Well, that really escalated quickly…
The penultimate episode before the winter finale wasted no time in turning up the tension this week, as “Closure” began with one of the most effective opening scenes in recent memory. We witnessed another major death, once again at the hands of Grant Ward, and Coulson went full badass/boss mode in retaliation. As exciting as this episode was to watch, it did ultimately feel largely like setup for next week’s presumably more deadly installment; however, I can’t lie – I can’t wait to see what happens when S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA clash on the alien planet.
One of the highlights of the season has been seeing Coulson have his first full-fledged romantic interest, as his and Rosalind’s witty banter is unfortunately laid to eternal rest in the opening scene. Coulson is worried that her cover with Malick and the A.T.C.U. is blown, thus she’d be in danger if she resumed her old post. Just as their discussion was getting more in-depth, a silenced shot is heard offscreen, Coulson see’s the bullet hole in the window, before turning back to Ros as she hopelessly grasps at her throat, which is now leaking blood. The backwards tracking shot from the window to the reveal of Ward was particularly well done and did a brilliant job in reaffirming him as a truly cold and calculated killer. He’s become a fantastic villain over the past two seasons. He’s past the point of any possible redemption, which surely makes for some captivating television.
Rosalind’s death led to an awesome action scene involving Coulson taking out one HYDRA agent after another in some Jason Bourne-esque moves. Though he has a soft spot for old cars and “All American cheeseburgers,” Phil Coulson is still a badass super-spy, so it was great to see him use his wits and kick some ass. Also, the shot of him re-entering the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, covered in blood, was nothing short of heartbreaking.
If Ward wanted to truly piss Coulson off, it’s safe to say he achieved his goal. Within the span of a few minutes, we see Coulson put Hunter in a chokehold, berate Mack into accepting the temporary “Acting Director” position, and interrogate the members of his original team. Clark Gregg, though the lead of the show, isn’t always given the most exhilarating of storylines – this week, however, he really hit it out of the park. Fitz’ memory of seeing Ward creepily sitting in his room, staring at a picture of Fitz and his mom was certainly an eery one, yet some aspects of the interrogation scene didn’t translate as well. Daisy and Ward had always had a traumatic relationship, which is why it was a bit annoying to see her tell Coulson how much she understands Ward. “The reason Ward kills isn’t because he feels nothing,” Daisy tells Coulson, “It’s because he feels too much.” Maybe this annoyed me because of the implication that Daisy still has feelings for Ward. In this case, I agree with Coulson’s sentiment in that it “sounds like there’s a lot [Daisy’s] willing to forgive.”
The team learns that Ward and Malick intend to re-open the portal to the alien world, so Fitz and Simmons race to do so first – yet, their plans are quickly dismissed when they’re kidnapped by the rogue Inhuman (with presumably Magneto-like powers), Giyera. Although we didn’t see Fitz or Simmons get tortured by him or by Ward, hearing it was just as effective. Fitz’ reaction to Simmons’ screams really sold his torment, as well as his ultimate decision to give in and aid HYDRA in re-opening the portal.
Concurrently, Coulson, Hunter, & Bobbi embark on a mission with one objective: kill Grant Ward. One interesting development was Coulson’s belief he must pull some moves that aren’t supposed to be pulled by a Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.. They track down Ward’s long-lost younger brother and essentially use him as bait. When Hunter had the gun next to the younger Ward’s head, I honestly wasn’t sure if he was going to pull the trigger or not. Though the titular Agents are the “good guys,” this uneasy tension that Ward evokes in the team is nothing short of entertaining to watch.
Lastly, as Acting Director, Mack knows Coulson is heading off on a suicide mission, so he’s left debating with Daisy and May whether he should do anything else to help. For those who’ve been waiting for the Secret Warriors all season, it looks like we’re finally getting a look at the super-powered team. Although it’s only a group of three Inhumans – Daisy, Lincoln, and oh yeah, that dude Joey from the season premiere! – hopefully the team will grow in the latter half of the season.
The last bit of the episode set the stage for next week’s midseason finale in a number of ways. Ward has decided to undertake Malick’s mission and lead HYDRA through the portal. Fitz has agreed to join them and travel through it as well, promising Simmons that he’ll bring back Will, too. And as the quinjet hovers above HYDRA’s base, with bombs blasting throughout the skies, Coulson jumps out, plummeting through the air, before zipping right through the portal before it closes. Next week can’t come soon enough.
Final Grade: A-
-Ward refers to Simmons 2.0 as “Furiosa.” Am I supposed to believe HYDRA’s head honcho took some time off from murdering this summer to go see Mad Max: Fury Road?
-The Fitz and Simmons relationship continues to be the one storyline in this show that is executed so flawlessly. Ward to Simmons: “I always knew Fitz would give up the world for you. Now it looks like he has his chance.” Gripping.
-Mack gives the speech of his life, because, well, that’s pretty much all he contributes to any storyline. His comrades reward him: Daisy with a fist bump, May telling him “Nice speech, Director.”
-Are we supposed to actually believe that the deadly Inhuman on the alien planet is aware of HYDRA and will willingly work together with them? It’s unclear if Malick knows how monstrous and “unhuman” the entity really is. It probably won’t be so simple, but I’d wager that the Inhuman attacks both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA alike. Being that the episode is titled “Maveth,” or “Death,” it’s likely we’ll see another prominent character meet their demise. Possibly Ward will finally meet his maker?