“Why don’t you shut the hell up?”
‘Agents of SHIELD’ mid-season finale was something of a letdown. ‘Closure’ left the door open for a spectacular episode (maybe ‘Closure’ should have been the mid-season finale?), but ‘Maveth’ was full of predictability. It tied up some plot threads and left others open for further resolution. But it was all constructed in such a pedestrian manner. ‘Maveth’ was by no means a poor episode, but after the previous two excellent episodes it was mediocre by comparison.
We were immediately on the ground of the alien blue planet. However, it wasn’t long before the blue filter started to hurt my eyes (just like last time!). Are my eyes over-sensitive, or did other people find it difficult to concentrate on the blue planet? Regardless, the blue planet gave us Fitz continuously sniping at Ward in a humorous manner. However, that dynamic was soon changed when Fitz happened to come across Will. A plot convenience? Well I never! Much of the blue planet story centred on Coulson finding Ward, and before that happened, it was plodding. Will’s explanation of what happened to an ancient city served only to dull the surprise of his eventual reveal as the super-Inhuman.
“Change or die”
On the earth side of things, Mack led SHIELD into a rather ordinary invasion of the HYDRA castle. The previous two episodes have shown how SHIELD plans can lead to great action and dialogue, but this lacked excitement or tension. It seemed like there wasn’t the budget or the inclination to show important scenes, such as Bobbi’s big fight scene (seen, not heard) and Lash’s massacre (we only saw his transformation). As for the latter, why did Simmons think it wise to set Lash free? She was being hunted by HYDRA, but even so, she wouldn’t do anything as stupid as that, would she? It felt like a plot contrivance to cause Simmons regret in the future (and to give May something to do). The only character development of note here was Mack’s. He seems to be embracing the role of SHIELD Director with aplomb! His angry shouts at other agents’ dismissal of his orders were great!
Some momentum and excitement were garnered in the final moments of the episode. Ward and Coulson’s showdown was brief but potent. Coulson’s murder of Ward by crushing his chest with the bionic hand was unexpected but necessary. Coulson has been given pathos after Rosalind’s death. Letting Ward live would have caused a number of eyes to roll. How will Coulson live with himself now? Is he that different from Ward? The parallel sequence between super-Inhuman Will and Fitz, however, was mundane. Why would the most powerful super-Inhuman resort to fighting Fitz with his hands and feet? We’ve seen Daisy rely less on her martial arts ability and more on her Inhuman ability. So why wouldn’t the super-Inhuman reveal his powers to kill Fitz? Not only that, but after Fitz ‘killed’ Will with a flaregun, the slime oozing out of Will’s head made it certain that Ward wouldn’t stay dead…
“It’s a new beginning”
Even the reunion of Coulson/Fitz and the rest of SHIELD felt neutered. If they’d left the reunion for a couple of episodes, then maybe there’d be some emotion in the scene. I’m puzzled as to why they resolved the blue planet story so quickly. Why didn’t the writers leave Coulson, Fitz and Ward on the blue planet at the end of the mid-season finale? Let the portal close on them, and show that they had to work together to survive on the blue planet? There’d be great tension between Coulson and Ward, but the need to work as a team. As it stands, everything was resolved all too quickly.
‘Maveth’ didn’t let much happen in the first two-thirds of the episode. Even when something did happen, it felt obligatory. The blue planet filter hindered my viewing of the episode, but even without the blue filter it would have been an ordinary outing of ‘AoS.’ The twist of Will’s identity would have been great, had his words beforehand not spelt it out. Coulson’s murder of Ward was the highlight of the episode, showing how far Coulson’s been pushed by Ward (and also how similar he is to Ward). But the outing was driving towards a predictable happy ending, which is unusual for a mid-season finale. Why not leave us on a nail-biting cliffhanger? I guess we had the super-Inhuman posing as Ward as a cliffhanger, but that just made me roll my eyes. Can’t they just kill Ward off for good?!??!
VERDICT: 5/10. A very average mid-season finale without the requisite thrills and spills to leave us begging for the second half to come along.
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(Click here for my review of Agents of SHIELD: Season 3, Episode 9: Closure)