Before it goes on break for the next few months, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ returns us to that strange blue-tinted alien planet one more time. It also, finally, gives the world a name, so I can stop referring to it as “that alien planet.”
It’s called “Maveth,” named after a Hebrew word for death, as explained by a carved inscription in the British castle that housed the portal. Funny how nobody noticed that before.
At the end of last week’s episode, Ward, Fitz and a group of HYDRA soldiers jumped through the portal to the planet. They’ve apparently been there long enough for the sandstorm to abate. Fitz informs Ward that they have six hours until the return portal opens, and they will need to hike to its location. The whole point of Ward’s mission is to locate and return with the ancient Inhuman monster. How he plans to do that is anyone’s guess. He presumably just hopes that it finds him.
Fitz tries to grab Ward’s gun out of its holster. That doesn’t go so well for him. Ward beats him up a little bit and informs him that Jemma will be murdered if he doesn’t cooperate and they don’t return with the monster. Shortly afterward, Ward spots a gigantic, ancient statue in the shape of the HYDRA logo in the desert. He’s left in awe of that for some reason.
On Earth, Lance and Bobbi return to the Zephyr One plane to meet up with Mack, Daisy and the others. They have to explain how Coulson jumped out of the quinjet into the portal at the last second. Using the plane’s scanning equipment, Daisy notices that HYDRA has brought all of the Inhuman prisoners to the castle. They theorize that these are to be an army for the Inhuman ruler. Mack decides that they need to take the castle quietly, without backup. Daisy hatches a plan involving an old aquaduct system that runs into the building.
Back on Maveth, Fitz locates the hatch to Will’s bunker and jumps in. Ward follows him. They find Will inside. He’s alive, but has a leg injury. Ward pulls his gun as if to kill him, but Fitz convinces him that they need Will to guide them to the exit portal. Will seems a little confused by all this, but figures out who Fitz is quickly. He doesn’t seem nearly as antsy as he was when Jemma first arrived on the planet.
Coulson, who was knocked unconscious when he hit his head on a rock, has a dream that his girlfriend Rosalind is still alive. He wakes up to find himself in a desert with alien moons in the sky. He remarks, “I’ll be damned… Tatooine.” (Disney corporate synergy!) He then promptly follows the trail of footprints left by Ward and Fitz.
Lincoln uses his power to cause an electrical blackout at the castle so that the S.H.I.E.L.D. team can get in. Jemma uses the distraction to make a break for it as well. While evading HYDRA guards, she runs into the building where the Inhumans are being stored. Among them is Andrew, still in the S.H.I.E.L.D. pod. He’s awake and alert, and begs her to let him out so that he can help her.
Will leads Fitz, Ward and the soldiers into the “no fly zone” on Maveth, where a sandstorm starts. In the confusion, he kills a couple of the HYDRA redshirts so that he and Fitz can escape.
In the castle, the telekinetic Mr. Giyera (Mark Dacascos) finds and shoots at Daisy. Joey, whose power is the ability to melt metals, leaps in front of her to sacrifice himself, and the bullets liquefy when they touch him. Lincoln steps in and fries Giyera with an electrical blast. Is that the last of him? If so, again I have to ask why the show-runners would hire a martial arts action star for a throwaway role like this?
May finds Simmons, who tells her that she let Andrew out and he saved her, but she doesn’t know where he is now. May brings Simmons to Mack and then goes after Andrew. What she finds is that he has killed all of the other Inhumans in storage.
On Maveth, Coulson kills the remaining HYDRA soldiers and captures Ward. By this point, Ward has fully drunk the HYRDA Kool-Aid. Seeing that giant statue stirred something within in. He mutters some nonsense about how this was all meant to be, and is all part of a grand plan. He doesn’t believe that Coulson will kill him.
Mack and the S.H.I.E.L.D.ies take control of the portal room in the castle. However, with HYDRA closing in and talk of a scary monster possibly returning from the planet, Lincoln argues in favor of destroying the portal immediately. Of course, that would mean stranding Fitz and Coulson. Mack orders everyone to leave and return to Zephyr One. He’ll stay behind until the last minute to wait for Coulson and Fitz. Daisy insists on staying with him. Mack tells May that if HYDRA breaches the portal room, or anything dangerous comes out of the portal, she’s to launch a bunch of missiles and blow up the castle.
On their own now, Fitz and Will trek through the desert toward the exit portal. Will is stumbling badly due to his leg injury, and Fitz offers to take a look. Before he does, he sees the remains of an ancient civilization in the distance – a city long since destroyed. Will explains that the planet used to have nine such cities, but the inhabitants all died out because they became complacent and resisted change. As he rolls up Will’s pant leg, Fitz asks how he could know all that. Under the pants, he finds a huge chunk of the flesh gone, with most of the bone exposed. No human would survive that sort of untreated injury, much less be able to walk on it. Fitz realizes that Will isn’t Will. He’s the Inhuman. Fake-Will confirms this, and says that the real one died saving Jemma.
Fitz and Fake-Will fight. Coulson approaches and shoots Fake-Will a bunch of times, but then Ward attacks and fights him. Fake-Will gets up and crawls toward the portal. Fitz grabs a flare gun and fires it at him, igniting his body in flames. Fake-Will collapses and burns up, but a dark smoky vapor oozes out of the body.
Coulson wins his fight with Ward. As time runs out on the open portal, Fitz begs him to just leave Ward behind and strand him there. Consumed by rage, Coulson crushes Ward’s chest with his robo-hand, killing him. He then detaches the hand and leaves it there.
As HYDRA breaches the portal room, Mack orders May to fire the missiles. She does, blowing up the castle. Just as everyone assumes that Mack and Daisy are dead, the S.H.I.E.L.D. pod launches into the sky and docks with the jet. Daisy and Mack are inside, and they’ve brought Coulson and Fitz as well. Everyone is ecstatic, except Jemma, who’s heartbroken that they couldn’t rescue Will.
As the episode closes, Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) retreats toward an air field. His car is blocked by a man in the road. It’s Ward, holding Coulson’s robo-hand. But it’s not really Ward at all. The body is clearly possessed by the Inhuman.
Coulson killing Ward (or believing that he’s killed Ward) is a rather dark turn for that character. In most respects, this episode is pretty exciting and suspenseful. I’m disappointed, however, that the great evil Inhuman monster we’ve been hearing about for weeks now turns out to be a simple body-snatcher. I pictured some horrific Lovecraftian elder god, but instead this is just an excuse to keep Ward around and make him the season’s Big Bad. That’s kind of lame.
‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ will be on hiatus until March 8th. In the meantime, a new season of ‘Agent Carter’ will start on January 19th to fill some of that gap. I can only hope that the second season of that show is somewhat less tedious than the first.