The latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't have as much android-induced insanity as the previous installment, but it still managed to pack a whole lot of action – not to mention one big reveal – into an hour of incredibly entertaining television.
On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 10, we finally learned the truth behind the mysterious backstory of S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Mace, also known as the Patriot. And it turns out, Mace is even more similar to the previous incarnations of the Marvel character who inspired him than we may have originally thought.
In case you need a refresher: the first Patriot, Jeffrey Mace, had no powers, but donned a costume to save lives after being inspired by Captain America. The second Patriot, Eli Bradley, originally acquired powers after being injected with a special hormone.
There they go again with the world's most conspicuous briefcase.Coulson
Our Patriot seems to have taken his name and noble intentions from the first version of the character, but the origins of his powers – or lack thereof – seems to have been inspired by Eli Bradley's story.
That's right: Director Mace is not a real Inhuman. After Mace's heroic deeds during the attack on Vienna, General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar's gruff, grumpy humor as Talbot once again provided a welcome splash of color to the episode) was once again a most welcome addition) recruited Mace and groomed him to take over S.H.I.E.L.D.
If he gets any further up Talbot's ass, he'll need a snorkel.Mack
The logic is sound. After all, what better way to rehabilitate the image of the Inhumans than making one the face of S.H.I.E.L.D., and a clean-cut, handsome, public relations-friendly face at that?
Coulson seemed to agree. Despite his original fury at being hoodwinked by both Talbot and Mace, he eventually convinced Mace to remain in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. in name only. Mace will continue to handle all PR duties, but Coulson will handle the day-to-day running of S.H.I.E.L.D., including calling the shots on all missions.
I believe that Inhumans deserve the same rights as anyone else in this country.Mace
Seems like a pretty fair compromise to me. Maybe that's why this storyline didn't strike me as very exciting – even with ex-Hydra assassins running amok with communications-jamming trucks. I just found myself shrugging and thinking to myself, "Ah, okay. This all makes sense."
Perhaps that was the most shocking thing about this storyline. It made sense. And who ever expects the Marvel Cinematic Universe to make sense!
Agent May, with the possible exception of my mother, you are the single most intimidating woman I have ever met.Talbot
Jason O'Mara was particularly good in this episode. Director Mace has been an odd character for me to assess; in some episodes, he seems like a smart S.H.I.E.L.D. devotee, but in others he came off as a wily government sycophant.
Sometimes, these contrasts make him come off as a complex character, full of different shades of gray, but other times, it can just feel like inconsistent, lazy writing.
I'm going to squeeze our prisoner like a lime wedge on dollar beer night.Talbot
However, O'Mara managed to perfectly meld these two different ideas of Mace into one imperfect man in this episode. When Mace voiced his belief that he had thought he was doing the right thing by Inhumans by pretending to be one of them, I truly believed that he meant it.
In the end, Mace's intentions were good, but his actions were not. It remains to be seen if there will be any additional fallout from said actions.
You know that saying. If a jet crashes in the woods and there's no one around to hear it, you stay close to the guy with super strength.Coulson
Meanwhile, while LMD May was running around in the field with Daisy and company, the real May woke up from the supposedly relaxing simulation Aida had created for her and tried to escape. Naturally, Aida caught her, and nearly killed her in the process.
I thought it was interesting that Radcliffe was so disgusted with Aida's violent tendencies, especially her killing of Nathanson. Once we learned that Aida was in fact doing Radcliffe's bidding by seeking to obtain the Darkhold, I assumed that he had encouraged her to get the book at whatever cost.
You like statistics, right? There's a 100% chance I get inside your head. The question is how long you live afterward.Simmons [to the sniper]
However, loss of life is apparently too high of a cost for Radcliffe to pay for the power of the Darkhold. And when I think about it further, it of course makes sense: Radcliffe created Aida to potentially save the lives of agents in the field, so why wouldn't he be upset when one of them decided to take an agent's life instead?
Still, I hesitate to embrace this warm and fuzzy reading of Radcliffe's actions. After all, this is a guy who is holding May captive so that LMD May can steal a super-powerful book of dark magic for him.
Aida: If I terminate anyone else for your protection, I will dispose of the body more discreetly.
Radcliffe: No! Don't terminate anyone.
What does Radcliffe want with the power of the Darkhold? Why is he willing to hold people captive to get it, but not to kill them? It's all very strange. But I look forward to more of this storyline, which is a very sharp U-turn from how I felt about it during the first half of the season.
Radcliffe's distaste at Aida's violence might also just be his own fear of her power manifesting itself. Of course he doesn't want her to walk around strangling people; he's worried he might be next!
Radcliffe: Now we're playing a longer, more nuanced game. Hopefully with less violence.
Aida: But isn't the real Agent May already prone to violence?
Special shout-out to Mallory Jansen for continuing to balance humor and horror in her portrayal of Aida, and John Hannah for playing off of her deadpan line readings so well. The two of them have a surprising amount of chemistry for an android and her creator!
I couldn't help but crack up at their revelation that May is the kind of person who is stressed out by relaxation, and functions better under conflict. I can only imagine what kind of simulation they have in store for her next.
Radcliffe: What happened? She was supposed to be in a relaxing simulation!
Aida: She was in a day spa, getting a hot stone massage.
Radcliffe: How hot did you make the stones?
What did you think of "The Patriot"? Do you still think Mace is the right man to be the face of S.H.I.E.L.D.? When will Simmons discover that Fitz is still fascinated by the old Aida's severed head, and what might that do to their relationship?
And speaking of relationships: is this show building towards a Coulson-May romance, and if so, how does that make you feel? (Personally, I don't like it.)
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.