TV Review: Agents of SHIELD S01E22 “Beginning of the End”

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Leo Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge)
Credit: ABC.com

S.H.I.E.L.D. fans have a lot to be happy about. Last Thursday, ABC announced that not only was Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. renewed for a second season, but that it would also be complemented by new show¬†Marvel’s Agent Carter, starring Hayley Atwell. The gorgeous English actress is reprising her role as the eponymous co-founder of S.H.I.E.L.D., after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger and Marvel One-Shot: Agent Carter. With two Marvel TV shows on ABC in the upcoming fall season, one would expect the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. this week to be just about the best thing on TV, right?

Check below the cut to see if the final moments of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. blows us out of the water or, like FitzSimmons were in the last episode, are swimming with the fishes. Spoilers abound – do not read if you haven’t watched the episode yet!

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Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Antoine Triplett (B. J. Britt)
Credit: ABC.com

The previous episode “Ragtag” revealed that the Clairvoyant, now revealed to be Hydra agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton), became the first Deathlok cyborg, undergoing a procedure that led him to plot vengeance against S.H.I.E.L.D. Using the same GH-325 drug that restored both Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Skye (Chloe Bennett), Garrett seems not only to have recovered, but gained superhuman strength. Meanwhile, Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) shows he’s not entirely a two-dimensional evil villain when he ejects the trapped FitzSimmons into the ocean instead of killing them outright.

While the team of Coulson, Skye, May (Ming-Na Wen) and Triplett (B.J. Britt) launch an attack on Cybertek in the hope of finding Garrett and Ward, FitzSimmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge respectively) get philosophical as they muse their predicament at the bottom of the sea.

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Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and Skye (Chloe Bennet)
Credit: ABC.com

This episode had everything you would expect from a Joss Whedon show, which was great for fans, but may have come across as feeling out of place compared to the relatively serious nature of previous episodes. The dialogue got snappier, the beats of each scene came fast and furious, and everything just fell into the places in the way you secretly hoped they would. In many ways, it harkened back to the second episode of the series, “0-8-4″, which really explored the potential of the series before weak meandering plots drove viewers away. To no one’s surprise, both the second episode and the season finale were directed by veteran David Straiton and written by showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.

The emotional quotient was abundantly met by Fitz and Simmons, with Fitz finally admitting his feelings for Simmons, just before sacrificing himself for her. Now, admittedly, he’s not dead, but the fact that he wasn’t present at the final line-up, and Simmons’ revelation that he “might never be the same again”, may suggest that Fitz takes on an Oracle-type role in the future. Still, tragic love stories have always been truly Whedonesque.

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Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) and Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen)
Credit: ABC.com

The action quotient was achieved by the fight between Ward and May, who had always been hyped up as equally matched in previous episodes that it almost feels obvious on hindsight that this match-up would occur in the season finale. Ward’s betrayal is made personal by May, with their former “friends with benefits” relationship fueling her desire to hurt him, badly. It was a good thing that May didn’t kill Ward – there’s lots to be mined from keeping Ward around as the team’s Sword of Damocles.

By far, the most Whedonesque moments were reserved for Garrett, the season’s big bad, who faced down Coulson and Nick Fury (Sam Jackson in a much bigger role than most expected). With the GH-325 serum coursing through his body, Garrett began to act more and more like a comic book villain, and this was played for laughs when almost everyone, friend or foe, reacted badly to his vaunted posturing speeches. The way Garrett was finally eliminated though… only a Whedon show could pull off such hysterics.

All in all, I felt it really paid off for the show’s loyal fans, and with the team line-up at the end of the episode including Trip but missing Fitz and of course excluding Ward, the women outnumber the men for the first time in the series, and maybe even the first time in a Whedon show. Now that’s a team I can get behind.

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