So how did I feel about the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. mid-season finale, “Maveth”? In a word, disappointed. Now before you start brandishing the pitchforks and torches, I am going to lay it out there that this season as a whole has been arguably the best that S.H.I.E.L.D. has had to offer so far. Granted, the latter half of Season 1 following the events of Captain America: Winter Soldier, as well as bits and pieces of Season 2, made for strong contenders, but the third season has managed to take all the many moving pieces of the show and place them effortlessly together, making for some entertaining television. Here though, in “Maveth,” we see it all fall apart and present “resolutions” that feel halfheartedly slapped together for a finale that doesn’t feel earned. The plot moves along and there is “death” — which I have issues with and will go into later on in the recap — but I felt oddly empty after watching the final minute of this episode. If you’re looking to bring back viewers in 2016, this was not the best place to leave them.
Where to begin? Our episode started with Fitz and Ward arriving on the alien planet that housed Simmons for some time, looking for the Inhuman monster that Hydra has worshipped throughout its history. In fact, they even find a giant, broken down Hydra logo buried into the sand, which made for a really cool visual to be honest. Fitz is attempting to break free from Ward, in an attempt to somehow ditch the Hydra entourage and bring Simmons’ lost love, Will, back to Earth. Luckily, and almost unbelievably, Fitz stumbles across the bunker housing Will, jumps down from the rest of Hydra, and tries to explain the situation as quickly as possible to the sleeping astronaut. Unfortunately, Ward crashes the party and threatens to kill Will, until Fitz manages to argue the point that he can act as a guide to the team, pointing them in the right direction on this barren alien world. Not far behind the lot is Coulson, who had dive-bombed through the portal in the previous episode, hell-bent on getting revenge on Ward for his murder of ATCU head, Rosalind.
Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the remaining Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., along with Daisy’s newly formed Secret Warriors, sneak into the Hydra stronghold, attempting to gain control of the portal. Simmons, currently being held by Malick and Hydra goons, manages to escape during the ensuing chaos and comes across Lash. Andrew is being held in a containment unit, pleading with Simmons to let him free to kill the Hydra agents en route, to which she has a bit of an ethical quandary before ultimately letting him loose. Lash transforms and kills the Hydra agents, off-screen. Off-screen is about the perfect way to describe a LOT of the things that happen in this episode, and it was honestly pretty frustrating. Normally, I’m willing to give the show some slack — it’s aiming from some pretty ambitious stuff, so I can understand certain scenes needing to be trimmed or shot in a clever way in order to save on some production budget. Here though, in this episode, it feels as if there were so many plot points that were left up to characters to simply explain to other characters.
I’m going to break away from the usual rundown of events to go into this a little bit more. A perfect example is the fact that Malick has created an Inhuman army for himself and Hydra to use in the future in the same compound. We’re shown dozens of containment units that have Inhumans housed inside of them, ready to break free and apparently put their powers to use against the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Potentially, we have an interesting set up here and a big hurdle for the Agents to overcome. Perhaps this would be where Daisy’s Secret Warriors come into play? Nope, they’re all killed off-screen by Lash. In a simple hand wave by Agent May, we’re merely shown a melted door, and her communication with the team that Andrew went ahead and killed this potentially big threat. Off-screen. Well that was a bummer. Then, back on the alien planet, we’re shown that astronaut Will is not who he appears to be, and is in fact the Inhuman monster, who is using Will’s body as a ride. We are then told that Will apparently died protecting Simmons…OFF SCREEN. That’s a fairly big thing to not go into detail about. There’s another big example of this, but I’m going to leave it until the end of the recap.
From here, on Earth, we’re given a lot of standing around and discussing what’s going to happen by the Agents, outside of the confrontation between Daisy’s Secret Warrior’s and Malick’s Inhuman bodyguard, which did have a neat scene of Joey melting some bullets that were flying his way. The Agents stand around and talk about how to get to the portal. Once at the portal, they stand around and talk about what to do about the portal. Once they’ve figured out what to do with the portal, they stand around and discuss who is going to stay at the portal. It feels like filler, and this is the mid-season finale! As a show, you need to lay all your cards on the table here and S.H.I.E.L.D. did this in the past with their first two season winter caps. It felt like perhaps this episode and the prior one should have either been shown back to back, or perhaps merged into one episode. It would have been tough in terms of making two episodes into one, especially since “Maveth” decides to cut scenes willy nilly across the board, but there had to have been a better way.
Back on Hydra world, Fitz and Will escape their captors, Coulson catches up with Ward and is ready to put out his lights until Grant talks his way into the idea that Phil still needs him. The confrontation between Coulson and Ward here feels pretty weak in all honesty. Don’t get me wrong, the conclusion to it is fantastic and it makes for a great finale to the Ward/Coulson relationship that was built from Season 1, until yet another hitch happens that I’ll discuss in a bit. I just wasn’t feeling the anger here that Coulson demonstrated immediately following Rosalind’s death. Coulson, with Grant in tow, manages to catch up to Fitz and Will, for the reveal to drop that Will is in fact the Inhuman. Fitz unloads on Will as he begins shambling toward the exit, until Fitz shoots him with a flare gun, burning his body beyond repair. With the portal quickly closing, Coulson is left with the decision as to what to do with Ward. Is redemption still possible? Nope! Coulson, in arguably a great scene, crushes Ward’s chest in with his robotic arm. Pretty cold all around, and arguably this would have made for a great finale to the life of Ward.
Coulson and Fitz return to Earth, joining the rest of their team and explaining what had happened in a wordless exchange, with Fitz telling Simmons of Will’s fate. Ultimately, things aren’t really that different now from earlier this season it would seem, that is until Ward appears on Earth. Once again, off-screen, Ward’s body, now possessed by the Inhuman, somehow made its way back to Earth and stands in front of a shocked Malick, presenting us with a finale that doesn’t really get me that excited for the series’ return in 2016. It feels cheap. It feels cheap in a way that you start thinking about how the showrunners wanted to create a resolution for Grant Ward while also still being able to have him as a threat for the team, by creating this new loophole for what the Inhuman fiend can do. The body snatching practice is good in theory, but when they originally presented the idea of this creature, and also showed glimpses of it in previous episodes, it seemed terrifying. The idea of this eternal monster that has the ability to drive men mad, that an organization like Hydra would worship it, needed to be grandiose to say the least. Here, it seems small and hardly much of a threat. Of course you could argue that it left Coulson and Fitz alive and was masking its power, but why? The portal was right in front of it!
As I type this, I’m frustrated. I really enjoyed where the show was going and what had been presented so far in the season, but here, it feels like we’re headed in reverse. So many of the events that happened were left for scenes that took place off-screen, and a lot of the stuff we did get, was simply everyone sort of milling around trying to figure out what to do. This episode somewhat wasted the groundwork that had been laid out before it. In an ocean of Shark Men, Time Travelling Super Groups, mind controlling David Tennants, and Gorilla Cities, the show needs to step up its game when it comes to what can be seen. I watched “Maveth” over the weekend, so I saw a lot of the marketing that hit in the past two days about how this episode was going to “break the internet.” I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt, it did not.
Rating: ★★ Fair
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– I can’t believe they didn’t reveal the identity of who the Inhuman was. This was the episode for it, and at this point, I don’t really even care.
– Yet another mystery is presented in the form of the Inhuman cities on the alien world and the war that apparently destroyed them. We need to focus on the mysteries at hand before presenting all these other ones, S.H.I.E.L.D.!
– Coulson: “I’ll be damned. Tattoine.”
– Mack: “You take the Power Rangers.”
– Fitz: “Cut off one head and blah blah blah!”
– See you all in 2016!