Wow! This week's episode of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. could easily have been the mid-season cliffhanger! In fact I thought it was until I saw the preview for next week.
There was so much packed into one episode, and most of it developments I didn't see coming. I wasn't expecting Rosalind's exit, and I definitely didn't expect we'd see an expedition to Maveth so soon. Kudos to the writers for moving the story along so quickly instead of dragging it out forever (yeah, I'm lookin' at you, The Walking Dead).
Now that Coulson knows Rosalind isn't a HYDRA agent, the two of them enjoy a date night, complete with lots of witty banter. They actually make quite a fun couple. Uh-oh. That's not good. Right on cue we hear the sound of breaking glass, and sure enough, Rosalind's shot through the throat. She dies in Coulson's arms. Her phone rings, and of course it's Evil Ward calling to ask Coulson what he thinks of his sweet sniper skills. He tells Coulson that now he knows what it feels like to watch someone you love bleed out in front of you.
Ward sends a pack of thugs to finish off Coulson, but he easily kills them all. He then hightails it back to S.H.I.E.L.D., where he interrogates the original members of the Team (May, FitzSimmons and Daisy), asking them if to recall anything useful about Ward.Daisy sys she understands how Ward's mind works, but that she can never forgive him for the things he's done.
Coulson takes Hunter and Mockingbird with him to go after Evil Ward. He makes Mack the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and leaves him in charge. Banks, Rosalind's right-hand man at the ATCU, visits S.H.I.E.L.D. He recognizes the logo Simmons saw on Will's jacket, and says it's from the Distant Star Pathfinder Project, which was funded by Gideon Malick. He takes FitzSimmons to the Project to investigate. Unfortunately HYDRA's already there. They kill Banks and capture FitzSimmons.
Fitz and Simmons are taken to Malick, who's at the Gloucester castle in we first saw in Purpose In The Machine. He says HYDRA knows how to open the Monolith portal to Maveth (formerly known as Planet Blue) and send people through, but they don't know how to retrieve them. Since Fitz and Simmons are the only two people in history to travel to and from Maveth, he wants to know their secret.
Meanwhile, Coulson finds out HYDRA has FitzSimmons, so he and Hunter abduct Ward's younger brother Thomas as leverage. Coulson calls Ward and tells him he'll kill his brother if he harms FitzSimmons. Ward freaks out and begins torturing Simmons, forcing Fitz to listen to her screams. He eventually cracks and spills his guts to Ward.
Coulson tracks Ward to England, and dumps Thomas at an undisclosed location. Director Mack realizes Coulson is walking into a HYDRA trap, so he sends Daisy, Lincoln and Joey Gutierrez (the metal melting guy from the season premiere) to rescue him, finally setting up the Secret Defenders.
Malick wants Ward to lead the expedition to Maveth. Ward takes Fitz along too, as insurance. Malick activates the portal and the team jumps through. Coulson's plane is circling overhead, and without thinking, he straps on a parachute and dives out of the plane. He zooms though the portal a second before it closes.
On Maveth, Ward and the others stumble around blindly in a violent sandstorm. Coulson speeds through the portal and lands on a rock, knocking himself out.
• Holy Crap! Evil Ward killed Rosalind! I did not see that one coming.
I wondered what the writers would do with her now that it's been revealed she's not working with HYDRA. I sort of assumed Coulson would bring her into S.H.I.E.L.D,, where she and Daisy could clash every week. I guess not.
I'm actually going to miss Rosalind. I was starting to like her, and she and Coulson made a fun couple. At the risk of sounding all politically correct, it's too bad the writers felt the need to fridge a strong female character just to fuel a vengeance plot.
Kudos to the writers for taking me by surprise and killing her during her banter with Coulson.
• Gosh, I wonder if there's some hidden subtext in this scene? Subtlety, they name is Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
• After Ward kills Rosalind, he calls Coulson and gloats, saying now he knows what it feels like to watch someone you care about bleed out in front of you.
Ward's obviously referring to Agent 33 here, who was killed last season in S,O,S, The implication here is that Coulson killed her, so Ward kills Rosalind as revenge. But that's not how it happened at all. Coulson didn't kill 33. Ward shot and killed her himself, after she used her nano-mask to impersonate May.
