TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 3 Episode 9 "Closure"
EPISODE 9: "Closure"
SYNOPSIS: Ward's campaign for revenge brings the S.H.I.E.L.D. team to their knees, and Coulson proves he will do anything to settle the score.
BREAKDOWN: (The following column contains MAJOR SPOILERS, so I don't recommend reading this if you haven't watched this episode).
Since Netflix jumped into the Marvel television mix, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has felt lesser in comparison to the grittier Daredevil and Jessica Jones. Even this season, an improvement over the previous two runs of the show, has felt uneven with the Ward/HYDRA and ATCU storylines feeling like they weren't going anywhere. Well, tonight's appropriately titled episode brings some closure to the first half storylines and charges full speed towards some very different stakes leading to next week's mid-season finale. We also see a level of adrenaline that has been missing from this series and really showcases what this show could, and should be.
After learning last week that Rosalind was innoent of HYDRA's schemes, this hour opens with Coulson and his new romantic interest finally sharing a subterfuge free date comprised of a candlelit dinner and burgers. But, the night is cut short when a bullet bursts through the window and into Rosalind's neck. After dying in Coulson's arms, the shooter is revealed to be Grant Ward who wants his former boss to feel the same pain he felt when Agent 33 was killed last season. But, instead of having the desired effect, Ward propels Coulson into a rage. He kills the HYDRA agents sent after him and sets his eyes firmly on killing Grant Ward. However, Ward and Malick have planned for Coulson to go rogue as they continue their plan to open another portal to the alien planet.
Rosalind's second in command, Banks, joins S.H.I.E.L.D.'s efforts to stop HYDRA but is quickly disposed of at the hands of Mr. Giyera who takes Fitz and Simmons captive. Ward and Malick plan to torture the two agents to discover how they reopened the portal to rescue Simmons. Meanwhile, Coulson interrogates every one of his agents to try and find a way to stop Ward. He settles of handing his Director title to Mack and bringing Bobbie and Hunter to kill Ward once and for all. Coulson's blind rage is an intriguing change fot the normally even-keeled character, giving him an edge missing for quite a while. They even take Ward's brother, Thomas, as a hostage to try and pin down his location.
Ward's backstory has been the subject of several episodes of the series but bringing his younger brother Thomas in more clearly defines the root of Ward's evil beginning with the well incident from his childhood. Ward's devtion to HYDRA is also waning a bit as he no longer wishes to follow Malick, but is convinced by the elder villain that Ward is an ideal person to head through the portal to bring back the mythical HYDRA leader whose guise appears to be that of Death incarnate. Ward also manages to finally convince Fitz to go as well on the condition that Simmons doesn't have to return. Simmons and Fitz clearly have solidified their love for each other but Fitz is still adamant he will bring Will back from the alien world.
The episode culminates with Ward, Fitz, and a team of HYDRA soldiers heading to the alien world. From the S.H.I.E.L.D. jet above the English castle they are holed up in, Coulson and team are shot at from below. Coulson cannot wait any longer and grabs a parachute to leap to a final attack on Ward. He somehow manages to aim himself perfectly at the small portal pit and shoots through moments before it is sealed. Malick intends to reopen it in 12 hours for Ward to come back through with the HYDRA overlord. The stinger scene showcases the HYDRA team along with Fitz trudging through a sandstorm on the blue-hued nightworld while spotting something in the distance. Behind them, Coulson hits the top of a peak and rolls down hill, cracking his head on a rock and laying unconscious.
Aside from the sheer ridiculousness of Coulson making it through the portal from a mid-air dive, this was a damn fine hour of the series. The action was practically non-stop from the opening minutes and shocking death of Rosalind. Coulson's decisions can clearly be looked back through this hour as making no sense, but it is easy to forgive thanks to the well-shot setpieces and the breakneck pace that we learn a lot about where the show is headed. Now that Rosalind and Banks are dead, the ATCU are presumably done for, making their existence for the last ten episodes somewhat pointless. But, with only one episode left until February of next year, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has the potential to go out with one hell of a mid-season bang.
MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: Another MCU free hour.
NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: Episode 10 "Maveth" airs December 8th - S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hydra go head-to-head in a battle that will change Coulson'sworld forever. While Daisy and her team of Inhumans fight to keep Hydra at bay, Coulson and Fitz take the ultimate risk.