Agents of SHIELD SN4 EP03-‘Uprising’

A blackout causes Agents of Shield to shine bright in one of its most thrilling episodes.

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After a couple episodes dealing with the supernatural, Agents of Shield returned to its roots this week, dealing with an old fashioned worldwide disaster. In an episode that also saw the organisation re-legitimised this was really the only way to go. There had to be one grand gesture to the world stating they have a reason to trust SHIELD again, and that could hardly be achieved if they’d emerged from the shadows talking about chasing ghosts. Though why that would be hard to believe in a world filled with superheroes I have no idea. In any case, after seeing the team deal with increasingly crazy stuff, mostly known only to them, for so long, it was nice an action packed world hopping adventure.

The show wasted no time getting right into things, as the hen party Yo-Yo was attending went a little bit more off the rails than they usually do. They went all out showing the effects of the EMP, with a helicopter falling from the sky and crashing into a building. It was a moment that felt earned. Big moments like that are usually exciting to see at first, but then bear no consequence later. Take the nuking of a town in ‘Arrow’ for example, it was all but ignored, but here the stakes were clearly felt by everyone, and it made a moment like that clearly in service to the wider story. Sure it was mainly a fun visual, but it amplified the threat in significant ways.

The threat, of course, was caused by the Watchdogs as opposed to the Inhumans. Making their first appearance back in Season 3, the Watchdogs were a genuinely formidable force that seemed to peter out after their first appearance. After all the ominous talk we’ve heard about them over the last two episodes as well, it was important to ensure that their re-introduction to the story lived up to the hype. I think we can safely say it did, as the Watchdogs are now more formidable than ever. With decent funding giving them access to military grade equipment, these guys are a far cry from the home grown Watchdogs of last season. Though we unfortunately didn’t bear witness to their attacks throughout the world, their actions in Miami were enough to lend weight to those attacks. It could have easily felt like a cop out when they mentioned they had killed 17 Inhumans at the end there, and it would have been good to see at least one of those to further emphasise the danger, but what we saw of them in the episode was enough to make you believe they could have been successful around the world. The only reason Yo-Yo really survived was because Coulson, Mack and Fitz showed up, rather awesomely might I add.

That is part of what made this such a standout episode. Showing a little, but saying a lot. It certainly applies to the relationship between Robbie and his brother Gabe. We didn’t get much interaction between the two this episode, which was a shame but there’ll no doubt be more, however the little we did see said a lot about how close they are. Both are protective of one another, but both show that in different ways. Whilst Robbie can quite easily physically protect his brother, Gabe has to take a slightly calmer, more intelligent approach. The way he analysed Daisy and warned her to stay away was cold, but not entirely unwarranted. He figured out she was Quake and for all he knows she’s a dangerous bank robber. It brought up that question again of whether Daisy really is a good person at the moment. It’s a conflict she’s clearly struggling with herself, but whereas her friends at Shield try to tiptoe around the subject, Gabe just told it as it is, and that will no doubt get Daisy thinking. It helps that Gabe is a likeable character. You could easily get mad at him for telling Daisy to stay away, but between his relationship with Robbie and the fact he told Daisy to leave in probably the nicest way possible, it’s hard not to like this guy.

The only part of the episode that fell a little short was the Agent May plotline. There was never the real sense there that she would actually die, so much of the tension of the scene just wasn’t there. Nevertheless, it was fun to see Dr Radcliffe return and work together with Simmons, and his matter of fact attitude towards everything continues to be a comic highlight. We got to see a little more interaction with Aida this episode, but it appears that storyline is going to take more of a slow burn approach. There’s a certain quality of sadness to Mallory Jansen’s performance that both evokes sympathy for Aida and prevents you from wholly trusting her. Given every AI story ever, Aida will no doubt become a homicidal maniac, but as I’ve said before I hope they go a different route.

S.H.I.E.L.D Zephyr One Report Log_Events of Interest and Enquiry:

  • The fight scenes were stunning this episode, especially with the way the environment was incorporated into them. It was a pleasure to see Robbie and Daisy team up, and shows that Robbie has some decent skills as a normal person, let alone as Ghost Rider, whilst Daisy’s arm is in even worse shape now. The true highlights involved Coulson’s team. The use of tracking in the scene where they saved Yo-Yo was superb as the camera swiftly moved from person to person, not breaking up any of the action and emphasising the gravity of the situation. Then when they located the EMP device, the flashing lights illuminating brief moments of the fight really evoked a sense of confusion. All together they were just some really fun scenes to watch, and proved no matter how far Agents of Shield delves into the supernatural, it will always be grounded in moments like this.
  • There was some rather good humour to be had this episode as well. Most of it involved Coulson missing out on seeing Ghost Rider, and Mack and Fitz assuring him the transformation was “quite unsettling.”
  • We also got a glimpse of the general attitude towards Inhumans this episode. We’ve not really seen Inhumans within the context of a wider world, interacting with friends and family who aren’t approving of what they are. Therefore, it was quite heart-breaking to see Yo-Yo’s friends turn on her so quickly this episode. It’s an issue that’s essentially one of the main plot points throughout the history of the X-Men, and has always been an intriguing one to explore, so I hope to see the writers expand on this through the use of Inhumans. They are after all extremely similar.
  • So the touch of a ghost scares people to death. It was only a matter of time before they managed to explain it through science, but that’s only one aspect of the ghosts. It’s still unclear how they exist, or just how their touch does that.
  • So just who was in that Inhuman cocoon at the end there. Obviously Senator Nadir’s brother, which lends a bit more context as to why she’s so against Inhumans if she believes they took her brother from her, but it seems he’s been trapped in that cocoon for a while. Why has he stayed in there so long? And what does that mean for the powers he’s developing? Something tells me we’ll find out soon enough.

Agents of Shield returned this week with a thrilling, action packed instalment that expanded upon the Marvel Cinematic Universe in some very significant ways. With the presence of Inhumans now common knowledge it was time for SHIELD to come out of the shadows, which will no doubt have lasting effects throughout the Marvel world. A worldwide disaster and some actual human enemies brought the series back to its roots, capped off with some excellent fight scenes. As the threat of the Watchdogs grows, and the ghost mystery deepens, Agents of Shield has no shortage of strong material to play with, and given the brilliance of the first three episodes of this season, I think we should all be excited by what’s coming next.

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