When showrunner Maurissa Tancharoen asked our viewing party what we thought after the episode aired, my first reaction was to say "It was a season-finale worthy episode" and having re-watched it since then I stand by that. I don't know how this episode was only 42 minutes long because they managed to fit so much in, giving us some answers but leaving us with so many "What the!?" moments to carry on into season 2. Bring on September!!
Because there was so much going on this week it was really hard to keep this to just 5 thoughts but here's my attempt.
For such a huge and dramatic episode I was surprised at the amount of humor. Pleasantly surprised. If it's not done well humor in such circumstances can feel forced and risks taking the viewer out of the moment but this is something Marvel always does well. Episode writers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen deserve credit for weaving in some very funny moments this week.
If I'm really honest I have to confess that at times for me I've struggled with the music in the series, particularly in the early days, it almost felt like it was trying to be the soundtrack to a big screen movie and it just wasn't working for me. I found myself numerous times distracted by the music which just didn't seem to sit right, but with this episode in particular, Bear McCreary really nailed it. There were several scenes where the music really added something emotionally, FitzSimmons' escape and and rescue, Fury's speech to Director Coulson and the eerie final scene with Couslon that lead right into the end credits.
Once again FitzSimmons made my list and I'm sure their scenes are strongly imprinted on everyone else's minds too. We've seen both Fitz and Simmons be heroes before and we get to see it again in a very emotionally gripping way this week. Fitz is finally able to tell Simmons how he feels, knowing it may be the last thing ever says. Such a heartbreaking moment portrayed so perfectly by both Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker as Fitz forces Simmons to live, and gives up his own life in the process. Thankfully it didn't end there because Simmons somehow managed to drag Fitz's lifeless body to the surface. I never wanted FitzSimmons to die, and while both survived, I fear that Season 2 may reveal that Fitz's post oxygen deprived state is worse than death. I really hope my fear is unfounded.
We all knew he'd be back in this episode after Samuel L Jackson spilled the beans in a recent interview, but most of us expected a similar cameo to his first back in the second episode of the season so to see him in such a significant role in this episode was most welcome. I don't think any of us expected Fury would be the one to rescue FitzSimmons and I think that first shot of him reaching out of the helicopter is one that will stick with us for some time. Again, the humorous moments between Fury and Coulson were classic Marvel moments and a very enjoyable way to break up the intensity of the events in this episode.
Too many awesome Coulson moments to cover. It's clear that since Triplett brought out his Howling Commando spy gear he and Coulson have developed a bond and they work well as a team. This is the first time I've stopped worrying that Tripplett was hiding something, I've always had a suspicion than there was something more going on with him but I think I'm finally coming to a place of putting those concerns aside.
I can't talk about Coulson without pointing out that he was clearly letting go out some Loki "feels" once he was handed that destroyer weapon, and the way he used it to bring Garrett to his final(?) end was perfect.
Many of us have thought of Couslon as "the other Avenger" since The Avengers and during our viewing party, Director Fury giving voice to our feelings was one of the moments that made us all cheer.
"The principle S.H.I.E.L.D. was found upon was pure. Protection. One word. Sometimes to protect one man against himself, sometimes to protect the planet against an alien invasion from another universe.... but the belief that drives us all is the same, whether it's one man, or all mankind, that they're worth saving. That truth lives inside you Coulson, before it was torn apart, S.H.I.E.L.D. was a lot of moving parts, guys like you were the heart, now, you'll be the head."
This speech, to me, is why I have always loved the concept of this show. There have been criticisms from some that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't been "dark" enough (particularly in the early part of the season) and that there needed to be more angst and bad guys. People loved Ward turning bad because there's this weird idea out there that it's cool to love the bad guys, but me? I'm a good-guy girl. I like my heroes to be heroes, I like my heroes to be out there helping people and making the world a better place so this scene really hit the spot for me.
- The fight between May and Ward was pretty epic, nail guns and power blades? That's serious stuff!
- I'm so glad Ace is safe and I'm eager to see what Mike dose to "make amends" for what he's done.
- Bill Paxton was so very entertaining in his mad-man portrayal of the "evolved" Garrett. We heard at our viewing party that what we got was the toned down version and I'm hopeful we'll get to see some of the outtakes from those scenes on the DVDs!
- I don't know if anyone else noticed how part way through the episode, once Garrett basically called Raina out, she dropped the persona we've seen up till now and adopted a more straight forward cold, manipulative attitude, I enjoyed seeing that reveal.
- Skye essentially taking control of the super soldiers and communicating with Mike to let him know they were working on freeing Ace, and therefore freeing him, was impressive. I'm glad Skye's Trojan Horse worked so well! And just who is her mystery father in that end scene!?
Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts? What were the stand out moments for you in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 finale?