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It’s been one hectic run for both the cast of “Agents of SHIELD” and fans of the show. The ratings roller coaster had us worried there may only be one season, while the agents themselves are busy running around the world trying to stop Hydra. Both of those issues were tied up when the show was renewed for another season, along with gaining a sister show in “Agent Carter,” and the team finally took down Garrett and company.
Things were left pretty tense at the end of the last episode. Fitz/Simmons are at the bottom of the ocean, Coulson, Skye, May and Trip walked into the barbershop basement and were surrounded by centipede soldiers, Garrett had just been saved by the mysterious GH 325, and Hydra’s plans are one step closer to becoming reality. With minimum effort and the help of the Berzerker staff, the team was able to activate Skye’s Trojan horse program and escape the building to track down Garrett and Ward. Apparently the drug has worked wonders for Garrett as he has not only healed but gained strength, as well as heightened intellect. With Raina and Deathlok by his side, Garrett begins preparations for what’s next. His newfound abilities have him drawing a familiar set of diagrams on a window while on the Bus — it’s the same diagram seen in the “Eye Spy” episode, but more on that later.
Meanwhile under the sea, Simmons comes to and Fitz explains their precarious predicament. After accepting their fate and discussing what death will be like, Simmons comes up with a way to escape. The plan will only be safe for one of them, however, and Fitz decides it will be Simmons who makes it by finally telling her how he feels and saying that this is his way of showing it. The plan works and Simmons carries Fitz to the surface, where they are saved by none other than Nick Fury himself. Fury briefs Simmons on their rescue, including Fitz’s condition — he’s alive, but it’s not looking good.
Garrett is seemingly losing his grip on his sanity, much to Ward’s displeasure. Apparently his loyalty to Garrett was only to Garrett and not Hydra, and he asks Garrett if they’re going to continue on with this. Garrett has larger plans that don’t necessarily include his compatriots like Raina or Quinn. He does have a little talk with Raina where we find out she’s more into the idea of evolution and special abilities. Ward however just thinks he’s losing it. Meanwhile, Quinn has organized a meeting with some top military brass looking to strengthen their defenses in the wake of Hydra’s decimation of SHIELD. However, Garrett goes over the top and ends up killing one of the guys, stating that they’re not really needed and he’ll take what he wants. I do really love it when Bill Paxton gets to chew scenery. And he gets lots in this episode. His smarmy but charismatic personality is just escalated to plain crazy, but the smile just makes you want to say “Okay guy, you got it.”
Ward is realizing he’s lost Garrett, who tells him that he needs to start following his own path. This completely throws Ward off, since his entire life has been geared toward helping Garrett. The confusion only builds after conversations with both Raina and Garrett about Skye. After all but begging for orders, Ward finally gets one and is told to go get Skye.
Coulson and crew are getting ready for a multi-pronged attack on Cybertek main HQ, with Coulson and Trip using an armored assault vehicle to punch a hole in the wall for May and Skye. Once inside, Skye threatens the place with a bomb, while the head Cybertek guy is taken hostage, and their plan starts to come together. Part of the program for the centipede soldiers has a default order to protect Garrett, all except Deathlok, who has no standing orders but is being held because they have his son. It seems Cybertek has a very good incentive program — kidnapping loved ones to force their employees’ cooperation. The team has learned this and are not only there for Garrett but the other families as well. When the default order goes into effect, the soldiers all go to Garrett, leading Coulson right to him.
At this point everything kicks into high gear. Coulson takes on Garrett and is completely outpowered and outnumbered before the timely arrival of Fury. There’s a great exchange between Coulson, Garrett, and Fury about a sentiment he shared with them early in their careers, about being a part of something greater, a speech that Coulson used to rally his team. What comes about is how one person’s misunderstanding of something can seriously lead to something dangerous. I really couldn’t stop laughing during this scene. And the return of an old friend I will call the Coulsonator made me smile from ear to ear. As the trio face off, Ward reunites with Skye, but is interrupted by a very angry May. What ensues is a brutal fight that I think most fans were waiting for. Skye releases the prisoners and uses Ace, Mike’s son to send a message to him. At which point Deathlok promptly fires a missile at Garrett. May defeats Ward and everyone is freed. However, it seems that Quinn got away with the gravitonium and Raina escaped as well.
After the clean-up, Ward is taken into custody, with Coulson stating that Ward put all his trust and faith in a man who didn’t care about him and now he’s gotta live with that. I see Ward coming back as a villain. Mike aka Deathlok is ordered to come in, which would mean he gets to see his son again, but he refuses because of the “monster” he has become. Deathlok leaves in search of redemption. Meanwhile, Fury meets with Coulson and May to discuss things. He gives them a small cube called the “toolbox” and tells Coulson to rebuild SHIELD and make it bigger and better and to keep the initial purpose intact: protection. He addresses Coulson as Director before assuring him that he’ll always be watching.
Using the Bus, the team arrive at a new base to reunite with Simmons. Before the team has a chance to reconnect fully they are greeted by Billy Koening (Patton Oswalt), who I’m guessing is the twin of Eric. He greets them in the EXACT same manner his twin did. Meanwhile, Raina meets with a mysterious figure and hands over a picture of Skye, saying, “We’ve found your daughter.” What looks like a bloody hand reaches out and takes the picture. Back at the new base, Coulson wakes up and walks among all the items gathered from Cybertek inside a storage area. This includes the window Garrett had scratched on earlier. Using a knife, Coulson begins to scratch the same diagram into the wall, leaving us with the mystery of what it could mean.
With a new status quo going in, it will be interested to see how things change. How much of the new SHIELD will be up and running for “Age of Ultron”? Will Coulson finally reveal he’s alive to the Avengers? Will he try and bring Maria Hill back into the fold?
Juggernaut and my boy Virg called the Deathlok thing, but I called Coulson becoming director and Trip replacing Ward! A great way to switch things up. The emotional beats really held some weight and part of me was actually thinking it would end worse than it did. There was also a lot of unexpected humor that just worked great. I did like how they showed Ward’s commitment to Garrett was starting to cause him to doubt himself, but in the end he didn’t waiver and I liked that. Had they turned him good or tried to redeem him it would’ve made the last few weeks mean nothing. Plus, the speech Skye gave him about Fitz being a hero for still believing in him would’ve had no weight whatsoever.
All in all, things were wrapped up rather nicely and still left open for things to come. I look forward to the next season and to “Agent Carter” as well. I’m already sure they’ll do some crossover episodes where a case from the past impacts the present. Hell, it’d also be a great time to show us more of the Howling Commandos as perhaps the first SHIELD ops team, with Agent Carter at the forefront and Dum Dum Dugan and Gabe Jones as her back up muscle.
The show had a long slow burn but the pay off was well worth it. Marvel has really accomplished something with this Cinematic Universe and now they just have to keep it going.