Welcome back, True Believers! Last week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode saw the return of Patton Oswalt’s Agent Koenig and with it, a much needed boost to the fourth season overall after the loss of Ghost Rider. Luckily, “Boom” manages to take some of that goodwill from the previous installment and apply it here, even if Koenig is nowhere to be found. “Boom” finds the team dealing with a new threat incorporated into the Watchdog pack in the form of the recurring character, Tucker Shockley, who is now gaining abilities thanks to an unexpected reaction to Terrigen Crystals that Radcliffe had kept on hand during his time as Hive’s second in command. Shockley finds himself granted the ability to explode and reconstitute his body molecule by molecule, which is demonstrated later on in the episode thanks to some nifty special effects. The change of character for Tucker — becoming the thing he hates and has done nothing but hunt since appearing this season — is an interesting one in that he essentially becomes a literal suicide bomber for the Watchdogs
Speaking of the villains of this season, I think it’s important to take a look into the Watchdogs once again. In the previous seasons, Hydra, and factions of Hydra, acted as a major antagonist to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but their presence wore thin after three seasons of antics. With the Watchdogs, we’re now presented with an organization that has a slightly different modus operandi in hating anything Inhuman, but their characters are extremely lacking. Senator Nadeer and her cronies were hardly ones to chew scenery in the way that some of their predecessor villains did, though at least Radcliffe does manage to inject a dry British wit that adds an entertaining layer. Aida continues to grapple with the humanity given to her by the Darkhold, but it’s an extremely slow burn and is hardly as interesting as it could be. I think that when you’re presented with a villain, they need to be as compelling and have as much personality as the heroes they’re squaring off with. The reality here is that the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a whole is suffering from this problem more often than not.
Onto our episode, though, as Coulson and Mack attempt to find Agnes, the woman who Radcliffe based Aida’s appearance and personality on. Agnes, as it turns out, is in Spain, attempting to forget her original work on the Life Model Decoy problem, and enjoying her final days as she’s suffering from an inoperable brain tumor. Coulson and Mack find themselves on different sides with her case, as Coulson attempts to gain any information from her about May’s whereabouts that he can, while Mack asks Phil to respect her final days. In the past, Coulson’s love for his teammates can often be seen as a weakness in that it may go a bit too far when taking into consideration the fate of the overall mission. Here, this is a compelling angle to examine, as Mack is simply attempting to leave a dying woman her last days as stress-free as possible, to the detriment of May’s life. Much like Captain America: Civil War, both sides make a strong argument for their cases here.
Back to the Watchdogs side of the equation, Tucker manages to get his abilities and inadvertently kills Senator Nadeer in the process. I was no big fan of Nadeer’s character, and I suppose the subplot with her Inhuman brother won’t entirely be resolved, so I’m glad they were able to shuffle her off and shift focus. Shockley, with his newfound abilities, leads the team to the middle of the desert where they attempt to use Quake’s powers to take him down a peg. Finding the right vibration to trigger his explosions, Daisy tries tiring him out as a last resort. With some quick thinking, and a sacrifice play on the part of Mace, they manage to wrangle Tucker into a trap, capturing him Ghostbusters style. Of course, Mace’s sacrifice here allows him to get captured by the Watchdogs, a big win for the antagonistic conglomerate, and the idea presented earlier in the episode that Mace’s injections could also cause cardiac arrest make for another obstacle the team has to handle.
“Boom” ends with Agnes going along with Radcliffe to be inserted into the “Framework,” the same mental trap currently holding May hostage. The electronic setting promises to grant Agnes an electronic immortality, bypassing her fate. Our last shot lingers on Aida taking Agnes’ necklace, clearly the effects of the Darkhold making her more human as days go on. Ultimately, another solid episode from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. While not exactly hitting the series’ high notes with this latest installment, it manages to keep things steady and enjoyable with some nice humor and action along the way.
Rating: ★★★ Good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– It’s interesting to see how the Sokovia Accords apply to the Agents’ side of the universe, as Nadeer has a constitutional right to look at the identities and whereabouts of the Inhumans across the globe. I doubt that these will ever be addressed fully on say the Netflix side of the coin, but it’s still nice to see some of the nuances explored.
– The “Framework” certainly gave me a Black Mirror San Bernardino vibe.
– Still really digging Mace’s costume here.
– While not exactly stated to be Nitro, Tucker’s powers are on point for the major villain in the Marvel universe. Nitro had a long history in the comics, fighting a ton of heroes but most notably killing the original Captain Marvel (not the one coming up with her own movie in the MCU)
– Simmons: “You’ll never be Captain America.”
– Agent: “Director, we have to keep you on schedule.”
Mace: “Oh thank God!”
– Coulson: “I’ll mark you down as shocked but not surprised, but not surprising.”
– Mace: “So I guess now I’m the team mascot.”
– Daisy: “Villain-on-villain violence?”
– Simmons: “We test everything old school, like in the chem lab at our old school.”
– Mace: “We can try out one of my other super powers: persuasion.”
– Simmons: “Don’t do that!”
Fitz: “What? Save the day?”