It feels like a very long time since I decided to share my disappointment with “Pilot” but here we are, the season finale. The production team and the fan base can take a deep breath and relax following the delayed news of the show’s renewal for a second season this week, a just reward for the show’s improving quality if not its improved ratings. Who knows what next season will bring, but for now it’s time to end this one. Whedon show’s are typically good at bringing a sense of closure to their season long arcs without tying up every single loose end too neatly and, considering the terrible way Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D started, how it ends will be one of the most pointed contrasts possible. Thoughts?
-Interesting that the very first line in “Beginning Of The End” was a jibe about “intellectual property”. God knows Marvel has had enough problems there.
-The intro, with the IT manager type doing what seems like a job interview had a nice creepy swerve, but was actually set up for an even better swerve later on.
-“Who do we talk to about getting a haircut?” I think these are the kind of one-liners I can get behind, they fit into the sort of show this is. It’s the flippant sort of humour that the MCU films have in spades (too much in some cases). But when it’s overdone or dumb, it really grates.
-Opening action scene was dirt simple, mainly just an excuse to show off the Berserker staff from “The Well” one more time.
-On the plane, Garrett has rapidly turned into an uber-mensch of some sort, ripping down doors and scrawling strange alien patterns around the place. He’s always been a bit unhinged since his reveal as the Clairvoyant, now he’s going the extra mile.
-Any mention of the “incentive program” drew my interest. Clearly something very creepy going on there.
-It was important to have the rest of the team realise Fitz and Simmons were missing, maybe dead, and to show how this affects them. Skye especially has a lot to deal with there it seems.
-Cut to the “lifeboat”, which for some reason isn’t designed to float. Why isn’t it designed to float? That’s dumb. There was some technobabble nonsense here, but the fact remains that they should just float. Lunar modules float for God’s sake. And it can only give off a S.H.I.E.L.D distress call? Anyway, there’s a nice sense of melancholy here as Fitz and Simmons face into their probable demise.
-The remainder of the team arm up as Coulson gives one last speech. Great excitement building now.
-I fully expected Ward to initiate some sort of redemption arc coup against Garrett at this point, as he goes on and on about how his commander is losing it. But then Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D subverted those expectations and went in another direction, a much better direction.
-Paxton was chewing the scenery before, but now he’s eaten that and is moving on to whatever production material is left. And he’s having a ball hamming it up.
-Garrett and Raina share a moment where they begin her inevitable splitting off from the HYDRA organisation. She’s interested only in “evolution”. I’m guessing she’s a prime candidate for proper supervillain territory at some point.
-Back in the “lifeboat” (Lifeboat’s float!) Fitz and Simmons share a maudlin conversation about death. Simmons echoes a common sci-fi line about how energy can neither be destroyed or created and so they will live on in some capacity, which is nice. Fitz getting close to his declaration of love now. Finally.
-Quinn shows off for the army brass, showing them his super soldier machine. Just where is this all going? Arrow’s already doing the “super soldiers running amok” thing over on The CW guys.
-“I bring the funk wherever I go.” I…that’s seems like a bit of a racist line to me. I guess it was meant ironically?
– “Hey ho friends, the enemy approaches.” Weird, but kind of fits the period where that gadget comes from.
-Coulson and Trip smash the gates down in their APC. A nice moment, the finales big set-piece. I appreciate this kind of stuff way more than the sort of lame CGI finale of “Nothing Personal”.
-Garrett decides to ditch his previous plans, declaring his evolution as the “beginning of the end”. We have a title! And then poor Glenn Morshower gets it bad.
-Raina and Ward share a good scene on the plane. She’s heading out of danger, with Quinn and the Gravitonium, while Ward freaks out. Ward here seems to be following a path of increasing weakness and not being able to operate without orders. Raina’s rapidly moving beyond caring, telling him simply to go out and take what he wants.
-Skye’s leet hacking skillz take the super soldiers out of the equation with the “default directive”. There’s only so much you can do with the super soldier idea in an action sense anyway, and Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D has mostly done it already.
-Skye gives Garrett a ring. Garrett moves back into HYDRA mode fast, goading her with words on Fitz and Simmons’ death. Good to remind us that he’s the antagonist as we head towards the end. Meanwhile, Ward is practically begging for orders, floundering under the new environment where few exist to be given.
-“I have orders to stay by your side.” “I love you too.” I loved that exchange. It’s humour, but it serves a larger purpose of showing just how detached from his immediate situation Garrett is becoming.
-Fitz and Simmons prepare their escape, only for Fitz to basically push Simmons out the door with no thought for his own survival. He basically comes out about his feelings for her here and insists she take the chance to live over him. It’s a heartbreaking scene alright, but does fit their relationship as it has been portrayed so far. It’s also fitting that Fitz, a man known to make some hard calls throughout this season, pushes the button to deny Simmons to opportunity to back out.
