Spoilers ahead for “Broken Promises,” the latest episode of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
The short version: Aida makes her move on the Darkhold and raids the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, while Simmons and Daisy investigate the mysterious Inhuman Simmons helped save. Turns out, Dr. Radcliffe was behind Aida’s raid, and he already has a 2.0 version up and running.
The good: Mack’s robot uprising, Radcliffe’s big reveal
The A-story was largely framed around Aida’s raid of the S.H.I.E.L.D. base, and boy did they bring the evil robot jokes. It certainly could’ve gotten grating, but Mack and Yo-yo bring it with such good delivery (and a deep cut for Chopping Mall) that it just works. Oh, and the dig on Terminator Salvation? Priceless. Aida’s attack made for a great action set piece to frame up the episode, while also reminding everyone that Robbie Reyes’ Ghost Rider might be gone (for now) — but the Darkhold certainly remains in play. There was a lot of great action, fun jokes and the reveal that Mack is surprisingly prepared in the event that he’s killed by a robot.
But the biggest aha moment came in the final few minutes: The Darkhold didn’t actually turn Aida evil, and Dr. Radcliffe was pulling the strings all along. It was a well-handled twist, and just when it seemed like they were setting up evil robots to be the villains of this arc, it turned out to be Radcliffe behind it all. Which makes sense, because that’s never really been a major part of the Life Model Decoy storyline in the comics. It’s typically been a tool for stories about how you never really know who is right beside you, and with Faux May still undercover, that seems to be exactly where they’re going. One interesting note: The LMD software is scary good, because Faux May didn’t even know she was an android until Aida switched her off. An undercover agent who doesn’t even know they’re undercover? Doesn’t get better than that.
Other awesome things: Simmons getting a change to kick butt; it’s good to see Mace getting brought into the fold a bit more with the core team; Mack chopping off Aida’s head with his shotgun ax was awesome; Fitz using old macs to reboot the base was also awesome.
The bad: May in a closet, the Watchdogs
The other big story this week was Mace, Simmons and Daisy chasing after the evil senator to try and rescue her brother (you remember, the guy Simmons helped save from his Terrigen cocoon). Senator Nadeer has been pulling several of the strings by helping fund and support the anti-Inhuman terrorist group the Watchdogs, and that (somewhat) came to a head. But, it largely fell flat. Senator Nadeer comes off as a one-note hater, and just when it seemed like they might be giving her a bit more nuance as she finds the humanity in her Inhuman brother, she ices the poor guy and doubles down. Yes, her mother was apparently killed during the attack on New York during the Avengers, but those weren’t the Inhumans.
She’s also not being very subtle about her terrorist ties, running around with a Watchdogs crew at her vacation home. So now, she’s apparently on the run? Or something? Which, the Watchdogs story itself is really starting to drag. It’s a great allegory for the real racism and xenophobia we deal with in our world today, but it never really seems to connect. Quake spent half a season off fighting these dudes with little to show for it. They’re still just there. They made some vague references to a new mystery villain above the senator. So, maybe that’s going somewhere.
Also, seeing poor May just locked up in a closet? Not cool, guys. She’s the biggest butt kicker on this series, and I find it hard to believe she couldn’t find some way out of this thing. Yes, she’s drugged. But, c’mon. It’s the Calvary, yo.
Lines of the night
"The robots always attack." -Mack
"And, umm, I'm sorry I put the bag over your head." -Director Mace
“I’ve never had sex with Aida. We're just good friends.” -Dr. Radcliffe
Just when it seemed like Nadeer’s brother VJ was a one-off with his awesome super-speed powers, his Inhuman abilities apparently cocooned him again. So we’d think we’ll see this guy again, and he probably won’t be psyched his sister shot him and left him for dead.
Quake is apparently a national hero now, so could they be setting up the long game to eventually have her take over as director of S.H.I.E.L.D.? As comic fans well know, that’s not too crazy an idea.
So what is Radcliffe’s end game? He talks about playing the long game, so what is he planning for Faux May and Aida 2.0?
Up next: It seems Faux May will remain in play, while Radcliffe’s machinations continue. Oh, and Director Mace is set to make his debut as the Patriot.