TV Review: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 Finale
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EPISODE 22: "Beginning of the End"
SYNOPSIS: Dark secrets are revealed as Coulson and his team put everything on the line to stop Garrett and the forces of Hydra, on the explosive season finale of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
It all comes down to this. Coulson, Skye, May, and Triplett versus Ward, Deathlok, and Garrett (Bill Paxton). I leave Fitz and Simmons out of it because at the end of the previous episode they were jettisoned from the Bus in a storage container. 21 episodes have led to this conclusion which should wrap up any open storylines and tease the second season of AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. I am sure the CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER connections will continue to be felt next year, but Marvel and Disney have to begin positioning themselves to plug the crap out of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.
Picking up right where the last episode left off, Coulson and the team are uploading Skye's program into a HYDRA terminal at the Cuban base recently abandoned by Garrett's team. We also see the various Deathlok/Centipede soldiers as they are controlled by technicians at CyberTek headquarters. The team escapes and learns that Fitz and Simmons placed a tracker on the Bus but their signal stopped over the ocean. The team vows to save them if possible and, if not, they will get Garrett and Ward. Garrett, flexing his newly enhanced muscles thanks to taking Reina's synthetic GH-325 begins mapping bizarre alien charts on a window while Ward begins to question their planned uprising within HYDRA.
90 feet below the surface, Fitz and Simmons discuss how they miraculously survived the crash. Despite a broken arm, Fitz doesn't see a way out but Simmons tries to convince him to stay hopeful. Alone, the pair are forced to talk about death and what comes after. As their chat becomes more serious, Simmons realizes the window is sealed with an explosive they can use to try and escape from the container. Fitz says that only one of them can make it and tells Simmons it will be her. She angrily says there has to be another way and that he is her best friend. Fitz finally finds the courage to tell her that he is in love with her and begs her to live. As they embrace, she cries and kisses him. He quickly blows the fuse and she escapes, dragging his body to the surface with her. It is there that Nick Fury himself, aboard a helicopter, rescues the pair of them. He says he is looking for Coulson.
Garrett watched over the gravitonium he promised to Ian Quinn and professes to Reina he can see it's soul and hers as well. Reina tells him Ward thinks he is going mad but he says he is seeing clearer than he ever has. Reina then asks him a question she had meant for the Clairvoyant: what will she become?
Using the remaining Howling Commandos gear, Coulson and team infiltrate the CyberTek facility as Quinn is giving a tour to military brass. They blast their way in which causes the military envoy to question what is going on. Garrett then intervenes and mocks the generals and promises a demonstration of the super soldiers they have to offer. He then uses his enhanced strength to rip out the army general's organs and beats him to death saying he has seen the future and this is the "beginning of the end". Quinn tries to escape with Reina and the gravitonium but is stopped by Ward. She explains that Garrett is more connected than he has ever been and that Ward will need to get Skye as she will be important to what comes next.
Manipulating the Deathlok soldiers, Coulson follows them right to Garrett while May and Skye prepare to hack into the CyberTek mainframe. Ward goes to capture Skye. Skye confronts the soldier's Handler and quetions why he works for them. Ward shows up and holds Skye at gunpoint and May jumps in to battle Ward. Meanwhile, Coulson suckerpunches Garrett who then uppercuts Coulson across the room. Coulson lands at the feet of the recently arrived Nick Fury. Fury promises Coulson answers and hands him the biggest gun I have ever seen. Coulson takes out Garrett's men while Fury unloads a full clip on Garrett. Garrett barely flinches.
Garrett spouts that he is the Key to the Universe and mocks Nick Fury's motivational speech about being a part of something bigger. Coulson and Fury mock Garrett. Garrett tells Deathok to kill them, but Skye provides Deathlok proof that his son is safe. Deathlok turns on Garrett, launching a missle into him and then stomping his head. With the base now under their control, Coulson explains that the soldiers, without regular injections, are now just normal men again. With Ward in custody, Coulson threatens him and challenges him to learn who he is without Garrett.
