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Warning: This post contains spoilers for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! Proceed with caution, agents. If you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “BOOM,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Then let’s go.

More and more, it’s evident that S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s secret weapons this season are its new players. While the show had quality guest stars and recurring performers in years past, almost all in the current batch are no less than compelling.

We care about Mace, about the fact that he’s a decent man trying to work within a deeply flawed system to make a difference, to be more than “team mascot.” And—as we learn this week—that he’s more than willing to kill himself for the greater good. (Even if he tends to use one to many football metaphors along the way.) In some ways he’s reminiscent of Chris Hemsworth’s Thor in that he’s a huge hunk of hero with whom it would be hard to sympathize if he wasn’t played by a solid actor who’s unafraid to show the chinks in his character’s armor.

We also care about Aida, who—like so many AI’s in science-fiction history, from Data to the Iron Giant—has rapidly evolved beyond her programming, to feel as well as think, and experience all the negative emotions that come with developing a distinct personality. She’s essentially going through adolescence and discovering she’s not unique, hardly fun. Since it turns out Radcliffe based her on his ex-lover Agnes, whom he left when she developed an inoperable brain tumor.

The biggest accomplishment of “BOOM” is that it makes us care an awful lot about Agnes, a woman we’ve just met and already feel tremendous pity and respect for, determined as she is to live out her remaining days on her own terms. Which makes it all the more heartbreaking when she abandons Coulson (and May) for Radcliffe and his empty promise of a better life within the Framework. Even though her actions are perfectly understandable given that she has a history with the scientist that Coulson’s five-minute pitch talk can’t erase.


We even care about the villains of season 4, Senator Nadeer and Terrence Shockley. Both are loathsome creatures, to be sure, filled with as much hate for themselves as they have for the Inhumans. But has Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ever had more hissable antagonists, played in such a creepily casual manner? Here, Shockley himself is revealed as an Inhuman, and he’s still obsessed with their destruction. His new powers perfectly suit his personality too, since—as a human bomb—he’s able to go on suicide missions and survive. Which makes him the worst possible nightmare for anyone battling against terrorism. But I’m hoping against hope that Nadeer somehow also experienced Terrigenesis, and emerged with powers that somehow helped her survive the explosion Shockley caused in her office. Parminder Nagra’s just too good in her role to be so quickly disposed of (and I still want my ER reunion with her and Ming-Na Wen).

If there’s one weak link in the chain of newcomers, it’s Anton Ivanov, the Russian devoted to “racial purity.” Zach McGowan is fine in the role, but the character’s menacing introduction several weeks back has given way to a one-note persona that could stand some development. With Mace now in his clutches, perhaps we’ll soon get a war of ideologies between the two men that will enrich his brand of villainy.

As for S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s main man… I wasn’t entirely satisfied with how quickly the feelings we’re told Coulson has long had for May rose to the fore this season. But now that they’re out in the open, they’re doing wonders for him. He’s never been more driven yet at the same time more level-headed. If this is love, I’m all for it. I only hope May is as quick to reciprocate once she escapes Radcliffe. Because we all know tenderness has never come easy for the Cavalry.


Declassified Deliberations

  •  Just in case anyone had any doubts about Mallory Jansen’s acting range, her turn as Agnes should lay them to rest. And we get to hear her real Australian accent!
  • “You’ll make the right decision at the right time. Or you’ll get an Asgardian staff through your chest. I’d try to avoid that last part.”
  • Simmons’ reaction to Fitz almost killing himself while disposing of Shockley reminds we why I love these two so much.
  • “I think I figured out my place on the team. I’m the blocker.”
  • It seems clear that although Agnes is gone she may yet save the day — if her downloaded memories convince Aida to turn against Radcliffe. If so, I’d love to see Aida become a member of SHIELD. The possibilities she’d bring for pathos and humor are near endless.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Images: Marvel/Disney/ABC


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