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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S3 E9 "Closure"

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HYDRA makes personal strikes against S.H.I.E.L.D., as their plans to recover the banished Inhuman begin to be implemented. Members of the team make desperate decisions in the process.


Tropes:

  • Action Survivor: Ward notes that six months on an alien planet have made Simmons stronger, but he has the gall to claim that dumping her and Fitz in the ocean "got the ball rolling."
  • Apologetic Attacker: Coulson, Bobbi, and Hunter apologize to Thomas for kidnapping him. Once they explain why, he's pretty understanding.
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  • Armor-Piercing Question: With a little bit of Kirk Summation mixed in, Thomas is able to put a massive dent in his brother's defense about his actions.
    Thomas: Dad needed a walker to get around. Who was he gonna hurt?
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: For whatever off-screen torture Simmons had to endure, she only came out with a scratch on her cheek.
  • Briar Patching: Ward mentions the portal during his call to Coulson, convincing Coulson to send someone to check out the Distant Star facility where the Monolith was held. Giyera is waiting there to capture FitzSimmons.
  • Call-Back:
    • The episode as a whole focuses on Ward's history, bringing up a number of his actions throughout the first two seasons — sleeping with May, jumping out of a plane to save Simmons, dumping FitzSimmons into the ocean, and killing his parents all get mentioned.
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    • HYDRA goes back to the castle from "Purpose in the Machine" to open the portal.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The five pieces of the portal HYDRA cut out provide just enough surface area to form a man-sized portal.
  • Continuity Nod: Once again, Ward has captured Fitz and Simmons, although he's even more unhinged this time around.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Malick urges Ward to rise above petty concerns of revenge and take charge, which convinces Ward to lead the mission to recover the ancient Inhuman.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • Ward is blindsided when Coulson reveals he kidnapped Thomas. It's enough for him to slip up and allow a trace on his phone.
    • Hunter says this when Thomas encourages them to put Ward down.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him:
    • Rosalind is sniped in the neck by Ward during an intimate dinner with Coulson.
    • Banks also meets his end when Giyera takes control of his gun and shoots him at the Distant Star facility.
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  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Ward makes it clear once again how much Kara meant to him, and the second Coulson puts his brother in harm's way, he loses his cool.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Thomas claims that Grant was the worst out of a whole family of terrible people.
  • Forced to Watch: Substitute "Listen" with "Watch" and this is how Ward gets Fitz to help him, by making him listen as Simmons is tortured.
  • Freudian Excuse: Played with; Coulson questions the original members of the Bus to further develop a profile on Ward and possible weaknesses. The questioning develops a profile of Ward that points to him using a hero complex to justify the cognitive dissonance of any horrible thing he does, in response to his abusive childhood and the "Well" incident. While Thomas Ward seems to confirm that analysis, he points out that he suffered an abusive childhood too and didn't become a psycho, and Coulson and the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D. still won't forgive his crimes.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Mack mobilizes Lincoln and Joey as part of Daisy's unit, despite acknowledging that Andrew may have been on the level when he recommended against putting them in the field. Lincoln lampshades this when he says that Mack's only doing this because he's short on time and assets.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: While he was forced to throw his brother into the well, Grant becomes much worse than both Christian and his parents afterwards, despite trying to protect his brother.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Coulson taunts Ward by letting him know they traced his call and they're coming for him, which both makes Ward desperate and makes Coulson's stealth tech mostly worthless, since HYDRA knows what to look for. It's immediately lampshaded by May and Mack, who see it as proof Coulson is getting dangerously unstable.
    • As the plane is under anti-air fire, Coulson dives out the back and into the open portal. When he comes out the other side, he rolls down a deep hill and cracks his head on a rock. It's a miracle he didn't just splat on the ground.
    • Malick calls out Ward for giving in to his desire for revenge at the possible cost to the mission, sending his men in to kill a man HYDRA needs alive.
  • I Have Your Wife: Coulson kidnaps Ward's brother to make him inadvertently give away his location.
  • Ironic Name: The title of the episode is a reference to Ward's Arc Words, but besides that, the episode is effectively Part 1 of the mid-winter finale and essentially ends on a cliffhanger; thus, the audience has anything but closure.
  • It's Personal: For both sides. Ward makes a point to Coulson by killing Rosalind, in exchange for Kara's death. This sends Coulson over the edge and he completely redirects all efforts to track Ward down and kill him.
  • I Will Punish Your Friend for Your Failure: Ward decides to break Fitz by having Giyera torture Simmons, figuring he'll talk if she doesn't. It initially doesn't work, but Fitz caves when Ward takes over after allowing Coulson to trace his phone in a moment of weakness.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Coulson really walks the line between black and white, to the concern of his team. He recognizes this and its why he puts Mack in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. for the mission's duration.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Rosalind takes a bullet to the neck while she's telling Coulson about her plans for the next day.
  • Kirk Summation: Thomas effortlessly shuts down his brother's idea about "protection":
    Grant: I know this is tough to hear, but sometimes, you got to do a bad thing for the right reasons.
