TV Recap: Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, ‘Closure’

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Closure Plot Summary:

When Ward (Brett Dalton) brings tragedy to Coulson (Clark Gregg), the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes rogue for revenge. Malick (Powers Boothe) also puts his final plan into motion.

“Closure” is essentially one part of this year’s winter finale. The clear intention here was to set up a totally bonkers ending that will send us into 2016 on a powerful note. Normally, this would mean the first half is primarily set up. People expect finales of all kind to contain most of the season’s biggest moments. There’s nothing particularly wrong with that either. However, it’s always nice to watch a show buck this trend. Two hours of edge-of-your-seat intensity is better than one after all. Fortunately for us, this is exactly what happened here.

Photo Credit: ABC/Greg Gayne
Photo Credit: ABC/Greg Gayne

From the very beginning to right after the credits, “Closure” was a thriller of the highest caliber. The bar was officially set when Coulson’s private dinner with Rosalind (Constance Zimmer) was cut short by a bullet to the neck. Rosalind’s sudden death was extremely unexpected too (losing Banks was noticeably less impactful). Her learning that the ATCU was actually under Hydra was the perfect setup for her to be a mole. Coulson might have even made her an unofficial S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. I was actually expecting this and was honestly really enjoying their budding relationship. I wouldn’t have complained if it kept going. Yet having it end right here, hot off us learning Rosalind was good all along, is much more impactful. It refocuses the story to what it wanted to be all along (S.H.I.E.L.D. vs. Hydra) and it speeds up events significantly. Suddenly Coulson doesn’t care about monitoring and learning. All we wants now is vengeance and it’s awesome.

There’s something special about watching Coulson freely commit multiple crimes to reach Ward. It shows that he’s willing to step up in a battle where one side clearly does not care about laws. This also keeps the story from being predictable. So instead of the normal, respectful Coulson we’re used to, we got a man who stages a bank robbery to kidnap Ward’s brother Thomas (Tyler Ritter) and openly threatens him for answers. It’s easily Clark Gregg’s most rage filled performance on this entire show. What helps significantly is we understand his fury. His relationship with Rosalind was cultivated fairly well over the past few episodes, and it gave viewers a chance to care about this new edition and what she brought to the table. Losing that is a terrible thing, and it’s perfectly reasonable for it to push our main hero over the edge. Whether this will permanently change him is definitely in question, but I look forward to learning that in the future.

Photo Credit: ABC/Greg Gayne
Photo Credit: ABC/Greg Gayne

Speaking of Ward, Brett Dalton just continues to deliver as a major antagonist. He was so deliciously evil! His blatant murder of Rosalind was only the tip of how monstrous he really is. As much as the episode was about what Coulson will do when he’s over the edge, significant attention was paid to where Ward’s boundaries are. He has no problem taking two of his former friends hostage (of course, he did try to kill them before), freely torturing Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) to get Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) talking. Those interviews Coulson had with the original team really sold how far gone Ward is as a member of Hydra. Yet he also has some pretty major Achilles Heels, and it was great for “Closure” to focus on this. One of them is Coulson, who he’s obsessed with killing above all else, and the other is Thomas, who he will protect above all else. I have no doubt that Thomas will come back in some form because he’s clearly ammo S.H.I.E.L.D. can use if necessary.  He’s also the principal source of more Ward backstory, which is always a nice addition.

With the episode focusing on relationships and how loss or potential loss can significantly influence actions, it’s only fitting attention was paid to Fitz and Simmons. They’re now aware of their full feelings for each other. How does it change their personal careers? Clearly, it clouds their judgement. Fitz went through the portal entirely with Simmons in mind. He wants to bring Will back for her and he wants her to stop being tortured. This flies entirely in the face of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mission to keep the world safe from danger, especially with Hydra’s Inhuman leader threatening to come over. Simmons knows this too and actively doesn’t want Fitz to go. He still does regardless, and while I don’t expect the show to explore the ramifications of if this makes him a capable agent, I do like watching characters get a bit personal.

Photo Credit: ABC/Greg Gayne
Photo Credit: ABC/Greg Gayne

There was one subplot wholly dedicated to setup without much intensity, and that was everything going on with Mac (Henry Simmons). Coulson makes him temporary S.H.I.E.L.D. Director because he’s not influenced by Ward, and nearly everything involving him was aggressive dialogue. His discussions with Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and May (Ming-Na Wen) were definitely important, but in an episode where action was happening around every corner, it stood out. What was great though is it looks like have the first official formation of Secret Warriors. When Mac puts an assault team together, both Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) and Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) are part of the group. Their team up with Daisy makes this the first good superpowered force we’ve had on this show. Hopefully they actually pull it off because nothing would be more disappointing than watching these three falter in their moment to shine.

A quick side note too that has nothing to do with S.H.I.E.L.D. When Simmons first sees Ward and stands up to his comments, he says she has a “Furiosa vibe”, an obvious reference to the critically loved Mad Max: Fury Road. Imperator Furiosa was one of this year’s most popular characters, and her recognition on a major primetime program like this is very cool.

The stage was set in a big way for a major winter finale next week. “Closure” was a thrilling hour of television anchored by Coulson seeking revenge and Ward being pure evil. Rosalind’s death was shocking and I will miss her, but it clearly served the greater purpose of ramping up all action. Getting our first official prototype version of Secret Warriors was pretty awesome too. With Coulson, Fitz, and Ward now stuck on the alien planet Maveth for at least 12 hours, I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so excited the next episode. Bring on that finale already.

Rating: 9/10