Review: ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Needs Serious ‘Closure’ For its Ward Problem
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Closure”:
After the holiday week, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns to us all with the first of its final two episodes this year, and while I expressed a bit of worry last time that the break might stifle the momentum Season 3 had built, “Closure” leaped far enough into its 2015 endgame to speed things along. There was a lot to take in overall, including some notably frightening beats for Coulson to play, but the most discussion-worthy element of the night understandably belongs to Constance Zimmer’s Rosalind Price, or rather her sudden end.
I can understand that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to color in certain shades of Buffy’s Angelus when it comes to Ward, even as the character’s particular brand of antagonism has been shoved into the main narrative one time too many, and hopefully “Closure” will represent the final nail in any chance of redemption for the character. Granted. Ros’ sudden end via romantic dinner sniper made for an effective shock, the kind of visual flourish Agents could always use more of, Ward fridging* Ros to get to Coulson is still a pretty lame exit for such a strong character.
*There’s at least some attempt to soften the blow, as Ros insists moments before that she doesn’t need Coulson’s protection or permission to return to the ATCU, but come on. It’s 2015. Don’t kill off female characters to turn their men into action heroes.
Not only that, “Closure” even doubled down on Ward’s irredeemable treatment of women with the capture of Fitz and Simmons, specifically positioning the latter’s audible torture as a motivator for Fitz’s cooperation. We saw both characters standing up to Ward in Season 2, and even to an extent in Season 1, but such heinous tactics really have to be the final straw for an ill-used character like Ward. At this point, the writing just pushes him along from one villainous agenda to the next, and someone needs to finally fulfill their revenge against him. Skye, Coulson, Fitz, May, really anyone will do.
Obviously, there’s some attempt to parallel Ward’s instability with Coulson’s, and to tonight’s credit, “Closure”really did push the latter to some dark places, between interrogating his own teammates for Ward’s vulnerability, or the potential to kill another loved one* in return for Ros. We’re only seeing half the story here, particularly as Coulson’s determination pushed him to a point of leaping from the Quinjet into the “Death” world portal (do we have a name for that yet?), making a title like “Closure” a touch ironic. Still, hopefully the midseason closer this week will pull Coulson back from the brink a bit, even if it means putting an end to Ward.
*My own disinterest in Ward required some deep recollection the character even had another brother, let alone one we’d never seen, or interacted with before. We never explicitly saw his parents’ and brother’s murder either, though I definitely don’t recall if anyone expressed the fate of another sibling in hiding.
One of Agents’ great strengths this season has been efforts to include team members even in smaller roles, and it was nice to see Coulson’s rogue vendetta placing the burden of Director on Mack, as well the responsibility it entailed. Similarly, neither Fitz nor Simmons felt particularly shortchanged as pawns in Ward’s endgame, both rationally weighing the cost of opening the portal before and after the kidnapping. I don’t know that Fitz’s caving to Jemma’s screams offered the most intriguing outcome, and it certainly strains credulity to imagine him successfully besting Ward’s team and returning only Will to Earth, but it was at least reasonably sweet to hear that he couldn’t bear the thought of another world without Simmons.
We’ll have a lot more to chew on by the finale next week, but despite a few discomforting story turns, “Closure” gave us a pretty strong “beginning of the end” vibe to digest before March, another notch in a righteously momentous season. Of course, fridging a great character like Rosalind really did push Ward over the edge here, and my undying hope remains that next week will finally do away with the character for good.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Between Agents, Arrow and The Flash, there are way too many TV shows treating fast food as a regular meal. Somebody cook something!
- Have we seen / referenced Lola this season?
- Damn those writers for creating expectations of Coulson’s laser finger.
- How do we treat Koenig’s death as a point of sadness, without offering at least some insight into his brothers/clones/LMD twins?
- Poor Banks, but wasn’t that gun an Icer, by the look of it?
- Timely Furiosa reference is timely.
- I guess we’ll see Joey and Lincoln in action next week?
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will return next Tuesday on ABC with 2015 finale “Maveth.”
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