Monday, 2 June 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Beginning of the End

"Reminds me of the old days."

"You were never on top!"

That`s it, then. The first season is over and, in the end, the season as a whole has overcome a poor start to become a genuinely exciting show with compelling characters and a gripping arc plot that leads compellingly to this episode`s finale. The charismatic presence of Bill Paxton has helped too, although the appearance of Samuel L. Jackson here shows us that he is possibly the most charismatic actor out there. His scenes with Clark Gregg are an absolute highlight of the episode, and the ending is perfect: Nick Fury charging the new Director Coulson with rebuilding SHIELD from the ground up, complete with a brand spanking new base and a new and Agent Koenig.

There are loads of cool and showoffy action sequences, but the heart of the episode is the interaction between an apparently doomed Fitz and Simmons. First they are philosophical, with Jemma getting a lovely speech about how, in death, their atoms will re-form into new life, new structures, new supernovae. Then, once our ever-resourceful scientist pair realise that they ain't necessarily doomed, there`s an added complication; only one of them can survive. And it has to be Simmons, because Fitz is in love with her. This is where he implicitly declares his love to the woman who sees him only as a "best friend", and its all very moving. So much so that Elizabeth Hestridge lets slip some decidedly non-RP vowels which seem to originate from well north of the Watford Gap. (Non-Brits, feel free to ignore that last bit.) Ultimately, they both live, although Fitz`s ultimate fate is left uncertain. Still, it`s Simmons who first gets to meet a decidedly not-dead Nick Fury...

It is the tracker provided by Fitz and Simmons that enables the team to go after the baddies, led by a superhuman and increasingly unhinged Garrett, who seems extremely obsssed and confident about his place in the evolutionary process. It`s entertaining to watch him being rude to various military top brass, but he`s clearly a liability to HYDRA at this point.

The dialogue sparkles in this episode, which should come as no surprise as Joss Whedon himself has co-written the script. But the whole thing is fundamentally about heart, character and pathos; scenes like Mike Peterson, his own man again, being ashamed to let his son see what he has become as he goes off to be a tragic hero. Still, there are nicely Whedonesque pieces of wit; Garrett's demise evokes Buffy, while it's appropriate that it should be May who duffs up Ward after his flangeing about with her earlier in the season.

It's a satisfying ending, although not for Ward, and hopefully the excellent Trip can now be considered a regular. Just when it all looks to be wrapped up, though, we get a shadowy glimpse of Skye's father...

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