Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD S04E08 “The Laws Of Inferno Dynamics” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Evil Uncle Eli is creating a creating a plutonium bomb that doubles as a radioactive changing room… or something. He keeps his recalcitrant henchmen in line by paying them in diamonds… that are vomited from the mouth of the biggest moaner.
- Eli’s powers are creating earth tremors. The media suspects Quake, but Mace gives a press conference denying this, but confirming that SHIELD is investigating.
- Coulson advises Mace that the best team to send in is Robbie, Daisy and Yo-Yo. If Mace is worried this might be a potential bad PR minefield, that’s nothing compared to what he learns when he suggests enlisting AIDA’s help as well…
- …And Coulson reveals she’s an android.
- Mace is perturbed by the news but agrees to use her, warning that he’ll deal with her illegal creation later.
- Fitz is monitoring Evil Uncle Eli’s hideout and is convinced he can’t be creating matter out of nothing. That would be magic…
- Fitz makes some new gauntlets for Daisy that actually seem to work, so she can use her powers without shattering her bones.
- Mace has a meeting with Radcliffe and lets him know that he knows about the Darkhold, and that he wants to keep an eye on AIDA.
- In an initial foray into Evil Uncle Eli’s lair, Yo-Yo sets off a bomb and only just makes it out alive. Mack gets all protective of her but she doesn’t appreciate his sudden concern after months of silence.
- Robbie carries on into the lair alone, is captured by Evil Uncle Eli and pinned to a wall inside the implausibly-designed plutonium bomb chamber.
- They talk a lot. There are loads of “they never took me seriously so I became a supervillain!” guff. Either make a cup of tea or fast forward at this point.
- Eventually Evil Uncle Eli gets to the point – he plans to use the bomb and then, using his ever-increasing powers, create life from ensuing death and destruction.
- Fitz and Simmons realise that Evil Uncle Eli is planning a nuclear explosion, and Mace decides to get into Patriot mode. He costumes up and announces that he’s heading the team into the field to extract the plutonium.
- Team Coulson, still suspicious of Mace, is not happy with this.
- Coulson and Mace thrash it out. Mace, quite reasonably, points out what a dangerous loose cannon Coulson has been all season. Coulson accuses Mace of colluding with Senator Nadeer. Mace says, “Hey, wait, I was backed into that because of the mess you’ve been making of things, Phil! I was just trying to save SHIELD from a PR nightmare!” Coulson says, “Ooops!” and they decide to work together.
- Fitz has a lightbulb moment. Eli isn’t creating matter from nothing; he’s drawing it from the Dark Dimension that he, Coulson and Robbie were trapped in last episode. It’s this that’s causing the quakes.
- Fitz sciences up a solution that requires all of Team SHIELD plus AIDA to work together. It involves Team Action facing Evil Uncle Eli upstairs in his lair, while Team Science sets up another dimensional arch in the corridors below.
- So… FIGHT! And BUILD!
- In the process, AIDA is shot and everybody is shocked to learn she can feel pain. It’s another of Radcliffe’s measures to make her convincingly human.
- Coulson helps free Robbie, but when Team Science opens the interdimensional portal Robbie goes full Ghost Rider and drags Evil Uncle Eli into it. Portal closes.
- Daisy, who’s been containing the quakes with her powers finally buckles under the strain and has to get outside to release the energy she’s storing.
- This reveals her presence to the press, but Mace quickly appears and gives a quick interview saying that Daisy has been working for SHIELD all along and she’s just saved the city from destruction. Quake is now a public hero.
- Back at base Mack and Yo-Yo have a lovers’ tiff then kiss and make up.
- Mace tells Radcliffe that his AI project is now a SHIELD project, and will take place at SHIELD HQ under close scrutiny.
- SHIELD agent Nathanson is sent to fetch AIDA from Radcliffe’s place. He finds Agent May imprisoned in a cupboard. AIDA kills him.
- So how come May is also back at SHIELD HQ sharing a bottle of Haig whiskey with Coulson? She must be a Life Model Decoy!
- Cue the second arc of the season.
The main problem with this episode is what it doesn’t do, rather than what it does. Luckily what it does do is pretty damned good, so that helps alleviate the disappointment, but it still feels like there’s something missing.
Because last week left us with Evil Uncle Eli promising to become a supervillain of Magneto proportions and Robbie promising to rain down brimstone and hellfire on him is a fury of vengeance.
So you kinda expect a MASSIVE GREAT SHOWDOWN! With two superdudes throwing everything they’ve got at each other.
Instead, Eli creates a designer bomb, a couple more pointy things and a glass of water (“Wow, I’m so impressed,” deadpans Robbie speaking for the entire audience), while Robbie spends the episode pinned to the wall like a demonic butterfly specimen.
