Poor Rosalind. She had become such a strong part of the cast, but unfortunately, it would seem that her time is up. Yes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s “Closure” began with a nice date between Coulson and Ros, reviewing the events that have happened so far this season, as well as thinking to the future in terms of what to do with the fact that the ATCU has been a front for Hydra this whole time. As the two sit down to enjoy their dinner of big American burgers, a stray bullet crashes through the window and hits Rosalind right in the neck. In stark silence, Coulson sits in shock staring at the body of his newest love, until the shit hits the fan: Ward gives him a call to twist the knife, and sends some Hydra flunkies to attempt to off Coulson. A great action scene takes place with Coulson tearing through the Hydra agents with his new “robo-hand,” managing to get an emergency pickup from Mac. Coulson returns to HQ, covered in the blood of Rosalind — with a drive we’ve rarely seen from Phil since the start of the series — to wrap his hands around Ward’s throat.
I think that one of the biggest hurdles regarding Coulson has been his likability. Now stay with me here, but Phil was just such a nice guy throughout his time in Marvel’s Phase 1 slot of films that it was tough to ever find a “chink in the armor.” With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. however, we’ve gotten a much closer look into Phil’s humanity. But whereas you may think that Coulson’s admiration and feelings for his crew would make him admirable, it actually makes him possibly the worst choice of the bunch to be the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. proper — which is actually really interesting. Coulson cares about his companions in the organization to the point that it blinds him and makes his rage almost uncontrollable when something bad befalls one of them. It’s happened before in the series, and it’s something that his friends are able to see and pull him back from the brink. It’s a good look on Coulson and brings the flaws of the character to light.
When Phil asks all of the original members of the team to dish their information on any information about Ward, it feels wrong, and almost like an intrusion into their personal lives. May, an agent to the end, goes along with it, answering any and all questions he has. Daisy, meanwhile, attempts to break through Coulson’s tough exterior, but to no avail. Once Phil has had his fill of questioning his teammates, his anger once again gets the better of him when he grabs Hunter by the throat, blaming him for not taking out Ward when he had the chance. Really, it’s just Phil continuing to blame himself, and he quickly comes to his senses, asking both Hunter and Bobbi for help in tracking down Ward. Of course things take a little detour when they realize they’re getting played by Ward from the start, though they follow through with quite the nefarious plan of their own.
One of the long-running fears that I’ve had throughout the series was the idea that, at some point, Ward was going to find redemption. Granted, he’s done some really evil stuff in his time, but I always felt that he had not completely fallen. It was nice to see, with his killing of Rosalind and subsequent delight in it, that Ward is irredeemable. While we’ve had quite a while to learn more and more about the character over time, this episode once again is a testament to the idea that of all the characters in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Ward is the breakout. We keep seeing layer after layer peeled away, revealing that he is in fact still somewhat of a shattered infant, lashing out against the world as a betrayal for his past. It’s a very interesting take, and the inclusion of Ward’s other brother into the mix (when Coulson flat out kidnaps him) was a great touch. Ward has been many things during the series’ tenure, but his greatest role is still as the show’s best villain.
Speaking of villains, Gideon Malick continues to torment the team, trying to open up the portal to the alien world that Simmons spent a good deal of time on. Malick manages to arrange for Fitz and Simmons to be kidnapped, killing ATCU member Banks in the process. Through a little torture and compromise, Malick gets Fitz to agree to take a team of Hydra stooges to the alien world to bring back the big alien threat back to earth. Gideon makes for a nice puppet master of the season, even managing to manipulate Ward into following the team into the abyss by painting him to be a great leader for Hydra, rather than a follower himself. Much like Ward and Bill Paxton’s Agent Garrett in the first season, these two have a nice father/son dynamic going through the third season.
Hot on the heels of Hydra, Mac — placed in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Coulson — decides to let loose on operation “Secret Warriors,” bringing together the Inhumans, Lincoln and Joey, with Daisy as the lead. It’s been a long time coming, and honestly wish that the team was a bit bigger, but in a show that is already full with characters, I can understand. As the team deploys, we spin back around to the fantastic finale of the night as Ward and company step through the portal, and Coulson proceeds to dive-bomb out of the back of the plane directly into the gateway itself, promising an exciting mid-season finale with the two factions warring for the alien presence on the other side of the rift.
It was another excellent episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., especially with the willingness to jettison a well-liked cast member from the proceedings. When S.H.I.E.L.D. manages to get all the right gears moving, it moves at a sensible but exciting clip. And in hitting mid-season, it has managed to find its perfect stride, standing toe-to-toe with the other great comic book series of the day. Good show Agents.
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– I have to wonder where Deathlok was during this episode. Seems like some additional muscle that the team could have used. Though I suppose sometimes, we just have to let sleeping dogs lie as I could just have easily asked, “Well why don’t they just call the Avengers?”
– Again, it’s a shame we didn’t get a bigger Secret Warriors team for this final mission as their appearances in the comic are pretty legendary. At their peak, they had something like 8 members or so, all of whom have fairly interesting backstories and powers. As the season progresses, I hope we get more of a focus on building them up, as we hardly know anything about Joey (who wasn’t even a member in the books).
– Nice name drop of the villain of Captain America: Winter Soldier (Robert Redford’s Pierce) by Malick.
– Coulson: “Is it me or is every burger named the All American just awful for you?”
– Coulson: “You know I have a flying car right?”
Rosalind: “Uhh yeah, it’s from the 60s.”
– Simmons: “Well he did jump out of a plane to save me.”
– Ward: “I’m impressed with this whole Furiosa vibe you got going.”