Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 episode 11 review: Wake Up
Do LMDs dream of electric sheep? Agent May is certainly dreaming of escape on this week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D....
This review contains spoilers.
4.11 Wake Up
This week on Agents Of SHIELD, everyone gets a piece of the spotlight as the LMD drama continues. I guess we should start with the double main event, both featuring a different Agent May. Twice the Ming-Na Wen is always a good thing, and this week the LMD May experiences a major identity crisis. Remember last week, LMD May discovered her true robotic nature, and this week, robot May goes all Westworld. The problem for SHIELD is that LMD May has been programmed to be all too human as Dr. Radcliffe has made an exact replica of May, all the way down to her deep-seated love for Phil Coulson.
Now, this is the first we’ve heard of May and Coulson’s potential star-crossed romance. I mean, it’s always been hinted at, but I’ve kind of become used to May and Coulson being comrades in arms and not potential lovers. I don’t know, their bond seems to go deeper than physical love, but since we’re experiencing this love through the eyes of what is essentially a Replicant, this potentially eye-rolling turn of events has become rather intriguing. I mean LMD May knows she’s a robot, she knows she’s a tool of Radcliffe, but her programming is forcing her to pursue her own happiness and attempt a romance with Coulson over hr innate sense of duty. Robotic self-preservation and pursuit of emotional contentment? As I said, how very Westworld.
While LMD May plays Westworld, real-life flesh and bone May gets to play Total Recall as she is still trapped by Aida 2.0 and Radcliffe. Last week, the baddies had trouble keeping May trapped in her own mind because they tried to keep May too relaxed. As we all know, May doesn’t do relaxed, so this week, Radcliffe and Aida put May through an intense escape scenario. May’s mind is lulled by this edge-of-your-seat action and this fight or flight scenario keeps her mind serene enough to keep her sedated. It is also pretty cathartic for the viewer because even though it is a dream scenario, seeing May kick Aida’s ass is all sorts of satisfying after weeks of seeing May in the unusual role of hapless victim.
So that’s what’s happening with the Mays, let us move to Fitz and Simmons. Not much Simmons this week, but Fitz is certainly busy. If you’ll remember, Fitz has become obsessed with Aida 1.0. Last week, Fitz hooked Aida’s head up to his SHIELD communicator to bring her back to a semblance of life. We thought Fitz was getting all Ahab because he wanted to fix the beautiful ‘bot, but it turns out Fitz suspected Radcliffe’s machinations and tries to restore Aida in order to find proof that Radcliffe is a traitor.
This week, dear, brilliant, brave and loyal Fitz discovers just that as he outs Radcliffe as the scumbag he’s always been. I freakin’ love this because I really resented the tension the Aida deal was causing between Fitz and Simmons, and now it is revealed that the whole thing was done just to show how hyper aware and dazzling Fitz’s intellect truly is. He never betrays Simmons, he serves SHIELD, because that’s what Fitz does. Sadly, Radcliffe is one step ahead of this chess match and goes on the run, but not before leaving an LMD of his own behind to fool SHIELD. SHIELD captures the LMD and Fitz even figures out that ruse.
But Radcliffe is safe and in cahoots with one Ellen Nadeer. Yeah, the same Nadeer that killed her Inhuman brother a few weeks back. This alliance can mean some very bad things for SHIELD, and I only wish Nadeer was fleshed out more before this reveal. She is a pretty flat character, a female version of William Stryker from the X-Men, but nowhere near as frightening or compelling.
Nadeer also gets involved with Daisy this week, as Daisy goes before Congress to sign the Sokovia accords. Daisy and Nadeer bandy about some barbs in some scenes that feel like a bit of filler, but it’s always nice to see Marvel TV create ties with the films. These scenes also allow us to see the new leadership dynamic within SHIELD between Coulson, Jeff Mace, and Glenn Talbot.
Lest we forget, some really great background information is finally revealed about Mack this week. For a few seasons now, Mack has been the ultimate SHIELD supporting player. He’s always playing wingman to one of the other agents, but we’ve never really learned much about Mack himself. Now that Mack is romantically linked to Yo Yo, there is some opportunity to flesh out this once flat but always fun character. This week we learn that Mack once had a wife and baby girl. Tragically, his daughter died after only four days. This reveals further bonds Mack and Yo Yo and quickly transforms Mack into a richer player in the world of SHIELD. Well done.
So we have some intrigue as our Agents have to discover a mole within SHIELD, a double dose of May action, the brilliance of Fitz, a tie-in to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the next move in Radcliffe’s master plan, and some really well done character work with Mack. All in all, a good week for Agents of SHIELD.
Read Marc’s review of the previous episode, The Patriot, here.