Spoilers ahead for "Boom," the latest episode of ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The short version: Coulson and Mack track down Agnes, the human inspiration for Dr. Radcliffe's LMD Aida. The Watchdog’s lieutenant Shockley turns out to be an Inhuman with the ability to blow himself up repeatedly. Oh, and Mace goes and gets himself captured by the Watchdogs.
The good: Meeting Agnes, Aida's jealousy, and the Shockley twist
In an interesting twist, we get to meet Agnes, the human inspiration for Aida. Turns out she used to be very close with Radcliffe back in the day, but he eventually disappeared on her when he couldn't heal her inoperable brain tumor. The story gives some interesting perspective to Radcliffe and pulls back the curtain on why he got into this research in the first place. He's been a nuanced semi-villain from the beginning, taking an approach where he hopes the means will justify the ends. Now we know what set him down that path. As for Agnes, seeing her roll the dice that Radcliffe might be able to help her was believable (as Coulson notes), because who wouldn't take a long shot over a death sentence?
Also, Aida was totally jealous of her, right? Which is interesting, and you have to wonder just what type of impact the Darkhold has had on her underlying programming. You'd have to think Radcliffe didn't program her to take jewelry off the recently deceased.
The twist to have Shockley being an Inhuman was a good one as his plan to turn Senator Nadeer backfires in epic fashion. It sets up an interesting Baddie of the Week and finally starts taking some of these Watchdogs henchmen off the board. And the biggie: Nadeer is apparently dead, so hopefully we can finally move a bit deeper to the real villain pulling the strings behind the scenes.
Other good notes: Having Fitz install an LMD detector at the base was a wise move; hopefully no more robo-fakes will be slipping in. Also, Fitz got to save the day and seeing Simmons worry about him was a sweet moment. Amidst all this chaos, their relationship has really become the heart of the show. The effects work from Shockley's exploding abilities were solid, especially when he put himself back together from nothing but a skeleton. That's a straight-up Wolverine-level healing factor.
The bad: Is S.H.I.E.L.D. really this under-staffed?
When it was Coulson running the show from the shadows, that's one thing. But S.H.I.E.L.D. is back to being a legit law enforcement agency — so where the heck is all the back-up? When Coulson and Mack go off on their sting mission to catch Radcliffe, they literally have no other units or agents there to help. Radcliffe is pretty much Public Enemy No. 1 at this point and they can't bother to send a few extra agents to build a perimeter around this place? C'mon, man.
Also, when Mace allows himself to get captured by the Watchdogs to let Fitz and Simmons catch Shockley and escape -- since when can S.H.I.E.L.D not call in some additional agents? They're going off to face a dude who is literally a living bomb and they send a grand total of, like, four agents to handle it? They used these contrivances to set the stakes but it just falls apart the more you think about it. Either S.H.I.E.L.D. needs to ramp up its hiring or they're just awful at planning these field operations.
Line of the night:
"Frak." - Daisy
So, Radcliffe has apparently built his own version of the Matrix, essentially? What started as a simulation to keep May busy has apparently evolved into its own alternate reality. Radcliffe's Framework project is an interesting twist but it does pull the attention away from the LMD of it all. So now Radcliffe's master plan is to convert everybody's consciousness digitally so they can hang out in the Matrix? If nothing else, at least Agnes apparently gets to hang out in this virtual world. But there aren't any other people in there, right? Except for May. Won't she get lonely?
Why did Mace think it was a good idea to sacrifice himself to capture? The Watchdogs wanted a high-profile hostage and he basically served himself up on a silver platter. Was there really no better way to delay the Watchdogs caravan? He risked his life to use the super-serum and all it takes is a few hits from a shock baton to take him down? Captain America this dude is not. Now, what's next for Mace? How will the Watchdogs take advantage of him?
Also, keen-eared Coulson now knows that May is likely still alive, so the search for May should definitely be ramping up even more from here.