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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - BOOM - Review

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “BOOM” was written by the team of Nora and Lilla Zuckerman and was directed by Billy Gierhart. There was lots of great action and surprises in this episode – and like every episode, this is one of the fastest paced shows on television!

The episode opens with Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Mack (Henry Simmons) on assignment in Spain. The first scene is Coulson having a glass of wine and seemingly having a dark night of the soul, telling – the waiter? A mysterious companion? May? – that he’d be the first to admit that he followed his worst instincts at times. The shot pulls back to show Coulson apparently talking to himself. He says that he’s acted impulsively in the past and it’s never ended well.

      Now a voice in his head is telling him not to go down that path again. So now the question is will this new restraint cause Coulson to hesitate when he needs to act? But the voice in his head is telling him to be patient, stay steady. And then Mack chimes in – because he is currently the voice in his head! – but it’s May’s (Ming-Na Wen) voice he’s hearing.

The two are actually in Spain hunting for Agnes (Mallory Jansen) – the model Radcliffe (John Hannah) used when he created Aida. Jansen deserves a huge shout out for her work in this episode. She’s been doing great work, slowly and subtly showing us Aida becoming increasingly human, but in her performance as Agnes, she creates an entirely different character, a very human one. I’m not going to lie, at times it felt like I was looking at an entirely different person! And in case you were wondering, Jansen is Australian.

Radcliffe is blown away by the world that Aida has created for May, who is now “happy.” Does that mean she will stop fighting to get out?

Radcliffe still has to contend with his new partner Ivanov (Zach McGowan) who hates Aida. When Radcliffe enters the room with Aida, Ivanov wants to know if that “thing” has to be there. When Radcliffe simply says “of course not,” Aida is clearly hurt by the betrayal – she also clearly dislikes Ivanov too!

Ivanov freaks Radcliffe out by telling him that he read the Darkhold. Then he backtracks and says he just glanced at it – and it told him a simple answer to his problems – Radcliffe. So did he actually look at the book or is he simply tormenting Radcliffe, who true to his Gollum-y-self, snatches up his precious and keeps it clutched to his chest.

Radcliffe has a plan for finding an Inhuman to use as bait for S.H.I.E.L.D. Radcliffe has some pure Terrigen crystals. The crystals are harmless when exposed to a human, but will turn an Inhuman – and they know where to find one. It’s hilarious that Shockley (John Pyper-Ferguson) hates Inhumans so much and yet when he tries to turn Nadeer (Parminder Nagra) he turns himself instead! I am disappointed to lose Nagra, however, as she did a great job as a villain.

We see that the bunker has instituted new security controls to detect LMDs entering – but it’s a little too sensitive when Fitz’s (Iain De Caestecker) hanger sets it off! I love how this show is able to weave in humor without losing the edge of the drama.

We are treated to a lovely, shirtless Mace (Jason O’Mara) doing physical testing for Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). She doesn’t have good news for him. The serum he’s been using is very likely to kill him – he’s been playing Russian roulette with it. He’s not going to be Captain America – and I love that the show references that! Mace is trying to learn how to be an effective Agent the traditional way, but it’s not going well – he may look fantastic, but he’s not naturally talented.

Fitz is his usual excited self to show off the new suit that he’s made for Mace. It automatically injects the serum! But Simmons quickly shuts him down, telling him that Mace can’t take any more of the serum.

I loved Mace’s struggle to find his place on the team in this episode. Daisy has embraced a leadership role and is distributing her Inhumans in safe locations. But she downloads the grueling diplomatic calls to Mace. Coulson calls in with a report. Mace wants to do more, to know how he can help.

        Coulson tells him that he’s doing it, and then relates that he felt the same way when he started working with the Avengers; “It’s not easy when you’re working with heroes and gods.” Coulson tells Mace that he did his best to protect the team. He also assures Mace that Mace will make the right decision at the right time. “Or you’ll get an Asgaardian Staff through the chest. I’d try to avoid that part.” So many movie references in this episode!

When Coulson approaches Agnes, she wants nothing to do with Radcliffe and clearly dislikes him – she doesn’t want to talk about him or their work together. When Mack shows her a picture of Agnes, she is shocked – but they have her attention! Coulson remarks, “So, I’ll mark you down as shocked but not surprised, which is surprising.” Their work had only been body parts, so why not go the whole way.

Agnes admits that they had a relationship, but Radcliffe couldn’t deal with failure and he ran when he couldn’t find a cure for her brain tumor. Mack tells her he’s sorry, and she says that’s why she’s in Spain. She doesn’t want to hear that every day. She’s just trying to have some happiness in her final days. She faces death every day, so she’s not afraid of Coulson.

Daisy is convinced that Nadeer is alive and the explosion is a setup. Mace is disappointed that they couldn’t bring Nadeer to justice. He may not have the same strength as Captain America, but Talbot was definitely right to pick him to become Captain America because he really is a good guy. Mace is determined to get to the bottom of Nadeer’s death to show the world what S.H.I.E.L.D. is all about – they’ll even stand up for their enemies.

The team heads to Nadeer’s office. Daisy tells Mace they’ve got this and leaves him to deal with the press. He comments, so now I’m the team mascot. But he is serving a useful function. I loved getting to see Daisy, Fitz, and Simmons working the field together again! Fitz and Simmons can’t find any trace of bomb material, so decide to take a bit of everything back to the lab and test it old school! Daisy gets footage of Shockley, and Simmons suggest a facial recognition in the city with the most surveillance cameras.

Mack is against pushing Agnes to help find Radcliffe. He wants to respect her wishes for her last days. In arguing with Coulson, he inadvertently says they don’t even know if May is still alive. Coulson refuses to give up on May. He tells Mack that he’s going after Agnes – Mack doesn’t have to be a part of it.

