Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 4, Episode 3: “Uprising”
After opening the season setting up the players and the world they inhabit, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spent its third episode establishing the threat. And, much like the old threat (and the real world we occupy), that threat is fear.
The Sokovia Accords and superhuman registration have done very little to settle the public’s fear of Inhumans and other super-powered types. It’s the reason why the Watchdogs have gone from a bunch of hillbillies shooting guns in the woods to an international movement with serious backing and political connections.
Thanks to this new backing, the Watchdogs were able to cause worldwide blackouts, pin it on an Inhuman revolt and, in the ensuing chaos, hunt down registered Inhumans. Coulson, Mack, and Fitz (aka Slide Rule) are sent to the blackout zone in Miami to protect YoYo, who happens to be in town for a bachelorette party. With their fancy equipment fried in the EMP field, the guys rely on brains and brawn to track down YoYo just as she’s outed as an Inhuman and she saves the life of the fedora dude, whose pickup game involves magic tricks.
It set off the first of two excellently choreographed fight sequences (the second is an amazing scene that makes the most of YoYo’s powers and a flashing light source).
Simmons had to deal with fear of a different sort while saving May’s life. With May going downhill fast and exhibiting the fatal symptoms of the ghost-in-a-box encounter, Jemma throws a Hail Mary and takes May to see Dr. Radcliffe to see if one of his gadgets can diagnose the problem and hopefully save May’s life.
It turns out that fear is literally killing May. A spectral encounter sends the victim’s fear reaction into overdrive, causing the body to pump out adrenaline until everything shuts down. The solution is to kill May in a controlled setting, let her brain activity slow and reset itself. At the crucial moment where they try to bring her back, Radcliffe’s lab gets zapped by an EMP, forcing him to fetch the battery out of his sexy robot to power the defibrillator that brings May back.
Daisy is traveling with the living embodiment of fear in Ghost Rider, and they have to deal with the blackout in their own way as they rescue Robbie’s wheelchair-bound brother from a group of rioters. Daisy’s been on the run for a while; she’s seriously injured and seriously vulnerable. When Robbie’s brother acts as awful on S.H.I.E.L.D. as he is on Fear the Walking Dead, Daisy takes the opportunity to bug out again.
All this darkness and fear does make the beacon of light easier to see. In the aftermath of the blackout, the new S.H.I.E.L.D. steps forward to calm the fears of both human and Inhuman alike.
The stage is now set for forward movement. After a couple of seasons of non-stop episodes, last week’s interruption (the vice presidential debate) threw things off a little, but the overall quality remained high. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is in a good groove at the moment, moving the story forward at a deliberate pace, while throwing in sufficient action to keep the overall feel exciting.