Friday, October 28, 2016

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4, Episode 5: Lockup

This week Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. is on fire again (no pun intended), as it expertly juggles several different storylines, giving them all equal time and moving the show along at a good clip.

The series always has some of the best fight choreography on TV, and this episode was no exception. For some reason the best fights always seem to revolve around Daisy. I don't know who Chloe Bennet's stunt woman is, but she deserves a big raise.

I was afraid that when Mockingbird and Hunter were written out last season the show would end up suffering. I'm happy to report that so far that hasn't happened. I do miss Hunter's humorous quips, but I have to admit, the series is doing just fine without them. 

I feel bad for Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood (Mockingbird and Hunter, respectively) though, as they were written out of Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to star in their own series that never actually materialized. They definitely got a bum deal.

Sadly, last week's episode scored a ratings low for the series, with just 2.3 million viewers watching. That's too bad, as the show's the best it's ever been. I still wonder if ABC is counting streaming sources and DVR viewers. If not, they should be. No one watches appointment TV anymore, and the ancient, antiquated ratings system needs to change to reflect that. And soon, before the series is cancelled due to fake low ratings!


The Plot:
In a flashback, Lucy and Joseph Bauer (the scientists who worked at Momentum Labs) discover the Darkhold in some guy's basement, of all places. They open the ancient, forbidden book, only to find the pages blank (insert Nelson laugh here). Suddenly images and text appear on the pages, in each reader's native language.

In the present day, Coulson and Mack question Joseph Bauer in the hospital. Because Lucy visited him last week and infected him with the ghost virus, he sees everyone with terrifying demon faces. He tells them that after the accident that turned Lucy into a ghost, he buried the Darkhold where he found it (nice plan, genius!). Suddenly Joseph tenses and screams, "She's found it!" and dies.

Sure enough, Lucy is back in the basement and digs up the Darkhold again. She looks at the pages, but they remain blank this time, presumably because she's in some sort of phased ghost-like state.

Back on Zephyr One, Coulson says he doesn't want to tell S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Jeffrey Mace about the Darkhold, because he doesn't trust him. Mack says they need to get Elias Morrow Robbie Reyes' uncle, and Lucy's former co-worker at Momentum Labs out of prison. He says Lucy will undoubtedly be coming for Morrow. Coulson agrees.  

Meanwhile Simmons is angry that Fitz kept AIDA the android a secret from her (even though she seemed fine with the idea last week). She says she's due to take one of Mace's mandatory lie detector tests, and now that she knows about AIDA, she'll probably fail it and be fired. Fitz finishes his ghost virus antidote, and distributes it to the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.

Coulson and May go to the prison and request the Warden hand over Morrow. Unfortunately Lucy's been there first and has infected everyone. The Warden sees Coulson and May as demon-faces, and begins firing on them. They fight off the Warden and several guards, and barricade themselves inside the office. Coulson calls for Mack to extract them.

Robbie tells Mack he wants to go on the mission and help rescue his uncle. Mack says nope, as he doesn't trust him. Daisy backs up Robbie, and Mack reluctantly agrees to let him go. Daisy's outfitted with new and improved Quake gauntlets.

Back at S.H.I.E.L.D., Simmons takes her lie detector test. Her answers are a bit dodgy, and Mace appears and tells her to come with him. He says he wants her to help feed him answers when he debates Senator Nadeer about the Inhuman situation on live TV. Before she can even respond, he says they go live in fifteen minutes. 

The debate begins, and Mace is introduced as a "patriot" (heh), who saved lives at the UN bombing in Vienna. Mace deflects Nadeer's accusations with ease, until she says he's not doing enough to protect humanity from the scourge of Inhumans. Mace decides the time's right to reveal he's really an Inhuman. Gasp!

Mack, Daisy and Robbie arrive at the prison. They split up, as Daisy searches for Coulson and May, and Mack and Robbie look for Morrow. Robbie sees a prisoner he recognizes and starts toward him, but Mack says to step back in line or he'll shoot him. Daisy finds Coulson and May. As they try to find their way out of the prison, they go through a wing full of Watchdogs the terrorist group that Daisy's dedicated to fighting. Suddenly Lucy opens all the cell doors, and the prisoners spill out into the corridor. The S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are trapped.

Coulson radios Fitz and tells him to open ALL the cell doors in the prison, so they can try to escape. There's lots of running and punching and some pretty cool fight scenes. Mack & Robbie are attacked by one of Lucy's ghost minions. Robbie grabs a chain, fires it up and uses it to kill the ghost. Another ghost phases through Mack, and Robbie kills it as well. Mack begins hallucinating, but takes the antidote and is instantly cured. Well, that was pointless!