    Thomas: Stop trying to justify what you did. Just stop. They were my parents, too. And yeah, they were horrible people, but you are so much worse.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Gideon Malick is so good at this that he convinces Ward to change his plans and lead a potentially deadly mission on the foreign planet even though Grant knows he is manipulating him. With Grant being pretty manipulative himself, that is no small feat.
  • The Mole: Subverted. It briefly looks like Banks has killed his S.H.I.E.L.D. escort, but it's actually Giyera puppeteering him. He turns the gun on Banks himself next.
  • Morality Pet: Thomas is the only person that Grant cares about — albeit in an extremely twisted way — despite the fact that Grant indeed was the one who pushed him down the well.
  • Neck Lift: Coulson catches Hunter by the neck and pushes him against a pillar (with his normal hand, not his cybernetic prosthesis) for failing to kill Ward, since he's still upset about Ward killing Rosalind. Bobbi talks him down.
  • Never My Fault: Thomas mentions that this was always the most disturbing thing about Grant. He always twists his memories so that he's the aggrieved party. In this episode, Ward often refers to S.H.I.E.L.D. murdering Kara. It is true that May tricked him into it, but he makes no mention of the fact that he's the one who shot her.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Malick tells Ward that one of the reasons he wants Ward to lead the team through the portal (and be a partner in command in general) is that he isn't a soldier while Ward has proven himself to be one of the best field agents HYDRA has ever produced.
  • Not So Different: Ward says this word-for-word about him and Coulson. He's none too happy to find out how right he is when Coulson tells him he kidnapped Thomas. It's shown in a kind of funny way too when both of them have a temper tantrum and throw away their phones at one point.
  • Punch a Wall: Coulson does it with his robotic hand, no less, leaving a dent.
  • Reality Ensues: Coulson skydives into the portal from above... and is launched up from the other side at the same speed,note  eventually tumbling down a cliff and hitting his head on a rock. It's a miracle he was simply knocked out as a result. Thankfully, a sandstorm ensures that Ward and his team don't see any of this.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Coulson takes Bobbi and Hunter on an off-books mission to assassinate Ward. Even when the mission starts to get mixed into FitzSimmons's capture by HYDRA and their plans to re-open the portal to the alien world, it's clear Coulson isn't thinking clearly about anything other than taking Ward down.
  • Revenge by Proxy: Ward kills Rosalind to hurt Coulson for what he feels is S.H.I.E.L.D.'s role in Kara's death.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The five stones HYDRA extracted from the monolith are placed in a shallow circular basin. When they melt, they briefly form a pentagram. Appropriate, given they're bent on bringing a demon-equivalent through it.
  • Shout-Out: Upon encountering the Action Survivor Simmons, Ward states he likes the Furiosa vibe she has going.
  • Start of Darkness: Thomas confirms the infamous incident of the well was this for Grant. He never apologized or took responsibility for it, only saying he would never let his little brother be hurt again.
    Hunter: Pretty disturbing, coming from the guy who chucked you down a well.
  • Storming the Castle: S.H.I.E.L.D. prepares to do this, literally, with HYDRA's current base in the English castle from "Purpose in the Machine".
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: This trope is invoked by Ward when he kills Rosalind. It was deliberately to make Coulson watch her die.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Daisy tells Coulson that she completely understands how Ward was manipulated by Garrett into joining HYDRA, with a Call-Back to her own experience being taken in by her own mother, and that having a screwed-up childhood as both of them had explains why he turned out the way he did. She still doesn't think the adult Ward deserves any mercy.
  • Tempting Fate: When Rosalind says she plans to go back to the ATCU, Coulson is concerned that Malick could be on to her. Rosalind insists that it'll just be another day at work while she gathers information. She doesn't even have time to go into detail before she gets a bullet through the neck courtesy of Ward.
  • Time to Step Up, Commander: Mack is told this several times after being made Acting Director.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • Immediately on the heels of sniping Rosalind, Ward sends HYDRA goons to kill Coulson, who promptly defeats them all. Ward insists after the fact that he was merely keeping Coulson on his toes, though he'd have been pleased had they actually succeeded.
    • Malick dismisses S.H.I.E.L.D. as finished, ignoring Ward's warnings not to underestimate them.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Thomas does not want his brother's "help." He points out that when Grant killed their parents to "protect" Thomas, their dad needed a walker to get around.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Ward loses it after his phone call with S.H.I.E.L.D. late in the episode, and takes out his anger on Fitz and Simmons.
  • Wham Episode: Rosalind and Banks are killed. Fitz and Simmons are kidnapped. Mack is given leadership of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Acting Director. Ward, Fitz, and Coulson go through the portal.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Back in season one, Ward mentioned having a sister, but in this episode Thomas is treated as if he's Ward's only living relative. What happened to the sister?
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Several people point out that Coulson telling Ward that they'd gotten a trace on his phone was really stupid.
  • White Sheep: Thomas is the only member of the Ward household who's not an utterly awful human being.
    Thomas: Just because you grow up in a family of abusive monsters doesn't mean you have to become one.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Ward plays a simple one in the beginning. He needs Coulson alive so that he will perform a few very specific actions (sending FitzSimmons to investigate an old portal research site, to start), so he kills Rosalind to drive Coulson to despair. Then he sends his mooks to kill Coulson, knowing they'll fail — but if they succeed, he gets his closure. Malick lambasts him for this (even though Coulson survived), as the grander plan is more important than Ward's petty revenge.

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