A few days ago we got to see the midseason finale for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. titled Maveth, and it seems to have been hit or miss for most pundits I’ve seen talking about it, but for me this episode was absolutely epic. With a high energy throughout the episode, viewers who are into this seasons story get plotlines wrapped up and new ones that begin. It seems like how you feel about this season overall correlates directly with how much you pay attention and how invested in the characters you are. Let me just say… with the way this season has been going I’m thoroughly invested.
Warning: SPOILERS will follow!
1. Ding dong Grant Ward is dead! Well kind of, but nonetheless I finally got the Ward death I have been wanting for two and a half seasons now. While I really enjoy Brett Dalton as an actor, his character in this show keeps acting as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s MacGuffin anytime they need someone to fill in as a bad guy, and frankly I’m tired of him. Sure you can argue that because of his great acting that he has been better than most other bad guys in this show, but I would argue that he’s being overused and needs to die off so that we can introduce a fresh villain into the show. Well unfortunately thanks to a brain slug (will get to that), or squid as people like to say so that they can call him SquidWard, now we just have Zombie Ward as a bad guy. I feel like Fitz really hammered it home that Ward got sent through the portal because he was expendable to Malick. I feel like it was a bit uncharacteristic of this seasons Ward to have been fooled into going so easily. Then once he sees that giant Hydra symbol in the distance, he somehow becomes a spiritual prophet for his own future and how he now knows he is destined for greater things. While it’s uncharacteristic for Ward… this fits into my ongoing theory about the planet.
2. I still think the planet is Ego the Living Planet. But everyone has been calling the planet Maveth! After watching this episode twice, listening for any mention of the planets name, I came back with nothing that said the planet was named Maveth. Maveth is the word written outside of the castle chambers which is Hebrew for “death”. Maveth is a warning for anyone going to the planet. So there are a few clues that support this ongoing theory. First is the worm/slug/snake/tentacle that comes out of Will’s charred remains. Having a decent amount of Marvel comic book knowledge and having asked around, no one can really place what that thing is. Here is where I make a teeny tiny stretch… Ego has anti-bodies that infect and absorb living creatures, and they can also take different forms. While they can look semi-human, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the writers making them slug-like. Ego has the power to control his creations across interstellar distances as well, so I wonder if this anti-body will act as an anchor that will lead Ego to Earth. Ego‘s powers also allow him to read minds and project psionic images or visions, so it’s possible that he showed Ward his destiny to become the next host. Why else would Ward start talking all crazy and resigned to Fitz? I mean Ego could have read how strong Ward was, and Will’s body was rotting so it would need a fresh host to get it through the portal. This could also explain how Will knew who Fitz was. Even though Will seemed to have the memories of his former self, there is no concrete evidence that Will’s memories came from Will’s brain. Ego could gleam all of that information from the mind of Fitz. Jemma says that she felt the “Inhuman” on the planet “…once had great power but lost it” when explaining her encounter. I’d imagine that Ego floating around in space for eons with nothing around to drain of life, besides a few meager people each year that go through the portal, would leave him pretty drained of his powers. I could still be 100% wrong and I’ll admit it when it turns out one way or the other, but I’m still holding out hope that some showrunner loves the comics enough to have written in Ego as a much more awesome MacGuffin.
3. Fitz and Coulson both dialed up their badassery for this episode. When we first see Coulson we get an interesting dream sequence that he’s having while unconscious with him lying in bed with Ros. It’s your standard “Wake Up” dream that forces him up and hunting for Ward for the most part of this episode. Fitz on the other hand is playing the role of the hostage/bait that the bad guys are relying on solely to complete their mission. Fitz actually has some pretty good tricks up his sleeve which don’t really turn out well, but I thought they were clever. He ends up leading the team to where Jemma had figured Will’s hatch was and he goes down there to locate his objective. Fitz had a bit contrast in this episode compared to how he was season two. He suddenly grew a pair and is now trying to be a hero by using his intellect to beat the villains. I really love it. This of course comes into play when he figures out that Will is a possessed corpse and Fitz ends him with a flare to the back. Fitz would never of gotten that far though if it weren’t for Coulson saving him from Will in the first place, but that distraction is all Ward needed to jump Coulson from behind. Coulson completely dominates Ward here. I really didn’t think Coulson was able to match Ward but I guess after two bullets with his hands tied, Ward didn’t have much of a chance. Coulson uses his mechanical left hand to crush Ward’s chest (which was freaking amazing and I loved it so much!), but then he does something that most found questionable… leaves his mechanical hand next to Ward’s corpse. Why he did this is up for debate, but I really don’t think it matters as much as people think. One thing that puzzled me was that reunion scene at the end when Fitz and Coulson shared such a strange look between each other. I couldn’t figure out what that look meant. Hell, I don’t even think Coulson and Fitz had time to explain themselves to each other before having to go through the portal. I hope they expand more on this in episode eleven.
