No one ever accused Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. of being subtle. But, sometimes you don't want subtle. Sometimes you want to see fire literally fought with fire. And on that front, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 4 definitely delivered.
Now, I never liked James. As a character, he feels like a bargain-basement version of Sawyer from Lost – a sinewy, stubbly bad boy who is supposed to be charming in his roguishness. Except, James is not charming. He's just a jerk.
(To be fair, Sawyer was also a jerk. But Josh Holloway could pull it off. This guy can't.)
Needless to say, I was not looking forward to more James in this episode. I was especially not looking forward to the idea of James allying himself with Daisy. The last thing we need is this guy's annoying Australian drawl slavered all over every episode for the rest of the season.
While we might not yet be safe from that fate, it was oh so satisfying to see Robbie's hand snap out and grab James' fiery chain as though it were no more than a jump rope on the playground. It was even more satisfying to hear him declare that he was going to makes James pay for his sins – and then actually deliver on that promise!
The only way their fiery showdown – culminating in, yes, literal fireworks, because why not – could have been better was if James had gone up with the fireworks store. Or at least had his teeth kicked in. But, watching his unconscious body dragged unceremoniously around by his own chain was a nice touch.
Now you can get back to Lone Rangering, or whatever it is you're doing.Simmons [to Daisy]
Now that he is a captive of S.H.I.E.L.D., I worry that we're going to be subjected to even more James in upcoming episodes. But as long as Robbie is there to keep him in check, then perhaps his attitude problem will be dialed down a notch.
Speaking of which: Robbie has now allied himself with S.H.I.E.L.D., at least temporarily, so that he can help them find an evil book called the Darkhold, also known as the Book of Sins.
Daisy has also been reluctantly enlisted in this quest, despite her desire to keep hunting the Watchdogs. Yet while the Watchdogs are a threat to Inhumans, the Darkhold is apparently a threat to all. Which, if I'm being honest, is great, because the show really needed to reunite Daisy with the rest of the team.
You can't have it both ways. You can't push us away and then come crawling back half-dead only when you feel like it. It's unfair!Simmons [to Daisy]
The Darkhold marks a bold foray into actual magic for the Marvel Cinematic Universe – it's existence appears to be the kind of thing that can't just be explained away by Fitz and Simmons with a few lines of scientific jargon. It also seems to be tying Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to Doctor Strange in a big way.
As I mentioned in my review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 3, the interconnectedness of the MCU is both a blessing and a curse. The show often feels like the neglected stepchild of the MCU, so little nods to Marvel's megasized properties in the form of Easter eggs and references (hi, Nick Fury) are nice reminders of the big picture.
In my experience, gods tend to be aliens.Coulson
But Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also suffers story-wise when it is forced to hold back for the sake of an impending movie. And to be quite honest, Doctor Strange is not one of the Marvel movies I've been more excited about. (Hurry up with Black Panther and Captain Marvel already.)
Marvel's marketing magic is definitely working, though. Before this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. started, I was willing to wait for rental for Doctor Strange. Now, I'm ready to rush out and see it opening weekend just so I can hopefully get some S.H.I.E.L.D. answers. So you win this round, Marvel.
The other big action set-piece in this episode was the ultimate car chase: Robbie's Hellcharger -- Lucifier, or Lucy if you're nasty – versus Coulson's beloved red Corvette, Lola.
It's my car -- I drive. You wouldn't fit behind the wheel anyways.Coulson [to Mack]
The chase itself was awesome, though not nearly as jawdropping as watching Daisy cling to the top of the speeding Hellcharger by her fingertips in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 2. Even better than the actual chase was the way it ended – with Robbie smashing into the Quinjet, which was lying in wait, invisible.
And even better than that, in my mind, was watching Mack geek out over Robbie's ride from Lola's passenger seat. I like being reminded that the agents have other interests in their lives besides just catching bad guys. It makes it much easier to be invested in their fates.
As far as personal lives go, we got an interesting relationship status update from Fitz and Simmons – they're apartment hunting! Hearing them discuss their price threshold over the phone, though, made me wonder: how much does a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent get paid? Are they salaried, or do they get overtime? (I hope the latter, as it seems like these guys are always working. How do they even find time for those other interests?)
Fitz: Are you mad?
Radcliffe: No, just a scientist.
Simmons also uncovered Aida's big secret. This subplot is the one I am currently the least invested in. It's far too reminiscent of last year's brilliant Ex Machina – and a million other science-fiction films – to keep me from yawning. Wake me up when Life Model Decoy Grant Ward is back.
So, what did you think of "Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire"? Do you think a lone wolf like Robbie is cut out for the pack mentality of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Will Simmons be able to pass her lie detector test and keep her promotion after everything she's discovered? Will May get to do something besides sit around in Radcliffe's lab?
Remember, you can watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. online via TV Fanatic.
Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.