Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. "S4E13 Boom" - Review: AIDA in Real Life
BOOM – To get a lead on Radcliffe, Coulson and Mack track down a familiar looking former acquaintance. While giving Senator Nadeer a Terrogen crystal test, Ivanov’s minion Shockley is transformed into an explosive powered Inhuman that Daisy must fight to defuse.
In many ways, this feels like a stroll down memory lane to the show’s first season. The main story is very monster/bad guy of the week orientated and many shots like Fitz, Simmons and Daisy investigating the explosion aftermath felt reminiscent of the earlier action/spy based adventures rather than the more comic/superhero format it evolved into. While I’ve no doubt the show has changed for the better, it’s good to see that it can still draw from its roots for a change up when required. Not only does Shockley become an interesting plot device as the ultimate “not-suicide” bomber but there’s quite a bit of fun in seeing Fitz and Simmons trying to crack the bomb mystery in their original “Fitzsimmons” mode because it so rarely features these days. Shockley’s eventual showdown with Daisy was something of an anti-climax. While it’s good that not every confrontation devolves into the same fist fight, this affair of attraction just feels rather bland.
Although in fairness, the episode addresses it head on, there is a rather annoying inconsistency in the portrayal of Ivanov and his anti-Inhuman society. So far, their stance has been completely black and white; that all Inhumans are enemies and must die (embodied by Nadeer killing her brother). In that respect, Ivanov should have broken ties with Shockley after learning of his transformation but instead agrees to an arrangement of convenience. In most villains, such a grey area would be fine and even deepens their character but Ivanov is portrayed as a driven idealist. He believes hard and seeing those beliefs quickly faltering is a frustrating disservice to his character.
I liked the developments of Mace’s character this week, both in struggling to find his non-super strength person within the team and over the continued use of his serum, that its every use carries an increasing chance of fatal consequences. It isn’t best-utilised this episode, but the later makes for a great escalating dramatic element around his character. Now, his every situation of peril comes with a dilemma over whether the danger is worth the risk of using his serum. Mace also enables one the best exchanges this season between himself and Coulson as Phil reflects on being the ordinary guy around The Avengers, “It turns out I had a role to play”. It’s both a touching nod to his (all be it temporary) demise in the 2012 film and some good laughs about not getting stabbed.
If I ever meet the show’s writers I’m gonna fist bump them for this one. Making AIDA based on a real woman and bringing those sisters from another mister together is just brilliant and gives AIDA such fantastic story material. Firstly, Agnes is not just chosen template, she’s someone Radcliffe cares deeply for and even a driving force for his work. This naturally creates conflict between Agnes and AIDA by easily creating scenarios for AIDA to emotionally evolve into envy and rivalry. We’ve already seen that AIDA will kill to protect Radcliffe. If she judges Agnes as breaking his heart, she may look to remove the problem. Then there are ideas of aspiration. AIDA is now confronted with everything she could hope to aspire to be in terms of becoming human and her end actions of taking the necklace imply she’s keen to replicate or even replace her real self (could AIDA replace Agnes in real life?). We also tumble a few feet further down the LMD rabbit hole this week as Radcliffe alludes to The Framework. It would appear to be some form of full artificial world simulation as they discuss size no longer being an issue in May’s simulation. This immediately conjures images of Black Mirror’s San Junipero episode from last October (highly-recommended) as we see it used to give the terminally ill Agnes with a new lease of life. This also highlights its current constraints as AIDA remarks that her body will still eventually fail her. That begs towards the next step being full digital consciousness transfer and effectively immortality, “A world where death is obsolete”. It’s all big juicy science fiction material for the show to wrap its chompers around and I’m rather looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
Despite some inconsistencies, I’d still call this a very positive episode of Agents and I’m definitely enjoying the directions this LMD pod is taking. IF LMD coming towards a concluding point, I would like some light shed on that destination next episode but for now, it’s still building nicely. It may not be an explosive episode as the name implies but it’s by no means a wet fizzle.