Agents of SHIELD returns from the mid-season hiatus and reveals that the fight for the Darkhold is far from over.
SHIELD has made the tying up loose ends after recent events. Coulson is leading a team to dispose of the Darkhold. Fitz and Radcliffe are tasked with erasing the Darkhold data from Aida’s hard drive. Mace is concerned about the risk of the Darkhold information staying with Aida. Mack is also quick to point out that this is the exact kind of thing that happens in movies where robots rise up and kill their human overlords. When Fitz and Radcliffe go to try to turn Aida off, they find out that Mack’s not too far off base. Aida has started upgrading her own software and has, essentially, become conscious. She fights back against the agents and throws Fitz through a window before escaping. When he looks around, Fitz finds the body of the agent that Aida killed. That leaves Coulson’s group dealing with a runaway robot.
Coulson’s team heads back to the base, but Aida’s able to retrace her steps back to the base and hacks into it. Fitz and Radcliffe work on trying to take control of the base’s systems. Mack and YoYo make their way through the base while constantly dodging Aida’s automated attacks and musing about the fact that they’ve found themselves in a sci-fi movie. Coulson and May are supposed to be securing the Darkhold, but Aida knocks Coulson out and locks them in a room together. She uses the LMD May to spy on Coulson is able to use the LMD May to find out where the Darkhold is hidden. She manages to get her hands on the book just as Fitz regains control of the base. Fitz, Radcliffe, May and Coulson try to talk Aida down. They stall Aida long enough for Mack to sneak up behind her and lop her head off with his shotgun axe.
While all of that is going on, Mace and Daisy are trying to start a new working relationship. Daisy wants the first order of business to be going after the Watchdogs, while Mace is interested in figuring out what’s going on with Senator Ellen Nadeer. It turns out that their goals overlap. Daisy has gathered intel that suggests that the Watchdogs, Senator Nadeer and her missing brother are all connected. Since Simmons was the one to release her brother, Vijay Nadeer (Manish Dayal), they take her along to pay the senator a visit. They believe that she’s holding her brother hostage. What she’s actually trying to do is kill him. It turns out that Vijay and Ellen’s mother was killed in the Chitauri invasion. After that and everything that’s happened with the Inhumans, they promised that they would kill each other instead of becoming “compromised”. After her brother went through his prolonged terrigenesis, she called in the Watchdogs to kill him.
When the Watchdog leader puts a gun to his head, Vijay appeals to his sister, saying that he wasn’t changed. Ellen wants to believe her brother and calls off the dogs, but their leader doesn’t trust it. He makes a call to someone higher up the ranks, someone known as “the superior”, and gets the go ahead to kill Vijay. When the Watchdogs attack, Vijay’s Inhuman powers manifest and allow him to defend himself. When the altercation starts, the small team of SHIELD agents rush into the Senator’s home. Simmons offers Vijay the chance to come with them, but the Senator tells her brother that they just want to make him an agent. Vijay trusts his sister, which turns out to be the wrong decision. They get into a helicopter together and Ellen shoots Vijay in the stomach, before dumping his body into the water. She also tells the Watchdogs that the “Superior” needs to send his own men to deal with SHIELD.
At the end of the episode it’s revealed that not everything has been left as it seems. Mace calls back to the base and lets Coulson know that Senator Nadeer has been working with the Watchdogs. Coulson reports back that the Darkhold has been recovered. What they don’t know yet is that the entire Aida incident, including May’s capture, has been facilitated by Radcliffe. You may recall that Radcliffe took a brief look at the Darkhold before it was turned over to Aida. Apparently, that one look was enough to infect him. He was using Aida to try to steal the book. Even though it didn’t work, he’s already got another Aida model with him as well as the May LMD to spy on Coulson. Right now it looks like he’s hoping that Coulson will let May stay close enough to steal the book.
The episode’s tag scene shows that Vijay’s fight might also not be certain. Vijay’s body, still bleeding, sinks to the bottom of water. As he hits the bottom, his Terrigenesis cocoon reforms around him.
- Mack and YoYo’s list of sci-fi movie references:
Johnny 5 from Short Circuit
Terminator (all of them, even Genesis)
The Lawnmower Man
- Simmons uses a southern accent to try to sneak into Nadeer’s office. It’s absolutely adorable.
- “I think Simmons has been kidnapped, like three times since I’ve known her” – Daisy
“Really?” – Mace
“Yeah, well only twice on this planet” – Daisy
- “That’s not good. That’s bad” – Coulson
- “The Robot Apocalypse is finally here” – Mack
- “I always knew that robots would try to kill me one day” – Mack
“Really? We grew up different” – YoYo
- We also find out that Mack has a special provision in his insurance for “death by robot”
The second arc of the season seems to be off to an interesting start. They’ve married Daisy and SHIELD’s objectives together by having Senator Nadeer and the Watchdogs working together. “The Superior” will marry those two forces together into one tidy target for SHIELD to go after during the rest of the season. That being said, it does feel like it’s a little derivative of “The Clairvoyant” from season 1.
They’ll also be dealing with the LMD issues. Even though Aida was stopped in this episode, this issue is far from over. Despite initial appearances, Radcliffe has been “infected” by the Darkhold. It is unclear whether or not his Aida II still has the capabilities of the last model (post-Darkhold) but, at the very least, he’s got the May LMD inside the SHIELD team. It’s also clear that this LMD doesn’t realize that she’s not the real May. I’m sure that’s going to make things take an unexpected turn given that May is prone to heroics and self-sacrifice, despite her cold and calculating nature.
This episode was fun in the way they played with the whole rogue-robot trope. Mack and YoYo, in particular, were so much fun during this episode. It’s kind of nice to see that they do actually share somethign in common other than a general attraction to each other. It’s also nice to have a voice of descent when bad decisions are being made. Clearly, the whole SHIELD team isn’t on board with the LMD idea even if it does have its merits. After this episode, I doubt anyone will be looking forward to interacting with them again.