-She drags him to the surface anyway. The last person I expected to be there arrives to pluck them from the water.
-So everything’s coming together at this point, with Fury’s return and his stated aim of bailing Coulson out. Fitz might be a vegetable though…
-Skye and Ward have their last confrontation. She’s derides him not for his “evil” but his weakness, his inability to be anything but a lapdog. This really does seem to hit Ward hard, and the scene gets all kinds of rapey as he approaches Skye.
-And then the asskicking starts. Ward and May has been coming for a while now (not withstanding their brief entanglement in “Yes Men”). It’s a good fight scene here (buzz saw!) but I could have done without some of the one liners.
-Coulson makes his move on Garrett, and gets his ass handed to him. Luckily Fury is on hand. The two have a confrontation coming, but for now…
-How I did love Fury handing Coulson the Destroyer gun from The Avengers. “I know what it does.” Damn right.
-“Well hell, when was the last time anyone saw a tag team wrestling match with four dead guys?” I’m going to miss you Garrett.
-The reveal of the “incentive program” was nice, and completely changed how all those IT guys looked in Cybertek.
-I really didn’t like the Fury/Coulson dialogue during this last confrontation with Garrett. It all had a weird edge to it, way too casual if you know what I mean, too confident. Why were they just standing around?
-Mike’s turn was well done, tying back into some of the opening moments of “Pilot”. “We’re a team”. Garrett’s end is fairly brutal too and I have no problems with the guy who did it.
-Ward is captured alive, but is made silent. He’ll obviously make some kind of a return in the future, but for now it’s somewhat unnerving to see Coulson openly talk about torturing him.
-Deathlok also gets a final scene, and Skye is back to calling him Mike. He’s another one who is obviously going to be making a return next season, as part of his own quest for redemption.
-Everything was going great, and then Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D straight up ruined its finale. Garrett’s resurrection, change into a full Deathlok costume and subsequent disintegration at the hands of the “0-8-4” gun was as dumb a move as I have ever seen this show make. It was needless, Coulson was way too casual about it, the entire scene was utterly moronic. Just stupid, stupid stuff. Left a very bad taste in the mouth.
-The Fury/Coulson conversation is something the whole show has been building towards, but is ultimately a bit flat. The larger mystery of the blue alien from “T.A.H.I.T.I” goes unexplained for whatever reason, which is frustrating.
-Most of Coulson’s issues with his resurrection have already been covered, it only suffices for Fury to say he has no regrets about what he’s done. It does lead to a nice moment here though: “It was a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ situation”. “Yes, but that emergency was supposed to be the fall of an Avenger.” “Exactly. And I’m damn glad I did it too.”
-Fury bestows the job of rebuilding the titular organisation on Coulson, now “Director of S.H.I.E.L.D” himself. I and a lot of others called that plot point a while ago, and it will be a cool dynamic for next season (which, remember, will now be leading into Age of Ultron).
-“I’ll be everywhere.” We know you will Nick.
– Pretty heartbreaking exchange between Skye and Simmons. “Is he ok?” “…He’s alive.” A lot has been left unsaid about Fitz’ condition, which could be anywhere between coma or wheelchair bound in time for season two.
-“Billy” Koenig welcomes the team to S.H.I.E.L.D’s new HQ. The popular opinion is that he’s a Life Model Decoy of some kind. I’m thinking clone. Either way, it seems as if Patton Oswalt might be a larger part of season two, maybe even a main cast member.
-S.H.I.E.L.D’s new home is dubbed “the Playground”. A nice title, summing up the larger scope and potential for expansive story telling the show now has.
-Raina visits a blood soaked figure somewhere, apparently one of Skye’s parents. No idea who that could be, or what it means for the future. Raina’s sticking around at any rate.
-Our final scene shows a sleepless Coulson replicating Garrett’s previous drawings. An alien blueprint of some kind? Oh Phil, I thought you were sane. Just what are you building?
And so we have come to a conclusion for Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D: Season One. Right up until that ridiculous final scene with Garrett, I would have been willing to declare the finale as good as any of the episodes that immediately preceded it, which have really made Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D worthy of continuance. But I am not exaggerating when I say that scene ruined the episode for me. Whoever thought that up deserves a serious talking to. As it is, the finale is thus a little disappointing, even if it has left things in a relatively good place for when we return in a few months.
I’ll give thoughts on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D’s first season in a larger sense sometime next week (possibly offsite). Until then.
To read my thoughts on other episodes of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D, click here to go to the index.