Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ features a prison break this week. And yet Wentworth Miller showed up on a DC Comics’ show instead on the same night. What a missed opportunity.
The episode opens with a flashback in which Lucy and Joseph, the scientists from Momentum Labs, search for and find the mystical ‘Darkhold’ book buried in the basement of its previous holder. As they open it, the pages appear blank at first, until they suddenly fill in with text. As it turns out, the two of them each see the text in a different language. “Are you not seeing what I’m seeing?” Lucy asks.
Not answered here: Where did this damn book come from in the first place?
In the present day, the recently-awoken Joseph is freaking out. Ghost Lucy has infected him with some of her madness and he sees everyone with zombie faces. Coulson struggles to question him about what he did with the book until Joseph finally reveals that he put it back where they originally found it. Joseph then dies, before he can tell them where that is.
Meanwhile, Lucy finds the book again and excitedly opens it, but the pages remain blank this time. She can’t read it in her ghostly form. She will need someone to read it to her – someone who will understand what it says. There’s really only one person left who can do that and is still corporeal.
Coulson decides that it would be best if he kept Director Mace in the dark about this whole operation, for the purposes of plausible deniability. Reasoning that Lucy is liable to still want revenge against Robbie’s uncle Eli, who worked with her in the lab and put her husband in the coma, Coulson and May head to the prison to spring him. Robbie and Daisy are to remain on the plane, much to Robbie’s disgruntlement. Fitz whips up an antidote to the ghost madness that must be injected (via an EpiPen-like device) into the base of the skull. That sounds unpleasant, but the alternative is probably worse.
Unfortunately, when Coulson and May get to the prison, they find that Lucy and her fellow scientist ghosts beat them there and have already infected the warden and all of the guards. The two of them get trapped in the warden’s office fighting off crazed guards. Mack leads an extraction team to get them out. He brings Daisy and Robbie, but is a little wary of doing so. He worries that Robbie won’t be able to control his demon, and that Daisy will use her powers to harm either herself or innocent people. Daisy puts on the latest gauntlet wristguards that Jemma made for her and says that she doesn’t need her powers to fight.
When they get inside, they discover that a number of prisoners have Watchdog tattoos, and realize that the group has been recruiting from the prison population. Robbie spots a gang-banger in a cell and recognizes his tattoos as being from the crew that ran down his little brother and tried to kill him. His instinct is to kill the guy, but he suppresses it for now.
Lucy sees the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and opens cell doors in their block, causing a prisoner riot. Fritz is monitoring the situation from S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ and has hacked into the prison network. In order to get Mack and the others to safety, he has no choice but to open all the doors in the wing, which lets them slip away from immediate danger but also makes the general situation a lot worse.
A scientist ghost attacks Mack. Robbie grabs a chain that conveniently happens to be lying around (what kind of prison is this?), sets it aflame and uses it to kill the ghost. Another one comes out and he has to kill that one as well, but not before it infects Mack, who has to jab the antidote into his own skull.
Daisy meets up with Coulson and May. The three of them are then chased into the prison cafeteria by a horde of angry and violent prisoners. Daisy shoves Coulson and May out the other door and locks it behind them, willing to sacrifice herself to save them. She single-handedly battles the entire mob without using her powers. Daisy takes down most of the inmates, but just as it looks like she’s about to be overwhelmed, May and Coulson work their way back into the room and help her clean up.
While that’s happening, Mack and Robbie spring Eli from his cell. On their way out of the prison, they walk past the gang-banger Robbie saw earlier. Robbie makes an excuse to stay behind and tells his uncle to go on ahead and catch up with Mack. He then talks threateningly with the gang-banger, who was just sitting in his cell reading a book and minding his own business while everyone else rioted. The man insists that he wasn’t involved in the hit on Robbie, but Robbie is overcome with a thirst for vengeance, so he flames out and kills the guy anyway.
By the time Robbie gets outside, he learns that his uncle isn’t with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. Lucy intercepted him and shoved him inside the back of an ambulance. If Robbie hadn’t gotten sidetracked on his little revenge mission, he could have been there to protect Eli.
Of course, Lucy doesn’t want to just kill Eli. She needs him to read the ‘Darkhold’ book for her, help return her to corporeal form, and finish the project they were originally working on.
Live and in Color
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Jemma is very worried about her upcoming lie detector test, and she’s upset at Fitz for putting her in a position where she’ll have to lie. Fortunately, she gets pulled out of the interrogation early by Director Mace, who needs her help preparing for a televised debate against the Inhuman-hating Senator Nadeer. Jemma offers to prep him with lots of facts and statistics about Inhumans, but he has a better idea. He’s going to put a comm in his ear so she can Cyrano him the information live during the debate. (Isn’t that cheating?)
Mace is a real smooth-talker and, with Jemma’s help, counters every argument Nadeer throws at him. However, she blindsides him with a question about S.H.I.E.L.D. activities at the prison in California, which he knows nothing about. He bluffs his way through an answer by saying that he can’t comment on current operations.
When Nadeer really hammers him with her hate rhetoric, Mace surreptitiously turns off his comm and publicly comes out as an Inhuman on national television.
The debate is a success and Mace thanks Jemma for helping him. However, he’ll need her to go back and take that lie detector test again because some of the results were questionable. Jemma then has the stones to blackmail her boss. She says that she detected micro-expressions he made while telling the heroic story about how he saved a family in wartime. She knows that the story was a lie. Mace gets the message and exempts her from further testing.
Later, Mace secretly meets with Senator Nadeer. They don’t seem to be such bitter rivals after all. Did they stage the whole debate? She confronts him with security footage of one of his S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives (Robbie) murdering a defenseless inmate. Nadeer threatens to take this to the press, unless she gets something she wants. This isn’t Mace’s day after all.
This is basically a filler episode that doesn’t advance the season’s plot much. We spend an entire hour breaking Eli out of prison only for him to get snatched away afterwards. That whole storyline really could have been condensed to a single 2- to 3-minute scene. I suppose it’s useful that we get a little extra background information about the ghosts and the ‘Darkhold’ book, but I still don’t much care for the ghosts.
Daisy’s fight scene is pretty cool, but the show still has yet to top that great single-take action sequence back in Season 2.