Ever since Simmons announced “We have to go back,” I knew by the Winter finale we would find ourselves back on the Blue Planet. And here we are, with not one, not two but three characters who have crossed over, along with some expendable extras. Coulson’s last-minute hurling himself out of an airplane and straight through to an alien world sans parachute wasn’t just inadvisable. (Five out of six regenerations of Doctor do not recommend it. The Sixth Doctor, is of course Colin Baker, and as always, The Worst.) As far as my calculations were concerned, that made at least one person too many on the far side of Monolith land to come back alive, and that’s before we entered Will into the equation.
Coulson: “I’ll be damned. Tattoine.”
By the way, my assumption of a “Will home in time for Christmas” ending was based on my guess that when Simmons was rescued, he went one on one by the creature. Whether or not he was infected with Inhumanness before, he probably would beby the time they returned to the Blue Planet, and would make an excellent conduit to bring The Nebulous Evil back via SHIELD trying to be good people. But that was before they went and surprised me last week by having Hydra send half a dozen folks over. Therefore it wasn’t the biggest shock to discover, even before it was time to cross back over, that Will had in fact died so Simmons could get home, and the creature was wearing his façade. The moment he recognized the name “Hydra,” I was banking on it. (The real Will doesn’t seem like the type to have heard of them.) That the reveal came before he crossed the portal guaranteed he would not see the other side. Sorry Simmons.
With one definitely marked for death, that merely left the question of who else wouldn’t return. The show made a major effort last week to tie Coulson and Ward’s behavior in mirror images of each other to help emphasize that Coulson was no longer our “good guy.” Pairing that with the spoiler released a head of time that someone was going to die suggested heavily that Ward’s time was up, and Coulson would be the one to do him in on the Blue Planet. There was some risk the show would give us a twist and heroically kill off Fitz instead. But despite that poor character making it to the top of his bracket in The Altantic‘s “The Actual Worst” poll (a sign that the voting was influenced by Slytherin-hearted anti-Hufflepuff sentiment), chances were low that Marvel TV heads had the stomach to pull that sort of Game of Thrones-ain type move on the FitzSimmons shippers. And ABC is not HBO, they don’t do in the guy whose face is on the side of the bus, which meant whatever foolish moves Coulson made, he would survive it.
Joey: Okay, so are we rescuing Inhumans or saving Coulson? Or attacking HYDRA? Or is there some kind of combo? Sorry, new guy just trying to understand how this whole S.H.I.E.L.D. thing works.
Hunter: This is how S.H.I.E.L.D. works. Make a plan. Plan turns to rubbish. Make a new plan. Oh just to be crystal clear, this is the part where the plan turns to rubbish.
But though that left Ward as our dead man walking, the show has heavily invested in Brett Dalton as our villain. Would they really take him out with a full half season left to go? As we discovered in the bumper, no. The real Grant Ward lies dead on a planet that is probably finished as a plot point, with his chest crushed in by Coulson. But, in an echo of Coulson’s last-minute following Ward into the portal, it seems that the creature grabbed Ward’s body (since Will’s was burnt to a crisp) and tossed himself through. One useful thing about dead human bodies–no worrying about parachutes, or even May firing all she’s got on that poor South Western UK castle.
So what now? Coulson committed murder, but it was on a different planet, so does it really count? (Especially since the dead are up and cracking his neck just fine?) One might think that Coulson’s behavior would eventually lead to his being removed from the director position at SHIELD. Especially with the show discovering that promoting Mac to Director solves a lot of their “what exactly are we doing with this character again?” problems. Not that I think they will get there right away. There’s an entire second half of the season to get through, not to mention our regularly scheduled Movieus Interruptus from on high arriving in multiplexes May 6th. Though Ultron didn’t reset the deck for SHIELD last year the way the second Captain America movie did in Season 1, it’s safe to assume it will this coming year, with the Avengers breaking down like fractions. One can hope that includes finding a reason to move Coulson out of the Director’s chair in favor of Mac’s more measured and effective leadership. (I mean seriously, consider all the man accomplished in this episode. And it was only his first day!)
Mac: “So just take the ultra fortified hydra castle and open the alien portal? That’s it? You know you wired different than most folks.”
One of those accomplishments was finally deploying the long-delayed Secret Warriors project. Not that I’ve been that saddened by the delay in the Inhuman division of SHIELD, since it’s helped dilute the weakening effects of the show’s original casting sin of Chloë Bennet. But with the Slovakia Accords on their way, and the Inhumans movie prepping for 2018, it was a given they’d get back to them at some point. Let’s just hope it’s less of the non-chemistry of Lincoln and Daisy and more Joey proudly announcing to all and sundry “Did you see that? I’m bullet proof!”
So despite the threats of death and character removal, in the end everyone came out the other side of our winter finale. Even Blair Underwood, who had been put on ice a couple of weeks ago, and seemed like he might be off-screen for a while was released back into the wild. Not only did he save Simmons, but he also had the very useful side effect of taking out all those excess Inhumans Hydra had squirreled away, removing that dangling plot thread the show was clearly not prepared to take on, while putting Lash back out onto the streets for them to hunt.
Andrew: “May shot me!”
Simmons: “Can’t say I blame her, the way you’ve misbehaved.”
Speaking of which, this was a very neat ending to the Winter finale no? Compare that to last season, where we were left with so many questions, from what the hell just happened to Skye, to what the hell was going on with the Kree and Coulson’s insanity, and where things would go with the Inhumans. Here, we have quite a few answers. The portal generator, and the ministones have been destroyed–we’re officially done with the Blue Planet. (Too bad–I would have loved to have heard more about those nine cities.) Will is dead, he died saving Simmons back at the beginning of the season. So though Fitz technically burned the body alive, he didn’t actually kill his rival, and the FitzSimmons love triangle has been (mostly) taken care of. The bad guys are still exactly who they thought they were, and even played by the same actors, though I’m sure Coulson will have a nasty shock when he sees Ward-as-Death. (As Fitz says, cut off one head and blah blah blah blah blah.)
One of the very few questions is how the rest of the team will react when it gets out how bodily Coulson killed Ward. (And it will get out.) Also, how long until May finally takes out Lash? When will Bobbi and Hunter leave to head up their own spin-off? And how badly will the coming Civil War upset the apple cart? For the answers to these and more questions, we’ll have to return in March. But first, let’s head to LA and hang out with Agent Carter.