4. Director Mack and his team assemble the Secret Warriors for the first time and invade the castle to attempt a rescue of Simmons and the portal team. This mission is the first time we see Joey Gutierrez or as I call him, Meltneto, in action and it was just okay. I liked the scene where he was able to stop bullets using his powers; that could be useful in the future. Hunter was pretty lame this episode as he only got a few of his jokes in, but I guess they didn’t want to lower the intensity of the episode too much with comic relief. Bobby, Daisy and May all got to do a bit of ass kicking and eventually just left after securing the portal room. I found it weird that they fought their way in there, then all but two left to go right back from where they came from with 45 minutes to go on the clock. This leads to the craziest and dumbest part of the episode… when May decides to blow up the castle for no good reason. This whole episode the team has been showing an infrared image of everyone in the castle, but May and team didn’t even think to look at it to see if anyone was coming out of the portal or not. It would have been super clear if Mack and Daisy were still down there and if anyone came through the portal. I mean… that image could see Hunter waving his hands, you’d think May could see if whatever came through the portal caused any reaction from Mack or Daisy. Also, Hydra must have been right and Jemma wrong on calculating the time for the portal’s closing, because for the brain slug to have crawled out of Will and all the way over and into Ward, who then had to get up and book it through the portal… that sounds like more than sixty-one seconds. I also found it hard to believe that Fitz and the portal team even knew where Andrew’s holding capsule was to escape in the nick of time. Either way… that scene at the end was great… mostly.
5. The whole Simmons and Lash plot this episode was a bit dull but interesting in the fact that Lash kind of played the hero role from Simmons’ perspective… you know… until we realized that he also ate a dozen helpless Inhumans during his heroics. I’m glad that Lash is back out there being a monster. Now that the situation for him has changed and he’s no longer hiding his identity from S.H.I.E.L.D., the rest of his involvement this season can be his acceptance in what he is and him stopping at nothing until he finishes snacking on all of the other Inhumans. It opens up a pretty interesting opportunity for a true fight between Lincoln and Lash. Jemma’s haste in which she released Andrew was a bit surprising though. She could have easily hidden in that crate filled room for long enough for those Hydra goons to give up and move on. Also, Andrew’s capsule is so brightly lit in such a dark room, I can’t believe the goons didn’t look straight at it when they first entered the room. Simmons’ reaction during the last reunion scene was also a bit puzzling. I couldn’t tell if she was only concerned about seeing Will again or if she just didn’t see Fitz walk out and circle around her. This made me wonder if she was even looking for Fitz or not, or whether she was even happy to see him when she turned around. This kind of made me sad for Fitz. I really hope it was just her not seeing Fitz walk out then shedding tears of joy when he was behind her. I really want these those two to finally get together. What can I say? I’m a sap. (UPDATE: So apparently on one of Marvel’s own podcasts, they explain that this was just due to poor editing and Simmons hadn’t seen Fitz come out of the capsule yet. So they say she was looking for at least him, but I still found it a bit oddly done. Wish they hadn’t messed that up so bad.)
The best line of the night came from Coulson when he first wakes up from his blackout and sees the two moons or planets in the sky and says, “I’ll be damned… Tatooine”. I laughed pretty hard at that. Now that Disney owns both Marvel and Star Wars, it made me joke to my colleagues that it’s confirmed that the MCU and Star Wars take place in the same universe. That would be hilarious and wrong. I thought this episode was the best of the midseason finales that aired this past week, but I know there are folks out there who feel the complete opposite. This third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been extremely well done. While the episodic writing can be patchwork, I think the overall storylines that have led up to this tenth episode have been stupendous. While it kind of sucks that Ward came back to life, I really hope that he’s not the same douchey Ward we’ve had the past few seasons. As I said earlier, while there’s evidence that Will recognized Fitz and knew his memories, there isn’t any evidence that “It” took on Will’s personality. I’ll be excited to see Brett Dalton take on an all new all different Grant Ward in the upcoming half.
My questions that I hope are answered for this upcoming second half are: Does SquidWard now have Inhuman powers? Or are his powers needing some juice before they work again? Or is he really just a tether to draw Ego to Earth? What will the Secret Warriors do about Lash? What will Coulson do now that his season three story has pretty much concluded? Will he need a break and leave Mack in charge? Can Simmons get over Will and finally give Fitz her whole heart? How will May deal with Andrew being loose? All of that and more will continue to be answered after Agent Carter concludes and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns on March 8th. Can’t wait!