Robbie and Mack find Morrow. He's hesitant to get involved with S.H.I.E.L.D., but Robbie tells him Lucy's coming for him with the Darkhold, and he agrees to go. Robbie passes the inmate he saw earlier. He just can't help himself, and sends Morrow on his way, telling him he'll meet him outside. Robbie confronts the prisoner, who turns out to be the one who crippled his younger brother Gabriel. The prisoner says he didn't order the hit, but Robbie apparently doesn't care. He transforms into Ghost Rider and incinerates the prisoner. The other rioting inmates see this and immediately hurry back into their cells and hide.

Everyone regroups outside the prison, but of course Morrow is nowhere to be found. Lucy finds him and abducts him.

Mace thanks Simmons for her help in the debate, but says she needs to take her lie detector test over. She says sure, but warns him she may accidentally blurt out that he lied about being a hero in Vienna. Mace smiles icily and exempts her from the test.

Lucy takes Morrow to their old lab. She tells him she can't read the Darkhold because she's incorporeal, but he can. He opens the book, and at his touch, the pages fill with text again.

Mace secretly meets with Senator Nadeer. He tells her his approval rating has gone through the roof since he announced he's an Inhuman. She shows him surveillance footage of Coulson's prison operation, along with images of Ghost Rider burning a man alive. She says she'll send the photos to ABC News (gosh, I wonder why she picked that network) in two hours. Mace asks her what she wants...

• The TV budget rears its ugly head again this week! After all the talk about the mysterious Darkhold and how people have searched for it for centuries, I expected it to be founin the bowels of some ancient tomb in a remote corner of the world. Nope! It was under a tile in the basement of a guy's house! How thrilling!

 Was the owner of the basement that housed the Darkhold really just some random guy, or is he more important that he appears? Joseph says they've found it "in the family home of the guy who killed the last person who had it." Just who is this killer?

When the Bauers first enter the basement, we see a circus-like poster that reads, "Quentin Carnival." Comic book fans will recognize that as the place where Johnny Blaze, the 1970s version of Ghost Rider, performed in a motorcycle daredevil act.

There's a long shot of the basement that also features what appears to be the front forks and wheel of a motorcycle, a folded leather jacket, and a chain dangling from the ceiling. These items are all trappings of the 70s Ghost Rider.

So are these artifacts just some fun little Easter Eggs the producers threw in, or is this actually a clue to a future plotline? It would make a certain amount of sense for Johnny Blaze to have the Darkhold hidden in his basement. Is it possible we could end up seeing the 1970s Ghost Rider before the end of the season? How awesome would that be?

 While trying to escape the prison, Coulson asks May what she saw when she "died" a couple episode ago. Oddly enough, she says she saw him! I have no idea what that means, but I have a feeling it'll become more important later on.

 During the prison scuffle, a guard fires on Coulson. He activates the holo-shield in his bionic arm to protect himself. As always, it's nice to see the holo-shield in action! It's been so long since we've seen it I forgot about it!

 Apparently Fitz doesn't a very high opinion of American football. You and me both, buddy!

 I had to laugh when Daisy picked a fight with one of the Watchdogs by saying, "Here boy!"

 During the live debate, George Stephanopoulos says, "And of course our next guest needs no introduction. He is a patriot, a public servant known all over the world. He put his life on the line to save others during the U.N. bombing in Vienna. He's now the Director of the newly reformed S.H.I.E.L.D. Jeffrey Mace."

The line about saving others in Vienna is a reference to this summer's Captain America: Civil War, in which it appeared that the Winter Soldier bombed a U.N. conference there.

According to Simmons though, Mace is lying about his involvement in the incident. I'm assuming this is another subplot that'll become important later.

• Just an observation: According to Mace's statistics, Inhumans and humans share 98.8% of the human genome. I guess it's that .2% you gotta watch out for.

 Best Lines This Week:

Coulson: (talking about the Darkhold) "It's powerful, it's deadly, and now probably in the hands of a pissed-off mad-scientist ghost."

Coulson: "May, want to go to prison? Could be Taco Tuesday. I'll call the warden and find out."

Robbie: "I need to get off this plane now!"
Daisy: "That should put you in... rural Utah. And you think you're pissed off now."

Coulson: "Mack, do you read me? The prison's compromised."
Mack: "Let me guess... Lucy Bauer?"
Coulson: "Lucy and the whole Peanuts gang."

Mack: (to Fitz) "Hey, I'm gonna need you up here quarterbacking us on comms."
Fitz: "Quarterbacking?"
Mack: "Yeah, it means that you, uh ... you call the plays."
Fitz: "Well, see, I was under the impression it was the coaches who called the plays. And that's why American footballers need those little radio things in their ears to tell them what to do for the few minutes that they're on the field."
Mack: "Yeah. Got it, Coach."

Apparently Fitz isn't a fan of American football. I'm right there with you, buddy!

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