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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D – Recap & Review – The Beginning of the End [Season Finale]

photo: abc
photo: abc
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
The Beginning of the End

Original Air Date: May 13, 2014

Maria – Staff Writer

The show has evolved a lot since the start, since we first met a poor Mike Peterson and his superhero loving son, Ace. Centipede serum gave Mike superpowers, but it was Coulson and his team who showed him a better way to use them until he was forced to work for The Clairvoyant. Raina cultivated that serum, working for “The Clairvoyant” who turned out to be Bill Paxton’s Agent Garrett, Coulson’s old friend and Ward’s old CO.

Garrett’s dying, and it seems pretty obvious looking back on it. He’s barely human at this point, more machine than man, but that explains why he’s acting so desperately, having everyone working on cybernetics or the drug used to bring Coulson back from the dead. That done, he told Ward to dispatch FitzSimmons, and whilst they hid in an airtight room, Ward detached it and sent the container crashing into the ocean beneath.

We open on a guy called Zeller showing a new recruit around the office. At first, it seems like any office, but when they talk about the incentives program which lured him in, things started to sound more sinister. Always be suspicious of companies offering incentives, they may be wanting to turn you into robotic slaves. Then alarm bells start to ring, literally, as Coulson and his team shows up on the monitors and Zeller informs the newbie that they’re after them. The company is Cybertek!

We’re barely two minutes into the show and we’re treated to an epic fight. Some bad goon thought it would be smart to bring a Berserker staff, but May’s handled that before. She’s an epic weapon by herself, but adding the staff just makes her stronger. When Trip is injured, Coulson tells her to bring the house down, so she does, literally, allowing them to escape.

Meanwhile, Ward is starting to question his CO’s sanity as Garrett may be stronger since being injected with Raina’s new serum, but he’s definitely acting stranger. Garrett’s writing alien designs on hanger doors, ripping out the insides of military men to make them try and cooperate. Ward looks like he’s starting to question his leader, but Raina takes it all in her stride.

Coulson is concerned. He’s been unable to contact FitzSimmons, and it’s clear he fears the worst but right now they can’t focus on that. Fitz was able to tag the Bus, so he comes up with a solid plan to take down Garrett and get his Bus back. They can’t dwell on FitzSimmons right now.

FitzSimmons have nothing to do but dwell on their situation. They survived the fall, although Fitz broke his arm and Simmons was knocked unconscious for a while, but the airlock sank to the bottom of the ocean. Fitz has been sending out a weak distress signal, but on SHIELD frequencies and since SHIELD has fallen he doesn’t think anybody is listening. It looks like they’re going to do die down there, and Fitz seems close to confessing his feelings but is interrupted as Simmons comes up with a potential way out.

Once they got out there’d still no way of getting to the surface safely. Fitz rigs up something that would give Jemma the best shot of survival, one lungful of oxygen. She realizes that Fitz doesn’t think he’ll survive. It’s heart-breaking, because Fitz has never been able to tell Simmons about his feelings, but now he’s showing her and I don’t want him to die!

I was sobbing when they had that conversation, when Fitz blew the glass, when Simmons dragged her unconscious friend to the surface with her. I was cheering when I saw the helicopter, and the hand reaching down to help her up. That hand belonging to… Nick Fury!

Oblivious, Coulson is quoting Fury to inspire his team, telling them that “a man can accomplish anything when he realizes he’s a part of something bigger … they can change the world”. May doesn’t want to change the world, right now she just wants to kick some ass, and that works too.

Whilst Coulson and Triplett team up to take on Quinn in New Mexico (Trip brings the noise and the funk, he’s definitely earned his place on Coulson’s team) May and Skye team up to take on Cybertek. Skye terrorizes Zeller and the other with a backpack she claims is full of explosives, but it’s all to scare them into switching their cybersoldiers to do what they’re programmed to do in such a situation, which is defend Garrett. In doing so, they lead Coulson right to him.

Raina and Quinn bail yet again, but not before Raina adds to her zen creepiness by telling Ward that Skye is important to the future and that maybe Ward and her can be monsters together. Then Garrett orders him to take Skye in, and Ward takes this as his cue. He admits he wants her, and talks about taking what he wants, which is rather rapey. Skye isn’t scared though, because she has a weapon better than a bomb to use against Ward. This weapon slept with Ward, and she’s a little pissed. May proceeds to kick Ward’s ass, karate chop his throat and finishes him off with a blow so hard I thought she killed him for a while.

