I love it when a show comes together. I feel like I’ve been waiting for this moment, when every storyline that began back three seasons ago clicks, when all the threads finally converge. Even better, the winter finale has wound up not so far from my initial guess, but with enough “I didn’t see *that* coming twists” to feel surprised and gratified.
Ros: “You’re such a Luddite.”
Coluson: “You know I drive a flying car, right?”
This was also the fastest hour of SHIELD so far, but unlike some of the others, it didn’t feel rushed. There was just so much densely packed into it, from the removal of Rosalind and Banks, to Daisy getting her team, to Fitz and Simmons getting to the mini monoliths, to a new acting head of SHIELD. And yet, each of these plot lines didn’t feel jostled or hurried. There was even room for a Hamilton reference.
Where to start? I suppose the fastest way to make me believe that Ros and Banks weren’t really secretly working for Hydra was for them to die gruesomely, and both had obliged by the half hour mark–Ros even before the opening credits. I know that was fast, and there was a part of me that says “we were just getting to know her!” But honestly, I was never going to trust her, and would have kept waiting for the Hydra shoe to drop. Death was the only reasonable way to clear her name. I was a little sorry about Banks–I was just thinking as he headed into the facility with Fitz and Simmons that he was going to make an interesting addition to the team. And then he died. The poor ATCU. Here we thought you were building up to the Slovakia Accords and the Superpowers Registration Act. You were just redshirts all the time.
Malick: If Coulson doesn’t make it out, you get that closure you’ve been searching for. Closure’s not something I ever put much stock in. What I believe in, is moving forward. Never looking back.
Ros’ death spurs all the actions that follow. Coulson goes nuts, removes himself as head of SHIELD, and grabs Bobbi and Hunter to go Ward hunting. I have to admit, I have not been a fan of the whole Ward vs SHIELD dynamic, as it has been obvious Ward wasn’t going anywhere, making the entire thing feel futile. But thought the “we’re not so different, you and I” dialogue was hackneyed, the show did a good job showing how Ward and Coulson are mirror images of each other, from the thrown phones to the dropping just enough info to keep each other on edge. But I’m still assuming in the end this to will end in stalemate, and both will come out alive and well and ready for the spring première, post Agent Carter. But perhaps I am wrong about that?
Because meanwhile, a dropped clue about opening the portal walks Fitz and Simmons into a convenient trap, so that Malick can use them as part of the team to get back. Now, I have been saying for weeks we’ll be back on the blue planet before this half of the season was over, and have Will home in time for Christmas. I even had the stray thought that it would be Fitz who went and got him, as a mirror to Simmons’ earlier journey. But I never saw the part where “Ward leads the team of extras who are probably marked for death” would come into it. Nor would I have even guessed that Coulson’s obsession would cause him to jump out of a plane and fall directly into and through the portal to the other side with them. That now makes four people who have to be improbably returned by the end of next week–Coulson, Ward, Fitz and Will. I’m thinking perhaps the odds are against all four living to the end of next week, and we all know which one we’d like to see fail to return: Ward.
Mac: We are outmanned… outgunned… (OUTNUMBERED! OUTPLANNED!)
With Coulson out as director, the show finally found something to do with Mac. Mac has been this unfortunate appendage, non-realized character for a season and a half. Someone (I’m afraid I don’t remember who) compared him to Lieutenant Worf recently. He’s the big tough guy who looks imposing, but is really a jobber–there to always be beaten up in order to make the bad guys look scarier. I have to say though, I really *like* Mac as Director. His slow, cautious nature in command works really well, especially as a counterpoint to how Coulson has been running things. And if he wants to give more line deliveries that are clearly based on George Washington on the Hamilton soundtrack, I, for one, am here for it. #SHIELD4Ham.
With Andrew and his endless refusal to clear Inhumans for Daisy’s team removed, Mac also gives us what we’ve been waiting for since Chloe Bennet first cut her damn hair. He clears Joey and Lincoln, and we finally have our nascent Secret Warriors team. Perhaps next week, we’ll even get to see them in action against Hydra’s Inhumans. (or rather Inhuman. Or well, a guy who still hasn’t yelled “Allez Cuisine!” when he attacks, much as I keep hoping he will.)
Malick: Bring it back my friend. Be the one that finishes what HYDRA started. We’re making history today.
Next week looks to be a two-pronged attack. Those left on Earth will be attempting to take out Hydra in their castle, to get control of the mini monoliths. Those on the Blue Planet will be attempting to survive whatever that Inhuman thing is, rounding up Will and heading back. Maybe Ward will finally be done in by the Blue Planet, and its Inhuman guardian. Let’s just hope that the casualties don’t include Fitz. (Coulson’s not going anywhere. This is not Game of Thrones, and his is the face on the poster.) But my bet is, much like Coulson flew through to get over there at the last minute, Ward will find a way to get back in return, even more angry and scarred because once again he was manipulated into being a dumbass, and sent to die for an old man’s dream.