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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×08 “The Law of Inferno Dynamics”

Holy MOLY. What a way to end the first half of the season!

While it seems as though the tale of the Ghost Rider has come to a close, the setup for the latter half of the season has me more excited for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. than I have been for quite some time. I’m always at a base Level 7 (Anyone, anyone? is this thing on?) going into each new week, sometimes higher sometimes lower depending on the promo, but the tease for 4B will sustain me over the winter hiatus and have me speculating until the title card returns to my screen January 10th.

But before I tell you why 4B is going to be fantastic… let’s delve into, “The Law of Inferno Dynamics.”

Spoilers Ahead!

The big issue this week is still Eli Morrow.

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The bigger issue is that Eli has strengthened his powers, creating an enormous version of the boxes found at Momentum that are protected by a plutonium failsafe known ominously as, “the Demon Core.” Said core is the source of Eli’s powers while simultaneously a ticking timebomb for anyone who attempts to neutralize it or him.

Add to the list of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s troubles is the fact that, though they know exactly, where Eli and his crew are hiding, the place is booby-trapped left and right, surrounded by numerous media crews, and in an area that is experiencing sporadic earthquakes… none of which are being caused by Daisy thankyaverymuch.

After the Secret Warriors 2.0 (Daisy, Robbie, & YoYo) try and do some recon, narrowly escaping a rigged explosion, Robbie decides to go solo and try to take on his uncle all by his lonesome. Unfortunately, while the mystery box and Demon Core strengthen Eli, they severely weaken Robbie to the point where the Rider is unable to make an appearance. Eli shoves a couple of carbon shards through his nephew, effectively pinning him in place and keeping him trapped in the literal soul-crushing box.

Elsewhere, the rest of the team reconvenes on the Zephyr One in an attempt to come up with a plausible Plan B. Easier said than done considering FitzSimmons come to realize that the quakes are being caused by Eli’s box of terror and literally everyone is at risk of blowing up if they become any stronger. With at least a basic understanding of what’s going on, FitzSimmons manage to devise a way of circumnavigating Eli’s dangerous (ware)house of horrors.

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While the strike team, consisting of Coulson, May, Mack, YoYo, and Mace distract Eli and his crew, FitzSimmons, Daisy, Aida, and Radcliffe work their magic (Sorry Aida, forgot that expression is in your new cache of vernacular) build a device that will counteract Morrow’s and send it back to the dimension it came from. They’re entirely successful, because in no world would that team ever fail, and manage to push the device and Eli back into wherever or whenever the wannabe god. The downside is that Robbie and the Rider also get sucked away into oblivion (willingly) in order to finally settle their score.

The episode ends with the S.H.I.E.L.D. team, including the newly reinstated Agent Daisy Johnson and the newly making out YoyoMack, happily sipping some much-deserved beers and enjoying the first blissful moment in what seems like forever.

Yay! An episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. that ends wholly positive with no twists whatsoever!!!!!

Hahahahahahahaha. Just kidding. No such episode of S.H.I.E.L.D. exists.

No, instead, the midseason finale ends with Aida snapping poor Nathanson’s neck and caring for an unconscious and kidnapped Agent May while THE LIFE MODEL DECOY VERSION OF MAY IS AT THE PLAYGROUND SIPPIN’ SOME WINE WITH COULSON!!!!!!!!!

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WHAT THE WHAT?!?!?!

I can’t even begin to articulate how absolutely psyched I am for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: LMD. While the Ghost Rider installments were certainly fun, most of it felt geared towards comic fans and the new viewers that ABC and Marvel are likely always trying to attract. Much of this first half of the season was focused on Robbie and his literal and figurative demons and, while it made for some entertaining sequences, it severely impacted the storylines and screentime given to the characters that we already know and love.

Reflecting back on this first half of the season… not a ton happened in the grand scheme of things for the central characters as a direct result of Robbie’s plotlines. There were a few bits and pieces here and there that will no doubt come into play come winter, but the vast majority of said carryover pieces had little to nothing to do with Ghost Rider.

Having Aida, an android created by Radcliffe and Fitz, as the main antagonist in the back-half of the series, as well as having a May LMD (and who knows how many other decoys of the crew), will bring everything closer to home and allow the team to be infinitely more affected than they were by Eli and Robbie’s family drama. This shift is personal and will make for some really great storylines focused back on the core actors of the show.

The team will worry about May, whenever they eventually find out about her, the guilt inevitably felt by Fitz and Radcliffe over Aida will likely cause some major rifts between characters, and the looming question of, “Who’s real and who can we trust?” will ramp up the tension for sure.

The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast, as well as the writers, have proven time and time again that the show excels most when the characters are dealing with things that affect them to their very core as a group. The most memorable moments in the show are when the team comes together, be it emotionally or physically, and tackles whatever issue or figure is tearing them apart from the inside. Now that Daisy is officially back, and the Director seems fine with keeping the OG agents as their own unit, the potential for arcs dealing with all of the fallout and ramifications of their shifted roles and dynamics is endless.

The show’s finest moments are when the gang is together as an ensemble and I can only hope that the bonds that have developed over the past four years will come back to the forefront, pushed forward by the momentum from this midseason finale.

Episode Grade: B+

Episode Highs:

  • Props need to be given to Mark Kolpack and the rest of the VFX team for their work this week. While always stellar, the visuals reached cinematic levels for this midseason finale. What’s particularly great about the VFX on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that both the subtle and blatantly obvious effects that are utilized push the show to new heights. YoYo’s movements are just as interesting to watch as the fiery explosions and Aida’s holo-manipulation.
  • Daisy’s epic superhero move was positively delightful to see. She executed Iron Man’s Avengers move better than Iron Man himself (‘cause, y’know, she actually managed to land it) and it was genuinely touching to see her finally be recognized, not as a rogue fugitive/vigilante, but as the protector that she truly is. Equally fist-pump worthy was the coda to Quake’s role in the comics when Coulson hints that he was hoping that Daisy would be the Inhuman face of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • I’m an unabashed fan of Fitz and Simmons, largely because Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain de Caestecker never fail to absolutely crush it, so it was nice to see them both in more than 2 minutes of the episode.
  • Mallory Jansen plays Aida so well. I cannot wait to see what she does in 4B because she’s nailed every scene she’s been in thus far.

Episode Lows:

  • It felt like a slow build-up to a muted climax. I enjoyed every minute of it but much of the sequences felt like they were almost reaching something.

Additional Thoughts:

  • How long do you think it’ll take before the team learns that the May on base is actually an LMD?
  • Which actor/character do you most want to see take on two roles (LMD and Human)?
  • How absolutely psyched are you about the Slingshot digital series we’ll be getting to hold us over until S.H.I.E.L.D returns in January? Elena (and portrayer Natalia Cordova-Buckley) have been fan-favorites since first introduced last year so I’m thrilled that we’ll be seeing more of them both! It’ll be cool to get a little backstory on YoYo and find out what she was up to between seasons!

What did you think about the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below and be sure to catch AoS when it returns January 10th!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen

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