And so we close the first chapter on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Hot on the heels of it’s season two renewal announcement, tonight’s installment promises an explosive conclusion joined by none other than the man himself, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. Through the highs and lows, we’ve followed the agents as they fought the forces of Centipede, possessed sticks, Asgardian temptresses, and viewership approval. Though treacherous roads to be sure, Coulson and the gang have found their footing and are moving full force at the remnants of Hydra and cyborg Bill Paxton (you know it’s a great gig when you get to type that sentence out). In our final installment, will everyone make it out alive? What will become of the agents now that S.H.I.E.L.D no longer exists? Will more be revealed with regards to Skye’s “monstrous” lineage? All this and more will be revealed in tonight’s installment, “Beginning of the End.” Hit the jump for our Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap.
Our episode begins with a nice jaunty tour through Cybertek – producers of Deathlok – as a new trainee is walked through the process of manning one of the one-man armies. In a neat, albeit quick action scene, May manages to get hold of the Berserker staff and take out the Deathloks near them, as well as the roof over their heads. I wish they had spent a little more time with this scene, as the situation was originally presented as quite dire in the previous episode, only to be wrapped up in a nice tidy manner. Points for giving May an opportunity to let loose as she began tossing the Asgardian staff through the supporters. During this altercation, Fitz and Simmons are beginning to realize that they may be spending what’s left of their lives in Davy Jones’ locker.
This was a really nice touching scene to break up the action as the scientific duo talked about death, its meaning to them, and ultimate acceptance of it. Though the fix seems a bit convenient, it at least did offer us with what is possibly the best look into the two characters that we’ve seen thus far, so kudos on that. Meanwhile, at Hydra HQ, Garrett continues to go bonkers thanks to the “Jesus Juice” originally used to resuscitate Skye. Even when he’s not spouting great one liners, Paxton still proves an expert of his craft as he is able to portray his own brand of insanity in a compelling and masterful way. In an exceptionally dark moment (which I’m shocked they was able to make its way past the censors), Garrett punches a hole through a general at Cybertek, rips out a rib bone, and slams it into his head. Ouch.
As the rest of the team breaks into Cybertek, Ward talks with Raina about the Gravitonium she now has in her possession, once again stating his secret love of Skye. Sigh, you know that worked a lot better as a play that Ward was doing as a secret agent of Hydra. I wish that they had delved into his feelings for Skye a bit more outside of his playing of the team behind the scenes, as it just doesn’t play as well as it could have. Maybe play up the crazy angle of it as Ward has never felt love, or something along those lines. Otherwise, it seems like another attempt to try to have the audience relate and feel sympathetic for Ward, when that’s the last thing the character needs. Minor nitpick, but one of the weaker parts of the episode for sure.
From here, the episode ratchets up to 11 as Fitz and Simmons are saved by *drumroll* NICK FURY. Yes, Samuel L. Jackson makes a great entry into the episode by teaming up with the remaining agents to fight Garrett and his forces at Cybertek. The interactions between Coulson, Fury, and Garrett is worth the price of admission as the trio bounce off one another flawlessly, providing some of the funniest lines of the night, to say nothing of the action scenes. Fury throws Coulson the same gun he used in Avengers and we’re off to the races. While this action scene happens, another fight begins as May goes hand to hand with Ward and effectively takes him down with the help of a nail gun that literally hammers his foot to the ground. He is then taken into custody, unable to say a word as May might have dislocated his larynx in the scuffle.
Garrett is seemingly killed by Deathlok, only to rise again and rebuild himself as Iron Paxton! Just kidding, he’s immediately blown up by Coulson in the funniest scene of the night. Wrapping the episode up, Fury gives Coulson his new modus operandi, rebuilding S.H.I.E.L.D. from the ground floor up. The team is set (minus Fitz who is in a coma), the mission is clear, and the new headquarters is explored as Patton Oswalt returns! Yes, Agent Koenig had a brother who is also an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Billy Koenig. Our two stingers of the night/season are revealed as a shadowy, bleeding (?) man is revealed as Skye’s father by Raina and Coulson etches out the insane markings Garrett had been putting together earlier.
Ultimately, this season managed to turn itself around following a lot stumbles along the way. Characters and story arcs early on were seemingly sacrificed to make way for the Hydra reveal and the events presented in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. We can hope that moving into season two, the creators have learned from their mistakes and will keep things at the level of the final few episodes of the season. This finale however was one of the best episodes of the season and managed to stand over the rest minus a minor quibble here and there.
Season Grade: B-
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– The identity of the “Bleeding Man”? Well there’s obviously a bunch of candidates but off the top of my head, here are my top suspects: one of the Blood Brothers, Grim Reaper, Dr. Demonicus, or Korvac.
– “Who do I talk to about getting a haircut?”
– “And then Bob’s your uncle.”
– “You ready to change the world?”
“No, but I’m ready to kick some ass.”
– “What do you think it will be like?”
“Death? I hear drowning’s quite pleasant.”
– “Sir, I bring the noise and the funk wherever I go.”
– “I was told to never leave your side, sir.”
“I love you, too.”
– “I have a weapon much more effective than a bomb.”
“And why’s that?”
“Because you slept with her.”
– “Hi John.”
– “Reminds me of the old days.”
“You were never on top!”
– “Who ever saw a tag team match with four dead guys?”
– “You didn’t tell me he’d gone this crazy.”
“He really stepped it up a notch.”