Agents of SHIELD: Beginning of the End Review

Agents of SHIELD's run is now over, and Marvel's attempt at expanding the Cinematic-Universe into the realm of television has been a rocky road to travel, but it most certainly paid off in this week's finale, which may be the best episode the series has offered thus far.
Because this is the finale and because it had so many quotable moments, I have decided to add a lot of cool gif sets instead of posting the full quotes for most parts.
Oddly enough, the episode opens with a scene in Cybertek with a head guy introducing a newbie to the tech. He refers to the "Incentives Program," which I am exactly sure what that means. The most likely conclusion is that it means that one of their loved ones is held hostage, but maybe it meant actual incentives. 
After 15 minutes of Garrett babbling on about like a mad man with everyone giving him strange looks, "Beginning of the End" picks up the pace with an action packed finale that hit the mark in every department. The first part of the episode almost had me worried that the finale was going to be a disappointment, but thankfully, that was not the case. After some ambiguity last episode, the container that Ward dropped Fitz and Simmons in did sink to the bottom of the ocean. Fitz confesses his feeling to Simmons, well, he kinda confesses in an indirect way, and he sacrifices himself to save Simmons, which was a very Joss Whedon type character moment. Thankfully, a one-eyed bada** happened to be around to save the duo, which I will discuss in a minute. To my surprise however, Fitz is not doing so well with Simmons essentially saying that he suffered severe brain damage, which will either mean Cybernetic enhancements to fix his brain, or Fitz is not going to be particularly useful to the team. Actually, the episode ended with, what I assume, is going to be the new team with Ward being replaced by Triplett, and no Fitz.  
Going back to the Nick Fury's appearance in the episode, I cannot believe he had such a crucial role! Even though I knew Samuel L. Jackson would make an appearance in the finale, I did not expect him to have an extended part in the episode! Seriously, he was in the episode just about as much as any of the team other than Coulson. Just the simple fact of seeing Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury on television is an impressive sight, but he was freaking awesome in the episode! He had a ton of hilarious and cool lines, like "You don't have to call me 'sir,' Coulson. Look at me. I'm dressed like I live under a bridge," as well as the perfect banter with Coulson, who we now know was originally recruited by Fury. At the end of The Winter Soldier, you may have noticed that Fury was going somewhere to respond to a distress signal before he burned his eyepatch, which likely refers to the distress signal that Fitz sent out (Jacob actually noticed this). Also, seeing Fury coming to Coulson's aid with the Destroyer gun from The Avengers was such an awesome callback to the Avengers! During the confrontation with Garrett and DeathLok, the entire dialogue exchange is classic! 

Later in the episode, Coulson finally gets to have the conversation about his resurrection with Coulson flipping out exclaiming "Yes, but that emergency was supposed to be the fall of an Avenger!" with Fury replying "Exactly. And I'm d*mn glad I did it, too." Any fan of The Avengers would agree that Coulson is an Avenger, and hearing Fury say it in the episode was incredibly satisfying. But that was not the biggest surprise of Sam Jackson's part of the episode. Coulson is now the new Director of SHIELD! Fury passed the torch to Coulson, and along with a cube that supposedly is going to help him rebuild SHIELD.

 For the finale, the episode certainly rammed up the action with probably the best action scenes to date from the series, particularly May vs. Ward. While it did not make a lot sense why May did not just shoot Ward with the ICER to knock him out, the action was certainly satisfying. She really nailed him during the fight (pun intended). Skye and Ward's dialogue before was perfect, and hilarious!

 Earlier in the episode, after Coulson made an inspiring speech, May's reply was great as well.
Coulson: "But Fury always said ... a man can accomplish anything when he realizes he's a part of something bigger. A team of people who share that conviction can change the world. So, what do you say? You ready to change the world?"
For yet another surprise, Agent Koenig is back! Well, not exactly. The team meets Billy Koenig, which is likely the brother that Eric mentioned playing Call of Duty with in the previous episode. However, my suspicion is that Koenig is a LMD (Life-Model-Decoy). A LMD is a robotic replacement that SHIELD agents, particularly Nick Fury, use as a decoy. Often times, SHIELD agents would use them to fake their deaths. Other possibilities include, Koenig being a form of AI that is at every SHIELD base, he is a clone, or, the simplest option, he is actually Eric's twin brother. 
Next, Raina tells a creepy looking monstrous figure that she has found his daughter. Who is this decaying figure? Before this reveal, I was thinking that Skye's parents could be Kree, Skrull, or Frost Giant, but this certainly rules out Frost Giant, and probably Kree. Skrull is still an option since they can shape shift, yet that seems unlikely. Maybe it is of the same race as the Asgardian fire demon Surtur (picture below), or, if Marvel wants to go the magical route with Doctor Strange on the horizon, she could be the daughter of Mephisto, or someone from that realm. Mephisto is not from one of the Nine Realm of Asgard, but rather, he inhabits a realm of fire and brimstone, and creatures from that realm somewhat resemble the creature at the end of the episode. However, a Doctor Strange movie is way too far off for it to be introducing concepts and characters from that. A popular theory is that Skye is an Inhuman, which are a race of altered humans that gained powers from being experimented on by Kree. An Inhumans movie has been in the works for a while, so that is a possibility.   

Ward's conclusion was mostly satisfying with him neither going back with the team nor dying. While killing off the character probably would have been better, using him to get information on HYDRA could result in an interesting dynamic. DeathLok also gets a solid resolution after Skye frees his son. He is likely to return to help the team in the future. Also, the episode ending with Coulson drawing those strange symbols that Garrett was drawing will hopefully be explained in the next season, because I have no idea what they mean.

One of the best parts of the entire season has to be the scene below with Coulson and Garrett! When Garrett started to pull himself up on the cybernetic thing, I was thinking, "How cliched can they get?!" Thankfully, in a very Whedonesque moment, Coulson walks into the room to grab the energy-ray thing from the second episode and completely disintegrates Garrett. Leave it to Whedon and company to subvert cliches in the most hilarious ways possible! It was such a classic moment; I love it!

Overall: 10/10- Thanks to Samuel L. Jackson's presence, hilariously subverting cliches, and a satisfying conclusion that provides the series a new direction, "Beginning of the End" is the best episode the series the has delivered to date.

At some point in the near future, I will post my full review of the first season as a whole, so look out for that, and please check back next week for the first part of my Top 100 Movies of All-Time List. 

For another opinion, you can check out Tegan's review by clicking here.

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