Agents of SHIELD: 310 “Maveth” Review
Reviewed by Ollie Gregory.
When Marvel first announced they would be creating a twenty-three episode series set in the MCU I was ecstatic. Up until then, we were only able to visit the MCU through films, which came out at a maximum of two a year, and that simply wasn’t fulfilling. With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D Marvel had an opportunity to show us more of this complex comic book universe. Everyone was incredibly excited for its debut and then, well, it was a disappointment. Everyone had been expecting a sweet combination of superheroes and super spy and what we got instead was mediocre acting and forced references to the movies we’d all seen.
Maveth is exactly what I dreamed Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D would be. It’s an action packed epic as two teams of secret agents, each with super powered beings on their side, go head to head. There’s espionage, there’s people being punched in the face, there’s cool-looking abilities, and then there’s more people being punched in the face. This episode feels like a comic book in all the best ways, with the only omission being ‘kapow’ not coming up when a HYDRA agent takes a blow to the face.
One of the many things this episode does well is making full use of its ensemble cast. Much like The Avengers (Oh my goodness. A positive comparison between this and The Avengers!), everyone seems to have their own special moment in the spotlight where they prove they’re a valuable asset to the team. Unlike The Avengers, these guys only have forty minutes making it an even more remarkable achievement.
If I had to pick someone I’d say this was Coulson’s episode. We last saw him making a rash anger fuelled decision and then falling down a hill and hitting his head on rock. This episode Coulson has to become the calm and composed leader he was before Rosalind’s death – Fitz’s life depends on it.
Clark Gregg does a phenomenal job this episode, playing a Coulson that’s still out for revenge, but knows he has to put that behind him right now. He doesn’t make loads of witty comments while he navigates the rocky wasteland, but he does carry a certain level of charisma that makes every scene he’s in feel special, but the real pay off comes at the very end, when Coulson places his robotic hand on Ward’s chest and looks him dead in the eyes. We see Rosalind again, Fitz screaming at Coulson to get a move on, Coulson continues to just watch as he punishes Ward. If that wasn’t an intense performance then I don’t know what is.
Another actor who really brings the intensity this episode is Henry Simmons. Still S.H.I.E.L.D’s acting director, he has the unpleasant job of having to plan a way to storm a heavily fortified HYDRA castle, rescue Simmons the hostage, save the detained Inhumans and rescue Fitz, Coulson and possibly Will from another planet. Towards the end of the episode Mack (Or as I really want to call him ‘Big Mack’) makes a motivational speech to rival that of Independence Day, which involves him telling the whole team to clear out and blow the castle sky high if he isn’t able to get out with Coulson and Fitz. The fact that he even made me, someone who has a hatred for anything that involves standing up, want to jump through my screen and fight alongside him and Daisy is proof that he might just be perfect for the role of S.H.I.E.L.D Director.
This episode also finally gets the snappy dialogue just right. There’s a number of fun exchanges between team members (and a Star Wars reference!!!!), with the character’s personalities remaining consistent. Even this season there’ve been a few moments of stilted speech but this time they really nailed it. Good flow and good funnies, what more could you ask for?
Elsewhere the chemistry between Fitz and Ward is on full display (flashbacks to that time Ward threw Fitz’s sandwich away?) and not in a friendly way. The two former friends snap at each other as if they’re school children and it is just brilliant to watch. Fitz is clearly the more intelligent, but Ward is the one with all the power. It’s a really interesting dynamic and we get to see an angry version of Fitz, which is always fantastic.
The return of Will (well, kinda) was quite fun as well, as was the fact he met Fitz before he met Simmons. The reveal that he was actually the alien was a neat twist, although one I feel like a large number of people saw coming from miles away. I do have questions about that alien inhuman though. Is it just a creature that can inhabit someone’s body? Because that isn’t the greatest of tricks. Even Fitz is able to beat it in a fist fight, so how it is going to destroy the world I don’t know. Considering they’ve been talking about how destructive this creature was, I was a little bit disappointed that when we finally saw it properly it was in the form of an injured man rolling about on a hill. Maybe it’s a lot better when the person it’s inhabiting isn’t injured, or maybe there’s another monster on that planet. Regardless, as of the way it is being presented to us right now, HYDRA have spent hundreds of years sacrificing people for something that is probably less of a threat to the world than the telekinetic guy they already have.
One of the things that you can praise this episode for is not ending on a ridiculous cliffhanger. This felt like a proper conclusion to the first half of this season, rather than a taster for the show’s return in March. Coulson killing Ward was the big moment this episode, the moment this part of the season has been building to, and I’ve never took so much satisfaction in someone’s murder (Which I’m glad of). As I’ve already mentioned, Gregg’s performance is fantastic, but so is everyone else involved. The look of absolute shock on the face of Fitz as he sees a man he’s spent so much of his life looking up to murder a man in cold blood is just fantastic. Brett Dalton is again brilliant as the coldhearted mercenary, and the moment the smugness vanishes from Ward’s face as he realises Coulson is actually about to kill him will be cherished by many. All in all, Ward’s death was perfectly executed.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has become exactly what I dreamed it would. Sure, it’s a bit cliche at times. Sure, there’s some ridiculous bits every so often, Sure, sometimes things don’t make as much sense as you’d like them to, but they are based off of comic books. What else do you expect?
As the first part of its season draws to its close, there’s a real sense of satisfaction, that makes you feel like the forty minutes you’ve invested every week have been worthwhile. They’ve been twists along the way, and some really amazing scenes. Everything came together and as the tenth episode ends, it almost feel like the whole season has finished, in a good way. This episode may not be perfect, but it is a lot of fun and wraps up everything that’s happened over the last nine episodes fantastically. With the Secret Warriors finally coming together to fight HYDRA agents, this show is becoming exactly what people want.