Marvels Agents of SHIELD: 3.10 Maveth
That harsh blue filter is back as we return to the dead planet. Fitz trying to rescue Will, Ward trying to rescue an ancient monster for Hydra. Coulson is just out for revenge, or, at the episode's start, out for the count. All four came crashing together in a tense and exciting climax.
However, this was an episode of two halves. It felt like the driving energy of the last episode had dropped a little as everyone was getting in position for the climactic finale in ways. Whilst there was plenty to enjoy it was only when it was revealed the Will helped Fitz escape his predicament that the episode really picked up. Whilst it was fun to see how far Fitz and Ward had come since that sibling bond of season one and Simmons holding her own against Malick, an episode that should have been full of weight felt, for the most part, quite light.
It didn't help that early on we were given clunky dialogue like "Less thinking than feeling. Feeling that Ward needs to die." Why is it that Hunter seems to get more duff lines than anyone else? Whilst this seems like a largely negative review, it reflects what should have been an episode that, at its climax, should leave you breathless yet seemed oddly plodding. With such a large ensemble the show isn't short of story or event.
Mack fits the leader role well and I can't shake the feeling Coulson isn't going to survive this season; Coulson and Ward's story is only going to end one way isn't it? I hope not, as he's the strongest link the series has to the wider MCU (though, conversely, the main reason that same connection can't be stronger) and Coulson is a real fan favourite ("I'll be damned, Tattooine," reminds us of Coulson's geek status). The production team do a good job of making sure their ensemble has something to do, if not all of it is particularly exciting, but balancing the story and the cast size are going to be issues that aren't going away any time soon. We already know Bobbi and Hunter are getting their own series soon but expect the roster to get cut down soon and expect it to be painful - Joey might have found himself bulletproof here but I expect Daisy to learn a hard lesson about being a team leader and loss in the second half of the season.
There were some fantastic moments throughout, but they were fleeting. Joey melting the bullets was fun. Finding the Hydra symbol on the dead planet was creepy. That the creature embodies the pure threat of Hydra and it's symbol (or did the creature inspire the symbol) makes for a chilling villain. Ward's newly fanatical outlook - not just driven by revenge - gives Brett Dalton even more to play with.
It was in the episodes last few minutes that it all paid off. We caught a glimpse of ancient civilization which lead to a chilling revelation; Will is dead, long live the creature. Fitz and Coulson both got in on the action in a tense finale, with the rest of the SHIELD team anxiously waiting to nuke the sight from orbit (it's the only way to be sure). Will and Ward both suffered fairly grim "deaths", Will burning to death breaking that dull blue haze adding an extra eerie quality to it. It was great stuff, that paid off all the padding that had lead to it.
Seeing the team congregate in pleasingly dramatic slow motion left me excited to see what these characters had to face next and reminded us how much we can care for the fate of the SHIELD agents. Simmon's face when she saw Will hadn't returned was devestating, Daisy and Lincoln's embrace heartwarming. A special mention for Bear McCreary's score, the prolific composer nailing the tone and emotion of the scene and that final, haunted look between Coulson and Fitz.
So where are we as we prepare for the second half of this third season. Lash is on the loose again. Ward/The Creature have returned giving Hydra have a chilling new weapon. What significance - if any - to Coulson leaving his hand behind? Daisy is one step closer to unleashing her Secret Warriors. Here's hoping that the drive and focus of the season so far continues and the writers continue to balance the ensemble as we march towards Civil War. Luckily due to UK scheduling we only have to wait until Sunday to find out...