Agents of SHIELD Season 4 Episode 10: The Patriot Recap

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Whoops, the Hero of Vienna wasn’t such a hero after all, and the “powered person that people could trust” that Coulson requested for the new SHIELD director doesn’t have powers of his own at all. I’ve been asking for the show to humanize Jeffrey Mace and make him more relatable, but that’s not really what I meant. I don’t know what to make of him at this point. Guess we’re rebuilding the character from the ground up, as the MCU loves to do. Things are never ever what they seem at SHIELD, or anywhere SHIELD adjacent.

Mace is standing at a podium on the steps of a government building, making a speech honoring Daisy for saving people when a bridge collapsed during one of her “undercover” missions. Coulson and Mack mill around the perimeter gossiping about Talbot, Burrows, and Mace’s Very Important MacGuffin of the Week briefcase. Suddenly, a sniper shoots at Mace from a nearby roof top. Mace blocks the shot with the podium. He’s then whisked away by Coulson, Mack and Burrows, while Daisy captures the shooter.

Back at HQ, Aida 1’s head is laying on the counter next to Simmon’s work station, and she is Not Happy. Fitz wants to run tests on it, but Simmons wants that murderous “thing” destroyed. She’ll remind Fitz that it’s too dangerous to leave lying around. This is giving me flashbacks to the way Jemma reacted when the inhumans became part of the show.

Talbot arrives at the base and assumes command. He wants May and Daisy (“Little Miss Richter Scale”) to interrogate the sniper.

Fitz is at Radcliffe’s house, listening to Radcliffe complain about Aida’s decommissioning. Fitz tells him to stay away from HQ until everyone’s had a chance to get over Nathanson’s murder. After Fitz leaves, Radcliffe tells Aida 2 that LMD May will have to function independently if he’s not allowed at the base. He’s worried she’ll attract suspicion and blow his plan.

The sniper is a veteran agent for enemies of SHIELD, but starts talking as soon as May and Daisy insult the assassination plan. Phase I only had a 13% chance of success anyway.

Phase II goes into effect on the quinjet carrying Mace, Burrows, Coulson, and Mack. There’s an explosion on the plane that pulls Burrows and the briefcase out of the plane, kills the pilot, and forces the plane to crash land. The transponder, coms, and all signals of any kind have been knocked out. Mace insists they find Burrows and the briefcase before they do anything else, because SHIELD doesn’t leave a man behind. Mack says Burrows has practically no chance of being alive, then asks Coulson if he thinks it’s their best move. Coulson says, “You know the saying: If a jet crashes in the woods, and there’s no one there to hear it, stay close to the guy with super strength.” Then he puts on his trademark sunglasses, only they’re broken. 🙈

I know Mace is going after the briefcase, but, seriously, Mack, in this universe you’re going to argue about checking to see if a body actually hit the ground and if the agent is still alive?? We can start with Bucky Barnes, then talk about the ways people have lived through falling from heights, from Steve Rogers landing in the water and on his shield through Iron Man being caught by the Hulk. Next we can talk about the ways an enemy could have planned to catch Burrows and the briefcase in the air. I don’t ever want to see Mack in charge of Ops.

Radcliffe and Aida 2 puzzle over why original May isn’t responding well to the relaxing spa program they’re running in her head while keeping her unconscious. Um, maybe because she’d never consider going to a spa by choice, so she subconsciously knows something’s wrong, you sexist idiot? Radcliffe is still fussing over Nathanson’s murder. Both Aida’s are/were too quick to turn to violence. He’s doing nothing but worry about uncooperative females this week, poor guy. Even the ones he made himself won’t follow orders as given. On the other hand, Aida 2’s ability to snark is developing nicely.

LMD May doesn’t know what she is, so she’s less likely to reveal herself. Radcliffe hopes this will allow him to get the Darkhold with less violence. LMD May can get close to Coulson and get him to tell her where it is. Aida 2 wants to help get the darkhold, but Radcliffe tells her it’s much safer to let May work alone. Aida 2 seems a bit jealous of Radcliffe’s faith in LMD May.

Talbot starts handing out orders when they get word of the plane crash at HQ, even though Simmons is the ranking agent, and the protocols automatically put her in charge. He won’t let her examine any of the files that would be helpful and keeps her distracted.

Fitz and Simmons argue about continuing work on the LMD program, and diagnostic work on Aida 1’s head. Fitz just wants to improve the technology so it can be used to keep people safe, especially Jemma, the way it was meant to. He thinks the missing component was Jemma’s input. Jemma doesn’t think there’s any way to make the technology safe, and doesn’t even want to discuss it again. She wants to focus on the agents who are missing in the field right now. Fitz knows that they’ll find them, now that Daisy’s back on the team and working with May.

Cut to human May, who is ironically being held hostage so that she can be replaced by an identical LMD for nefarious purposes. This is why LMDs are outlawed, Fitz. Making Stepford bots is just too tempting. May breaks free from her drug-induced spa visit and tries to leave. Aida 2 goes straight to choking May. After a brief fight, Radcliffe sedates May again. Her readings are better during the fight than during the spa scenario. Radcliffe realizes that May is a warrior, and she needs to be distracted with something suited to her temperament. Except when he says it, it sounds more insulting, but, whatever. The guy thinks it’s okay to create and destroy women at will, holds them hostage if he feels like it, and then criticizes May for being a rude hostage, and Aida for obeying her programming to kill a man.

