Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (“Beginning of the End”)

Season 1, Episode 22
Date of airing: May 13, 2014 (ABC)
Nielsen ratings information: 5.449 million viewers, 3.5/6 in Households, 2.01/7 with Adults 18-49

It was a very solid season finale, but it had two scenes too many. The group scene of Triplett, Melinda, Coulson, Skye and Simmons looking past the camera into an uncertain but certain future that is the second season should have been the perfect way to end the season, but no, the writers had to pack in two cliffhanger scenes to tease upcoming stories, as if TV shows die when they don’t end their seasons with cliffhangers. Those two scenes were unnecessary for the story of the episode and the only reason they were put at the end of this hour was to continue the tradition of ending serialized drama television seasons with cliffhangers, just so the audience has something to talk about on the internet over the hiatus — as if this is the only way a show can survive during the hiatus, let alone be part of the consciousness of the world. And the way cliffhangers are brought into season finales is getting on my nerves more and more. This episode could have been the best ending of a serialized season of television ever, and who knows, maybe the writers decided to end the season like that, because renewal was still up in the air. But why the two teaser scenes were thrown into the end is beyond me. Someone really needs to get that unwritten rule of television writing out of the books forever.

Well, the final fight against Garrett was a bit boring, especially with Fury and Coulson making jokes about the situation while the Cybertek soldiers functioned like stormtroopers, but what I liked is that the writers included another level to that final conflict between the heroes and the villains. With Skye and May’s Cybertek “invasion,” there was more action in the plot, and it even gave one of the antagonists a happy ending — of sorts. That Skye would make her word for Mike Petersen count was a nice little surprise, though I don’t quite know what to think of Deathlok out in the open now, hiding from the authorities, and kind of turning into a “Richard Kimble with superpowers”-type character, who could easily be the central character of his own little spin-off road trip action show. Yes, he is still a character that can be used in AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D., or in one of the future films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (I doubt it though, J. August Richards is not someone who gets cast in features), but with Mike Petersen on the road of redemption now, it almost looks like he will become an ally for post-HYDRA S.H.I.E.L.D., especially since Skye will always be able to track Mike’s every move, meaning she sort of becomes her handler, and when S.H.I.E.L.D. needs a cybernetic supersoldier, Mike probably won’t be far, because it is on his way to redemption. And if the writers were really bored, they could get Mike back for an ongoing story that could involve his character, giving Richards a bit more to do as he was probably looking for the next television show to star in.

A desperate hand reaches the supposedly dead deus ex machina.

What was disappointing though was Fury’s sudden appearance. Right in the moment when FitzSimmons needed him most, he was there. Right when Coulson needed an ally to fight against Garrett, he was there (funny, because Garrett was bested by neither Coulson nor Fury). Coming out of nowhere, saving lives, dropping a few oneliners, giving Coulson the premise for the upcoming season, showing his glass eye, disappearing into nowhere again. Wow, Fury was more a plot device than an important character in the MCU in this episode — and I was still happy to see him, because crossovers and all, but you can’t say that his appearance was especially noteworthy. Maybe it is because of Samuel L. Jackson’s status in Hollywood and the fact that one of the smaller A-list Hollywood celebrities made it into a broadcast network television show not once, but twice within a season, but it’s not like his character was really needed to save FitzSimmons out of the ocean, let alone have him assist Coulson in the fight against Cybertek and Garrett.

But whatever. The best scene happened on the surface of the ocean floor, and Fitz’s confession of love for Simmons in a dire situation. I almost cried myself, but then I cringed a little, when Simmons was kissing Fitz all over. It’s great to see that the two shared an important moment, and that love might be a factor from here on (let’s count the days until the two share a first real kiss, then the first time they have sex, then their first break-up, then the whole will-they-won’t-they premise, then marriage, then kids, and then there’s time for the happy end, which should come during the series finale), but maybe Simmons’ reaction to Fitz’s love for her, let alone his insistence of having her life saved over his life, was a little too on-the-nose for me. But the idea that FitzSimmons could be a couple after behaving like siblings throughout the last 21 episodes is a good one. Okay, I don’t really want to see them as a couple right now, because it would be awkward as hell, but there is a back story now, and both character arcs can be deepened from here on. I would just like to know how Simmons was able to keep holding onto Fitz, while the water was hitting her in the stomach for about a hundred times, as described by Fitz. That seemed impossible to do. But I shouldn’t question the show. An advice I never follow by the way, especially when it’s about television.

They’re ready for the second season.

And the rest of the episode? Quinn disappears with the Quantonium, meaning he and the plot device will return. Raina went to Skye’s father, meaning both characters will be an issue in the second season, turning Skye’s life upside down in the process. I’m happy about Raina though, because her road could lead to something great, as she is becoming something of a bridge between good and evil. And considering her words about her allegiance (which lie not with S.H.I.E.L.D. or HYDRA or Cybertek or individual people), she could both be an ally and an antagonist to the main characters in the second season — which is exciting. At least one character in the show remains in the dark, together with her agenda. I really hope she will be an important element coming up.

I didn’t really care about Coulson’s cliffhanger though. After all the talks that the blue alien wonder drug might cause problems, it was to be expected that it will be an issue in the show sooner or later. The “alien writings” were old news though, even if they are now connected to the greater narrative. Not only were those writings already seen in “Eye Spy,” which means Garrett must have been hunting those writings down for a while now (yet there was no mention of it when he suddenly started writing as well), but the fact that Garrett created a similar piece of art, it only seems logical that the alien blood might have given these two some form of alien memories, even if it means that some of the events from “Eye Spy” are now retconned out of the show’s story arc. It could be more, if the writers were thinking big and over the top, but I’m certainly not thinking too much into it. What I see here is simply a form of alien language. Not much to build a season cliffhanger around it.

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