Tuesday, January 10, 2017

TV REVIEW: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (SEASON FOUR, EPISODE NINE)

TV REVIEW

AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

SEASON FOUR, EPISODE NINE- "BROKEN PROMISES"
When "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." began its yearly hiatus last month, I left the mid-season finale feeling pretty feeling pretty underwhelmed. I didn't like Ghost Rider just disappearing after only eight episodes. I didn't like that the next big storyline was merely going to be a mini "Age of Ultron," as Aida, the android Dr. Radcliffe invented turned bad and kidnapped Agent May, leaving an imposter May in her stead with the team. It seemed we were in for a tedious and informal second half of this season four, and I don't see how they can possibly keep the ball rolling with this show, especially with its new time slot, and keep things intriguing for the audience. I was already scared for the worst coming into the first new episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." 

I will admit there are some aspects of this storyline that could breed cool things for the show. This new episode had two storylines going along. The first revolved around Aida, S.H.I.E.L.D. gets the hint that something is up with Aida. And Dr. Radcliffe learns the hard way that not only is he not in control of Aida anymore, but that she has upgraded herself, relieving herself of human pain. Apparently this is due to the Darkhold, and fooling around with during the first half of the season turned her into a very, very bad robot! Or so Mack calls her, as he fears for a robot apocalypse. Mack can't help but reference every robot-goes-bad movie from popular culture. I sat there watching, looking at these characters reacting to an evil robot like it hasn't happened before. Why does nobody mention Ultron? Anyway, Aida is trying to get to the Darkhold, and Radcliffe, Fitz, Coulson and May go to stop Aida before she finds it.

Although, May doesn't realize she's May. What I thought was a set up for another familiar trope of an imposter robot acting as a spy, and everybody doesn't know the truth except the audience. Well, it doesn't quite work like that. Apparently the LMD version of May that Aida created doesn't realize that she's not human, she believes she's the real May. There is a moment when May and Coulson try to fight Aida, but Aida quickly subdues Coulson, and then she simply shuts May off. May firmly believed she could take Aida, which means she didn't know she's an LMD. When she wakes up, she has no memory of being "turned off," she's just imprisoned with Coulson. Aida cut May's face open and put a tracking eye inside her face, so Aida can see everything imposter May can see. I asked myself, why didn't she just do that from the beginning? What was the point of putting a robot in the midst of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team if not to track them, infiltrate and investigate? In other words, what the hell was the bad May doing there if that eye thing wasn't already in play?

The second storyline reintroduces Senator Ellen Nadeer, the American Senator who is anti-Inhuman and is secretly pulling the strings of The Watchdogs; the extremist anti-Inhuman group. It turns out that the person trapped in the Inhuman cocoon during the first half of season four was the brother of Senator Nadeer (the Inhuman who had a brief introduction to Jemma), and Nadeer is secretly keeping her brother there so that The Watchdogs can come and kill him. The brother, named Vijay and played by Manish Dayal, doesn't feel different and has no clear powers. But Senator Nadeer doesn't care, her hatred for Inhumans runs deep. But her and her brother have a strong heart-to-heart and right at the last moment. She can't kill him. But The Watchdogs try and kill him anyway, which doesn't go so well. Turns out Vijay can block punches and gunshots without thinking it. In fact, he doesn't realize what he's doing. Displaying no memory of it. I don't know what character this is supposed to be from the comics, perhaps its an original incarnation. Director Mace shows up with Daisy and Jemma, who try to put Vijay under protection. Senator Nadeer talks Vijay out of it, and as the Senator leaves on a helicopter with Vijay, she puts a bullet in his stomach...killing him. Ahh, didn't see that coming did you? What's weird about the whole scene is that a Watchdog commander, who almost put a bullet in Vijay's head a few moments prior, is on the helicopter with them. Why would Vijay get into a helicopter with someone who just tried to kill him?

It doesn't matter though, right as the episode ends, we see the Watchdog commander throw Vijay's lifeless body into an unknown ocean. He falls to the bottom, and then...pretty much turns into a human chrysalis. Which means Vijay isn't dead. I like this storyline moreso than the rancid Aida storyline. Yes, its recycling the "Are Inhumans threats?" story we've been seeing the last few years, but at least its adding something new to the mix. I know you may hate circular plots on TV, I don't prefer this either. But it feels different, like a different shade of the story and I think it can lead to something worthwhile.

As for the Aida storyline? Well, Mack chops Aida's head off before she can leave the S.H.I.E.L.D. base with the Darkhold and yes, 80's robot movie jokes are abound every time Mack is on the screen. There is a pretty cool moment when Aida takes control of a Quinjet. But still, nothing about this storyline is inherently interesting to me. Even the big reveal at the end of the episode when we learn that Dr. Radcliffe is actually behind Aida's change in personality. Oh yes, Dr. Radcliffe is disappointingly a bad guy. I liked him better as a hero, just because I love John Hannah as an actor and I wanted him to be a new, hardcore member of this show. But I suppose that is not in the cards. He apparently has created several Aida's, because he was talking to a new one at episode's end and it looks like he has sinister plans for Agent May next week. Why does Dr. Radcliffe want the Darkhold? For some fucked-up, dark science. Despite my disappointment in Dr. Radcliffe being evil, I do wonder what his eventual endgame is, that should be amusing at least.

I hope this next half leans less on "robots take over the world" and more on the path of something we haven't seen yet. What about you?

What did you all think of the episode?

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