Monday, April 15, 2024

Agents of SHIELD Nukes A Deus Ex Machina

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Now that felt like a Midseason Finale. Not two episodes ago where the Agents of SHIELD’s cliffhanger fell flat, but right here. Right here, where apparently Agent Melinda May has been taken hostage by AIDA the Evil Sex Robot!

What is it with Agents of SHIELD and taking May out of the equation this season? First, she gets infected with fear. Now, she’s being held hostage by the Evil Sex Robot. I mean, really, we all knew AIDA would go rogue sooner rather than later but I think this would’ve landed better if it were, yes, a Midseason Finale.

It has all the makings of one. We’ve got the Eli Morrow plot line getting wrapped up in “oh we’ll get back to that later” style and Daisy returning as one of the titular Agents of SHIELD. We had some pretty cool action set pieces and a literal nuking to the face of a literal God from the Machine.

It’d make the hiatus just that much more satisfying to get the feeling that, aside from May’s predicament, Agents of SHIELD is through the worst of it. As far as they know, of course. But, that’s not what we got, because I guess a full month of wondering what the hell Robot May is doing when nobody is looking isn’t cool enough. Or not their cup of tea, I dunno.

The AIDA Situation

Let’s be real for a moment: Jeffrey totally wanted to bang AIDA. He would not have mentioned that he was “mildly” attracted to her if that wasn’t on his mind. So, yeah, Discount Bruce Wayne, you’ve got about as much luck with women as your namesake! Except, unlike that other guy, you bailed before you got stabbed in the back. Maybe you should give Coulson an extra thank you, huh?

Maybe a wine basket? A novelty shirt? Something fun, but classy.

Anyway, after that brief opening scene where Morrow displays his mastery over the science of Alchemy by filling a man’s lungs with uncut diamonds—how badass was that?!—he goes back to building his Doomsday Device.

We then cut to Jeffrey, May, Phil and Burrows talking about PR things. They’ve managed to track Eli and the “Chinatown Gang” back to a warehouse in L.A. and everyone’s getting ready to strike. Burrows is asked to leave, and Phil comes clean about AIDA, leading to the exchange mentioned above.

What I continue to find refreshing, no matter how many times I say it, is that Jeffrey is really just trying to do right by his team. Sure, he freaks out because he is super correct to wonder if everyone suddenly forgot about Ultron, but he understands that when the big guns need to come out Phil has the biggest. Plus there’s that whole prisoner exchange that gets cleared with Simmons, so hopefully Phil got something out of that, too.

There are consequences to the risks he takes, even if they’re mostly the right calls in the end. Of course, that’s something he already knew, but after a few years of being Director of SHIELD it’s something he needs to relearn just a bit more.

May goes off to retrieve AIDA and Radcliffe, while Phil goes to lead the assault team.

Must Go Faster, Must Go Faster

After Jeffrey speaks to a yet again surprisingly calm and collected Radcliffe about AIDA and the Darkhold—are we sure Radcliffe isn’t an android?—we switch gears to Robbie, Mack, Yoyo and Daisy.

Mack is overly concerned with Yoyo, who is so tired of his “will they, won’t they” act that she keeps rebuffing him. Yoyo enters the building first, using her super-speed to do some recon…except she accidentally ignites some Cesium and causes a fiery explosion.  It’s unfortunate that I can’t really enjoy these Yoyo moments as much as I’d like; The Flash far ahead of Agents of SHIELD in capturing how cool a speedster can move.

By comparison, the flat looking slow-mo effect just looks…boring. Not very super at all.

Anyway, Robbie takes over because apparently everyone forgot he was nearly unstoppable and there was zero risk in sending him in first. He punches his way through the “Chinatown Gang”, who seem to have forgotten that they own and operate firearms and opt for punching the Ghost Rider instead. Not that guns would do anything, but it seemed so strange that they didn’t at least try.

And then Robbie gets stuck in the Doomsday Device with a giant carbon spear that Eli was pretty sure wouldn’t kill him.

