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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×10 “The Patriot”

After the small tease made by none other than Jemma Simmons a few weeks ago, we were finally made privy to the secret that S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new Director has been keeping. Mace, who at his introduction seemed more like an LMD than Aida herself, took the spotlight this week as the mystery behind the Vienna bombing that left him a hero in the public’s eyes came to light.

Spoilers ahead!

We start off with Daisy getting some much-deserved credit for her heroics during her time as a goth vigilante. In a public ceremony no less! And while Daisy seems like a kid being embarrassed by their parents…

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…Mace seems very happy about the good PR that comes with acknowledging Agent Johnson in front of her adoring fans.

But you know what isn’t good PR? A sniper shooting at everyone from the building across the street.

The attempt on Mace’s life prompts an immediate extraction of the S.H.I.E.L.D. Director and, while Coulson, Mack, and Burrows yank him into the nearest QuinJet, Daisy captures the sniper and brings him back to the base.

It’s a tiny win in the grand scheme of things because the QuinJet is attacked almost immediately, crashing into the ground with Coulson, Mack, and Mace still inside. Despite surviving a literal plain crash, Mace is not even remotely pleased, which Mack and Coulson quickly attribute to the fact that the mysterious case always by his side went flying out of the falling plane and is now lost in the wilderness. The Director’s touchiness increases when a group of ex-Hydra thugs are spotted scouting the location and, despite the other Agents’ suggestions, Mace makes it clear that their priority is finding that case. Unfortunately, said case now resides in the bad guys’ cabin in the woods (Whedon, Whedon, anyone?) and Mace gets himself shot trying to retrieve it.

Something that wouldn’t be a problem were Mace everything he’s claimed to be.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, the great Inhuman Jeffrey Mace is nothing more than a fraud hired by the US military to be an order-obliging soldier and the public face of S.H.I.E.L.D.  To make matters worse, he doesn’t have powers at all and has instead been injecting himself with a super-serum much like the one given to good ol’ Steve Rogers. Of course, it’s this serum that Mace was so anxious to retrieve and so devastated to see shatter in front of his face.

Luckily some real heroes saved the trio from the worst, forced, camping trip ever.

410May

FauxMay and Quake bust in on the thug compound thanks to some truly expert interrogating of the baddie at the Playground by one Jemma Simmons. I’m going to ignore how scary fast Jemma came up with the idea of pouring fake blood on Aida’s decapitated head to imply she chopped it off when she wouldn’t talk and instead focus on how utterly amazing she continues to be in every way.

Less amazing is Radcliffe and Aida 2.0, who are continuing to keep the real May trapped in some sort of induced coma against her will. While May is too badass to stay under for long, and wakes up mid-way through the episode, she can’t quite take on Aida and is immediately put back under as Radcliffe and his android collect data from her mind. What a twisted relationship those two have.

Speaking of relationships…

Fitz and Simmons, adorable as ever on the surface, are definitely moving along a bad path. Due exclusively to the fact that Fitz has kept the original Aida, downloaded her programming, and is lying to Jemma about her all over again. On the one hand, Fitz is on the, “pure soul,” pedestal. I’m not sure he’s got a bad bone in his body, but his almost innate desperation to understand and protect those he cares about, robots included, makes him continuously make the same mistakes. He himself stated earlier in the episode that Aida’s programming wasn’t the issue so much as his deceiving of Jemma was, and yet he finds himself willingly doing it again a few hours later. But this time, Fitz isn’t merely lying by omission. He’s flat out lying to his girlfriend about a subject that has already put tremendous strain on their relationship.

Truly the worst idea in the history of ever.

Bad ideas you say?

Radcliffe mentioned to Aida that the difference between her and the Life May Decoy is the fact that Life Model May (LMM) has no idea that she’s an android. This was a conscious part of her design, implemented to make her seem less suspicious to geniuses like Fitz and Jemma who immediately worked out that Aida was an android. LMM not knowing about her true nature will, theoretically, allow her remain inconspicuous and retrieve the Darkhold as everyone else is left none the wiser.

