the portal reopens. Jemma is barely welcomed back before May vanishes. Simmons tells the others of Andrew and with little options open to them they leave May to her own devices.
We even got a quick exchange between Ward and Will and if I’m being honest I was a little afraid that Ward would somehow charm him to HYDRA’s side but it seems Will has other plans as we learn moments after that he has led the group into the no-fly-zone with little to no warning. As a sandstorm picks up Will uses this cover to take out each of Ward’s soldiers. Fitz seemed a little surprised at Will’s ferocity but at that point when I was watching I really felt it was a kill or be killed situation.
Daisy, Joey and Lincoln also have a quick bit of action where Joey got to showcase his refined powers briefly by melting a handful of bullets intended for Daisy and leaving them hit his chest uselessly. The moment was great and Joey’s reaction has shot him to the most adorable character on the cast. I referred to him as an everyman before and here it shines through; we get to see cool characters perform marvellous feats without breaking a sweat all throughout the MCU so seeing a guy reacting so enthusiastically is a nice little change.
It isn’t long before Ward realises Will and Fitz have gotten away and unfortunately for him Coulson arrives on the scene at that precise moment. In seconds he has taken out Ward’s men and put a bullet in Ward himself too. I couldn’t believe Coulson didn’t kill him but I guess he did need Ward to lead him to Fitz. Watching them walk across the planet, Ward bound, Coulson gun at the ready I found myself wincing every time Ward was out of shot or anytime Coulson lowered his damn gun! Ward has gotten himself out of worse situations and should never be underestimated.
When we return to Fitz and Will having escaped from HYDRA’s clutches I started to feel a little uneasy. Where was the creature? And wasn’t Will too terrified to ever go to the no-fly-zone before? Cue the reveal that Will is not in fact Will but the being HYDRA have been seeking. This really was an effective twist and one I honestly didn’t see coming; I didn’t have time to ponder over my unease before it evolved into terror. Will’s true identity made all the previous exchanges and subsequent bonding between Fitz and Will all the more unsettling. I really started to fear for Fitz here but thankfully Coulson arrives just in time to take a shot at ‘Will’ causing him to fall to the ground. The portal is moments from closing and as Fitz screams at Coulson to leave Ward and to escape the creature climbs to its feet and starts ambling towards the portal mouth. In both a visually and dramatically pleasing shot Fitz launches a flare into Will’s back burning the body to a crisp. My first reaction was that surely they hadn’t just killed off such a seemingly powerful villain but the little shot of the entity slithering from Will’s smouldering body made me gag and then made me happy. In probably the episode’s most shocking moment Coulson does not stay his hand and whether out of the desire for revenge or because he is leaving nothing to chance anymore he slowly crushes Ward’s chest with his hand. Not a nice way to go but not undeserved for Ward.
Back in the portal chamber the group learns that Andrew has slaughtered all the Inhumans. If it was him, and it seriously looked like it was then he really is lost to us now. Fearing what may come back through the portal Mack orders everyone back to the airship while he stays alone. If anything but Coulson and Fitz return he will order May to launch an airstrike on the castle, ensuring that no creature or HYDRA agent will make it out. What followed was a great moment where everyone all but ignored Mack’s plan until he shut everyone up, reiterated the order and cleared them out. Well mostly; Daisy remained as she’s his partner. Without seeing what unfolded on the planet Mack shouts the order in May’s ear and she launches the strike. I did start to panic a little but then rejoiced as our team was lifted to safety. The following sequence was emotional and well-earned over the last ten weeks. It was particularly great to see Coulson and May embrace, after the few months both of them have had I’ll be looking forward to more scenes between just these two. Then goddamn Elizabeth Henstridge goes and breaks my heart; her realisation that Fitz got back safe whilst simultaneously learning that Will did not was etched all over her face as she embraced her friend. It was a great moment and delivered with serious conviction. Over May’s shoulder Coulson makes eye contact with Fitz, they share the knowledge alone of what Coulson did to Ward but how long it will remain between just them is not clear right now. Knowing that things couldn’t possibly end this well wrapped up we were treated to one more short scene with Malick. I will say that I’m delighted he’s still about; he has great presence but I want to see him really be a villain. I want to see him make a move on the team as up until now he’s been an imposing figure but now we need a reason to fear/hate him. So who does he come across in the post-credits scene? WARD! It seems whatever the creature on that unknown planet is it is inside Ward now.
These past ten weeks have been thrilling; I really can’t believe how much I have grown to adore this show this season. All the various plots were explored and wrapped up sufficiently for a mid-season break. I previously stated my need for Ward to die or else change and voila I got both! All I hope for the series’ return is that the writers continue with this standard and not fall back to bad habits. I hope their clear plan for the plot extends to the end of the season and wasn’t just to the New Year. For me I will be busying myself with Agent Carter while I await Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s return. Have a wonderful end of December however you spend it and hope you all have an awesome New Year.