This week, we meet The Superior of the Watchdogs and he is… Zach McGowan, of The 100 and Black Sails, who is an amazing, sexy, dark, intense, commanding actor. King Roan has become one of my favorite characters on the 100. He’s playing Anton Ivanov, a rich, reclusive Russian industrialist who hates inhumans and Phil Coulson, and collects military antiques, including a submarine. He’s a traditionalist who doesn’t hold with all of these new types of aliens and humans mucking things up on earth. It seems like a role with a lot of potential, but Ivanov spent most of his onscreen time tonight trading threats with Radcliffe and looking broody and menacing. Hopefully they’ll let him off the submarine soon so that he can get involved in the action. His motivations also don’t completely make sense yet. There was some vague link to the attempted assassination of the Russian Prime Minister last season, but nothing that would explain the extreme hatred necessary for Ivanov’s level of obsession.
But first, we get Patton Oswalt times three! Sam and Billy Koenig are hanging out at their favorite arcade/bar trading movie quotes when they’re rudely interrupted by a couple of Russian Watchdogs, who kidnap Billy (Sam? No. Billy.) Sam uses his watch to notify Coulson immediately. The shot of stunt Patton leaping behind the bar to hide was especially fun.
It turns out that Coulson gave Billy the Darkhold to take into hiding. The Koenigs are masters at staying hidden, so much so that SHIELD can’t always find them. Radcliffe must have figured it out, and used Nadeer and the Watchdogs’ resources to find and kidnap him. Daisy runs facial recognition to find the kidnappers. Sam is starstruck now that she’s an inhuman superhero, complete with fanfiction. Quake / Black Widow= Quack Pretty sure Sam is the captain of that ship. Under an assumed name.
Fitz is trying to interrogate LMD Radcliffe, but he can’t get anything useful from the android. He plays on Fitz’s weaknesses and sympathies mercilessly. Mack watches nearby with his shotgun axe, and Jemma is lending scientific and moral support.
Shockley brings Billy into a room where original Radcliffe is being held on the submarine and ties him to a chair. OG Radcliffe claims they doublecrossed him, but I think we all know how much we can trust anything that comes out of OG Radcliffe’s mouth at this point. A serious man who introduces himself as the captain arrives and threatens bodily harm if they don’t cooperate. No ritual insults and vague threats from this guy. He means it. He breaks some glass and gets ready to cut Billy’s eyeball. Original Radcliffe stops the action, because he has a strangely inconsistent set of morals. He says he’ll get inside Billy’s brain, instead. They scan his brain as if they were preparing to put his mind into an LMD.
As they wait for the cerebral cortex mapping, OG Radcliffe asks Ivanov why he hates inhumans so much. Ivanov replies that they didn’t have to work hard or suffer for their talents. They didn’t earn them. They’re unnatural things who need to be destroyed along with the thing that “brought them upon us.” Ivanov and my grandmother have similar ideas about the necessity of hard work, whether it’s actually a necessity or not. He’s also clearly never seen an inhuman go through terrigenesis and then try to get control of their powers.
LMD Radcliffe claims to have known Fitz’s father casually for most of his life. Just as LMD Radcliffe’s about to relay a message to Fitz from his dad Fitz unplugs the LMD. Fitz’s father was verbally abusive toward him, undermining his confidence by telling Fitz how stupid and worthless he was when Fitz was a young child. His father left home for good when Fitz was 10 years old. Even though Fitz could use SHIELD resources to track down his dad, he hasn’t wanted to.
Daisy is eventually successful with her facial recognition search, and identifies the Russian kidnappers, who they work for, and their connection to the Russian Prime Minister. Sam admits that he knows about the Darkhold, and the Koenig siblings have been playing a game of hot potato with it. They’ve been rotating through Sam, Billy, and their older sister, Agent LT Koenig, who got her younger brothers into SHIELD. Coulson realizes that they need to get to LT before the Watchdogs do.
LT is at a nightclub where a fourth Koenig brother, Thurston, (RIP Eric 😥) who isn’t in SHIELD, is doing a comedy routine. He’s the rebellious, antigovernment brother. Probably the youngest child. LT is clearly the smartest and toughest of the Koenigs, as all big sisters are. 😘 The team rounds them up and gets them onto the Zephyr, where they have a family hug with Sam.
Meanwhile, Coulson and LMD May almost kissed while they were on watch outside the nightclub. Coulson’s also told May how important she is to him, and that he didn’t give her the Darkhold because he didn’t want to risk her life that way. LMD May is getting more and more pushy and obvious with her questions about the Darkhold.
The brain scan serves as a diversion while Radcliffe views it and tries to interpret the multiple Koenigs and handoffs he’s seeing. Eventually he works his way through to the Labyrinth, a top secret SHIELD vault that only the Koenigs have access to. As soon as Radcliffe figures out the location of the Darkhold, Ivanov tries to double cross him and torture Billy to confirm the information. Radcliffe has Aida beat up Ivanov’s goons to show him why that’s a bad idea. Ivanov thinks Aida’s an inhuman until Radcliffe explains that she’s a machine. They come to a truce, and agree to head to the Labyrinth.
Fitz has been taking a break in his room and thinking about his parents. Jemma comes in to talk him down and act as his muse, as is her habit. Mack is busy with LMD Radcliffe, verbally sparring over philosophy and religion as a warm up to listening to the robot’s screams of agony as it dies. I’m slightly worried about Mack’s mental health at this point, to tell you the truth. Just who did he lose to evil machines? He’s way too into torturing robots to death. I mean, he turned it on to hear it scream? LMD Radcliffe was hilariously, evilly manipulative, but Mack was just creepy.
