Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review: Coulson Does Some Soul Searching While Hunting for May

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 4, Episode 13, “BOOM”

For a series that’s all about superpowers and spy games, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has become adept at telling the small, personal stories. Episodes like “BOOM” used to be the series’ greatest weakness but once the writing team discovered the way to shine the spotlight on individual characters, mix in a little action AND keep the overarching plot momentum going, it became a real game-changer.

This week, Coulson is pulling out all the stops trying to locate May who is being held captive by Radcliffe in one of the Superior’s many bases of operations. His one lead is the woman who served as the visual and emotional inspiration of Aida, Radcliffe’s former colleague and lover, Agnes.

When Coulson first confronts Agnes, he and Mack try a brusque approach to solicit her help. Agnes is not swayed in the least because she’s in Spain living out her days with an inoperable brain tumor that could kill her at pretty much any moment, and seeing Radcliffe again is not one of her bucket list items.

Coulson takes a second run at Agnes and this time, lays all of his emotional cards on the table. For reasons both highly professional and deeply personal, Coulson needs to find May. He describes how Radcliffe kidnapped May, replaced her with one of his robot duplicates and oh by the way, Radcliffe’s main robot looks like Agnes.

Agnes sympathizes with Coulson’s plight this time, and agrees to reach out to Radcliffe to set up a trap. Of course, Radcliffe turns the tables, saying to Agnes that he’s completed his life’s work and can help her. She chooses to go with Radcliffe, because even the most remote chance of extending her life is too tempting to resist.

It turns out that May’s virtual prison also serves as Radcliffe’s cure. His “Framework” is now as big as the world itself, and scanned human consciousness can live on when its organic case dies. This does bring Agnes and Aida face-to-face, and is the idea that bridges the emotional and action pieces of the episode together.

The existence of Agnes makes Aida question her place in the world, which is exactly what Mace and this week’s antagonist, Shockley are doing.

Mace is unsure of his role in S.H.I.E.L.D., knowing that the next time he tries to use his superpower serum, it could kill him. He’s still the face of the organization, but Mace has trouble reconciling his desire to be a team player with his newfound thirst for action.

Shockley is thrown for a loop when he becomes that which he hates the most, an Inhuman. Radcliffe has modified the Terragen crystals, and Shockley is sent to kill Sen. Nadeer with one, but things don’t go as planned when the crystal dust transforms Shockley into a person who can cause his atoms to charge up, explode and reform later on. The first time it happens, it takes out Nadeer and her staff.

Although an abomination now in the eyes of his leader, Shockley plans to use his mad bombing skills to get captured and blow up Mace.

Daisy is capable and in charge throughout the episode, and adds a fair bit of levity as she uses her powers to constantly trip Shockley’s powers, while FitzSimmons prep the Shop-Vac prison they’ve prepared for Shockley — who is eventually captured, but not before Mace powers up and puts himself between the ambushing Russian goons, and Daisy, Fitz and Simmons.

It sets up an exciting next step where Mace is captured, and the hunt for May presses on.

While “BOOM” didn’t exactly blow you away, it at least commanded your attention, thanks to a heart-wrenching performance from Clark Gregg and the solid action piece that gave Daisy the most screen time she’s had in the back half of the season so far. While this season hasn’t been perfect, solid transitional episodes like this one has kept the missteps to a minimum.

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

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