TV Review: Agents of SHIELD – “Maveth”

Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
Warning: this review contains spoilers. You can find my review of the previous episode of Agents of SHIELD here.
As I mentioned in my last review, Ward has been an incredibly compelling character these past two seasons. But last week, it was clear that his story was concluding. He’d wreaked so much havoc in our heroes’ lives that anything more would have been overkill. Many shows rely on their stronger characters so much that they keep them around past the point where they’re needed. But Agents of SHIELD did not let Ward to overstay his welcome, allowing his story to organically come to its natural end.
Grant Ward in MavethWard’s death is not just a turning point for the show, but for Coulson as well. I’ve seen plenty of talk online about how Coulson did the right thing, and that Ward deserved to die. Maybe so, but the unwritten superhero rules say that good guys are not supposed to execute defenseless villains in cold blood, yet that’s exactly what Coulson did. And he did it by crushing Ward’s chest with his robot hand. It’s a very dark turn for Coulson, a character whose “death” was once the rallying cry for the Avengers. And I’m sure it will have consequences.
One of those consequences was seen this very episode, in fact. Killing Ward gave the creature, whatever it is, another vessel to return to Earth. It wasn’t a surprising twist, as I didn’t believe we were rid of the creature so easily, and I didn’t expect the show to be ready to let go of Brett Dalton just yet. But it was a well-done and promising development nonetheless. Ward may be dead, but zombie Ward is still around.
Jemma Simmons in "Maveth"Speaking of the necrophiliac creature, it turns out Will’s been dead since Jemma’s return. Because this was an incredibly hyped midseason finale, fan speculation had been running rampant, which means that this twist was also not unexpected. But for the sake of the FitzSimmons story, I think it was the best path to take. On one hand, it was an easy shortcut that avoided having an ongoing love triangle, and it robbed Jemma of some agency by not allowing her to make an actual choice between Will and Fitz. On the other hand, would the show have been able to sustain that story with the same level of maturity as before? Or would it have devolved into a typical love triangle that might have weakened one of the characters, if not all three?
The castle infiltration was also pretty great with plenty of good moments, especially involving the new Inhumans. But sadly, it wasn’t the epic S.H.I.E.L.D. vs Hydra showdown that was promised by the buildup. And of the action that actually was there, a surprising amount happened offscreen.
Another element that didn’t really work was Andrew/Lash. The scene where Simmons released him was very rushed, and the consequences of his escape were only briefly touched upon—and again, mostly offscreen. That entire scene could have been cut.
Overall, "Maveth" may not have been as earth-shattering as last year’s midseason finale, but it was a very strong conclusion to the first half of a great season.

Rating: 4/5 (Great)

Notes and Observations

  • "I’ll be damned. Tatooine."
  • Two years ago, who would have thought we’d see the ruins of an alien civilization on a distant planet on this show?
  • Joey melting bullets was a cool and creative use of his power. Though the showdown with the telekinetic was rushed, a far cry from Bobbi’s fight with him two episodes ago.
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