B.J. BRITT, CLARK GREGG

The first season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. faced some rough times and harsh criticisms when it debuted, but it eventually found its footing. Thankfully there isn’t too much to complain about in “The Beginning of the End,” other than its few story-closers.

The Players:

  • Director: David Straiton
  • Writer: Maurissa Tancharoen, Jed Whedon
  • Cast: Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain de Caestecker, B.J. Britt, Bill Paxton, J. August Richards, Samuel L. Jackson, Patton Oswalt

Episode Title: “The Beginning of the End”

With only a few weapons in their hands, the remaining members of S.H.I.E.L.D. go full-charge against Hydra Agent Garrett (Paxton). While they move forward, Fitz and Simmons try their best to survive under the harshest of conditions at the bottom of the ocean.

The Good:

  • End of the Line, Garrett: When it was revealed that Garrett didn’t have much time to live, it immediately put a countdown on the character. After some gunfire and a cool fight, Garrett met his doom at the hands of Deathlok (Richards). We got a full episode of Bill Paxton injecting his own brand of humor into the show. He made it a lot more enjoyable. When he was killed, it was done in the most comical way with Coulson (Gregg) raining on his speech with an alien weapon. Nothing like an abrupt ending to really make an impression.
  • Redemption: If there was one word that reflected the events of the finale, it was redemption. The former S.H.I.E.L.D. group proved at least to themselves that they’re still fighting for what they believe in. Even though S.H.I.E.L.D. may have fallen apart, they still believe it’s their duty to protect the people out there from these awful forces, and from Hydra. They’re able to accomplish their task, and a couple other people manage to get their own taste of redemption along the way. Deathlok finally breaks free from Garrett by blasting him with one of his missiles. Even Agent May (Wen) was able to express to Ward (Dalton) her feelings by beating the ever-loving hell out of him. Coulson got a chance to stand around and bark at Nick Fury (Jackson) for a few minutes, venting his frustrations about why so many parts of his recovery had to be kept secret. A lot of people had a fairly happy ever after, but S.H.I.E.L.D. is still in ruins so it’s up to Coulson and company to bring it back to life.
  • What You Writing?: The amount of cliffhangers are enormous, but the one that perks my interest is Coulson’s. He’s been placed as the unofficial director for the newly revamped S.H.I.E.L.D., but there’s still something not right about him. In the last scene, we see him carving out blueprints for something alien, particularly of the Kree persuasion. If this has anything to do with the larger Marvel universe, a la the Infinity Gauntlet, then I’m game.
  • Coulson: A lot of the performers on this show are great, but I believe a large part of its appeal is Clark Gregg. His  performance as the slightly innocent, conflicted but still noble Agent Coulson. Now that he’s going to be in charge, with what I can only assume is the clone of Agent Eric (Oswalt), we’ll be able to see the character change in many different ways.
  • Fitz/Simmons: It’s rather fitting that Fitz (Caestecker) scarified himself in order to save Simmons’ (Henstridge) life in that metal box. There are still a couple flaws protruding from the characters, but the intimate scenes between them in “Beginning of the End” reminded me why this show has found a way into my heart. The characters may not be fantastically written, but we’ve grown to care for them. You may have shed a tear when Fitz showed Simmons how much he really loves her. Could a romance happen in the next season? It depends on whether or not Fitz wakes up, and if Agent Triplett (Britt) swoops in to scoop up Simmons. Bring on the love triangle.

The So-So:

  • Direction/Visuals: It’s really difficult to ask for crazy artistic filmmaking on a big network television show, but David Straiton did the job. It felt as if we were running with Coulson and the rest of the agents as they narrowly escaped danger to save the day. And it’s always nice to see some practical effects be put into play when it comes to action scenes.

The Bad:

  • What Are You: There were a considerable amount of loose ends tied up in “Beginning of the End,” but not entirely. We know very little about what’s swimming through Skye’s (Bennet) veins, along with what it is her parents may be. They keep dangling the story carrot in front of our faces, and at this point it’s become progressively annoying to deal with. Does Skye have any sort of powers after all? There are heavy hints leaning towards “yes,” but nothing’s been shown that would lead us to believe that she could turn into a superhero. Maybe she’ll have some moral issues come about when her father decides to surface this next season?

Overall:

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has finally hurdled over the freshman year bumps, finding its identity. If it can continually pack the same kind of Marvel punch like the movies, the show will definitely stick around.

Rating: 9/10

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

What did you think of the finale?