‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ 4.03 Recap: “There’s an Old Friend Back in Town”

Just the other day, I expressed my relief that ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ finally, mercifully killed off one of the most annoying characters on that show. Then what happens? He has to turn up ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ too. I just can’t get away from this kid!

I’m almost certainly being unfair to poor Lorenzo James Henrie. The material he’s given to deliver is probably not the actor’s fault. And honestly, nothing his character on ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ has done so far is anywhere near as irritating as Psycho Chris on his last show. Nonetheless, just seeing his face and hearing his voice are enough to remind me of how much I hated him there. That’s the kind of unintended baggage the producers of this series surely don’t want viewers to carry over.

Henrie plays Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes’ younger brother Gabe. The main plot of episode ‘Uprising’ has a terrorist group using EMPs to cause blackouts in major cities across the globe. This leads to rioting, looting and other unrest. When one hits Los Angeles, only pre-1980 cars such as Robbie’s continue to work. Robbie and Daisy encounter and have to fight off some violent punks on the street. Every time Daisy uses her telekinesis powers, her bones get weaker and more brittle. She breaks her arm, but can’t go to a hospital (both because there’s no power and because she’s a fugitive), so Robbie drops her off at his house with Gabe while he goes out to keep his neighborhood safe.

Even though Robbie hasn’t revealed his Ghost Rider identity to his brother, Gabe is smart enough to figure out that Daisy is the Inhuman fugitive known as Quake. He tells her to leave his brother alone. By the time Robbie gets back, Daisy is gone. Gabe lies and says he was napping and doesn’t know where she went.


The first blackout hits Miami as Elena (“Yo-Yo”) is attending a bridal shower for an old friend who doesn’t know she’s an Inhuman. At first, they think the power loss is just an inconvenience, until they witness a helicopter fall out of the sky and crash into a building.

A new terror group calling itself the Inhuman Resistance claims responsibility for the blackouts and threatens to unleash more every hour. This creates a lot of tension among members of the populace who are already wary about Inhumans. A race-baiting U.S. Senator named Nadeer (Parminder Nagra from ‘Alcatraz’ and ‘The Blacklist’) goes on television to stir up anti-Inhuman sentiment. This causes big problems for new S.H.I.E.L.D. director Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara), who’s worried about a PR backlash on the eve of his planned public announcement that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been officially reconstituted as a government agency. Mace orders Coulson, Mack and Fitz to go to Miami and find the source of the EMP.

Coulson is preoccupied worrying about May. When he presses Mace to tell him where she’s been taken, the Director says that she’s under observation at the CDC. (Why all the secrecy about it, then?) When one of the Chinese gangsters suffering the same illness that May has dies, this puts an urgent countdown clock on finding a cure for her. With Mace’s permission, Jemma works with Dr. Radcliffe on a longshot idea she has.

Elena’s building is invaded by armed thugs who say they have reliable intel than an Inhuman is in there. When Elena uses her super-speed to take some of the bad guys’ guns, her friend freaks out and gives her away. Fortunately, Mack and Coulson arrive in time to save them. After defeating the baddies, they discover that the men are part of the anti-Inhuman terror group called the Watchdogs. They’ve blamed the EMPs on Inhumans as misdirection to trigger a war between humans and Inhumans.

Radcliffe and Jemma determine that May’s brain is in a hyperactive state that causes waking nightmares where she can’t distinguish reality from fantasy. (I feel like May would still be a calm and collected badass even in her nightmares, so I don’t entirely buy this storyline.) Radcliffe wants to “reboot” her like a computer, which would entail intentionally killing her and then resuscitating her a couple moments later. Jemma is inexplicably on-board with this totally insane plan. Radcliffe administers a drug that stops May’s heart. They wait a minute, and then Jemma prepares the defibrillator paddles to jumpstart her again. Unfortunately, just then an EMP hits and knocks out their power. The paddles are useless. In a panic, Jemma immediately begins CPR.

In Miami, Fritz has no luck getting the power back on. He determines that the city wasn’t just hit with a single EMP, but a continuous repeating EMP that makes efforts to restart equipment fail. He can’t use his computer or any of his gadgets, and has to do a bunch of math the hard way, with a pencil and paper, plus the help of a MacGyver’ed compass he throws together, to figure out where the EMP device is.

As Jemma futilely continues chest compressions on May, Radcliffe remembers that he can pull the power core of our his android Aida to charge the defibrillator. He does, and it works. May is instantly shocked back to life. Her brain is even descrambled, though she has no idea where she is or what happened.

Fitz finds the EMP. Coulson, Yo-Yo and Mack take out some goons guarding it. Fitz turns it off and all the power to the city comes right back on. (I don’t think that’s how EMPs actually work, but I’m no scientist.)

Once this mess is cleaned up, not just in Miami but in every affected city, Director Mace makes a public address to exonerate Inhumans from responsibility for the attacks, and to reveal that S.H.I.E.L.D. is back in business. Coulson has mixed feelings about going public. He says that he liked working in the shadows.

Senator Nadeer goes on television afterwards to refute Mace’s claims and to spew a conspiracy theory about the Inhumans. When she’s done, we discover that Nadeer is in fact working for (or possibly even in charge of) the Watchdogs. She has a serious grudge against the Inhumans. In her home, the stone statue that used to be her brother still stands in the kitchen, exactly as he was when he was exposed to the Terrigen pathogen.

Episode Verdict

Undoubtedly, my bias against one supporting actor, based only on a character he played on a completely different show, is very petty and should not color my opinion of the entire episode. He doesn’t even play a very significant part in it. I understand that intellectually, nonetheless I still want to slap him whenever I see his smirking face.

That aside, this episode is decent enough, but I don’t feel that much in it feels very consequential, aside from the introduction of a new antagonist at the very end. If not for that, the episode seems mostly to be filler.


  1. Nagara

    I don’t get why they move the show to ten, yet decide to storm into a hostage situation with heavily homicidal thugs armed with a tire iron. Like a Saturday morning cartoon.

    • Guy

      The EMP knocked out their weapons. They only took icers…which apparently run on electronic tech for some reason. Why? Don’t ask questions. They don’t want us to think about it. Look at the glow stick. Muscle cars weaving through the streets. Intricate the fight choreography. Wham! Pow! What were we talking about?

      As for 10 pm, I’m pretty sure the hand stabbing during the hotel lobby fight was more worthy of the late timeslot than any gunplay would’ve been. Though the fingernail torture from a few seasons back is worse than anything we’re likely to see this year. I’m shuddering even remembering it.

  2. Andrea

    It’s not his fault, he is not the problem, he is not a bad actor. Fear the Walking Dead makes everyone look bad because they are such stupid characters. I like Agents of Shield and I think it was a wise decision on the actor’s part to leave the other one behind, poor guy got way too much hate for that character anyway. Just goes to show how well he did. Kudos Lorenzo, onwards and upwards from here kid.

  3. Guy

    The hotel lobby fight earned itself a nice cozy spot amongst the top 10 action sequences in the history of this show. There have been some damn good ones too.

    For a show as (sadly) under viewed as Agents of SHIELD is, with its end surely being in May, it’s nice to see these aspects aren’t slipping as of now. The CGI is still top-notch for TV, the stunts keep impressing by any standard and the production value hasn’t suffered at all. Those are not cheap standards to maintain. How profitable can the show be at this point? Corporate synergy is a helluva thing in that way.

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