Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 14 Review: The Man Behind the Shield

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You know what they say: life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. Like an LMD, for instance.

On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 Episode 14, a mission to save Mace and May went quite awry, in that it resulted in four members of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team being replaced by LMDs and absolutely no one being rescued. 

Saving Mace - Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

On the plus side, Mace's shirt appeared to have been confiscated when he was taken captive by Ivanov, which is fine by me. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. viewers were given a Valentine's Day gift in the form of Jason O'Mara's sweaty, rippling abs. So really, six gifts. 

Ivanov continues to be an incredibly underwhelming enemy. With his thicker-than-borscht Russian accent, single-minded obsession with revenge, and penchant for traveling via submarine, he's not much more than a third-rate Bond villain.

Ivanov: A butcher does not seek forgiveness from the animals he slaughters.
Daisy: Have you ever read Animal Farm?

If the vengeful Cossack played by Sean Bean in Goldeneye just...sucked, a lot, he would be Ivanov.

Fortunately, Ivanov ended this episode with his ass righteously kicked, both verbally and physically.

First, Coulson tore down Ivanov's pathetic obsession with him, telling him that the event that kickstarted his epic revenge odyssey was barely more than a blip in the agent's memories.

As far as I'm concerned, you're just another redshirt, like so many others who tried to stop me from saving the world. So, cool original story, bro. But this means nothing to me.

Coulson [to Ivanov]

Then, Daisy showed up to seek vengeance for all of the evil stuff he did to Inhumans with the Watchdogs. There was a whole lot of quaking going on and it was awesome.

Now Ivanov's in the iron clutches of Aida, who once again has taken over as the main villain of the piece.

Aida: If you're done playing with your food, there's still work to be done.
Ivanov: Metaphor. Well done.

It's been a rollercoaster of revolving villains in the second half of this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. First Aida, then Radcliffe, then Nadeer, then Ivanov.

I've enjoyed the way the show has forced us to constantly question who is working against who, and why. Just when I think I know what to expect, someone is betrayed by a supposed ally. Or, in Nadeer's case, accidentally vaporized by one. 

I do have one regret. That I don't have any superpowers I can use to kick your ass.

Mace [to Ivanov]

But, now it has all come back full circle to our favorite LMD. And thank goodness for that. No more boring white man cliches as villains, please! S.H.I.E.L.D.'s badass women are far more formidable. 

As an example of said formidableness: Aida has now replaced Mace, Coulson, Daisy and Mack with LMDs. No small feat, there!

You see, there is something lower than scum. That which tries to be it. Like you.

Ivanov [to Mace]

We're talking the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., a top agent and former director, a powerful Inhuman and an all-around awesome field agent and mechanic, all replaced with androids with something nefarious on their agendas. That's most of the top echelon of the organization!

I loved this twist.

The look on Simmons and Fitz's faces when they realized the swap had been made was awesomely horrifying, a surprising climax to a tense bit of sleuthing by our favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists that started when Simmons realized there was a substantial amount of time on the mission that could not be accounted for.

Just because someone uses your ideas for evil doesn't mean you shouldn't create them in the first place. You make things from the genius of your mind and the goodness of your heart.

Simmons [to Fitz]

This was overall a good hour for Fitz and Simmons. Lately, I find myself zoning out whenever they're onscreen making pretty puppy-dog eyes at each over their test tubes, but I appreciated them in this episode. 

Fitz wrestling with his culpability in development of the framework and the LMD technology, coupled with Simmons' insistence that Fitz can't be responsible for his well-intentioned creations being used for evil, was a powerful thread running through this episode. 

The line between scientist and mad scientist is paper-thin.

Mack [to Fitz]

I have never been super invested in the FitzSimmons relationship; it just felt too easy, too obvious on the part of the writers for them to end up together. I prefer it when couples come at me from out of left field. (Remember the May-Ward coupling? That was good.)

But, this episode reminded me why they are so good for each other, and for S.H.I.E.L.D. Their chemistry does indeed extend beyond the lab when they're given material that digs deeper than the excessively quirky, British-accented bits of dialogue the two are often saddled with.

You did it. You jinxed us. You literally willed this into existence.

Coulson [to May]

I can't wait to see Fitz and Simmons team up to take on the team's most powerful field agents-turned-androids with the power of science! 

The episode ended with LMD Coulson waking up LMD May, bringing the total of LMD agents on the loose to five.

Now that there are twMays and two Coulsons, I wonder how they'll all end up coupling off!

The flashbacks of Coulson and May together felt flat to me. Maybe it was because of May's bangs. They felt incredibly out of character. Why would a tough as nails field agent have bangs like a perky cheerleader? You can't kick butt with bangs in your eyes! 

This is why I don't have Facebook.


The bubbly banter felt weird, too. I kept expecting May to punctuate every line by flicking her hair over her shoulder, batting her eyes, and giggling at Coulson while squeezing his bicep.  

I know that May is supposed to have been changed by the experience that christened her the Cavalry, but this May didn't feel like a pre-trauma May. It felt like a totally different character altogether.

It is for the protection of your cats. I assure you.

Coulson [in Russian]

Apart from her abilities in the field, there was almost nothing recognizable about this version of May. And as someone who truly loves the other version, I just didn't like it. 

If there is one thing I have learned from this season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it is that the show is hit and miss when it comes to portraying believable romances. 

Nonetheless, I am looking forward to seeing what Aida has up her stylish cap-sleeves, and whether Radcliffe can be torn away from his adventures in the framework (I assume with Agnes) to become aware of what is going on.

What did you think of "The Man Behind the Shield"? What do you think Aida's plans for the LMDs are? Will Radcliffe ever be able to tear himself away from the framework again? And will Fitz and Simmons be able to save S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Remember, you can watch Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. online via TV Fanatic. 

The Man Behind the Shield Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.2 / 5.0 (45 Votes)

Lee Jutton was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She went into retirement in July of 2017. Follow her on Twitter.

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