Okay Robbie does drag Evil Uncle Eli to hell, or a dark dimension (or somewhere – Staines-Upon-Thames, perhaps?) but there’s no big showdown and Eli never feels like the kind of threat that a man who can manipulate molecules with his mind should do.
However, if you judge the episode on what it does offer rather than what it doesn’t, it’s actually jolly good fun. After Mace has his little sulk, it’s good to see Coulson rallying the team, and SHIELD finally all pulling together at last. Sure, conflict is the root of all good drama, but in a superhero team show there’s an undeniably thrill to see your heroes working in harmony to trash a big bad every so often. It’s also great to see that Mace is as good a superhero as he is a politician (okay, technically being the director isn’t a political position, but he embraces the political gamesmanship of the position much more than Coulson ever did).
There’s some decent action, especially Yo-Yo bargain basement remake of Quicksilver’s coolest moment from X-Men: Days Of Future Past. Daisy finally gets some gauntlets which hopefully means she can let rip with her powers from now on. Fitz and Simmons do science! And then there’s that final twist with AIDA that leaves you reeling.
So, amazingly, “The Laws Of Inferno Dynamics” manages to overcome a fairly major flaw – not delivering on its promise – by delivering in other areas. It’s not an out-and-out classic but it a strong episode, and leaves the show in fine form to enter the next arc of the season: “LMD”.
- Yo-Yo’s Quicksilver moment. Yeah, it’s a shameless rip-off but it’s still fun to watch.
- The episode’s title – we love a good pun, and this is a magnificent pun.
- “It’s like a circus out there. And that picture of me on the banner…”
“Agreed… not your best side. I’ll schedule a reshoot for this week.”
“Burrows. Give us the room.” This running gag about SHIELD’s PR charm offensive is not getting tired yet. We’d love to see “Below Decks”-type episode featuring a day in the life of Burrows and the c**p he has to put up with.
- “Okay. I mean, forget about the fact that I was mildly attracted to her.” – Mace reveals a little bit too much information.
- “The ‘demon core’? Seriously?”
“You cannot make this stuff up.” – Long live Mack’s derision of comic book nomenclature.
- “Why the hell didn’t you just come to me in the first place?”
“Now, why would I do that? In case you haven’t noticed, Phil, we’re not a team that trusts. We’re not a team at all.” – We seriously thought Mace was going to start sucking his thumb at this point. He’s a wonderfully strong-yet-delicate flower, isn’t he? You get the feeling that, deep deep down, he just wants everybody to like him.
- “It’s the next step in the evolution of my power … creating life.”
“You know, you might want to get a girlfriend first.” – Coulson’s best quip in weeks; he needed that heart-to-heart with Mace to get his mojo back.
- No big Ghost Rider/Evil Uncle Eli showdown.
- Why does Eli’s plutonium bomb look like a shower in a trendy Hong Kong hotel room?
- The Eli/Robbie scenes are so, so, so dull…
- …And the line, “You had a PHD!” is self-parody, right? No? Oh dear, then.
- Agent Nathanson discovering May in the cupboard feels insanely random. Did AIDA want him to find her just so she had an excuse to kill him? Or is she planning on making an LMD of him too? Whatever the case, the scene was a tad contrived.
- We refuse to believe that Tough-Yo-Yo would suddenly crumble and go all Love-Puppy-Yo-Yo just because Mack forcibly snogged her. She’s more likely to knee him in the groin and accuse him of sexual assault. We’d have thought Mack would need to do a LOT more to win her back.
- The guy choking up the diamonds looks unintentionally comic.
- “This is water.”
[Heavy sarcasm] “Wow. I’m so impressed.” – We’re with Robbie here.
- The FX for Daisy’s mammoth leap at the end are a little ropey…
And The Random:
- When May wonders whether Aida thinks, Coulson quips, “Maybe about electric sheep” referring to Philip K Dick’s celebrated SF novel, Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? (1968) the inspiration for the film Blade Runner (1982)
- When Coulson hints that he wanted Daisy to be the director of SHIELD, Daisy scoffs and says, “Yeah, right. Maybe in the comic book version.” In fact, in the comics, Daisy was the director of SHIELD for a short while after Nick Fury retired.
- “I do not like magic. Or clowns. Or clowns with knives… in the dark.” – We assume Fitz isn’t looking forward to the remake of IT.
- So when did AIDA swap May for LMD May? Was it early in this episode or has May been an LMD for weeks? Probably not, since we saw AIDA working on her “superbrain” at the end of the previous episode, and the May LMD clearly has a superior “brain” to AIDA’s… or, at least AIDA’s until last week. Because we assume that she’s upgraded herself too.
- BLOOPER! When AIDA is shot twice, the blood squibs are very low on her jacket. But for the remainder of the episode the blood stains are really high on her jacket.
Review by Dave Golder