Thursday, December 10, 2015

TV RECAP: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Season 3 - Episode 10: "Ma'veth" (Midseason Finale)


Firstly, the reason there wasn't a recap for last week was because, while yes I was in fact busy with other work, when I did finally sit down to try and knock one out... nothing came. Apart from the big opening shocker (Ward kills [spoiler]) and the cliffhanger (Coulson jumps into the portal after Ward, Fitz and the HYDRA team) "Closure" was just a whole lot of running around and place-setting for this finale without a lot of meat on it's bones.

Which makes it all the more frustrating that there's ultimately not that much to "Ma'veth," either. If I weren't being an MCU completist about this stuff, I'd be hard-pressed to name anything that would be encouraging me to come back after the AGENT CARTER break.


At this point, it may just be best to start accepting that not only will Season 3 likely not wind up as strong as Season 2, but that Season 2 might be a total anomaly in and of itself. That midseason finale ("What They Become") and subsequent fallout felt like a long overdue realization of the series' original promise: An interesting storyline with great surprises of its own (Skye was an Inhuman AND an established Marvel heroine all along! Whitehall isn't the real threat! Evil Dad is Mr. Hyde! Jaiying was the bad guy!) that also tied-in/built-on the broader MCU.

More importantly, despite the constant pop-awareness of the restrictions the series is operating under (pretty much ALL of the "big" mysteries and MCU tie-ins have to be broadly-defined enough up until the last moment that they can be fit into whatever other "big stuff" the movies have either established or need to have established), it felt like the narrative was a cohesive thing of its own, not just playing catch-up or winking about future reveals it's only half-aware of.

But with "Ma'veth," you've got almost the exact opposite. Most of the major plot threads of the previous 9 episodes have been seemingly dropped (Price and the other named ATCU guy are dead, a bunch of the HYDRA-abducted Inhumans have been killed by Lash, who's escaped again) save for the Secret Warriors business, the innaugural "suiting up" of which was underwhelming, to say the least. The whole episode felt like that, as storylines that seemed to have a ways to grow yet (and now feel pointless without that growth) got resolved and filed away in a totally cursory fashion. To wit:

Will is coming back to Earth to create tension for Fitz/Simmons? Oh... nope, he's dead.

"Will" is actually the ancient HYDRA god? Oh, well when he gets to Earth that should be... oh, nope, that host is all burned up.

Ward is suddenly an enlightened "big picture guy" about HYDRA goals because he seems some alien ruins? That feels out of character but okay, lets see where this... oh, nope, Coulson killed him.

But, hey! Coulson killed a defenseless enemy in cold blood, and Fitz saw him do it. That's interesting. AND we're *finally* rid of Ward, who's been fun to watch but whose purposelessness has been showing more and m...

...oh. HYDRA god (which is a... worm?) possessed Ward and now he's on Earth. So much for that.

Like I said before, it really does feel, especially in regards to the new Big Bad, like the writers are back in the "every question has to have 20 possibly-correct answers until the movie guys tell us what we can/can't use yet" mode. So whereas HYDRA god could've been anything or anyone, it now appears we'll be getting some version of Hive. That's not terrible but it's not all that exciting either, especially since it likely means the good guys fighting waves of possessed "hosts" in the second half of the season instead of an interesting new villain. Maybe this is tipping the hat toward some stuff that won't matter until after CIVIL WAR ("alien possession" would be a plausible substituation for SECRET INVASION's "a bunch of people were Skrulls the whole time!" angle) but as of now it just feels lame.