Now that was a fantastic finale.
The pacing was great, the fight scenes were top notch, the dialogue was spot on, and we got a badass Mack. Man, am I glad he was back so soon. It’s like the showrunners formed a higher appreciation of his character for this finale, because he felt different, in the best way possible.
One of the first points I want to hit is the side story with Bobbi, Ward, and Agent 33: it was weirdly disconnected from the massive Inhuman War that had just broken out. I still think Agent 33 was underdeveloped, and both she and Ward should have gotten more screen time to better flesh out their relationship and plans. The sporadic scenes just weren’t enough. All that said, their story worked well in this episode specifically, and was able to keep the full momentum of the finale — mostly due to great character performances.
I was actually blown away by the Bobbi/Ward fight in the warehouse; I honestly believe that it is the best fight scene the show done up to this point. It was brutal, intense, and creative — which is what it needs to be when you have skilled fighters such as Bobbi and Ward going all-out on each other.
Speaking of Ward, his story took a turn for the tragic when he shot “Agent May” point blank. Having Ward kill her (Agent 33, that is) on accident was a nice, dark twist for his character. It doesn’t do much for Agent 33’s character arc, but it services Ward’s further descent into evil. I really like the parallels of Ward becoming a leader of Hydra versus Coulson becoming the director of SHIELD last season.
Cut off one head…
Another strong part of the episode was the fleshed-out history of both Jiaying and Cal. It was really heartbreaking hearing Cal recount the time he had to sow Jiaying back together again; it helped the audience understand just how Cal could be so messed up, humanizing him even more. While some people may think Cal’s transformation was silly, I actually enjoyed it, because it played well with his comic alias Mister Hyde. Coulson’s final punishment for Cal was both fitting and bittersweet. While he ended as a better person, he lost all memories of the one thing he loved more than life itself.
Jiaying herself was quite brutal throughout the entire episode. I found the sacrificial twist on her powers to be a neat, dark addition. Just thinking that there used to be an entire village where elders would beg to be sacrificed to Jiaying is a scary thought. Having Cal carry the weight of having to kill Jiaying was an excellent end to her character, and a really sad moment. But I do question why Jiaying didn’t even bat an eye at Raina’s visions.
Or clutch a shoulder.
Speaking of Raina, I was sad to see her go after the character work they did on her last episode — I feel like she had just hit her stride. Even through all of Season One, the show tried to build her into a bigger character than she actually was. While I’m disappointed that she is gone now, she did serve a huge purpose in making Skye realize the truth about her mother.
Pretty much every character got their chance to shine in this finale, and Skye is no exception. The scene between her and her mother at the very end was very powerful. To wait your whole life thinking your mother is dead, only to get her back and find out she is a manipulative crazy person has to be taxing on the psyche. On a lighter note, the fight scene she had with the female multiplying Inhuman was awesome, and one of the first uses of slow motion in the show’s fight scenes. If that’s the quality of the super-powered fights going forward, sign me up.
Your new leader of the Secret Warriors!
Marvel is keeping the Star Wars references coming, with Coulson losing his hand just before being turned to stone. I will admit that the scene played out very slowly in my head as I watched for the first time. Thoughts of the possibilities of Coulson getting powers ran through my mind as I watched the stone spread up his forearm — thoughts that were immediately shattered as the axe separated his hand.
The scene where the team had Gordon trapped in the ventilation room was one of the best of the episode. It even gave us two of the episode’s best quotes, from Mack and Fitz. The wit and banter was off the charts between the three as they battled, until Gordon met his maker thanks to an accidental teleportation into Fitz’s pipe. I wish we had more of an explanation as to why Gordon was on Jiaying’s side: the show made sure we understood why Jiaying did what she did, but we never got any motivation from Gordon.
Watch out for poles.
As for Fitz and Simmons, I was happy for them for at least having the beginning of “that” talk. I’m a big fan of their relationship, and I love how the show never forces it, but instead makes it as natural as possible. It is frustrating that a liquid rock eats Simmons just as things start to move, though — something like that can seriously put a damper on things. I hope the team very quickly realizes what happened to Simmons by next season, and it’s not a dragged out thing just for the sole purpose of keeping Simmons and Fitz apart for angst.
Overall, this was one of the show’s best episodes. The pacing, action, character moments, dialogue, and comedy were all at the top of their game. It’s awesome that we’re getting the Secret Warriors now, and my guess is that they will play a big part in the show’s connections with Civil War. Season 2 was vastly improved over the first, and I can only hope that it will get better from here. The countdown for the Season 3 starts now.
Article by contributor Russ Milheim.