Agents of SHIELD: Wake Up – Melinda May (Review)

MALLORY JANSEN

Agents of SHIELD “Wake Up” answers a few questions while posing at least one more.  Will the Melinda May LMD (Life Model Decoy) somehow try to rescue the real Agent May? There is one more question, though, that begs answering…How long has Talbot been in Senator Nadeen’s camp and is he the other LMD that Radcliffe refers to?

The LMD storyline is very good. The camera work on the show has been concreting on odd angle closeups of the main players. Mallory Jansen as Aida has gone from being coldly pleasing to fairly sinister with those almost extreme zoom shots of her eyes looking pretty darned scary.

Kudos are in order for the fight scenes between May and Aida. The long running fight between the android and the agent were convincing and exciting to watch. Well done.

On top of the keeping May calm via those programmed fights with her captor, in her mind,  (which, incidentally, the agent keeps getting better at…) there was the Fitzsimmons reveal.

In the previous episode Fitz is seen talking to the Aida head and, apparently, checking the system out after being told to leave it alone. This week, Simmons catches Fitz out and accuses him of being obsessed with the robot.

She is wrong. Fitz is obsessed but with investigating his “friend” Radcliffe. He has suspected the not-so good doctor for some time. The end result of his work is that Holden is arrested and placed in holding. (See what we did there?)

It is interesting to note that in this episode, like the previous one, agents are shown acting oddly. This keeps the viewer guessing about just who the other LMD actually is. Mack and Yo-Yo, with their moment being spoiled by his rushing off and not participating in the mission.

Fitz with his apparent preoccupation with Aida’s severed head, Daisy with her odd reactions to things and so on. Even Phil is not acting “normally.” The big surprise, although not really as Talbot has always been a treacherous character, was the general being a lapdog to Ellen Nadeer, the woman who “killed” her own brother.

It does seem rather odd that Coulson missed this one. But then the operational head of SHIELD has been acting odd lately. His fixation on Melinda May and her cultivation of same, is also out of character. The two have always been close, but this close?

Another reveal had to do with May getting the nickname of “The cavalry.” She apparently rescued a young Daisy from her mother…

Fitz arresting Radcliffe and being all bad-arsed about it was brilliant. Apparently the addition of all that bearded scruff has allowed Leo to become a tougher, and rougher, agent.

Hopefully, the LMD May will help rescue the real one and Talbot will turn out to be another android clone. After all, the Holden that Fitz shot was yet another LMD. It seems that Radcliffe has been a very busy little villain…

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC.

CAST:

 

Agents of SHIELD: The Patriot – Phil Coulson Back in Charge (Review)

 CLARK GREGG, HENRY SIMMONS

So, at long last, Jeffrey Mace’s secret is out. The official leader of SHIELD is not an inhuman at all. He is, in fact, a manufactured hero set up by General Talbot as part of a PR exercise. The move was made to help rekindle the public’s faith in the spy organization.

Mace, a man that media made a hero based on one photograph,  was tasked by his country to serve and he did, as he tells Phil Coulson later.  Agent Coulson was surprisingly forgiving of the new leader’s lie. He does, however, explain that while Mace can continue to be the figurehead of SHIELD Phil will now resume operational control of the organization again.

The Aida/Darkhold/Agent May, storyline continues with the real May waking up due to the disturbing nature of the scenario being run by Aida. This violent reaction was caused by repeated trips, in May’s mind, to a relaxing spa.

Radcliffe tells the second Aida, or Aida 2.0, that she needs to reschedule the program running in May’s brain to include some sort of conflict. The scientist also realizes that with his new Aida, he needs to reprogram her responses to threats and make them less lethal.

The LMD May, still has no idea that she is an android. The robot’s responses, memories and instincts mirror that of the real Agent May. Later, when saving Mace, Mack and Coulson from the Watchdog soldiers, android May is injured.

Back at the base, the android discovers a lot of metal underneath her skin. Interestingly, LMD May does not mention this disturbing new development to Daisy.  The android keeps the news a secret.

Someone else who has a secret is Fitz. Rather than leaving the severed head of Aida 1.0 alone, as directed by Simmons, he lies to her and continues trying to fix whatever went wrong in her programming.

There was less levity in this week’s episode; no Yo-Yo and Mack double act bemoaning the stupidity of Radcliffe’s venturing into Terminator territory. This week’s episode of Agents of SHIELD was full of death, close to home deceit and a slow move forward in the Agent May storyline.

The very start of the episode saw an unseen agent killed by sniper Yuri Zaikin who then tries to kill Jeffrey Mace with an exploding bullet. (Recently seen as the projectile sent to kill Luke Cage over on Netflix.)

Phil Coulson, Mack, the soon-to-be-dead Agent Burrows and Mace are made to retreat to the omnijet and make good their escape. The aircraft has been compromised, however, and Burrows, along with that special case that Mace is never far away from, are sucked out of the jet.

