Friday, October 14, 2016

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4, Episode 3: Uprising

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back after taking last week off for the incredibly important and riveting vice presidential debate. Yawn.

Sorry about the lame image above. For some reason whenever I search for S.H.I.E.L.D. screencaps, all I can find are incredibly dull ones like this.

So far the storylines are racing along at an amazingly fast clip. That's definitely a good thing, and something I'm not used to. I sat through several interminable seasons of LOST, which took twenty four episodes to tell a story that could have been handled in three or four, and last year I endured eight episodes of The Walking Dead that all took place in the same day. It's refreshing to see some fast-paced plotting now and then.

Sorry, Ghost Rider fans, but your favorite flame-headed vengeance demon doesn't appear in this episode at all. I'm betting his absence is due to that ol' devil the Television Budget.

Parminder Nagra (of Bend It Like Beckham and E.R. fame) joins the cast this week as Senator Nadeer, a rabid Inhuman hater. Is her name supposed to be a play on words? Nadeer? That sounds a lot like "nadir." As in, she's the nadir of humanity. Coincidence, or in-joke?

Lastly, the first five episodes of this season are titled:
1. The Ghost
2. Meet The New Boss
3. Uprising
4. Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire
5. Lockup

I wonder... is every even numbered episode going to be a classic song title or lyric? That would actually be pretty cool. I guess we'll find out in Episode 6.


The Plot:

Yo-yo's at a bachelorette party in Miami, when something knocks out the power all over the city. Cell phones, cars and aircraft are affected as well, as a helicopter drops from the sky and crashes into a nearby building. Obviously this is no normal power outage.

At S.H.I.E.L.D. Headquarters, Director Jeffrey Mace watches a televised message from the Inhuman Resistance, who've taken responsibility for the blackout. The Resistance is protesting the government's Inhuman Registration Program, and threatens to black out a major city every hour until it's repealed. Fitz says the power outage was most likely caused by an EMP device. Mace sends Coulson, Mack and Fitz to Miami to check it out.

Just then, Chen (the Chinese mob boss who was infected by Lucy the ghost in the season premiere) dies in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s medlab. Simmons worries that the same thing will happen to Agent May, who's also suffering from the ghost infection. She tells Mace she knows someone who may be able to help May, and he gives her authorization to do whatever's necessary to save her.

In LA, Robbie tells Daisy he's going to visit his Elias Morrow, his uncle. Morrow is in prison for attempted manslaughter, and used to work at Momentum Labs— the same place where Lucy and her coworkers were changed into "ghosts." Just then a blackout hits LA. Fortunately Robbie's Dodge Charger was built before 1980, so it's not affected by the EMP. He races back home to make sure his younger brother Gabriel, who's in a wheelchair, is OK.

Dr. Radcliffe is working in his lab with AIDA, his Life Model Decoy. Radcliffe deactivates AIDA and hides her shortly before Simmons arrives with May, as he's not ready to debut her yet. Radcliffe examines May, but can't figure out what's wrong with her. He's not even phased when Simmons tells him May was infected by a ghost.

London, LA, Moscow and Miami are now blacked out. Coulson realizes that S.H.I.E.L.D. relocated Inhumans to all those cities, and believes there's surely a connection.

Meanwhile, Robbie and Daisy see a group of looters threatening Gabriel. Robbie punches out several of them without becoming Ghost Rider (hey, those flaming head effects are expensive), while Daisy quakes another one. Once again, without her protective gauntlets, her powers damage the bones in her arms.

In Miami, a group of armed men infiltrate Yo-yo's party, claim they know there's an Inhuman present and demand they hand "it" over. Coulson, Mack and Fitz arrive in the city, and are surprised when their equipment fails. Even Coulson's bionic hand stops working. Fitz deduces that the EMP is continuous, not a single pulse. Back at the party, Yo-yo uses her superspeed to steal the gunmens' weapons. One of her friends sees what she did and squeals. The men begin menacing Yo-yo just as Coulson and the others arrive. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents make quick work of the thugs.

In LA, Robbie, Daisy and Gabriel wait out the blackout and lootings in the Reyes home. Robbie notices Daisy's arm looks pretty gross and alarming, so he runs out to get some medicine for her. Daisy and Gabriel talk. He says he looks out for Robbie instead of the other way around, and doesn't want to see him get hurt. He tells Daisy he knows she's really Quake (since he saw her use her powers to knock a looter for a loop). He says her secret's safe with him as long as she never goes near Robbie again. Gabe then tells her to get lost.

