Agents of SHIELD: 309 “Closure” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
Wow. This week’s episode proved that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is not just a great superhero show, but possibly one of the most underrated television programs of all time.
Closure hits the ground running in the most spectacular of ways. What at first seems to be nothing more than a cute date between Coulson and Rosalind quickly descends into chaos after a sniper fires a bullet into the neck of one Rosalind Price leaving her to bleed out in Coulson’s arms. Through a weird CGI shot, we learn that the sniper was in fact Grant Ward, a former S.H.I.E.L.D agent who has been making life difficult for the team since the end of season one.
What ensues is a fantastically choreographed action sequence involving Coulson fending for his life against many of Ward’s men. Coulson being Coulson fights the men off expertly and escapes with Mack in a black SUV (I think it was an SUV. I don’t know. I’m not really a car person).
This episode focuses on Coulson’s reaction to the death of Rosalind, someone he truly believed he loved. Ward flat out admits to her murder, phoning Coulson up literally seconds after she dies to explain how he killed her for the sole purpose of upsetting Phil. This leaves Coulson furious, and an angry Coulson is a fun one to watch.
This episode really belongs to Coulson but, as I’m sure will come as no surprise, Fitz and Simmons are on form as well. Their relationship is undoubtedly one of the best things this show has developed and miraculously, despite having been a plot thread since season one, has never once began to stagnate. This is undoubtedly largely due to the tremendous acting from Iain de Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge. This week the Fitzsimmons arc got even more extreme, with Simmons being tortured as a way to get Fitz to talk.
Daisy took more of a backseat role this episode, as did May, but Mack had a surprisingly large role which included him becoming the acting Director of S.H.I.E.L.D while Coulson was busy doing his own little thing (which one can presume will carry on given the ending of this episode). It was a lot of fun to see Mack having to make big decisions and be a full-on leader, and it stops him as a character becoming redundant.
Ward was again fantastic this week, showing off his sadistic nature. I enjoyed the way this episode touched on his motivations, and bringing in his younger brother was a really nice to touch. You could see how his brother had been affected by the abuse he had received at home and it made all of Ward’s backstory feel so much more real.
This episode it struck me that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is far more horrific and gory than anyone gives it credit for. Everyone says that the dark side of Marvel is on Netflix, and although there’s nothing as horrific in this as there is in Jessica Jones (That 1000 cuts scene was just the worst), it’s probably still more adult than a lot of the MCU movies.
The show also doesn’t seem afraid to kill people. Rosalind’s death was a big surprise early on and then Banks died not that much later. Although you could argue the show is just trying to kill off the ATCU, killing these fairly important characters without a moment’s hesitance does raise the stakes a lot, provided they don’t bring them back, which the Marvel Cinematic Universe is infamous for doing.
Powers Boothe continues to excel as the new face of HYDRA, even though I’m not completely sure of his plan. What does HYDRA hope to achieve? Do they simply want to completely wipe out the human race? Lets say they’re successful, and they bring this inhuman back from that other planet, won’t it just wipe out literally everyone? Maybe there’s something they’re not letting on, such as the inhuman is a former HYDRA agents or that Malick is an inhuman himself. I really do hope there’s a better explanation than “I’m evil and just want everyone dead because I’m evil and that’s what evil people do” as the writers are normally much better than that.
It’s impossible to talk about this episode and not talk about the performance of Clark Gregg. This dude just absolutely kills it this episode as the heartbroken Coulson. He’s a man on a mission, and his mission is to kill Ward no matter the cost – no matter what lines he has to cross.
This episode belongs to Agent Coulson the same way 4,772 Hours belonged to Agent Simmons. This is his story. This episode answers the question of whether Coulson is human or robot, and the answer is human. Coulson is an irrational, mistake making human whose anger clouds his judgement. We were right, Coulson did make the error of letting Rosalind get too close to him, but not in the predictable way we all suggested.
This episode is a masterclass in tension. Fitzsimmons being kidnapped was a great addition, with Fitz being tortured, despite the fact Simmons was the one they were hurting. This episode didn’t follow the structure of most superhero TV shows, with a bad guy being introduced at the start, the bad guy beating the hero in the middle, and then the hero beating the bad guy at the end. This episode was just forty minutes of solid TV. There was no huge action sequence at the end, no trick to it all, no massive twist, it was just very engaging television.
As we’ve grown to expect now, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D once again exceeds all expectations (does that make sense?). Next week is the midseason finale and thus far this season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D hasn’t had a bad episode. There’ve been moments of silliness and bad acting for sure, but it’s a consistently great show. This episode is one of the best yet, leaving me more excited for a midseason finale than any other show has before. Next week’s episodes should raise the stakes even more, and might even give us a good luck at the first incarnation of the Secret Warriors.