Nuclear Football

While all of this is going on, everyone else on the ground team has been noticing random tremors that barely register on the richter scale. But, since it’s L.A. it’s not that weird. Even though Daisy keeps reassuring them that it isn’t her, everyone keeps staring at her.

Once Fitz gets a good look at the Doomsday Device, he realizes something that I was honestly thinking about while he was talking about how Morrow was working his way through the periodic table: why didn’t he just skip to plutonium and make a nuke?

Turns out, he did just that!

At this point, Jeffrey decides that it’s time to put on the Batsuit suit up and show the world just how powerful the new Director of Shield really is. Because if they’re going to get that bomb out of there, they’re going to need to do it as a team! That trusts each other.

So that they can triumph.

Eli Morrow Is Mad As Hell

So here’s the part that I found particularly, and surprisingly, poignant. Eli’s pursuit of power is motivated by the fact that everyone around him, from high school through grad school, thought he was a liar. A thief. A cheater. That he had no idea what he was talking about, and that they were doing him a favor just by talking to him. Or employing him.

That he was lesser than everyone, just because he’s latino. Of course, he never actually says that’s the reason, but the intent is obvious. It reminds me so much of another comic book character’s reasoning for becoming a supervillain that I’m not entirely convinced they didn’t just rip off Captain Marvel #10 when writing this episode.

Of course, Robbie either doesn’t care about all of that or is too busy not dying from the giant carbon spikes in his body to argue race politics, which gives Coulson the rest of the Agents of SHIELD time to get into position.

Daisy, Radcliffe, AIDA, Fitz and Simmons are operating in the basement, setting up the transdimensional portal to swallow the nuke before it goes off. Meanwhile, Yoyo, Mack and Jeffrey are hiding in the shadows. Coulson gets to be the point man this time, bringing no weapon other than his bionic hand—which he doesn’t use—and a length of chain. After Phil listens to Morrow’s nonsense about nuking the city and being a God, he gives the signal.

And then everything stops.

Yoyo and Daisy Save The Day

Yoyo pulls a Flash and runs into the room, moving people out of harms way, slapping a fancy super-magnet onto Morrow and handing Coulson a pistol before zipping back to her starting position. People go flying, and Daisy nearly passes out from all of the earthquakes she’s been absorbing. But, they manage to buy enough time for the portal to open, even if they “lose” AIDA in the process.

Who was programmed to feel pain because it would make her a more believe able decoy. Which is just…okay, I guess? The synthetic blood makes sense but why pain? Why not just program the reaction to pain, rather than pain itself? Why must you torture your Evil Sex Robot, Radcliffe!?

Anyway, Robbie finally manages to transform but opts not to pull himself out of the Doomsday Device. Instead, he forces his uncle to take his own nuke to the face, and they vanish into the portal just before everyone is vaporized.

Wasting no time at all, Daisy sprints outside and releases the energy she was building up, rocketing her absurdly high into the sky. The press swarms her when she lands and Jeffrey, being Jeffrey, exploits this opportunity to make himself, his Agents of SHIELD and Daisy look like heroes.

Agents of SHIELD, And Also Robot May

After all is said and done, we join our heroes back at SHIELD HQ where Daisy accepts that, despite her misgivings, she didn’t just say she was back for the camera. She missed her family, and they missed her. Also, she gets her own Spectrum of Security badge! Level Blue, which is apparently nonsense to everyone. Hey, at least they didn’t forget about it, eh?

Yoyo confronts Mack, and then they start makin’ which is, y’know great for them. Took them long enough. Jeez. Oh and also May’s an android and AIDA snapped Burrow’s neck.

As for when they switched May out for the Robot May, I’m guessing it was when she went to go grab her and Radcliffe but…how did Radcliffe not notice that? Really just lends more reasoning to the fact that, yeah, that’s not Radcliffe. It’s another android! Man, I hope they go full invasion of the body snatchers here.

That’d be sweet.

So, yeah, in the end: Fun, but once again really toeing that line between great and mediocre.

Images courtesy of Marvel and ABC

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