This Agents of SHIELD review contains spoilers.
Agents of SHIELD: Season 4 Episode 10
Hey, remember three episodes ago when Ghost Rider was a thing on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD? Yeah, not so much anymore.
But what this week’s installment lacks in demonic street racers makes up for in old school SHIELD goodness as the LMD saga continues.
Some nice story work is done this week with Daisy Johnson as she continues her transformation from agent on the run to bona fide super hero. As Daisy stands there during a press conference and receives praise from Director Jeff Mace, it’s hard to not think about when we first met Daisy. She has certainly come a long way from a street tough hacker known as Skye. Chloe Bennet really nails Daisy’s discomfort in being in the public eye, and that’s when all heck breaks loose.
A bunch of Watchdog agents take their shot at bumping off Mace. Coulson and special guest star Glenn Talbot lam it with Mace and we are off. It’s always good to see Talbot. How can you go wrong with a good Lee and Kirby comedic foil? But this week, Talbot is more than just window dressing as only he knows the true secrets of Director Mace.
More on that in a second. First, let us discuss the LMD situation. You kind of need a score card to keep track of the AI deal with SHIELD, so we’re going to provide you with one. The original AIDA was decapitated by Mack a few episodes back but the recently revealed to still be evil Doctor Radcliffe has AIDA 2.0 serving his every need. Radcliffe and AIDA 2.0 have replaced Agent May with a LMD, and not even the robotic May realizes that she is artificial. The real May is trapped in a virtual reality prison by Radcliffe and there you have it.
So every moment AI May is on screen is fraught with dramatic tension as we know she’s a robot but the team does not. She acts like May, she fights like May, and she scowls like May, but our real May is strapped Weapon X-like into a VR world. Flesh and blood May almost escapes this week because the virtual world designed to trap her was too relaxing. The real May doesn’t cotton to spas, no sir, the real May likes violence and chaos which is exactly what she brings to AIDA and Radcliffe until AIDA takes her down once again. It’s really hard to see May get woman-handled as the series has trained the viewer into seeing May as unbreakable. Truly, right now, May is in the gravest danger we’ve ever seen her in and the results are affecting.
Meanwhile, Fitz has AI issues of his own. Despite Simmons’ orders, Fitz can’t seem to leave the decapitated AIDA alone. In fact, shockingly, Fitz downloads AIDA’s programming into his phone dingus. Hey, he has an aggressive AI app on his phone. Do you think it will help him catch Pokemon? Anyway, it seems like Fitz can’t leave something broken unfixed which speaks volumes about him as a man and as a scientist. This could cause some serious issues with Simmons down the road though. And the two kids finally seem so happy.
But onto the main event — the secret of Jeff Mace. Okay, when the Watchdogs try to hit Mace, he is preoccupied with the location of his ever-present briefcase. Turns out, the assassination attempt is just a ruse. Coulson and Mack try to get Mace out of Dodge aboard a quinjet and the Watchdogs shoot it down. No problem, right? Mace has super powers, right? Hmm, not so fast.
This week, it is revealed that Mace is not an Inhuman at all. To make nice with the Inhuman community, Talbot devised a plan to create a super powered director of SHIELD. All this takes a deep dive into Agents of SHIELD history as it is also revealed that Talbot used Daisy’s father’s secret formula (remember Calvin Zabo and his super power formula of crazy sauce) to give Mace his powers. So instead of being an Inhuman hero, Mace is a ‘roided up puppet. With Coulson and Mack’s help and the timely arrival of Daisy and AI May, Mace takes down the Watchdogs but the secret is out.
All of a sudden, Mace has become a deeply flawed and fascinating character. He possesses the heart of a hero but his history is built on lies. Of course, he is also taking an unstable super drug that could turn him into a Mister Hyde-like madman, but he has been an inspiring leader as far as the public is concerned. So Coulson decides that Mace will remain the face of SHIELD while Coulson will remain mission leader. Now that’s a pretty unique team dynamic, and the team will need strong leadership with Radcliffe in control of AI May and still looking for the Darkhold.
Yup, the Darkhold is still in play, so maybe the Ghost Rider half of the season wasn’t a complete aside after all. As for AI May, the poor robot gal is about to go all existential Westworld on us because she is injured in the Mace rescue and the episode ends with the robot seeing the circuits underneath the skin. How Maeve can you get?
Anyway, a very fun episode of SHIELD this week that keep things moving along nicely and skyrockets Jeff Mace from background character to one of the most complex and surprising characters on Marvel TV.
That bullet that almost takes out Director Mace seems to be the same Hammer tech used to bring down one Luke Cage over on the Netflix series. Remember the bullet that took Cage out of action for like three episodes and forced him to take an acid bath? Hell yeah son, that same type of bullet was used against Mace this week, and you just know we love when SHIELD ties to the Netflix stuff, even if those ties are very loose.
When it is revealed that Jeff Mace’s powers come from a bottle, Talbot calls Mace “a new Captain America.” This is a nice tribute to Marvel history, as in the comics, Mace was, in fact, chosen to replace Captain America after Steve Rogers was lost at the end of World War II. In the classic What If? #4 (1977) by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins, it is revealed that Mace, a hero who went by the code name of Patriot, was chosen to be the third man to wear the mantle of Captain America.
The second Cap was a man named William Naslund who originally battled the Nazi menace in the guise of the Spirit of ’76. After Rogers was lost, Naslund was given the uniform and shield of Captain America until he was killed when he saved the life of none other than John F. Kennedy. Naslund was replaced by Mace who served proudly as Cap well into the Cold War. Back in the 40s and 50s, the fact that Rogers was lost was hidden from the public along with the secret that Naslund and Mace were not the original Cap, so this masquerade deal introduced this week on Agents of SHIELD has some historical precedence.
And of course the name of the drug given to Mace on Agents of SHIELD was Patriot. Nice.
It’s nice to see the Mister Hyde formula still in play on Agents of SHIELD. Instead of just simply utilizing a derivative of the super soldier serum, this is a nice call back to season two of SHIELD.