It’s Garrett who needs to die, but Coulson finds out about his super strength the hard way, punched across the room, but when he looks up Nick Fury is there. Fury hands him the same gun Coulson used in The Avengers but now Coulson knows what it does. It doesn’t make much of a dent in Deathlok or Garrett though, but thankfully Coulson and Fury have enough sass and snark to keep Garrett occupied whilst Skye keeps working.

Coulson and Fury have me in stitches, they’re too funny. When Garrett tries to give an evil and creepy speech, Fury tells Coulson “You didn’t tell me he was this crazy”. Coulson replies “he’s stepped it up a notch”, and when Garrett misquotes Fury’s lesson about being something bigger, “a part!” Fury reminds him. Basically, every word between them is gold and still has me grinning days later, possibly months and years later too. I plan to rewatch their scenes together a lot whenever I’m feeling down.

The banter serves a purpose though. Whilst Fury and Coulson are being all witty and perfect and hilarious, Skye is releasing the people Garrett was holding hostage. That includes Zeller’s wife, and Mike Peterson’s son, Ace. Skye sends Mike a message through Deathlok’s eyepiece, a quote between Mike and Ace which goes back all the way to episode one. With Ace safe, Peterson is free to do what he feels is right, and that’s stomp on Garrett like an he’s an ant.

Mike Peterson is free, but he still feels too guilty to return to his son, which is really tragic. FitzSimmons are alive, but Fitz is brain damaged and may never recover, I don’t think he’s coming back. It’s hard to think of Simmons without Fitz. Ward is beaten, but alive, and Coulson tells him he has the rest of his life to figure out who he is without Garrett. The show hasn’t tried to redeem him. I hope he gets a chance to redeem himself next season, but he’d have to work hard for it.

Except Garrett’s not dead yet. He manages to pull himself into a machine which turns people into cyber-soldiers, healing them, making them stronger. Now Garrett thinks he’s unstoppable, only to be casually exploded by Coulson holding the 0-8-4, telling his offscreen team that he knew the device would be in there. Hysterical. Whedon pulled this trick in Buffy when she fought Dracula, and it’s still just as funny now.

Now Coulson gets to confront Fury about TAHITI. It could have been a really angsty conversation, but instead Phil tells Nick it was “stupid, stupid, stupid. And mean. And very stupid.” It’s kind of adorable. And when Phil says it was only to be used in the death of an Avengers, Fury replies “exactly”. He considers Agent Phil Coulson, everyday man, fan favorite, fanboy, hero, to be an Avenger. My heart melted.

The conversation proceeds. Fury then goes on to choose Coulson (and May) to rebuild SHIELD, based on the principal of protection. He gives him a cube, calling it a “toolbox” and then calls him Director. I know a few people are pissed the job didn’t go to Maria Hill like it did in the comics, but she still gets to be in charge in the movies, of the Avengers. It makes perfect sense to me that Coulson should be the Director in this verse, to start SHIELD up from almost scratch, to give the TV show an even more solid premise.

With the toolbox comes a new secret base, which Agent Koenig (Billy Koenig, since Eric was killed by Ward) nicknamed the Playground. I’m not sure if Koenig is a twin, or an LMD, or what, but I am just glad to see Patton Oswald again, and I’m glad secret SHIELD will have a secret base to work out of.

Raina slipped away, and escaped justice. Now we get a glimpse of where she goes. She tells a mysterious figure, who appears to be bloody and oozing, that she’s knows where their daughter is. Skye.

If that isn’t enough to pique your interest for season 2, Coulson wakes and starts etching into the wall with a knife. It looks like what Garrett started doing earlier, but he fills an entire wall with the alien symbols. Perhaps being brought back from the dead did have unforeseen consequences for Coulson after all.

I’m overjoyed with this season finale, with this show, with the Marvel Universe. It was witty, emotional, hysterical, and hilarious in parts, but rooted with a firm continuity which allows it to evolve as a medium and as a universe. I love how connected it all is, but continues to give itself room to explore and expand.

Did you cheer when Garrett dies, both times? Are you satisfied with how Ward’s storyline concluded? Are you happy to accept Coulson as the Director of the show, or do you feel that position should have been given to Maria Hill? What was your favorite part of the finale? Do you have any thoughts or hopes for season 2? Please, leave a comment with your TwoCents.

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