‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ is notably less dull this week than many episodes this season have been. That’s two decent entries in a row. Could the show be on an upswing? Even if it continues, will it be enough to redeem the season?
On board the Russian submarine, The Superior and Dr. Radcliffe discuss their latest plans, which require them to capture an Inhuman. Radcliffe reveals that, among the other things he stole before defecting, he has some Terrigen crystals. If they can’t catch an Inhuman, they’ll make one.
The Superior sends Shockley (John Pyper-Ferguson) to Senator Nadeer’s office. Reasoning that if Nadeer’s brother was an Inhuman, she must have the same Inhuman genes in her blood, Shockley pulls out a Terrigen crystal and smashes it on her desk, releasing the mist inside. Worried that he’s right, Nadeer panics. However, the mist has no effect on her. She’s not an Inhuman! Shockley, on the other hand, reacts in horror when his own body starts cocooning. A few seconds later, he explodes and blows up the entire office, killing the Senator.
Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Jemma analyzes the super-serum that Director Mace has been dosing himself with and warns him that it’s actually very dangerous. He could have a heart attack at any time if he keeps juicing up. “You’ll never be Captain America,” she tells him. This makes Mace very angsty. He struggles throughout the episode with the idea that he won’t be a hero anymore, just an administrator. Because he’s a jock douche, he repeatedly draws football analogies about transitioning from quarterback to coach. He wishes he could still be the quarterback.
Despite blowing himself up, Shockley survives his transformation into an Inhuman. This is his power, to be able to explode and then reconstitute his body afterwards. That seems like a pretty raw deal, as far as superhuman powers go. Having nowhere else to go and no idea what to do now, he returns to the Watchdogs’ warehouse base and reports to The Superior, who’s upset that he killed Nadeer when he was ordered to bring her in alive. Shockley lies and tells him that Nadeer herself exploded and he doesn’t remember how he survived.
Not long after The Superior leaves, S.H.I.E.L.D. raids the warehouse and takes Shockley into custody on Zephyr One. When Daisy tries to interrogate him about where Dr. Radcliffe and the ‘Darkhold’ are, Shockley insists that he’ll only talk to the Director. Unaware that he’s now an Inhuman, Daisy brings Mace down to the cargo hold to speak with him. Shockley tries to lure Mace in close so that he can blow up and assassinate him. Fortunately, Fitz and Jemma figure out that Shockley caused the explosion in Nadeer’s office. Mace, still wanting to play hero, grabs Shockley and tosses him into a containment pod, then quickly ejects it off the plane, upon which it explodes without causing serious harm to anyone else.
Even though he exploded in mid-air, Shockley’s body re-forms on the ground (minus clothes, because they got blown up). He thinks that’s a pretty cool trick and starts to enjoy his powers. He calls The Superior and confesses that he’s an Inhuman now, but assures him that he’s still a soldier devoted to the cause.
Happy for a moment with the belief the Shockley is dead, the S.H.I.E.L.D.ies soon realize that he’s not. Daisy believes she may be able to use counter-vibrations to defuse him. She gets her chance to try when Shockley blows up a motel in the middle of nowhere to draw S.H.I.E.L.D. attention. This leads to a face-off between him and Daisy. She hits him with a vibration blast that makes him explode. He re-forms in front of her and she does it again… and again… and again… This doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.
As Mace, Fitz and Jemma stand around watching this, they detect a convoy of trucks coming toward them. It’s The Superior and the Russians. Mace orders the others to stay back and then, ignoring Jemma’s warnings, juices up with the super-serum. He allows a truck to plow right into him and grinds it to a halt.
With that distraction, Fitz and Jemma fetch their own truck, which has a big round pod on the back that vacuums in Shockley after he explodes, trapping him inside when he re-forms.
Mace fights the Russians for a bit, but eventually they taze and capture him. To be continued.
The Pain in Spain
The B-storyline this week finds Coulson and Mack in Spain to track down a woman named Agnes, an Australian ex-pat living in the country. She’s the original model that Radcliffe based the Aida android on. They approach her and reveal themselves, then show her photos of Aida. Agnes claims that she had a falling out with Radcliffe and hates him now, but she has no interest in helping them catch him. She’s suffering from an inoperable brain tumor and just wants to live out the rest of her days in peace. One thing she points out, however, is that Radcliffe can’t handle failure. That’s one of his weaknesses.
Obsessed with rescuing May, Coulson wants to arrest Agnes and force her to talk, but Mack talks him out of it. Instead, Coulson apologizes to her and tells her about May. Finally, she agrees to help.
Agnes sends Radcliffe a message asking to meet. He’s clearly in love with her and flies right to Spain. He’s not quite dumb enough to meet at the restaurant where Coulson has set up a sting. Instead, he lures her to a waiting car. Radcliffe promises her that he’s found a way to save her. Agnes pulls out her earpiece and ditches S.H.I.E.L.D. to go with Radcliffe. Coulson is disappointed, but he understands why she did it. He’s actually not upset, because a comment Radcliffe made confirms that May is still alive. Coulson has hope.
Radcliffe can’t cure Agnes’ body, but he can upload her memories and personality to “The Framework,” the V.R. world that Aida has constructed (and which May is currently trapped in). Her body will die, but her mind will live on and be happy. Agnes accepts, and her body passes away shortly after he plugs her in.
Aida, who has been behaving oddly ever since she found out that she’s not unique, steals a necklace from Agnes’ body and puts it on herself.
Question: If Radcliffe built a robot to be a perfect replica of his ex-girlfriend, why doesn’t she also speak with an Australian accent? Why change that, if the whole point was to pretend that Agnes was still with him?
I can’t say I care for the direction the show is heading toward making this season a big love story between Coulson and May. I just don’t buy that at all. Their chemistry has never been romantic, and I feel like it’s being shoehorned in now. I much prefer the way May’s love life was handled in Season 1, when she had the secret affair with Ward (before learning he was evil). She wanted something and she took it, and she didn’t feel any angst over it or want to make a big deal of it.
Aside from that, this is probably a better than average episode for this season. The Shockley stuff is pretty good and I rarely felt too bored. I’ll take whatever entertainment I can still get out of this show.