The jet then crashes and as Talbot, Simmons and May question Zaikin and look for the downed craft, Mack and Phil learn Mace’s secret. His “superpowers” are from an injection which are part of the Project Patriot program.

By the end of the credits, May, the real one, has broken loose twice and almost had her neck snapped by Aida once. May also manages to smack Radcliffe into a desk before being subdued the second time. Mace is revealed to be a phony, Fitz is secretly working on Aida’s head and Phil Coulson is now back in charge of SHIELD.

All in all a pretty busy little episode. It did take a long time to put Coulson where he belongs and it looks like the May storyline will be taking precedence over everything else, running parallel with the Aida plot line.

One this is certain, however, Simmons is going to have a few things to say to Fitz about his dalliance with Aida’s severed head. None of which will be “happy birthday.”

Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC.

CAST:

 

Guest starring Patrick Cavanaugh as Agent Burrows and Troy Caylak as Yuri Zaikin.

Agents of SHIELD: Broken Promises – Aida and the Terminator (Review)

MALLORY JANSEN

Agents of SHIELD “Broken Promises” was a season four highlight. Not because of the main storyline, which was, to be fair, damned cool, but because of the underlying story of Nadeer and her brother and because of the Mack and  Yo-Yo interchange throughout. References to Aida and The Terminator were funny and spot on.

The May android plot line is solid and entertaining. The only problem with this is that we keep waiting for Phil Coulson to suddenly shout “Gotcha!” Phil is one smart cookie, he was the head of SHIELD after all, and he is pretty intuitive.

Sure Grant Ward managed to slip past the old Coulson radar but besides being a deep undercover agent for Hydra, Ward was a psychopath. Android May did ask about the Darkhold’s location a few too many times. So much, in fact, that it seemed Phil was going to rumble the robot’s secret.

It came as no real surprise that Radcliffe was a rotter all along. He always has been all about himself. His exposure to the book was just the nudge needed to turn the scientist back into a villain.

The fact that there are, obviously, multiple Aida’s running around was a tad surprising though. Just as surprising was the decapitation of the android in this episode.

The best bit of the episode hands down however was Mack and Yo-Yo with their running dialogue about how stupid it was to build Aida at all. Counting down a list of their favorite apocalyptic robot films was brilliantly comic and so appropriate to their characters.

“Someone needs to make Radcliffe watch all the “Terminator” movies.

“Even Salvation?”

The underlying story of Ellen (nee’ Rota) Nadeer and her brother Vijay was  perfect. The fact that the poor guy had no idea that he had changed after emerging from that chrysalis was perfect.

Once the Watchdog’s start trying to kill him, though, Vijay learns what his powers are. His sister, who has a heart of stone, lies to her little brother and then plants a bullet in him once they are airborne.

Terrance and his minion chuck the poor chappy overboard and as his “lifeless” body sinks to the ocean floor another chrysalis forms over his body.

Senator Nadeer may soon regret her act of coldblooded murder.

As far as character dynamics go, the new uneasy relationship between the current head of SHIELD and “Quake” played out beautifully in this episode.  Jeffrey proved once again that superpowers or no he is not above being a little…peevish.

“You are the weapon. The public was turning against you. Now? They look up to you.”

“You’re welcome!” He tells Daisy during their little talk. Mace does have superhero qualities but he is not above trying to force a little credit for making Quake into a more public friendly persona.

“Broken Promises” ends with Aida 2.0 talking with her creator. Phil is still apparently unaware that the Melinda May he is talking to is an android and Vijay is currently undergoing another transition.

Agents of SHIELD has taken things up a notch with this latest episode and the second half of the season should be really exciting. The series airs Tuesdays on ABC.

CAST:

Guest starring Manish Dayal as Vijay Nadeer and John Pyper-Ferguson as Terrance Shockley 

Luke Cage: You’re Mine Now – What You Talkin ‘Bout Willis (Recap/Review)

Mike Colter as Luke Cage

Luke Cage “You’re Mine Now” moves slowly toward the season one conclusion.  Despite the small amount of frustration at the snail’s pace of the recent episodes, the Marvel series is still addictive viewing.

We learn more of Diamondback’s backstory. As a villain he cannot resist telling at least one person, in this case Damon Boone, about his childhood grudge against his brother from another mother, Carl Lucas.

Of course this means that Boone is doomed from the moment that Stryker makes him his “father confessor.”

In the meantime Cage manages to get the severely injured Misty Knight out of harm’s way. He takes the detective through a “Lucky Luciano” hidden staircase that few know about. Later, Claire learns of the secret hideaway under the staff lockers from Candace, the VIP hostess paid to name Luke as Cornell’s murderer.