Unfortunately for Radcliffe, this plan will almost definitely backfire now that LMM is seemingly becoming self-aware. After her scuffle in the woods saving the butts of Mack, Mace and Coulson, LMM begins to tend to an injury that she sustained during the mission. Naturally, she’s shocked and confused when she spots metal and hardware where muscle and organs should be.

Someone’s waking up…

I’ve said it before, but this episode made it even more clear that the LMD storyline provides an infinitely larger opportunity to focus back on the team and the personal ramifications that come with lying to one another… no matter the reason.

As a still mostly secret government agency, S.H.I.E.L.D’s greatest strength and weakness has always been its secrecy. Keeping the public on a need-to-know leash allows the organization to accomplish what more by-the-book groups can’t. The internal secrecy on the other hand is the most consistently destructive thing for every agent in S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as the organization as a whole.

It’s not surprising that Talbot and the other government branches decided to put a pliable soldier in the role of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director. It’s equally unsurprising that Mace’s true identity was kept a secret from anyone and everyone… as is the fact that such a secret ended up having potentially serious ramifications for everyone.

It’s a bit harder to believe that our favorite agents are still keeping secrets from each other.

Fitz lying to Jemma, no matter how much he’ll inevitably try to justify it as being a way to protect her, is quite literally the worst decision he could make considering the rockiness of their relationship as of late. Mack is still keeping whatever that secret is pertaining to the mysterious Hope (surely they have to bring Ghost Rider just to close up that random tidbit) Faux May will likely keep her secret for a bit before revealing the truth to the team. It’s crazy! I get that they’re secret agents but… hey Zeus! Have these goofballs learned nothing?!

I mean, a team that trusts is a team that triumphs yet, despite four years together, nobody on this team seems to fully trust anybody.

Episode Grade: C+

Episode Highs:

  • I find it pretty gratifying to see Jemma now fully comfortable in her role as the Director’s right-hand. There was some clear discomfort at the start of the season that now seems to have been completely eviscerated. She’s smart and, perhaps more importantly, observant. This makes her a true force to be reckoned with, as was confirmed when she first blackmailed Mace about a secret she didn’t even know and was only further emphasized when she successfully used the same move on Talbot. If you’ve really been paying attention, 99% of the time, Jemma’s actions are made with the sole intention of protecting those she cares about. Jemma Simmons infiltrated Hydra, survived 6 months on another planet, and withstood various forms of torture in order to keep those she loves, and those she doesn’t even know, safe from harm. Do you really think she doesn’t know exactly which cards to play when? Do you really think she doesn’t know exactly what she’s doing? Do you really think any dude-bro, whether it be a military General or ex-Hydra thug, could honestly beat her in any way?

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  • “If I terminate anyone else for your protection, I will dispose of the body more discreetly.” Mallory Jansen killed that line… no pun intended.
  • “Mace is about as strong as a paper bag in a rainstorm.” Talbot with the quips everybody!

Episode Lows:

  • Character-centric episodes always mean that everybody else tends to be underutilized. This was definitely the case in, “The Patriot,” as the majority of the middle scenes with Daisy and May were pointless, and even the stuff taking place with Fitz and Simmons were more for Mace exposition than anything else. Basically, in 42 minutes we were given more backstory on Jeffrey Mace than we have any other character on this show. Something that’s a little irksome in general and pretty confusing considering the show’s current sub-title is, “Life Model Decoy,” and we still haven’t seen an overwhelming amount of the titular androids.
  • After the exposition and almost frantic pace of last week, I thought that, “The Patriot,” would move a bit more quickly. This being Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., there were of course some action-heavy moments, but they seemed to get lost in the drawn-out scenes of half of the team trekking through the woods and the other half trying to figure out which woods they were trekking through.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Next week is giving us another standard, “Who’s the mole?!” episode which begs the real question of… when will we stop having these episodes?
  • Now that Daisy is beloved by the public (marriage proposals and all) how long until she becomes the face of S.H.I.E.L.D? After all… she was always Coulson’s pick for the role and now that he’s back to running the operations… it’s only matter of time before he and his protégé team up for real.

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!

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Silje Falck-Pedersen

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