Dr. Radcliffe runs a brain scan on May, and determines that the ghost virus has put her adrenal system into overdrive (technobabble!), causing her to have vivid waking nightmares. He suggests killing her, in order to "reboot" her brain to normal factory settings. Because the human brain is exactly like a computer, dontcha know. Simmons says, "That's so crazy it just might work," and gives May a lethal injection. May dies, and amazingly her brain resets itself. Simmons then grabs the ol' defibrillator paddles to shock her back to life (sigh...). Right on cue, the power goes out as the Inhuman Resistance blacks out another D.C, which I guess is where Radcliffe's lab is located. Drama!

Simmons then starts performing CPR on May to try and bring her back, without much luck. Radcliffe gets an idea he excuses himself, sneaks into AIDA's closet, removes her power supply and hooks it up to May. She's jolted back to life, with no memory of the past few days.

In Miami, Coulson interrogates the Resistance thugs. He discovers they're really members of the Watchdogs, who were posing as Inhumans to stir up hatred and distrust toward them. 

Fitz uses science to pinpoint the location of the Watchdog's EMP device. He, Coulson, Mack and Yo-yo head out. They find the EMP device in a guarded warehouse. Yo-yo disarms the guards at superspeed, and the others start with the punching again. Fitz shuts down the EMP and the city's power is miraculously restored, which isn't how it works, but whatever.

Couson gives his report to Mace. They realize the Watchdogs couldn't have pulled off their global plan without the help of someone rich and powerful. Coulson suggests they ignore the schedule and reintroduce S.H.I.E.L.D. to the public immediately. Mace agrees, and calls a press conference, announcing that S.H.I.E.L.D. is back. 

Immediately after the announcement, Senator Rota Nadeer appears on TV denouncing S.H.I.E.L.D., saying they're a puppet of the Inhumans, whom she despises and opposes.

In the tag scene, we see Nadeer at home. She gets a call from a Watchdog agent, and says she'll be right there. She tells her brother she's leaving, and we see he's inside a Terrigenesis coccoon in the middle of her living room.

• It's nighttime when the blackout hits Miami. An hour or so later another blackout hits LA, but it's broad daylight there.

Yes, the two cities are on opposite sides of the country, but  there wouldn't be that big a difference in the sunlight  they're only three hours apart. Yo-yo was at a party in Miami, so it was probably pretty late at least 10pm. That means it was 7pm in LA. Plus the Watchdogs were blacking out a city every hour, so LA's power probably went out at 8pm. It definitely should have been dark there.

Who directed this episode, Ed Wood?

• I was really expecting Aida to be "outed" and come out of the closet (heh) in this episode, but Dr. Radcliffe managed to keep her existence a secret from Simmons for another week.

• It was a nice touch when Coulson's bionic hand went kaput when he and the others entered the Miami blackout zone. Looks like Fitz is gonna have a new project when they get back to headquarters EMP-proofing Coulson's hand!

One thing about his shorted out hand though
 the way I understand it, an EMP pulse (yes, I know the "pulse" is redundant) will fry any piece of electronic equipment that's turned onIf something was shut off when the pulse hit, it should still work if switched on later. 

Coulson's hand was most certainly up and running when they entered the constantly-refreshing EMP zone. So it should have been irreparably fried and shouldn't have started working again when the EMP was switched off.

• During the LA blackout, one of the gangbangers touches Robbie's car. When Robbie tells him to get his filthy paws off it, the gangbanger says, "Just admiring her, Holmes." Do people still say "Holmes" in 2016? Or more likely is that how the S.H.I.E.L.D. writers think LA gang members really talk?

• Kudos to the writers for having Dr. Radcliffe say, "You know, it's a myth that we only use 10% of our brains." I don't know how that incredibly erroneous trope ever got started, but it's like Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees it just will not die.

Immediately after his 10% comment, Radcliffe says, "However, it is true that it's only a few neurons that make all the noise. The rest keep quiet." Hmm. I don't know whether that statement's true or not. 

• Dr. Radcliffe tells Simmons it's necessary to kill May in order to "reboot" her brain.

OK, I have a legal question about this. In order to save May, Simmons deliberately gives her a lethal injection of something, and most definitely kills her. She resuscitates her a few minutes later of course, but... would Simmons be considered guilty of murder? Or attempted murder, at the least? I honestly don't know.

• Naturally, the second Simmons kills May, the power goes out so she can't resuscitate her. I KNEW that was going to happen. In fact I called it the minute Radcliffe brought up the idea. You could see it coming down the street from a mile away, like a Thanksgiving Day parade balloon.

• After Simmons kills May, she tries to revive her with defibrillator paddles. Sigh. Do I need to say it again? Defib units DO NOT work that way. You CANNOT use them to jump start a person's heart like you would a car battery. In fact they work just the opposite way they actually stop (or at least slow down) your heart!

• When they're fighting the looters in LA, Daisy tells Robbie, "Calm down before you go all Carrot Top again!" Actually I think seeing Robbie transform into everyone's least favorite prop comic would be scarier than seeing Ghost Rider.

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