In the last episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the team was under attack more from within than without. Radcliffe and Aida have placed a May LMD in their midst to snatch the Darkhold, and if that’s not bad enough, there’s also a mole passing info to the ex-Hydra Watchdogs. And when will the real May “Wake Up”? Find out after the jump.
Five Days Ago
We open on flashback, five days ago, and a few episodes back, seeing events from a different perspective. This is a similar technique to the way we saw half the team as ghosts in “Deals with Our Devils.” Now that we know that Radcliffe hasn’t changed his evil ways and that May is an LMD, we get to see how the switch was done.
How long has Radcliffe planned this out, and what kind of evil genius is he? There’s already a May LMD in his apartment, just waiting to be programmed with her memories. Was this what Aida was building after encountering the Darkhold? Did Radcliffe know the Darkhold could do such things to an LMD? Could he be the leak in the team?
One Day Ago
Now it’s one day ago, and we find Agent May in a spa, just waking up and ready for massage and facial. We know this is the scenario that being pumped into head. Radcliffe and Aida are trying to relax her, but we know May, this isn’t how she relaxes. She relaxes by kicking ass, and appropriately (for her at least) tries to fight her way out.
Watching May pull the tubes and wires out of herself is just as excruciating the second around. I’m still shuddering. The all too brief fight (don’t worry, more was to come) with Aida and Radcliffe is classic May, no matter how much it hurt to watch her detube herself, it can not compare to how Radcliffe must have felt being kicked across the room. That’s our May.
With May reinstalled to the machine, Aida asks a logical question that some of us have been asking since this storyline began. Wouldn’t it be more advisable to kill Agent May, especially if you’re going to replace her anyway? It would save babysitting time and effort, and keep her from waking up and ruining their plans.
Villain with a heart of gold that he is, Radcliffe explains killing is wrong, and that Nathanson’s death was regrettable, an ‘overadjustment’ in Aida’s programming. May is also kept alive as a plan B, in case they don’t get the Darkhold, leverage if you will. And then Radcliffe drops the bomb, that there’s a second LMD. I’ll guess right here – it’s Fitz. No other explanation for his weird behavior and Aida obsession, right? Maybe, maybe not.
Robotic deceptions aside, at S.H.I.E.L.D., a plan is brewing. While a spectacle is made at the Capitol of Quake signing the Sokovia Accords, Coulson and Yo-Yo will search and bug Senator Nadeer’s office for proof she’s involved with the Watchdogs. The signing felt more like the McCarthy or Watergate hearings however. I guess that’s what it’s like when a Senator is after you.
No real surprise, except for her foreknowledge and setting a trap, but Senator Nader is after S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s a trap ready to snap on Coulson and Yo-Yo, guards on hand with the proper tools to neutralize them, and their capture is her prize point at the hearing. It all seems a bit too convenient, even for this show. Who is the mole, and will this ruin S.H.I.E.L.D.?
The second May opened her eyes, and the episode’s title on my mind certainly didn’t hurt, I knew that she wasn’t really awake. This was the conflict scenario Radcliffe devised for her. After all, a spa wouldn’t work, she required a mission to soothe her. Instant escape mission for May, all in her mind, conjured to keep her out.
All that said, the fight between her and Aida was awesome, as was her escape. The topping was of course soured by the knowledge, or suspicion, that none of it was real. This is the Framework, the busywork set up to keep May’s mind busy while unconscious. Keep the adrenaline flowing, keep her occupied.
I loved seeing Turtleman, I mean Mack, making pillow talk with Yo-Yo. It’s about freaking time, and nice to see smiles on their faces too, it suits them. But damn it, just like on The Flash, secrets pop up to ruin things. I thought Mack was smarter than that, but no, same old thick as a brick Mack. Let me take a guess in the dark – his past is catching up with him.
We are treated to wonderful character match-ups and dialogue. Mace and Daisy, Coulson and Yo-Yo. Simple conversations about non-crucial plot points, and yet so revealing. Sometimes this show hits on all cylinders and it’s beautiful. Mack’s abrupt departure is nothing so sinister, no matter how dark it’s made to seem. This is the least of the trickery the showrunners have for us in this episode however.
The Pay Off
Everything pays off however when May (the May LMD, that is) gets her head around what’s going on, and visits Radcliffe. Did we or did we not all cheer when she asks, “What did you do to me?” We want her to hit him, but she can’t. Her programming won’t let it happen. And in that moment the pay off of an episode of torture is diffused and left smoldering. I hate this.
Even when Coulson and the team arrive to place Radcliffe under arrest, she cannot tell, her programming won’t let her. We’re left angry, and with the notion that May wants Coulson. At least if they get together, he’ll see the tear in her skin. But until then, there’s still the matter of who the mole really is.
The Guessing Game
Here’s the problem with LMDs as one might have surmised from this episode. LMDs think they’re the real thing until forced to confront the reality that they’re not. That’s how it is in the comics, and TV has added the extra spins of them not being able to tell if they do know. I was really surprised Radcliffe was one (I thought Fitz would be revealed in that scene), and I still suspect Fitz. Time will tell.
And even if he doesn’t kill, any doubt that Radcliffe is evil should be erased by the new Framework he’s given May, her time in Bahrain that earned her the nickname The Calvary. And if that’s not bad enough, it’s only going to get worse with Radcliffe and Nadeer working together…
Next: The return of the character(s) we all thought was an LMD, Patton Oswalt as the Koenigs, in “Hot Potato Soup!”