Jemma and Fitz arrive just in time to stop Mack from getting his robot scream fix. Fitz opens up the back of LMD Radcliffe’s head, and it’s not full of machine parts. It’s full of light and tiny bits flying around. I thought they were Hive parasites for a second, but it’s just a quantum brain made of light. Aida and the Darkhold created them. As LMD Radcliffe is describing the brains, plural, Jemma realizes that she saw Radcliffe map Agent May’s brain.
Coulson, Daisy, May, Sam and LT have arrived at the Labyrinth. Daisy and LT are standing watch at the entrance to the building, while May made sure she was at the entrance to the Labyrinth with Coulson. Sam went into the Labyrinth alone. Coulson and May chat about might have beens and their future, then finally kiss. LT comes running around the corner to interrupt them. The Watchdogs have arrived with Billy.
Sam steps out of the Labyrinth vault with the Darkhold and hands it off to LMD May before rushing off to help rescue his brother. LMD May has her mission in her hands. Coulson tells her to hand it off to him so that she won’t be the target. Instead she pulls her gun on him. Coulson figures out that she’s an LMD. You can see the wheels turning in his head as he thinks back over the last few days and weeks, trying to figure out which parts of their relationship have been real, and what sensitive SHIELD intelligence she’s been privy to. He’s a pro, though, so he pushes it aside and keeps her talking until Daisy shows up to blast her.
Coulson grabs the Darkhold and trades it for Billy. As soon as Billy is safe, Daisy uses her powers to pull the Darkhold back over to the team. A gunfight breaks out. In the confusion, Billy ends up with the Darkhold. He sees LMD May on the floor and bends down to help her. She knocks him out and takes the Darkhold, then Radcliffe takes the Darkhold from her. LMD May begs Radcliffe to take her with him, but he tells her sorry, she wasn’t built to last. Earlier, he’d said that Aida 2 was built to last. Now we need to worry not just about who else is an LMD/ being held hostage, but whether their LMD was built to last, and what that means. And what it might mean to Aida when she finds out there’s a difference.
The team burns Aida 1’s head, and LMD Radcliffe. Jemma says there’s still one more LMD, because Coulson couldn’t bring himself to burn LMD May, in case they never find OG May. Daisy promises Coulson they’ll get May back. He gives her a sad puppy look. We haven’t had enough moments between these two this season. Maybe they can spend time together now that she’s done with Ghostrider and he’s done with LMD May. Daisy and her two dads can lead the search for Mom. Fitz and Jemma will be busy figuring out which one of them is the other LMD.
Ivanov, Radcliffe, and Shockley celebrate their success with vodka and onions. Ivanov finally reveals what it is that he blames for all of the alien problems in the world, because it’s always there, whenever something strange happens. He opens up a file to reveal photos of Phil Coulson. Ivanov isn’t clear on whether Coulson is alive, dead, or even human. He also needs to look up the difference between causation and correlation, and maybe how to read time stamps on photos, so that he can determine when someone was involved with an event before it happened, and when they didn’t arrive until the end.
Radcliffe assures Ivanov that Coulson isn’t dead. Ivanov asks Radcliffe if he can help Ivanov get to Coulson. Radcliffe responds by toasting Ivanov and saying, “So, let it begin.” Given Radcliffe’s inconsistent morality, it’s hard to say what that means.
Will Fitz be finding his father, or will his father be finding him? You don’t bring up that kind of story without eventually introducing Dad. That message has to be real, and important, since LMD Radcliffe didn’t get to deliver it. Fitz Sr is likely in trouble somewhere. He’s probably been a hostage since Fitz was 10, being forced to work on who knows what experiment.
I’m sensing foreshadowing that Jemma is an LMD. We’ve had the number of times she’s been kidnapped pointed out, she was the only person besides Fitz spending time at Radcliffe’s house, Fitz has said over and over that he was working on the LMD program to try to keep her safe. Tonight, she had the line that made Fitz realize how he could get what he needed from LMD Radcliffe, and then she said, “there’s still one more,” as a fake out line when they were burning LMD Radcliffe. It’s either her or Fitz, who was also at Radcliffe’s house so much that he could have easily been replaced. But Radcliffe let Jemma see what he did to May’s brain. She was right there. We saw how May was switched mid-conversation without realizing it. There’s something about the way Jemma is keeping her physical distance from Fitz, and is quieter than usual, that bothers me.
Was anyone else having major Hydra flashbacks this episode? All of those Russians running around, looking for an ancient magical artifact and taking out SHIELD agents, sure took me back. I’m not convinced that the Watchdogs aren’t going to end up having links to another group, yet. Or, maybe they’re just the Hydra clone/replacement, with rich powerful men running the organization, vendettas against SHIELD, a penchant for magic and technology, random prejudices, and important politicians in their pocket. The next step is to infiltrate SHIELD. Oh wait. I would say that it was unrealistic for the Watchdog types to be in league with the Russians, but apparently ultraconservatives love Russia now, so… The Watchdog symbol will never be as much fun as the Hydra one though, unless the Watchdogs use a three-headed dog.
Next week, the search for Agent May begins, and everyone better stay out of Coulson’s way.