Maybe Ward blames Coulson for causing the situation that led to 33's death. Or he has a jumbled memory. Or he's hurting and doesn't want anyone to be happy. Or he's just a big asshole.
It also seems iffy to me that a psycho like Ward would still be smarting over Agent 33's death. Were they really ever that close? Maybe Daisy's right, and his problem really isn't that he doesn't feel anything, but feels too much.
• After Rosalind is killed, Coulson removes his blood-stained shirt and a matchbook labeled Moon Pub falls out. That's the place where they had their first drink.
• Rosalind's right-hand man Banks was also killed in this episode. So is this the end of the ATCU? Or will Malick keep it open to continue gathering Inhumans?
• Coulson needs a cooler looking bionic hand. One that doesn't look like he just pulled on a black rubber glove.
• Suddenly in this episode Fitz starts calling Planet Blue "Maveth." When did we all decide on that?
If you'll recall, "Maveth" was the word written on the scroll he risked his life to obtain earlier this season in Laws Of Nature. Supposedly it's Hebrew for "death."
• When Simmons visited Maveth and met Will there, he said he was the last member of an expedition to the planet. He never mentioned the name of his expedition or the agency involved. We now know it was called the Distant Star Pathfinder Project, and was funded by Gideon Malick and HYDRA.
• After Evil Ward captures Simmons, he threatens to torture her. She tells him she's not afraid of him. He says he likes her new "Furiosa" vibe.
So apparently while he's quietly been rebuilding HYDRA, Ward decided to take a day off and visit his local cineplex to see the new Mad Max movie. Interesting.
• Throwing your cell phone against the wall as hard as you can is apparently the new hanging up on someone.
• Coulson makes Mack the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. in his absence. Unfortunately he didn't make a very effective leader his first time at bat. He was so indecisive he actually called Coulson-- who was in the middle of a secret mission-- for advice!
He got a little better later when he finally made a decision and sent Daisy and her Secret Defenders to rescue Coulson.
• Mac gives a pep talk to Daisy and her team before they head for the HYDRA castle. Her teammates are Lincoln and Joey Gutierrez. I never noticed it before now, but Joey looks a LOT like Ward! They could almost pass as twins.
By the way, do not get too attached to Joey. He might as well be wearing a red shirt.
• As Malick monologues to Evil Ward, he mentions someone named Pierce. I'm assuming he means Alexander Pierce, the World Security Councilman who was secretly a HYDRA agent in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
• Let's talk about HYDRA's master plan, shall we? According to Malick, thousands of years ago a powerful Inhuman was born on Earth, and destined to rule it. Because humanity was terrified of the Inhuman, they banished it through the portal to the planet Maveth. HYDRA was founded for the sole purpose of engineering the Inhuman's return.
For generations HYDRA's been sending people to Maveth in order to bring the Inhuman back. Sending people is easy, but so far they've never been able to bring anyone or anything back.
That's where FitzSimmons come in. They're the only two people in history who've ever been to Maveth and returned. That's why Ward tortures them, to learn the secret of how to make the round trip.
And just what is the amazing secret to returning from Maveth? Apparently it's activating the portal again so the expedition can step back through.
That's it! That's all there is to it. You activate the portal and send people through, and then a few hours later you turn it on again so they can come back.
Jesus Christ, are you kidding me? THAT'S the complicated secret HYDRA's been trying to figure out for thousands of years? And they just now discovered it? No wonder they've never been able to take over the world.
• When Coulson sees what's happening in Gloucester castle (which apparently doesn't have a roof), he dives out of his Quinjet, flies into the castle and zooms through the portal on the floor.
The portal looks to be about six feet wide. Good thing Coulson's apparently a world champion skydiver, or he'd have made quite a mess when he hit the castle floor.
• When Ward and his men enter the portal, they jump through it feet first. I wonder how they exit the portal on Maveth? Do they come up out of it feet first (which would make sense, since it's like stepping into a hole) or does the portal appear a few feet off the ground and they fall through it?
Based on the way Coulson exited, I'm guessing it's A. You exit feet first, upside down.