Claire helps patch Knight up and Candace is grabbed by Willis to use as leverage later on. Outside the building Priscilla Ridley seems to be leaning toward the belief that Cage is innocent. Later, however, when Misty tries to spell out who really killed the two cops, Ridley appears reluctant to accept the news.

Shades is taken out by Temple and Knight in one of the best tag matches on the series thus far.  Willis manages to get out with the help of Zip and it is clear that Diamondback’s right-hand man; Shades, may be on the way out.

Although, Alvarez is the only one of the two who is thinking clearly. Despite Mariah Dillard’s campaign against Cage, the public, i.e. the denizens of Harlem, do not believe the hype or the lies passed on by the former councilwoman.

It is Shades who says to Stryker, “What you talkin ’bout Willis.” The big boss does not appreciate the question or the attempt at humor. Clearly the second in command has a better grasp on just how vulnerable Stryker’s plan actually is.

Luke Cage is arrested at the end of the episode, surrounded by SWAT team members armed with Judas 2.0 rounds. Misty tips him off before he is loaded into the back of a police van. Her couched advice it to make a move before the van arrives at the precinct.

Blake Temple, on loan from Daredevil, stops by to help orchestrate the assault on Harlem’s Paradise. He reveals that Dillard is in a closed-door meeting with the mayor and they talk about those Judas cartridges that were handed out to the cops.

Diamondback manages to escape yet again, but he used up his last Judas round in the nightclub.  Luke might be the focus of attention so far but it is beginning to look like the younger brother will win after all.

There are two episodes left of Luke Cage on Netflix. As usual, all the episodes are on offer on the streaming platform.

Cast:

Guest starring Clark Jackson as Damon Boone, Deborah Ayorinde as Candace and Stephen Rider as Blake Tower.

Agents of SHIELD: The Laws of Inferno Dynamics (Review)

 JOSE ZUNIGA

The thing that has always kept Agents of SHIELD head and shoulders above the other Marvel shows on offer has been its humor. Coulson can always be relied upon to toss out a comic zinger here and there in an episode. “The Law of Inferno Dynamics” gives the head of SHIELD the first amusing moment seconds into  the episode.

Phil tells Mace that Aida is an android, the man’s response is amusing:

“Okay. I mean, forget about the fact that I was mildly attracted to her…”

Granted, this funny point is swiftly moved aside for the more pertinent fact of the Sokovia Accords and “doesn’t anyone remember Ultron?” It all serves to remind us that Jeffery is still in charge of the team despite Phil’s direct approach.

There is the disturbing element of dismantling the android after the current mission and this too is all very much Mace’s Modus Operandi. He is, as May rightly points out, all about what is best for Jeffery.  Mace is still in cahoots with Senator Nadeer and Coulson still wants to know why.

The humor in this episode of Agents of SHIELD continues with Robbie declaring that he thought balaclavas were a form of desert. Of course the introduction of all this humor is to counteract and highlight this seasons “Big Bad” – Eli Morrow.

A villain who agrees that his henchmen need to be paid and then produces unrefined diamonds in the lungs of the one thug foolish enough to bring up the pay issue.

Eli has protected himself with beryllium, which is also used to fuel his powers. (Surprise surprise, it is not just a creation of the superb comedy film Galaxy Quest, the stuff really is an element.)  A lid is made of the element and if it drops down, a “supercritical mass” will develop…this equals a really bad explosion of cosmic proportions.

Robbie’s uncle proves just how little family matters when he traps the Ghost Rider next to his failsafe and Coulson asks his team for any ideas for a “plan B.”

The new director of SHIELD arrives with just that, another plan to take down Morrow.  Aida, who has received a stay of execution for the time being is there along with May and Radcliffe.  Mace tells Phil that it is time for the public to see him in action.

Coulson’s team, plus Aida, Mace and Reyes go on the offensive. Robbie ends up taking Tio Eli out with  him, although later Phil reminds Daisy that Reyes may well come back.

Yo-Yo steals the entire episode with her speedy arrival. Shown in slow motion, the best bit was taking the gun from Eli’s thug’s hand and putting the weapon into Coulson’s. When time goes back to normal Phil shoots two henchmen with the gun.

After Reyes drags his uncle down into the vortex, Daisy is given an official welcome back into SHIELD by Director Mace and the wounded Aida is taken back to Radcliffe’s lab to be repaired.

Mace sends Agent Nathansan to collect all of the doctor’s research and Aida snaps the man’s neck like a small brittle twig.  May, the last thing Nathansan saw before being killed by the android, is unconscious in a cube.

Meanwhile Coulson shares a drink with “android” Melinda May while the real one is “mopped up” by Aida.

The episode ends with the team back together, Radcliffe and Aida getting a reprieve and the shocking sight of the real Agent May back in the lab.  It seems that Mace was right to bring up the Ultron reference. Aida is definitely going against the rules. Things are about to get even more interesting at SHIELD.

The Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays on ABC.

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