A year ago, almost to the day, we were looking at the above photo for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s cast and wondering who these characters were. Well, we knew who Coulson was, but we didn't know how he was alive. Those curiosities have been satisfied, more or less, as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. made its way from pilot to tonight's season finale, "Beginning of the End." Who lived and who died? We'll get into that. And if you haven't watched the Season 1 finale of Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D., here's your chance to turn back or prepare to be spoiled!
"Beginning of the End" had no time to waste and it used every second to churn out what proved to be a satisfying wrap-up to an uneven but steadily (and then sharply) improving first season. Going into the episode, Fitz and Simmons were being dropped into the ocean, courtesy of Ward, whose true intentions about his choice to eject them still seem vague. Coulson, May, Triplett and Skye were about to be attacked by Centipede guys. And Garrett was all juiced up on GH325.
Our brainy duo was in the cargo pod at the start of the episode. There was some explanation about the pod -- like the plane -- being built to acclimate itself to different environments, which was how it ended up sinking to the bottom of the ocean. Fitz's arm was broken in two places -- the same two places where it broke when he was a child. Is that significant or just a weird piece of background info? -- and Simmons was ok. The two devised a plan to use the medical equipment in the pod to blast the glass in and escape, but there was only enough oxygen for Simmons. Fitz insisted she have it, not only because she had both arms to use for swimming, but also because she's a better swimmer... And he's in love with her. He finally told her as much, kind of.
FitzSimmons' teary embrace was easily one of the most emotional scenes of the series, as the two prepared for what could have been one or both of their deaths. The conversation they had about death earlier felt like a warning. It also revealed that Simmons nearly suffocated at birth when her umbilical cord got caught around her neck. File that one under FitzSimmons background info as well. But neither died. Fitz was unconscious when they broke the surface, and that's when Nick Fury made his amazing entrance. Because when you're Nick Fury and you have access to a helicopter, that's just how you do it. Big cheers for his hand-out moment as he pulled FitzSimmons from the water and got them the medical attention they needed.
Simmons had to be depressurized, and Fitz's health status appears to be in limbo. He's alive, but unconscious. I'll be very curious to see how this situation affects him if and when he wakes up.
You didn't tell me he'd gone this crazy.
He's really stepped it up a notch.
Garrett went from being the figurative Clairvoyant to a more literal one. Well, maybe not clairvoyant exactly, but "evolved" as Raina would put it. The GH325 boost really went to his head. Not only did he start spouting off stuff about seeing things behind his eyes -- totally impressing Raina in the process -- but his true motivations were revealed. He's not really pro-Hydra. From his conversation with Ward, his allegiance to the organization seems like it was more an allegiance to power.
Garrett busted in on Quinn's super-soldiers meeting with the military and demonstrated his own power by using his fist to extract one of General Jacobs' ribs, after which he used it to (over)kill the man. Demonstration complete. RIP General Jacobs.
It was at that point that Ward seemed to be a lot less on board with Garrett than he had been previously. Raina was all about Garrett's "evolved" state of mind. She's made it clear that her interests are in finding people who are special and superior. So cross her off the Hydra list as well.
Cybertek's "Incentives Program" doesn't involve a company car or access to the coolest weapons. Instead, it's a corridor of rooms where people's loved ones are being held while the operatives do their jobs against their will. Once Skye uncovered that, all she had to do was find Mike's son, which she did in record time. She calmed him with a Hulk doll (nice) and got him to tell her something only he would know. She relayed the "A Team" message to Deathlok's eye.. By that point, Nick Fury, Deathlok, Coulson and Garrett were about to throw down. Garrett had already been shot numerous times by Fury, but he was still standing.
The second Mike knew his son was no longer being held captive, he turned on Garrett and took him down. Down, but not completely out. It probably wasn't necessary to bring Garrett back for one last attempt at being a mega-villain, but it was funny anyway. Garrett was left on the floor, blasted and stomped, presumably to death, but he still managed to get to his feet and climb into the chair to turn himself into what was probably the most dangerous Deathlok model yet. And then Coulson showed up and casually blasted him to bits. Garrett's almost comeback was made funnier by Coulson cutting him off just as he was declaring himself unstoppable.
You were never on top.
May and Ward got the throw down those two were totally due to have. This fight needed to happen. They fought all over the place, and at one point, May nearly got her face sawed off. But in the end, May nailed Ward to the floor, literally. And then she knocked him out. Last we saw Ward, he was being hauled off to spend the rest of his life asking himself who he is without Garrett.
Ward needs to pay penance for his crimes, which include killing a lot of people. But I won't be surprised at all if he's dragged out of his cell at some point next season when Coulson and his people need him for something. And then maybe he'll be able to start to redeem himself. I realize I've been grasping at hope that there's a good side to him. He seemed all too willing to accept Skye's implication that he was born evil (she was talking about Garrett), but I'm still not convinced he really thinks that, and I'm not convinced he really intended to kill FitzSimmons.
I want to believe he ejected them from the plane to give them their best chance at survival. The episode didn't really take much time to give Ward a chance to state his side of everything, but maybe it's really that Ward's not ready to do that. If he's going to be redeemed, he needs to be willing to accept responsibility for the choices he's made, and to reject the blame he's put on himself for whatever abuse he sustained growing up. It's a complex situation... or I want to believe that it is, as opposed to Ward being written off into some S.H.I.E.L.D. prison, never to be heard from again.
Speaking of redemption...
Everything Mike Peterson did was for his son. But he still has to live with the things he did. And he's not ready to face his child, but he does seem prepared to try to redeem himself. So he's off to parts unknown, but I'm sure he'll be back too, and this time on his own terms, which will be awesome.
Nick Fury made Coulson the new S.H.I.E.L.D. director, with instructions to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. Of course, Nick Fury will still be around (everywhere!) but Coulson is now at the head of this budding organization.
Coulson used the "toolbox" cube Fury gave him to get coordinates to a new secret base called "The Playground" that brought him to Agent Koenig! Not Eric, a different Koenig named Billy, who's a lot like the old one. Is that what they call a life model decoy, comic book fans? Whatever brings Patton Oswalt back is fine with me.
The last we saw of Coulson, he was etching a weird, elaborate alien-like design on a wall. A design that looked a lot the drawings Garrett was doing. A clue for the future of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Or something related to the movies, somehow?
Last we saw of Raina, she was visiting a man in a guarded room. We didn't get to see his face, but Raina said "I know you thought you'd never see me again, but," and handed him a photo, adding, "I found your daughter." There were some squishy noises when the man moved, and his hand looked bloody or scarred or something. Raina mentioned that Skye's parents were monsters, but I'm working under the theory that's more in the figurative, exaggerated sense. Either way, there was definitely something going on with that guy that we weren't supposed to see just yet. Any guesses?
And that's where Season 1 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. left off. S.H.I.E.L.D. is back, kind of. Hydra still exists, obviously, but it seems like most of the players in this series had motives beyond the evil organization. Garrett is dead, which leaves Ward without a mentor, and Coulson's team without an immediate threat for now. Fitz is in character limbo at this point. I can't imagine he'll be back good as new when Season 2 picks up. This seems like an obvious opportunity for a change of direction with him. But hopefully he won't have lost his adorableness, or his feelings for Simmons, since that seems like it needs to be addressed further at some point. And of course, there's the mystery of Skye and her parents, which I expect will be revisited next season as well.
Request for Season 2: Make B.J. Britt (Triplett) a series regular. Also Patton Oswalt, if possible.