“I’m glad we’re finally having burgers”
After last week’s excellent episode, Agents of SHIELD followed that up with yet another excellent episode. Instead of dropping the ball and having a slower paced outing to follow the big twist from “Many Heads, One Tale,” “Closure” shot out of the gates at lightning pace and barely slowed down. From the dramatic opening to the shocking ending, there was little to complain about. Not only that, but we delved deeper into the minds of Coulson and Ward, and how alike they really are…The opening was something ripped out of 24 (in a good way!): within the first couple of minutes, Rosalind had been killed by a sniper as she was having burgers with Coulson. The glossing over of the events of ‘Many Heads, One Tale’ seemed abrupt. Wouldn’t Coulson still have trust issues with Rosalind? But the snappy and involving dialogue between the two soon resolved that little niggle. Of course, they couldn’t remain happy for long (just like 24!); we heard a bullet pierce the window, and saw Rosalind grasping her bleeding neck. This wasn’t merely a wound that would be healed; she died in Coulson’s arms.
“You wanna see a trick?”
After a call from Ward confirming him as the sniper, Coulson had one mission only: to seek revenge! The parallel is that Ward was seeking revenge against Coulson. Ward constantly talked about the similarities between himself and Coulson. They are both willing to go to extreme lengths in the name of revenge and/or their particular cause (SHIELD or HYDRA). On his path to revenge, Coulson kidnapped Ward’s brother and toyed with the possibility of giving the brother up to Ward. Is that so different to Ward’s methods? They are both willing to sacrifice other people in the name of their cause. The parallel was emphasised in two identical shots where each of them threw their ‘phone against the wall in anger.
Ward was always the bland and boring member of SHIELD, and even when he was outed as a bad guy, he was pretty dull (despite the storylines that he was involved in). During Season 3, however, Brett Dalton has embraced his inner villain and really pushed his acting limits tot the maximum. That, coupled with his harsh reimagining of HYDRA, has made him worthy of being a great archnemesis.
“I’m not asking you to follow, I’m asking you to lead”
Was this the most riveting episode revolving around Coulson yet? Yes, we’ve had him etching stuff into walls and talking about Tahiti (It’s a magical place!), but this extremely personal development gave him his juiciest outing yet. Coulson was a man not afraid to embrace his dark side, even harshly interrogating his SHIELD colleagues about their relations with Ward (the parallel here between Ward and Coulson being Ward’s later 24-esque torture of Fitz and Simmons to help him and Malick find out how to use the portal to return to earth. Ward’s shout that “I don’t have time for this, now tell me…” sounded like Jack Bauer in his prime!). Coulson was not afraid to get personal, especially with May and Daisy (who both had a relationship with Ward…but May had less time to talk!). His single-minded mission to murder Ward at any cost gave us a glimpse of Coulson that we rarely see, and heightened an already impressive episode.
In between the Ward/Coulson feud, there was little room for anyone else. But that didn’t mean that there wasn’t anything for the other characters to do. Malick is evolving into one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic/Televisual Universe, helped tremendously by the acting chops of Powers Boothe. Fitz and Simmons again remained the romantic emotional core of the story, as Fitz finally gave into Ward due to fear of losing Simmons. “I don’t have the strength to live in a world that doesn’t have you in it,” he said to Simmons in a beautiful tear-threatening moment. It’s going to get really complicated between the two if they manage to bring Will back…
Above all else, the unpredictability made this episode special. I’d never have guessed how it ended, or even how it began. I expected a slow-paced affair that teased out the consequences of Malick’s revelation about the real origin of HYDRA. But his scheme was half-completed by the time ‘Closure’ ended. There was no time to reflect on what his revelation meant for the SHIELD universe, as we went from Rosalind’s murder to Coulson’s plan for revenge almost immediately. Things went full steam ahead, and were all the better for it.
VERDICT: 9/10. Exciting, enthralling, engaging, excellent. ‘Closure’ was another ‘AoS’ episode that simply rocked!