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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3×10 “Maveth”

In the last couple of weeks, Brett Dalton had been hyping up the midseason finale, promising a gamechanger on par with the HYDRA twist back in season 1. While there was undoubtedly an unexpected twist at the end of this episode, I couldn’t help but feel a bit underwhelmed by the episode as a whole. While the introduction of an Inhuman-possessed Grant Ward will definitely be an engaging addition to the second half of the seasons when the show returns in March, I was hoping we were finally going to get some more definitive answers about the planet that would connect back to the Kree aliens from season 1.

The episode once again showcased how well the writers have adapted to handling their ensemble cast, as each member had a moment to shine. Fitz mouthing off to Ward throughout was a particular standout, especially when he mocked HYDRA’s plan (unaware of the foreshadowing, as well), saying: “Here’s a great idea. Why don’t we go to an alien world and summon a hell beast? Yeah, that’s a brilliant idea. What could possibly go wrong with that?”

As Fitz leads Ward and the other HYDRA agents across the alien planet, he ultimately stumbles upon the manhole in which Simmons’ long-lost hunk and exiled astronaut, Will, had been hiding. I was hoping for a more surprising and momentous reintroduction for the character, so I was initially disappointed by this; however, the eventual revelation that Will died while trying to save Simmons, and had actually been possessed by the Inhuman was very well done. In hindsight, Fitz’ constant concern over Will’s injured leg, as well as his consistent dismissal of help, should have been more telling.

Back on earth, Director Mack once again proves to be a natural leader as he calls the shots, which includes our first brush with the Secret Warriors in action. The team infiltrate the HYDRA facility in hopes of saving Fitz, Simmons, and Coulson, as well as closing the portal for good. Little do they know, however, that Simmons would find help from a rather unlikely source. Jemma stumbles upon the Inhuman containment unit where Dr. Andrew “Lash” Garner is being held. In my opinion, this thread is absolutely the weakest of the episode. Although the “Garner = Lash” reveal was a surprise a few weeks back, the explanation behind Garner’s M.O. felt rather contrived and unearned. He’s somehow able to convince Jemma that, though they may disagree on the Inhumans, HYDRA is their common enemy. It’s entirely possible that she wouldn’t have been able to escape without his help, but I still don’t think the writers have a good handle upon the Garner character. They’ve consistently tried to portray both Garner and Lash as two distinct characters, when in reality, they’re the same, and thus should be held to the same standards.

As soon as Lash helps Simmons escape, he unsurprisingly turns his powers upon the other imprisoned Inhumans, killing them all. I still do not understand how the Doctor rationalizes this behavior, but I digress. Back on the alien planet, “Will” helps Fitz take down the HYDRA agents and escape, just as Coulson finally reaches Ward. After an engaging fight, Coulson foolishly decides not to put a bullet between Ward’s eyes just yet, but instead handcuffs him and brings him along…because, sure, why not? This decision ultimately leads to an awesome climax as Fitz fights with the zombified Will, and Coulson once again battles with his former teammate, Grant Ward.

Fitz is finally able to subdue the Inhuman after shooting it with a flare gun, burning the body beyond recognition. Coulson gains the upper hand and stands over Ward’s body as Fitz shouts to him that they must go now before the portal disappears forever. This was the best moment of the episode. Just as you’re starting to think that Coulson’s heart would get the best of him, and he’d not wish to shed more blood, he has a brief glimpse of Rosalind. His love for her, and Ward’s senseless murder of her is what ultimately leads to his undoing. Coulson places his robotic hand on Ward’s chest, as if to comfort him, before crushing his breastbone and finally killing a man who undoubtedly deserved to die. It may have been a bit over-the-top to have Coulson also leave said robotic hand with Ward’s lifeless body, but it’s a moment that’s certainly in line with the character we’ve come to know over the years.

Coulson and Fitz escape, as do Mack and Daisy, and the whole team embraces each other when reunited upon the bus. Simmons is distraught over Will’s absence, but at least Fitz is there to comfort her. As Coulson hugs May, he and Fitz lock eyes and, despite not a word being said, it’s clear from the look on Coulson’s face that he’s telling him, “Don’t say a word about what I did to Ward back on that planet.” Although Fitz definitely agrees in that Ward deserved to die, I’m sure that act was a bit like seeing your father kill your brother – if your brother just so happened to be a heartless, backstabbing, evil secret agent.

Last but not least, we see the tag at the end. With Ward out of the picture, it’d be unclear as to who would be the main antagonist over the next half of the season. Gideon Malick is the likely candidate, though he’s so far come across as more of a figurehead rather than a worthy threat. That is, until we once again see Ward, albeit with a cold-blooded look in his eyes unlike one we’d ever seen. It’s unclear how he returned from the alien planet, but what is clear is that the deadly Inhuman which is only capable of death and destruction has possessed Grant Ward, and it has finally reached earth after centuries of attempts by HYDRA.

Episode Grade: B+

Extra Thoughts:

-Coulson’s first thoughts upon waking up on the alien planet? He looks up to the two moons and gloats, “I’ll be damned. Tatooine.” No surprise here, Coulson’s a Star Wars fan, too.

-As if the Star Wars reference wasn’t enough, as Mack is giving the team’s orders, he tells May, “you take the Power Rangers and go find Fitz and Simmons.” Great reference.

-Very cool use of Joey’s powers as he jumps in front of a bullet to save Daisy, only to melt them and have them liquefy upon his chest.

-There was indeed an ancient civilization upon the alien planet. Was it Attilan, the home of the Inhuman royal family, perhaps? Or something else entirely?

 

What did you think? Was “Maveth” a worthy midseason finale? Are you sad to see Ward go? Let us know in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Jason Wittmer