Thursday, May 15, 2014

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1, Episode 22: Beginning Of The End

And so ends Season One of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. It's been a slow, long and sometimes painful journey, but we're definitely in a better place now than we were at the beginning of the season.

It took forever for the show to finally find and settle on a tone, but once it did, it improved dramatically. Plus the Captain America: The Winter Soldier tie-in brought major changes to the series, which seemed to energize the writing and plotting. Too bad that didn't occur sooner. 

Let's hope that now that they have an idea of what does and doesn't work, that Season Two will avoid those pitfalls and hit the ground running.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Most of the dangling plot lines are resolved as the Team confronts and defeats Garrett, FitzSimmons are rescued by a very special guest star, May gives Ward a well-deserved beat down, Deathlok goes on walkabout, Coulson gets promoted but may not be totally back to normal.

Thoughts:
• Last week's episode ended on a cliffhanger with Coulson and Co. surrounded by an army of glowy-eyed super soldiers. Ruh Roh! But this week the Team dispatches these enhanced killing machines without even breaking a sweat, like they were an old lady spoon band. 


They were defeated pretty much singlehandedly by May, who grabbed a Dark Elf berserker staff (from a previous episode) from one and literally brought the house down on top of them. That was certainly a convenient! I'm assuming that pesky TV budget got in the way again, and they just didn't have the money (or time) to properly resolve this situation.

Amazingly after crushing the super soldiers, May tosses the berserker staff into the rubble. Might as well, May. I'm sure there's no way a magical super weapon like that would ever come in handy again in the future.

• Hey, ABC, I said it last week, and I'll say it again-- your surprise guest appearances would probably be more of a surprise if you didn't, you know, list the actors in the opening credits. I get that it's probably some SAG regulation, but it kind of ruins the fun.

This reminds me of the BattleStar Galactica remake a few years back. Each week at the end of the opening credits, this tribal drum beat would start up and they'd show rapid-fire images from the episode you were about to watch. Quite often the images would contain major spoilers. Why they did this, I have no idea, but I used to close my eyes during the drums so I wouldn't be see any spoilers. In a similar vein I try to ignore the actor credits at the beginning of most TV episodes, but it doesn't always work. Like this time.

• I was expecting Nick Fury to show up for thirty seconds at the end of the episode, so it was a nice surprise when he stuck around for much longer. That said, it was pretty obvious during his confrontation with Garrett that Samuel L. Jackson and Bill Paxton weren't on the set at the same time. I'm assuming this was due to actor availability.

One last thing about Fury-- when he appears he's not wearing his trademark eye patch and leather duster. Instead he's in "incognito mode," dressed very much the way I imagine Samuel L. Jackson looks on a daily basis. In fact I would not be at all surprised if those were Jackson's own clothes, and he just walked onto the set, said, "Let's film this mother*cker" and started emoting.

• So everyone on the Team believes Nick Fury is dead, killed during the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. Then he shows up out of the blue and everyone acts incredibly nonchalant about it. You'd think we'd have gotten at least one "B-but you're supposed to be d-d-dead!" or "It's a g-g-g-ghost!" line of dialog, but no.

Maybe they read the opening credits?

• The May vs Ward fight was very brutal and very well done. I guess the lesson we should all take away from this is do NOT ever betray Melinda May. She will come after your ass with power tools! When she's not swinging a circular saw at your head, she's nailing your foot to the floor.

• Glad to see that Ward didn't heroically redeem himself in the finale. I was a bit afraid they might go that route, and would have been extremely disappointed if they had. He killed far too many people in the past couple of months for all to be forgiven with the wave of a hand. 

I was kind of expecting him to have a last minute change of heart and sacrifice himself to either kill Garrett or save Skye or both. But, being thrown in the slammer and tortured is good too. Maybe they're saving this for Season 2?

So I guess this means he really did kill Buddy the dog (see last week).

• Fury tosses the Destroyer Gun to Coulson so he can finish off Garrett. If you're a fan of The Avengers you'll recognize this gun as the one Coulson used against Loki, right before he was killed. A very cool callback to the movie.


• I just realized that Ruth Negga, the actress who plays Raina-- was also in World War Z. Along with Peter Capaldi (left), the new Doctor on Doctor Who. Cool! 

None of this has anything to do with this episode, but I just thought I'd throw it out there.

• After their rescue, Fury tells Simmons that Fitz is in critical condition, as his brain was "without oxygen for a very long time." 

We saw Simmons swim to the surface with Fitz, and it didn't seem like it took all that long. It looked like it took twenty seconds, thirty at the most. Maybe it really took longer and they didn't show us the entire trip to the surface?

By the way, my guess for Season 2: now that Fitz confessed his incredibly obvious feelings for Simmons, his brain injury will cause him to forget he ever loved her, but she'll now have feelings for him. 

• Darn, I was loving seeing Garrett transform into Super Deathlok, and then POOF! He's blown up seemingly for good. Ah well, they probably took the character about as far as they could anyway.


You know, that whole Super Deathlok transformation scene looked about a hundred times better than Anakin Skywalker being turned into Darth Vader in Revenge Of The Sith-- and on a TV budget, yet. Kudos to the effects team.


That said, I'm a little fuzzy on the chain of events here. Deathlok predictably turns on Garrett and seemingly stomps on his head (offscreen). A little later we see Garrett, head intact, being loaded into a coffin or some kind of container and being carried off by... some guys in uniforms. Later still, we see Garrett painfully haul himself into the patented Deathlok Transformation Chair and hit the button.

First of all, who were those guys who carted off Garrett in the coffin? They can't be S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, because there ain't no more S.H.I.E.L.D. Are they police? One of those Home Damage Repair agencies? 


Secondly, did they just haul the coffin into the secret Deathlok makin' room and leave it? Or did Garrett come back to life, burst out of the coffin and hobble to that room? As I said, it was all pretty vague.

• Overall I enjoyed this episode and thought it was very well done, with the exception of one major problem. Ever since Coulson found out that Fury forcibly resurrected him, his hurt and anger toward his boss has been simmering to a boil. He finally gets a chance to confront Fury about the horrific things he did to him, and… it's over in ten seconds. In fact the writers apparently didn't even think it was important enough to show us the entire scene, as we only get to see the tail end of Coulson's smack down. 

Fury counters Coulson's rage by giving him a glowing review, telling him he considers him one of the Avengers, and promoting him to director. And that's that!

I don't know… if I died and my boss had me painfully and horrifically brought back to life, then gave me selective amnesia to forget I'd died and been brought back, and then assigned handlers all around me to make sure I didn't go a little nutty, I think I'd be a little more upset than Coulson.

Surely there was a better way to have resolved this major plot line?

• Agent Koenig is back! Woohoo! Did not see that one coming. So are the Koenig brothers twins? Or are they, as most fans suspect, Life Model Decoys (lifelike robots from the comics)?

• So what's with the alien hieroglyphics that Garrett and Coulson were doodling? I'm guessing since they were both injected with alien Kree blood, that it has something to do with the upcoming Guardians Of The Galaxy movie. Especially since everything in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is connected.


• The best part about the season finale? I can finally stop writing the tough to type "S.H.I.E.L.D." acronym for a few months. 

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