Coulson doesn’t try to strong arm Agnes. He tells her he’d come up with some good material on the way over, but he decided to start with an apology. He also remembers she doesn’t want to hear “I’m sorry” anymore, so he says he apologizes. Agnes accepts his apology, and then Coulson confesses that Radcliffe took something from him too – and her name is Melinda May. It’s clear that Coulson’s feelings for May are very real. May would hate that he’s made it personal, but it is.

Agnes can’t believe what Coulson tells her about May. Radcliffe, to her, was all about healing and prolonging life. Coulson also tells her that Radcliffe is under the influence of something dark and powerful. He also tells Agnes that May is like her – brave and not afraid of death. Coulson is clever to make it personal for Agnes too. And she’s in.

Shockley reports to Ivanov and tells him that Nadeer changed and exploded. Ivanov leaves Shockley and the city because it’s too dangerous for him to be there. Shockley tells his Superior that he will take out S.H.I.E.L.D. when they come for him.

Daisy captures Shockley and gets him on the jet. I loved her interrogating Shockley! Especially when she quakes his head to snap back and hit the guy’s head behind him. He wants to know if the Director is on board – he’s the only one he’ll talk to, but Daisy is the one who can offer him a deal if he gets her to Radcliffe.

Radcliffe gets the message from Agnes and is ready to fly to her immediately. Aida wants more information, so Radcliffe explains that he modelled her after someone real to avoid the “uncanny valley.” Aida is clearly disturbed that she is not unique.

Is there anything better than Simmons and Fitz geeking out in the lab? And them saying “pieces of Inhuman husk!” at the same time is adorable. And then Simmons telling Fitz he’s brilliant and him brushing it off and being a little ticked off that they said it at the same time – so he couldn’t clearly be the smarter one! LOL! They also realize why Shockley survived the blast at the same time… and Shockley turns out to be completely appropriately named!

Mace is happy to interrogate Shockley. It gives him a chance to use one of his other super powers… persuasion! It is a little hard to believe that he can’t see that that super power is also valuable with the press and the UN. As soon as Shockley has the two most famous Inhumans in the world in front of him, he’s ready to blow up again. Luckily, Fitz and Simmons arrive in the nick of time. Daisy quakes him and stuns him long enough for Fitz and Mace – who just can’t keep himself off the front lines – to get Shockley in the containment pod and jettison him – where he explodes.

I loved Simmons chewing out Fitz for putting himself in danger – and then hugging him!

I also loved Shockley pulling himself together out of the dust that was left of him after the explosion. Great effect! Yet another Inhuman who can’t be contained by the containment pod! Shockley seems to be starting to enjoy his power. Shockley calls Ivanov and confesses that he’s the Inhuman. Ivanov tells him that there’s nothing that can absolve him. Shockley promises that he’s still a soldier and can still carry out his mission. He blows up a motel to get S.H.I.E.L.D.’s attention.

Mace is distraught that he fumbled the ball even though Daisy points out that no one was killed, so he should view it as a win. Fitz and Simmons have isolated the frequency of Shockley’s cellular vibrations and have figured out how he turns into a flammable gaseous state. Because Daisy absorbed tremors in LA, they think she can learn to diffuse Shockley. I loved Daisy resisting and then giving in “Ok. I’ll try.”

Coulson and Mack watch while Agnes waits for Radcliffe. Coulson tells her that she’s not alone when Radcliffe calls her on a cell phone he has delivered to her table. Radcliffe tells her that he can save her. It’s a promise that no one could walk away from in her situation. Agnes tells Radcliffe that she threw away the Degas print she loved so much because of one of his broken promises. Radcliffe tells her that he’s done with robotics, that he’s built a world – called the Framework – where she can live a full and happy life. Agnes goes with him.

When Shockley blows up the motel, Mace assembles the team. He’s got the new suit on. Daisy still hasn’t managed to master not blowing up the test.

Daisy and Shockley square off, and Daisy stalls him by blowing him up. Fitz and Simmons have developed a containment for Shockley. But Shockley is just the bait and the Russians arrive to take the others out. Mace refuses to leave. He’s figured out his place on the team. He’s the blocker. He injects himself with the serum, and it is clearly hurting him, though he is able to get back up and stop the lead truck. The rest of the trucks surround him however, and Ivanov wants to know if he is bullet-proof as well as strong. They shock him into submission and take him prisoner.

Daisy tells Shockley that his friends aren’t coming for him – he’s just a freak like her now. Even in the midst of a fight, she’s trying to bring him into the fold. He says he’d rather die though. Fitz and Simmons vacuum him up in their new container.

Coulson is philosophical as he and Mack fly home. He understands why she did what she did – she saw a chance no matter how slim and risky, so she took it. Coulson would have done the same. Mack is sorry it turned out that way and commiserates that it’s not easy to let go. But that’s not what Coulson is doing. He heard Radcliffe and he knows that the subject who is thriving in the framework is May. He’s got renewed hope that May is alive. Mack is still skeptical though.

Radcliffe puts Agnes into the Framework. And in the final scene, we see Agnes setting up her Degas in her living room. Agnes’ physical body dies, but Radcliffe is ok with that. The body will always give up eventually, but her consciousness will live forever in the Framework – but is it the same. Aida, super creepily takes Agnes’ necklace and put it on herself. Is Aida in love with Radcliffe or just jealous of Agnes for being human?

In the background, we see that May may not be as peaceful as Radcliffe thinks. Will May encounter Agnes in the framework? Will that spur her on to try to escape?

What did you think of the episode? Do you think Mace can escape from his captors? Will he let on that he’s not really Inhuman? Will that save his life? Do you think Daisy can convince Shockley to switch sides? Should she even try? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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