After taking some time to find its stride, ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘ really stepped its game up and finished up with a strong second half of their freshman season. To top things off, the show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe wrapped up with an even stronger finale that is sure to get fans plenty hyped for the recently announced Season Two.

Last week, Agent Coulson and his crew went old school by arming themselves with some Howling Commando gear courtesy of Agent Triplett’s grandfather in order to take down Garrett, Ward, and the rest of their HYRDA cronies. As they gathered intel and formulated a plan, we learned more about Grant Ward and how he came to be in tangled up in Garrett’s schemes, in addition to some fun facts about Skye and Garrett himself.

Now for the final episode until the fall, the fight we’ve all been waiting for is finally upon us. Coulson, May, Trip, Skye, Fitz, and Simmons are all backed against the wall and they’re prepared to do whatever they can to fight their way through Deathlok, Asgardian weaponry, and a psychotic HYDRA operative with a new lease on life looking to gain power and carry out some crazy agendas. Luckily, despite the team being split up with the odds against them, a familiar face comes back from the dead just to help them out.

The first thing that I have to say about this episode of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ is that it had Whedon written all over it. Somehow it managed to jump seamlessly from heavy death talk at the bottom of the ocean to fast-paced action scenes to unexpected hysterical beats to lighten the mood. Whether Joss Whedon had more of a hand in the finale or if Jed Whedon has just adapted a similar style from working with his brother so much over the years, this finale felt very familiar yet still new and exciting.

Part of that familiarity came from seeing Samuel L. Jackson and Clark Gregg together again as Nick Fury and Phil Coulson. Their back and forth banter was flawless and they haven’t skipped a beat from the last time we saw them in each other’s presence. Fury even brought Coulson a present in the form of the Destroyer gun from ‘The Avengers.’ Definitely great to see that brought back. And then as another added bonus, Bill Paxton was thrown in, which created some of my favorite moments from the series to date. All three men are such great actors and their interactions provided some of the funniest moments in the episode.

Speaking of Bill Paxton, I’ve said this before, but his portrayal of John Garrett was incredible. It was always really creepy to see him go from your best friend to a psychopath in a matter of seconds, but then when the GH.325 was added to his system, things went even more off the wall. He had those crazy eyes that you’d typically see on Nic Cage, except when Paxton does them, you’re not laughing at him. Once again, he is a great actor and it’s almost a bummer that we won’t be seeing him on the show anymore because he wasn’t just a run of the mill villain. He was highly complex and very entertaining to watch, even down to the way he went out — thanks to a perfectly timed laser blast from Coulson after a Darth Vader-eque rebuilding sequence. Again, yet another top notch gag in this episode.

While Garrett was dealt with, there is still a lot to do in terms of catching bad guys and rebuilding the broken organization, which leaves some prime storylines for the second season. It will be interesting to see how Coulson deals with being the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D., especially after that final scene that saw him carving out similar markings as Garrett, which seems to hint at the GH.325 affecting him now too. On top of that, the mystery of Skye’s origins gets even juicier as Raina is shown speaking to Skye’s father at the end of the episode. My money is still on Skye (and at this point, Raina) being an Inhuman. I guess we’ll have to wait until next season to really find out.

Even though many people dropped off of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ early on in the season, I’m glad that I stuck it out because the show greatly rewarded those fans that stuck around. Seeing how everything was connected in the end was very cool and overall the creators learned from their mistakes early on and really shaped it into a pretty awesome corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Hopefully they carry those lessons (and Patton Oswalt) into the second season because from the mid-season onward, I could not get enough of this show. Also, I’ll be looking forward to seeing how ‘Agent Carter’ compliments the world that ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has created since both seemingly will feature the building of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the challenges that come with that, among other things.

It’s been a good run, True Believers! What did you think about the first season of ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’? As a whole, did you think that Marvel Studios was successful with their first live action series? How do you think they’ll do with the second one, ‘Agent Carter’? We have plenty of time to discuss this until the Blu-Rays of this season are released, so feel free to discuss all this and more in the comments below.

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ starring Brett Dalton, Ming-Na Wen, Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge, Chloe Bennet, and Clark Gregg airs on Tuesdays at 8:00pm on ABC.