If the females don’t turn against Radcliffe before long, I’m going to have to start complaining about this show’s treatment of women regularly in my recaps. They’re not exactly giving the women starring roles this season, and the time they are getting is as victims, shrews, sidekicks and evil robots controlled by men. We’re veering back into season 1 territory quickly. Agent May’s time spent onscreen drugged, unconscious and  in her underwear doesn’t count as giving her a decent storyline. I know Joss doesn’t understand that, but I thought Jed did.

Coulson, Mack, and Mace find Burrows body, but their attackers have found it first. Mace refuses to reveal what’s in the briefcase. They set up a plan of attack to recover the case. Mace manages to grab the case and get it open. There are two hypodermics of medication inside. They are shot and broken before Mace can inject himself with either.

SHIELD can’t find the crash site because of the wiped out transponder and com signals. While they continue to search, Simmons gains access to a limited acess file about Mace called  The Patriot File. Talbot is forced to explain what’s really going on to Fitz and Simmons, while Mace explains the Patriot Project to Coulson and Mack.

Mace is not an inhuman. The case contained vials of a variation on the supersoldier serum modified from the one Daisy’s father Cal developed. They took out the more toxic elements, but he needs the injections to manifest his powers. The drug cocktail is uniquely calibrated to his DNA to make him strong. The president put Talbot in charge of finding a suitable powered candidate to run SHIELD, and their wasn’t one, so he created one. Mace is a patriot. When his country called, he answered.

Fitz, Simmons and Talbot realize how dire Coulson, Mack, and Mace’s situation must be, since Mace doesn’t have his powers. Time for drastic measures. They can’t find a fast way to unscramble the signals and find the crash site. Simmons comes up with a workaround. She puts Aida 1’s head in a box, covered in blood, and pretends it’s the head of the last person she questioned. Their prisoner starts spilling his guts.

Mace was shot in the leg in the last scuffle, but they’ve all made it into a building. They need to damage the enemy’s signal scrambling truck so that the team can find them. Coulson comes up with a plan that involves Mace pretending he still has powers. Mace distracts the enemy soldiers while Mack blows up the truck. Then we have the required fight scene until The Calvary shows up to rescue them. May gets a deep cut on her back during the fight. Later, in the locker room mirror, she notices that the cut doesn’t look normal inside. She’s confused, but doesn’t do anything about it.

Fitz puts Aida 1’s head away in a storage locker, but wakes her up and downloads her hard drive first. He promises her he’ll figure out what went wrong. She thanks him. Fitz with a harem of LMDs that he’s rescued from Radcliffe is an image I’d love to see. Was Aida 1 aware that she was programmed to act the way she did, or did she really think she had emotions and wanted the Darkhold for herself? Either way, Radcliffe sacrificed her and abandoned her. She may have evolved enough to feel a bit of betrayal. Fitz is one of her creators, she’d have some natural loyalty toward him.

Simmons shows up and calls Aida’s head a “thing” again. Fitz tells her how hot he thinks it is when she gets all fierce. He lies to her about Aida though, and tells her he’s done with it. I’m so happy to see them working together that I’m going to stick my head in the sand and sing Lalalala. This will never come up again and get in the way of their relationship. Even when if it does, they’re too strong and mature as a couple to let it come between them. LALALALA.

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Finally, we get to the showdown between Talbot, Coulson, and Mace. Talbot needed to find a director, and Daisy went rogue. They need supersoldiers and inhumans to fight the next war. A director like supersoldier Mace can give them the cred they need.

Mace asks Talbot to let him speak to Coulson alone. He explains that he didn’t really help anyone in Vienna. It was a misunderstanding that he tried to correct, but no one would listen. When they asked him to use the serum and be director, he thought he could help inhumans fight for their rights, which he believes should be equal to anyone else’s. Mace intends to resign and have Coulson reinstated as director.

Coulson stops Mace on his way out the door. He makes a deal with Mace. Mace has a good heart and is good at politics and keeping his head in a crisis. Coulson hates the political part of the job. Mace will stay the director publicly, but Coulson will be in charge of operations.

So, Coulson is back in charge, doing what he does best, which is secretly running SHIELD. No one loves having a secret job more than Phil. He was meant to be the power behind the throne. Watching this partnership evolve should be fun. Mace finally opened up and told us something that sounded real and vulnerable. This guy might be someone I want to get to know.

Talbot said something particularly interesting: “The president tasked me with finding the next Captain America.”

Just how literally does he mean that? Was the plan to use a PR machine to build Mace up in the American culture until he’s as beloved a figure as Steve Rogers? To have him replace Steve as the trusted American hero so that they could continue to hunt Steve, Bucky and the rest down, then quietly execute them? Were they looking to recruit or create their own Avengers, loyal to the US government and the UN, possibly dependent on the government for their powers, the way Mace is? Mace is an easily controlled superhero, since he literally can’t go off and use his powers without permission. That would be the ideal to Ross and his ilk. Then Ross would happily kill anyone and everyone else with natural powers or enhancements.

This serum could be a scary new development. Mace was the experimental test subject. What’s next for the supersoldier program? (The third arc of this season?)

 

Talbot was on fire with the one liners tonight:

“Agent May, with the possible exception of my mother, you are the single most intimidating woman I’ve ever met.”

“You, hey, with the hair. Get me a coffee, and don’t forget the vanilla creamer this time.”

“Now find me some sciencey way to regain contact with our men on the ground.”

 

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