Skye finds Mike Peterson outside at a distance as his son is reunited with his grandmother. Skye tells Peterson that Coulson is bringing him in and he does not argue saying he plans to make amends for all of his actions while he was Deathlok. Meanwhile, we see Garrett come to, obviously not dead, but on some sort of gurney. He is scanned by a machine that begins to add stronger Deathlok implants to his body. Garrett stands and spouts the HYDRA credo as he is suddenly vaporized. We pan to see Coulson wielding the weapon Garrett used to free everyone from The Fridge.
Back aboard The Bus, Coulson confronts Nick Fury about his resurrection saying his own records showed it was very dangerous and only to be used in the event of the fall of an Avenger. Fury says "exactly" to which Coulson is taken aback. Fury says Coulson is the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D. and what made it work. He hands Coulson a cube and says it is the toolbox to help rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. from scratch. Coulson asks how he should proceed and Fury says "that is up to you, Director". Fury then says he will disappear for a while but he will return.
Coulson and the team head to coordinates in the toolbox from Fury. They land at a place called The Playground where they are met by Simmons. They ask if Fitz is okay and she simply replies that he is alive, alluding to some sort of change in him for next season. They are also greeted by Agent Billy Koenig (Patton Oswalt), brother of deceased Eric Koenig. He says they don't have much but asks where Director Coulson would like to start.
The final scene shows Reina entering a room with a strange man with bloody hands. She hands him a photograph and says "I found your daughter". The photo is revealed to be of Skye. The stinger scene shows Coulson awoken from sleep at his new base. He touches the glass etching that Garrett had made and then proceeds to begin making his own on the walls.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES:
Hydra references and an appearance from Nick Fury. Skye rescues Mike Peterson's son and hands him a Hulk action figure.
"So what do you say? Are you ready to change the world?" - Coulson
"No. I'm ready to kick some ass." - May
While May nail-gunning Ward's foot, throat-punching him, and then roundhouse kicking him in the face was one of the most satisfying moments of the episode, every scene that Nick Fury was in was solid gold. Why the hell don't they find a way to get him on a phone screen or Skype chat in every episode? That would be awesome.
DO WE (REALLY) KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO COULSON YET? OR WHAT SKYE'S POWER IS?
OR WHO THE CLAIRVOYANT IS?
While we now know that Coulson was brought back because Nick Fury implicitly trusted him and considered him an Avenger. The closing scene of Coulson etching on the wall leaves what his resurrection has done to him. We also do not know what Skye's power is, but we now know there is a connection between her and Reina.
EPISODE CLEARANCE LEVEL: 10/10
An awesome closing episode, AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone out on a very high note. We got closure on the Deathlok storyline while leaving it open for appearances next season. Nick Fury's appearance this episode was a nice touch. Fitz and Simmons relationship hit a high emotional point while their future remains unclear. I was glad to see Garrett defeated despite wanting Bill Paxton to remain on the series. Ward being taken into custody leaves that character open to return as well. Overall, this episode was action-packed, emotionally satisfying, and likely the best episode since the pilot.
SEASON CLEARANCE LEVEL: 8/10
While there were definite ups and downs this season, the final stretch of episodes truly saved AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. There is now a definite focus and purpose to the show with villains implanted, more questions about Coulson and Skye to be answered, and intriguing directions to take both Ward and Fitz in the next season. The show definitely benefitted from episodes that directly linked to the Marvel Cinematic Universe directly, especially when Nick Fury made appearances. The weakest episodes were the filler "Villain of the Week" stories while the main mythology arcs were the best. I think most would agree that the second season would benefit if it kept with the second half of these 22 episodes.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.:
That's it for the first season, folks! ABC recently picked up a second season, so we will see you in the fall for the further adventures of Coulson and his team!
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