‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Recap: “Uprising” — Blackout!

     October 11, 2016

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While Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has taken a guns-blazing approach to its premiere episodes, “Uprising” gives us a more restrained, albeit solid, entry into this latest, darker season. An Inhuman revolution has apparently begun, knocking out large portions of the country’s power supply, with even phones and cars unable to switch on, as helicopters spin out of control from the sky. Yo Yo, the Inhuman speedster, who acts as something of an “asset in the field” to the agents, is currently stuck with friends during a bachelorette party on a rooftop bar. Here we get something of a better, lighter look into the life of Yo Yo as she pals around and continues to adorably swoon over Mack.

Meanwhile, S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters is beginning to make the attempt to step back out of the shadows and reintroduce itself to the world. The idea of the television series struggling with what is currently transpiring with the movie universe has always been somewhat frustrating in regards to not feeling like it’s a two-way street. Whatever happens on S.H.I.E.L.D. will never be reflected in the movies themselves — such as Coulson’s return, the Inhuman epidemic, and so on — and this can take you out of the show from time to time. I wrote an article recently with regards to Netflix’s tightrope in balancing the continuity of the films and its series, and while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has attempted to walk the same path, it does sometimes make you aggravated when the series can go for such broad strokes to the universe without any mention in the movies themselves … but, I digress.

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Image via ABC

On the director front, Jeffrey Mace, the new head of S.H.I.E.L.D., continues to be a worthwhile addition to the cast as the charismatic newcomer. Now revealed to be the Marvel character, the Patriot (in name only, so far), Mace acts as a nice foil to Coulson, bringing him back from the edge, and managing to temper him when his judgement is clouded due to his personal attachments to his team and Daisy. Phil’s weakness in his almost dangerous admiration for his team has been an interesting character trait for Coulson during the show’s running time, showing a nice range for the character while also adding some chinks in his armor. Mace correcting Coulson on what actions he should be taking and reinforcing the idea that maybe he is better suited in a role that is not the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been working well for this fourth season.

With the blackout in full effect thanks to electro-magnetic pulses across the country, Daisy and Robbie are affected as well in California. Ghost Rider doesn’t appear at all in this episode, which I suppose was only inevitable as there’s only so much budget to bring to the table in having old flamehead dropping onto the scene, but Robbie manages to pick up some of the slack. While this storyline manages to give us more insight into the relationship that Robbie has with his brother, it stalls when it comes to the idea of looters during the blackout. When the power goes out, in broad daylight mind you, some comically over-the-top rioters decide now is the perfect time to smash car windows, yell incoherently, and steal teenagers’ wheelchairs. It’s a bit on the ham-fisted side to be honest, and is merely an avenue to give us a fight scene for Daisy and Robbie.

However, when it comes to those fight scenes, we at least get a good one from Coulson, Fitz, Mack, and the Watchdogs at the rooftop bar where Yo Yo and her pals are. The blackout also provides some nice scenes between the three male agents of the team, comically discussing how using slide rulers is their only option for discovering where the source of the EMP bursts is coming from. If anything, the chemistry between all our main characters has always been one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s strongest facets. The fight scene is your typical S.H.I.E.L.D. fare, bringing out a combination of special effects with Yo Yo’s speed and some good old-fashion butt kicking with Mack’s patented “Shotgun Axe” in full effect. It’s a nice and breezy combination of the show’s strengths to be sure.

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Image via ABC

Meanwhile, May is battling with her “ghost infection,” as Simmons realizes that being touched by a spirit means one’s eventual demise. With little recourse, Simmons gets in touch with Professor Radcliffe and the Life Model Decoy plotline is once again forced into the proceedings. The LMD subplot is an odd duck, contrasting against the spooky supernatural elements in play with Ghost Rider, the Darkhold, and so on. At the very least, it should be interesting to see how all these elements meld together as they all basically have in prior seasons. For now though it seems as if the Life Model Decoys are in place to create a new piece of drama to eventually split Fitz and Simmons for whatever reason, with Fitz’s reluctance to tell her what’s going on. May is “killed” in order to have the infection leave her body but in a neat twist, the power goes out thanks to the blackout making it impossible to bring her back by conventional means. Luckily, the LMD manages to give them a charge to bring her back to the land of the living and make her insanity a thing of the past.

Our episode comes to a close with Mack and Yo Yo coming to philosophical blows over the Inhuman’s assistance of Daisy, once again pushing their potential relationship to the back burner. Daisy leaves Robbie at the insistence of her brother, once he discovers she’s the rogue Quake, and S.H.I.E.L.D. goes public once again at the behest of Director Mace. This episode saw a distinct lack of the supernatural which hopefully is merely temporary as I feel that the Watchdogs and Inhumans have not yet been mined for their true potential.

Rating: ★★★ Good

Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A. 

– It should be interesting to see how the Director’s comic book identity comes into play, if at all, this season. He for sure wasn’t an Inhuman in the comics.

– What a missed opportunity to have the Ghost Rider villain, Blackout, be responsible for the blackouts!

– Yo Yo’s friend: “30 stories in heels?”
Yo Yo: “That’s why I don’t wear them.”

– Daisy:  “I like to vet my vengeance demons before I hop in the car with them.”

– Daisy: “Calm down before you go all Carrot Top again!”

– Coulson: “Our only hope is the Professor’s slide rule?”

– Coulson: “Could use a light source, like a guy with a flaming head.”

– Fitz: “It’s just rudimentary science…whatever, saving the day!”

– Coulson: “Ready when you are slide rule!”

– May: “Get this crap off of me!”

– Coulson: “Has everybody seen this guy but me??”

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