Thursday, February 16, 2017

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4, Episode 14, "The Man Behind the Shield" REVIEW (SPOILERS)

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Yet again, another late upload for my AoS review.  Of course, with the episode airing on the anniversary of St. Valentine’s martyrdom, I was pretty occupied that night.  Plus, there was a Pokémon GO event going on (anyone else still playing?  Anyone coming back now that Generation 2 has been added?), so I think I have an excuse or two.  I’m also mulling over an extra article for either tomorrow or Sunday about the upcoming third arc of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., so stay tuned for that.

With all of that out of the way, let’s get on with the review.


  • The first and most important positive (I think), is that they did not turn this “Valentine’s Day episode” into a love-fest.  That would have been terribly boring and frustrating for us to watch.
  • Having said that, romantic elements were present in the episode, and I thought they were very well done.  The exploration of the history between Coulson and May was very welcome, especially with Coulson’s reaction to May’s abduction.  I was certainly expecting Fitz and Simmons’ relationship to receive some exploration, and I was relieved that they did not make that the focus of the episode.
  • At first blush it looked like Daisy vs. Ivanov was going to be a letdown, but they actually made it really interesting in the end.
  • The connection between Coulson and Ivanov was really good and personal for Ivanov, which I think redeems him somewhat.  He’s still a bit of a letdown as the “big bad” for the arc, but even that is mitigated greatly by the reveal at the end that AIDA’s plan is even greater than Ivanov’s.
  • Speaking of AIDA’s plan, the fact that Radcliffe is spending more and more time in the Framework is really interesting.  I am curious if this is part of her plan:  build the Framework in such a way that everyone wants to be in it, leaving her free to do… something.  That’s a bit of a problem:  we’re 1 episode away from the end of the arc, and we don’t actually know what AIDA is trying to accomplish.  I understand why Ivanov wanted to replace the top S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, but he’s not really in control anymore; AIDA is.  So what does she want to do?
  • While I was expecting them to leave at least some mystery regarding which agents are LMDs, I’m glad that they did not.  That cuts at least some of the (unnecessary) drama out of the next episode, allowing them to focus more on the action.


  • This was almost in the positive category, but I had to move it.  Mace had some great development in this episode, particularly when he was alone with the Superior.  However, the reveal at the end that he was replaced with an LMD cast doubt on all that development, at least in my mind:  when was he replaced?  Was his bold declaration of faith in Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. genuine, or was it programming?  They can answer that question quite easily in the next episode by showing bruises on Mace (which would indicate that he was replaced either during the final beat-down or after the rescue).
  • This arc has had a really slow build.  That has given them a lot of opportunities for character development, but I’m surprised at how long it took them to place more than 1 LMD at S.H.I.E.L.D.

Things to look for:

  • The LMD scanner has been shown to register false positives, so it is possible that 1 of the LMDs it registered is not really an LMD
  • I really want to know if AIDA/Radcliffe have the ability to grant superpowers to their LMDs.  It would be really difficult for an LMD to convincingly pass for Daisy without some rudimentary ability to mimic her powers.  At the same time, as far as we have seen that appears to be beyond their capability… but that’s not accounting for the Darkhold.
  • Is the Darkhold going to remain in play through the third arc of the season, or will it finally be destroyed or otherwise become a nonfactor next week?
  • Next week is the last episode of the LMD arc, so they are going to set up the next arc in next week’s episode.  Any guesses?
  • How are the LMDs going to explain the fact that they reactivated the May LMD?

Those are my thoughts on this episode.  As a whole I have really enjoyed this arc, though it has felt like a really slow burn getting to this point.  Hopefully next week’s episode will give a really good payoff for the LMD story.

What are you most excited about next week?  Let me know in the comments!

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