Our journey on the android train continues with this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as we start “Wake Up” with a flashback, showing how Agent May was originally captured by Radcliffe and Aida. To be fair, this look back into the kidnapping of May didn’t necessarily answer any questions that we didn’t already know, as it hardly presented us with any new information. What it does do, however, is at least show us the rift (in terms of temperament) between Radcliffe and Aida, with the good doctor trying his best to keep May alive while our favorite malevolent robot simply is trying to do away with her all together. The duo plans to use the Darkhold for their own nefarious purposes, which again is a nice marriage of the mechanical and the macabre with robotic interests looking to use a supernatural tool.
The part of the episode that revolves around May centers on her simulations created by the two antagonists, attempting to find the right combination of illusions to keep her under their control without much pushback. It’s an interesting reveal to see exactly what is needed in order to keep her believing the lie, which in this case is re-creating a scenario from her past: turning her failure in Bahrain into a success where she manages to now save the young girl she had once lost. While the idea and follow-through of these events was successful enough, it ultimately felt like a transparent attempt to eat away the minutes of the episode by exploring May’s escape attempt for several minutes, only to have the rug taken out from underneath the viewers to reveal what’s actually going on. While I can understand the need to present us with what was going on in May’s head, it did drag on, and I think the same message could have been presented in half the time.
Meanwhile, Coulson, Talbot, and Mace meet to discuss the court date coming up for Daisy, following her renegade exploits as Quake, as they attempt to bring her back to the fold of legality. This makes for a nice story beat in that Daisy is, logically, taken to task for the fact that she stole from the U.S. government, even though her reasons were altruistic in a “Robin Hood” sort of way. I originally thought that Daisy’s time as a rogue agent was cut a little too short, though this court scene manages to make up for that with her feet being held to the fire, as Talbot and Mace are unable to do much other than simply shake their heads. Things in this plotline get even more interesting when Coulson and Yo-Yo are nabbed attempting to put cameras into Senator Nadeer’s office. The team has a plant, another LMD replacement courtesy of Radcliffe and Aida, so it should be interesting to see who that is in a Battlestar Galactica sort of way.
The brightest side of the episode once again falls in the realm of Mack and the further exploration of his backstory. After consummating his relationship with Yo-Yo, Mack leaves for mysterious reasons, leading the Inhuman speedster to believe that he’s courting some other women around the block. Of course, it’s revealed that Mack’s disappearances are altruistic in nature, with him making visits to his ex-wife to mourn the loss of their daughter. While this wasn’t truly built up or anything, it did feel earned, and added an extra layer of emotion and character to Mack that we hadn’t seen from other characters in the roster. Though Mack didn’t start off with the team from the very beginning, he slowly but surely has become my favorite, through his past and his witty and delightful character. Hopefully, Mack is able to stick around as a member of the team for the long haul, or however much longer the series runs for.
I think another major problem lies once again with Nadeer and her legitimacy as an antagonist, though the fact that she’s hinting at an even greater “big bad” at least managed to pique my curiosity slightly. The setup for her character is all there, but we’ve been down this road so many times before that it’s tough to rally behind a villain that you don’t also root for. If she had a personality that matched her wicked ways, then we might be cooking with gas. Instead, she comes across as bland and uninteresting at best. Regardless of her Avengers-crossed origin story, there’s just not enough here to really push her to the forefront.
Ultimately, the latter half of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fourth season continues to not match it’s first, sputtering when it should be in a full sprint to the finish line.
Rating: ★★ Fair
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– Nice reference to the fact that Deathlok technology was used in creating the Life Model Decoys thanks to Fitz and Simmons working with Radcliffe
– Speaking of Fitz and Simmons, the neverending drama of Fitz’s semi-betrayal did feel real here as he deals with the mistake of trapping Radcliffe
– Any guesses on which team member is currently an LMD outside of May?
– Anxious to see where the May LMD goes from here considering her cover has yet to be blown, yet show knows she’s a robot all the same.
– Coulson: “I wouldn’t dare, you’d rip my ass!”
– Yo-Yo: “I’m happy turtle man came out to play this morning.”
– Coulson: “Which part is the second part again?”
Talbot: “The stupid part.”
– Talbot: “Half the time, I’m dealing with the steaming pile of fart pebbles you give me!”
– Ada: “I promise to make this quick and painless.”
May: “Thanks, I’m not worried.”
– Coulson: “You know, no one likes a smart ass.”
Yo-Yo: “That hasn’t been my experience.”
– Coulson: “Cauliflower isn’t great, today was a kick in the balls.”