Spoilers below for the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Earlier this year, the worlds of film and TV were dealt a loss with the death of actor Bill Paxton, whose memorable characters are too numerous to name at this point. One of his biggest small screen roles came when he entered the Marvel Cinematic Universe through Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 1 as the main antagonist John Garrett. And though the real-world Garrett was vaporized by Coulson, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. used its current Framework story arc to slip in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it easter egg tribute to Paxton during the opening scene. Check it out!
Last night's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "All the Madame's Men," started off with a surprising return that we already knew about, in the form of former villain Sunil Bakshi, whose Framework counterpart was anchoring a cable TV news-style program. (Today's Topic: Justice.) So it's understandable that viewers might not have expected to see another familiar face popping up during that opening, and yet that's when producers chose to honor the late Bill Paxton with an "In Memoriam" graphic. It was quite subtle, much unlike Paxton's performance as John Garrett once he started getting injections of GH. 325.
Beyond the fact that it exists in the first place, perhaps the most notable and even touching element regarding this tribute is that the creative team figured out a way to let John Garrett go out a hero. And even though it happened within the fictional existence of the Framework, we all know that there are connections between that world and the genuine world our heroes are aiming to return to. (Not that it really helps in this case.) The actual Garret may have turned power-mad and dangerous, but at least there was one iteration of him that could serve as a hero.
With A.I.D.A.'s true intentions now out in the open, the good guys of S.H.I.E.L.D. (and even the Frame-made bad ones) could really use the kind of hero that cable news programs would honor on the bottom of a TV screen. There are only three episodes of the comic-based drama left to go, and with no sign yet of a Season 5 renewal, viewers are almost certainly nervous that this might be these characters' last big adventure. Hopefully more renewal-minded heads will prevail.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sadly can't and won't be bringing John Garrett back to the show in a fuller capacity in the future, but this was a quiet and lovely way to send him off. Check out what Coulson & Co. will deal with next when the show airs Monday nights on ABC at 10:00 p.m. ET. And then head to our midseason premiere schedule and our summer TV guide to see all the shows that are returning and premiering in the near future.