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A Group Becomes a Team, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Beginning of the End” 

Photo Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC
Photo Credit: Bob D’Amico/ABC

After a rocky start, and a middling middle, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D ended the season strongly, with a few emotional thrusts to gut us and an ambitious view to the future.

I was never shy about my criticisms of SHIELD; It was disjointed, depended too much on cutesy references to its Marvel Cinematic Universe Pedigree (to which I certainly didn’t think it lived up); two of its leads were wooden and it asked more questions than it answered, for which I have no patience.

But the last few episodes brought things together; the independent episodes were necessary to gather together the alien hardware HYDRA was after; made us understand Deathlok; Coulson’s mysterious resurrection came around to revive Skye and John Garrett (who went all psycho music of the universe with a full dose of the mysterious miracle drug) and finally, to form a team, something I never thought would happen at the beginning of the season when it just seemed to be a bunch of people thrown together: The Cavalry, The Ghost of a Man, The Sassy Hacker, The Twins and The Plank o’ Wood.

It’s not the group we started with, and to be clear, a ‘group’ is not a team. We started with a group, but now, I dare say, we have a team.

This episode just took me to the beyond. Fitz and Simmons waiting to die on the ocean floor, with Simmons somehow making it all sound so beautiful; the explanation that all the energy we have within us, from billions of different sources, from the tiniest to the most mighty, each being as equally terrified to die, and how, when we died, we’d go on to be energy to billions of other sources, put the whole process into perspective, and even me, with my weird death fixation, was calmed, for just a minute. And then, my twins, my beautiful, wonderful, brilliant twins, with their indecipherable twin-speak, found a solution. One fish, Two fish, red fish, going-to-get-the-hell-out-of-here, Hydra-In-Your-Face-Fish.

But there’s not enough oxygen for the both of them and someone has to die. Of course. And Fitz, wonderful Fitz, sacrifices himself for Gemma, whom he loves, because don’t we all, but Simmons won’t accept that, and she drags him to the surface, knowing their beacon can’t possibly reach anybody, but he’s her best friend in the world and she’s not letting him go, there’s no Fitz/Simmons without Fitz, and in the face of hopelessness, she’s taking him with her, because they’re a team, they’re friends, and even if it’s uneven, they love each other. And when they broke the surface, and they’re alone with nothing around them, there to save them, like the Hand of God, is Nick Fury. And I broke.

It was good to see Fury and Coulson together, and, oddly, they make a good comedic pair, especially while making waste of villain John Garrett. The interaction between the two, later witnessed by Melinda May, was not only very telling and powerful, but, subtly, very sweet. While Coulson railed at Fury that TAHITI, the weirdo project with mysterious goo that was only to be used in the case of the fall of an Avenger, Fury’s response was indicative that, indeed, that’s exactly what happened with Coulson.

The implicit meaning being, that not all of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are from other realms, or have super suits, or have been hit by gamma rays, or are former Russian spies or what-the-Hell ever. Sometimes they’re just guys in suits with our best interest in heart.

Going forward, we’re free of Garrett, who blessedly got blown to a million crazy little pieces in a scene that will make me laugh every time I watch it. SHIELD really is at its best when it doesn’t take itself too seriously and offers up a healthy dose of humor with a good deal of ass-kicking. There’s Cybertek to deal with, with their creepy ‘Incentives’ program, which seems to be ‘Kidnapping people you love to get you to come work for us.’ I think Microsoft uses the same business model. Coulson is now Director of a broken SHIELD that needs rebuilding from scratch, which is great, because he’s awesome, but he’s going all John Garrett Music-of-the-Universe whacko now, too.

So Ace Peterson gets his answer, not only from his father Mike, who as Deathlok is now on the side of good, but from this group of agents. Fitz is off healing somewhere, and I’ll miss him, and Ward is having bamboo shoved under his fingernails as we speak and I’m sorry I’m missing that, but with the addition of Trip, and fingers crossed, more Patton Oswald as Billy Koenig (Eric’s doppelgänger), finally, when asked, “What are we?” these Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D can answer, “We’re a team.”

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be back with season two this fall on ABC. Same day of the week (Tuesdays) but a new time slot (9/8c).

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