Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD S04E09 “Broken Promises” REVIEW
Essential Plot Points:
- Fitz and Radcliffe go to switch off Aida, but she obstinately refuses to have her plugged pulled. She beats Fitz up and goes rogue.
- She infiltrates SHIELD’s Playground in search of the Darkhold, making mincemeat of SHIELD security and commandeering their systems, so she can turn their own base against them.
- Using fake-May to get the information out of Coulson, she learns the location of the Darkhold and grabs it.
- But on her way out, Fitz manages to take control back of the base allowing Mack to behead Aida and take back the Darkhold.
- Except that wasn’t the only Aida, just an earlier model! Not that SHIELD gets to know this, but Radcliffe has built another Aida – he’s actually still a bad guy, and he and Aida desperately want to get their hands on the Darkhold.
- Elsewhere, Senator Nadeer has secreted away brother Vijay – the guy who was in the cocoon until Jemma freed him – to a family home in the country, where she plans to have the Watchdogs kill him off.
- He pleads with her to let him live, saying he never transformed into an Inhuman. For the moment she seems to believe him and orders the Watchdogs to stand down.
- Mace, Daisy and Jemma arrive at Nadeer’s country home, demanding she hand over Vijay, but he makes it clear he would rather stay with his sister.
- But then the Watchdogs take matters into their own hands and try to kill Vijay anyway.
- This forces him to reveal his powers, so even though he defeats the Watchdogs, Senator Nadeer shoots him at point blank range. She’s not nice.
- She commands the Watchdogs to dispose of the body, so they weigh it down and chuck into the nearest large body of water where…
- He undergoes terrigenesis for a second time.
As you can probably tell from the shorter-than-usual synopses above, this first instalment of the new “LMD” arc is hardly the most plot-heavy episode. There’s a lot of action as Aida infiltrates the SHIELD’s playground, some of it pretty exciting we’ll readily admit, but in effect, the entire plot is in service to the big shock revelation at the end – that Radcliffe is still a bad’un and he’s built more than one Aida. Which kinda makes the rest of the plot feel like a whole load of filler. Not the most attention-grabbing way to kick off the arc.
The Senator Nadeer plotline operates in a similar way; it feels like 95% build up to a scene showing what an utter git she can be. SHIELD’s involvement in this storyline seems almost incidental; perhaps even write-out-able. Okay, Mace does get proof that what Daisy’s been telling him about the Watchdogs is true (that they’re a force that should be taken seriously) but that hardly seems strong enough reason to drag them into a plot where they play little more part in the proceedings than their quinjet pilot.
That’s not to say this isn’t a perfectly watchable episode. It is. Great action scenes. Some good character moments. At least three significant revelations that should take the next few episodes in unexpected directions. But for something that’s essentially a mid-season premiere, you’d expect something a darn sight more compelling than this rather middling episode.
- The short action scene with Yo-Yo and Mack vs the quinjet was superbly put together, from the FX to the way it was shot.
- Laser hair grip! Peggy Carter would be proud!
- Radcliffe still being a baddie after all! They had us fooled!
- We like Vijay, and we hate the Senator, but even so, the moment when she shot him was great TV.
- Mace’s sheepish apology to Jemma about putting a bag over her head was adorable…
- And headless Aida was just a great image.
- Almost as great as the subsequent image of Fitz and Mack having a natter with her decapitated bonce on the table next to them.
- “Guess now we know what your power is.” We’re glad Nadeer’s boot boys know, because we’re still not clear. Was Vijay a speedster? Some kind of multiple man? Captain Blurry? What?
- Usually we love a geeky cultural reference but Mack’s constant namechecking of robot overlord movies was a joke that wore very, very thin… especially when Yo-Yo joined in.
- Not an awful lot actually happens.
- The scene with Vijay pleading for his life was a bit flat for something that took up so much screen time.
And The Random:
- The new title card for the new LMD plot arc has a mechanoid theme.
- Why is Mayvision in mirror image?
- Those robot movie cultural references in full:
• Mack: “She did not just go all Maximum Overdrive on us!”
• Mack: “This right here … it’s exactly how The Lawnmower Man ends.”
• Yo-Yo: “Someone needs to make Radcliffe watch all the Terminator movies.”
Mack: “Even Salvation?”
Yo-Yo: “He brought this onto himself.”
• Mack: “This isn’t some Johnny 5 we’re talking about. This is a bloodthirsty murder-bot on the loose.” (Johhny 5 is from Short Circuit.)
• Mack: “If we catch her, I’m sure we’ll get some crazy-ass Roy Batty explanation.” (Roy Batty is a replicant in Blade Runner.)
• Mack: “How’s Radcliffe holding up?”
Fitz: “He’s taking it pretty hard, actually. Aida was his life’s work. She was kind of… like a child.”
Mack: “Small wonder.” Subtle one, this. Small Wonder (1985-89) was a TV sit com about a family of a robotics engineer who secretly creates a robot, VCI, which looks like a human girl, and tries to pass it off as their adopted daughter.
• Mack: “Of course I’ve seen Chopping Mall.” He’s one of the few.
- This guy below isn’t named in this episode, but we will be seeing more of him in coming episodes when there’ll be more about his possible comic book origins to discuss…
- The music over the opening scene, with Aida getting dressed, is “Symphony No. 5: IV. Adagietto” by Gustav Mahler.
Review by Dave Golder