Hey Agents of SHIELD, when I said you had good finales I was not inviting you to prove me wrong. Here we had a great setup being utterly undermined by an entirely jumbled episode. I know that this is supposed to be a mid-series finale, but there is a whole half series left, there is literally no reason why they had to jam in some subplots that went absolutely nowhere and made no sense. There were bits that worked well, but on the whole the episode was way too bloated for a mid-series finale.
The main problem I had with the episode was the reveal that Ward was now possessed by the Inhuman creature and that he was going to continue being in the show. I really did not like this reveal because I feel it has really undermined Ward as a character. Ward has been one of the best characters in the show because of his complexity and his entire life experience being traumatic and the fact that he defines himself by other people. However, now that he is possessed by the alien on the planet, it means that all this is going away and we are no longer seeing ‘Ward’. Unless the Alien somehow recollects Ward we are just going to see Brett Dalton playing a completely different character and being reminded of the good one we used to see. The one that was complex and yet in some way quite sympathetic. Also, the moment I saw that the creature could possess bodies I immediately saw this coming and predicted it. I especially dislike it because it is very sloppy storytelling. Relying on a main character to carry the villain undermines the character of the villain. If the villain is a good character then having him possess someone else should, in theory, work. But if he’d possessed someone else, even if it was just an extra, it would have been a great way to introduce another actor into the main cast, rather than just keeping an already established one but having him play another role.
I also really did not like the whole Andrew Garner subplot. Once again it seems like they are just using him whenever the plot needs him. I don’t for the life of me understand why he was at that HYDRA castle. Were they planning to make him part of the Inhuman Army? How the hell was that supposed to work with a guy who is trying to kill all Inhumans and is pretty much unstoppable? I mean, even if they were going to use him as a threat to get other Inhumans in line, why did they bring him to the castle? Why bring any Inhumans to the castle? Were they just going to try and conquer the world from there? Malick is a guy who clearly has some connections in high places, why can’t he wait to get back to DC? For a guy who plays the long game and who has bemoaned the other HYDRA leaders for being inactive, this seems like a pretty reckless move. I know it was to allow Simmons to escape, but the whole thing felt very contrived.
That is not to say the entire episode was terrible. There were quite a lot of good bits in there. For once the standout character here was Mack. Being left in charge of SHIELD was clearly quite a new experience for him, since he was used to following orders rather than giving them. Mack has always been the conscience, being able to hold to his morals because he is not in charge. However, now that he was in charge he became a lot more leader-like, as shown by his choice to activate the Secret Warriors and his call to stay back when the portal room was under attack and for the team to kill him if necessary. Those orders would not have sounded out of place if they had come from Coulson and they showed that Mack has the capability to truly be a strong leader, which is an interesting trait that I hope they develop more in this show.
I also liked the fight between Ward and Coulson, where Ward was finally, and brutally, killed. I know that he is not quite dead with that Inhuman inside him, but it was nice to have him finally meet an end and be killed by Coulson. The two had gone so far: going from teammates, to Ward being Coulson’s prisoner, to them being reluctant allies, to finally mortal enemies. Ward had hurt Coulson by killing Ros, and Coulson was not looking for any forgiveness or confession, he just wanted to kill him. He chose to resign temporarily as Director of SHIELD and cross those moral lines and that was good to see, as it adds to his character and shows that he is becoming more morally grey, almost like Fury. Also, the way he killed Ward, by crushing his chest with that prosthetic hand was awesome.
Finally, I really liked the reveal that Will was dead and that that Inhuman could possess corpses. While it utterly telegraphed what would happen to Ward, it was really cool to see this character again and then realise that he was no longer the Daniels we knew and that the whole operation was a ploy. The show did not make it obvious but sort of dropped hints. The reveal surprised me quite a bit and impressed me as did the decision to kill off Will. I was really worried that we would see yet another love triangle story and I am so happy the show did not make us suffer through that as that would have not been great. Instead the show made the decision to kill off yet another interesting character and that is to be commended.