Mace has been an interesting addition to the overall cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., acting as something of a “public relations” boost to the team and harboring super powers apparently thanks to his Inhuman origins. However, all is not as it seems as numerous secrets have been revealed about Director Mace, with “The Patriot” managing to let all the cats out of the bag. Jason O’Mara manages to deliver on all counts, highlighting the show’s tried and true humor while also presenting a secret menace that made itself clear when he was willing to make deals with the sinister Senator Nadeer. In this episode, we get to see Mace in the public spotlight, giving praise to Daisy after her run from the law for most of the early season, when Ghost Rider was still in the mix. Things then went awry as they mostly do on S.H.I.E.L.D., as a sniper attempts to take a shot at the Director and Daisy, with Mace’s quick actions managing to save them.
Daisy, in a flashy display, manages to take down the sniper and brings him back to headquarters for interrogation. While May and Daisy attempt to put him through the ringer in order to find out what he knows, it’s Simmons’ quick thinking by using the disembodied head of the “fake Aida” to fool him into talking under threat of death. Using the sniper as a springboard, let’s look into the “soup du jour” that are the villains of this second half (aside from the Life Model Decoy threat) in the Watchdogs. To be honest, this team of hatemongers just aren’t that interesting when it comes to the past threats such as Hive, the separate faction of S.H.I.E.L.D., Bill Paxton’s John Garrett, and so on. The Watchdogs only big difference from, say, Hydra is that their hatred is a little bit more laser-focused on the Inhumans rather than aspirations for world domination. However, what the Watchdogs are really missing is any real sense of threat to our heroes. They also could use some personality injected into their ranks.
The Watchdogs, at the very least, need a charismatic leader who can trade quips and barbs with our heroes, because the best they seemingly have right now is Senator Nadeer and that just isn’t cutting it. Having a bunch of armed goons impede the heroes path for the sake of story tends to get a bit dry, as it certainly did in this episode, regardless of the Mace reveals. On the non-powered villain side of the fence, things continue to peter out as well, though Aida and Dr. Radcliffe continues to be solid. Following the loss of the fake Aida during our previous adventure, Radcliffe and the true Aida continue to try to get their hands on the Darkhold in order to learn its secrets. Unfortunately for them, Agent May continues to stir from her Aida-induced coma and makes a jailbreak attempt, only to be taken down by the pair once again. As is the case with most killer robots, the robot May — the “LMayD” if you will — has her programming starting to go haywire due to her penchant towards violent tendencies. Obviously, the curtain is beginning to drop for May despite her attempts to further infiltrate the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D..
Meanwhile, Mace, Coulson, and Mack unfortunately find themselves throughout most of the episode dealing with being stranded in the woods while fighting the Watchdog hordes. Mace’s full secrets are revealed here: he is in fact not an Inhuman but rather a regular Joe who happens to take a drug cocktail that grants him superpowers. Given his powers thanks to General Talbot, the recurring antagonistic guest star and one time foe of the Incredible Hulk, Mace was meant to be something similar to Captain America rather than a being with alien-imbued powers. This once again harkens back to his comic book origins, as the identity of Patriot was a character that tried to step into the shoes of the star spangled hero once upon a time. S.H.I.E.L.D. has done a fantastic job of bringing in story aspects from the comics in inventive ways, and this one works just as well.
The shining star of the episode came in the form of General Talbot, who barked orders to agents around him as he carefully watched over the mission. I was reminded of J.K. Simmons interpretation of J. Jonah Jameson in the first Spider-Man films, and if you know me, that’s a huge kudos. While the series has always had something of an issue with its sprawling cast, it luckily has managed to find its groove during this season, giving everyone equal opportunity to have their story told along the way.
“The Patriot” does manage to stumble a little with the boring Watchdogs, but it does manage supply another solid episode of the series while giving us plenty to look forward to as we plunge further into the season.
Rating: ★★★ Good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– Poor Agent Burrows. All he wanted to do was check to see if they were trending, and instead got sucked out of an airplane. Rough way to go.
– I wonder if the exploding bullets were a nod to Netflix’s Luke Cage? Perhaps these were acquired from Diamondback as well? Would be interesting to know if any of the time frames match up between S.H.I.E.L.D. and its Netflix Marvel brethren.
– S.H.I.E.L.D., like the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, does really manage to stick the landing in the humor department, and this episode is no exception. If we were to get a buddy comedy series with Talbot and Mack, I think we’d be on easy street.
– Mack: “He gets any further up Talbot’s ass, he’ll need a snorkel.”
– Talbot: “I don’t trust little Ms. Richter Scale”
– Talbot: “Hey you, with the hair! Get me a coffee.”
– Talbot: “Agent May, aside from my mother, you are the single most intimidating woman I’ve ever met.”
– Coulson: “If a jet crashes in the woods and no one’s around to hear it, stay close to the guy with super strength.”
– Talbot: “We’re going to squeeze our prisoner like a wedge of lime on dollar beer night.”