AGENTS of S.H.I.E.L.D., s4, ep9 – Broken Promises
Directed by: Garry A. Brown
Writer: Brent Fletcher
Starring: Clark Gregg, Ming Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Henry Simmons, Mallory Jansen, Manish Dayal, John Pyper-Ferguson, Parminder Nagra, Jason O’Mara

…they rise up against the human overlords and go kill-crazy

After the shocking supernatural events that was the fiery mid-season AoS finale it was inevitable that that which would transpire would be just as intense and ‘outside the box’ as the everything that came before it.

Let’s get an update on events thus far: Cleared of involvement in the mess that was the Inhuman HIVE and the destruction it created S.H. I. E. L.D. has put scientist Holden Radcliffe on the team unbeknownst that he has created a LMD (Life Model Decoy) in the form of the seductive AIDA, without informing his superiors. When Agent May is near-fatally injured in an attack with a ‘ghostly’ figure, made so by an ancient book known as the Darkhold, she is brought back to life with the help of AIDA who also joins the team temporarily. Along with Ghost Rider she aids the team in defeating psycho-uncle Eli Morrow from sending Earth into Hell. At some undetermined point May was kidnapped by AIDA, who has become ‘possessed’ by the Darkhold and created her own May LMD to replace the real agent and take her place to acquire the book of supernatural literature. Exhausting stuff.

Despite being key to saving a lot of lives S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to wipe AIDA’s hard drives and hide the book so that nobody falls to its demonic charms again. Mack’s passionate, if intense, defence of the action to ensure the robot warlords never take over the world is amazing for a number of reasons. Mostly cinematic reasons.

Elsewhere, anti-Inhuman councilwoman Ellen Nadeer’s man-in-cocoon-in-waiting has awoken at a remote home in the middle of the north American wilderness. It’s her brother and though she tries to salve him after a long time away in a terrigenesis husk her real plan to have him killed by her acolytes is quickly caught on by S.H.I.E.L.D. She won’t be doing any of the killing though. Instead it will fall to the villainous mercenaries, the Watchdogs, who she controls and provides with weapons and tech, led here by here Terence Shockley. Shockley, is played by John Pyper-Ferguson, who, no matter what production he is in delivers a blisteringly dark and focused performance to every character. Even where the character is generic or flat he brings an intense energy and infuses each scene to it. If Shockley fails to survive the rest of the season his time on screen will not go unnoticed.

Back at Radcliffe’s home/lab the teams attempt to reprogram his creation goes awry when she unleashes her superior strength on them and heads for the hidden base to reclaim the book, taking out anyone who gets in her way and being an android with control over nearly all technology means that the agents at the base are in for a few surprises.

AIDA is an actors dream. She is cold, calculating and focused on her mission to be more than her creators have set her out to be but like everyone who has read from the Darkhold she is being corrupted by its dark influences. Mallory Jansen’s performance delivers true to those characterisations and we hope we get to see a whole lot more of her in episodes to come.

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Back in the wilderness, Ellen and Shockley now have her brother, Vijay, at gunpoint and getting close to pulling the trigger ending this would-be Inhumans life before he’s revealed his powers. Yet, seeing how they have not manifested (and he does look like a regular human being) she belays the order to kill him – for now. The second team, comprised of Quake, Mace and Simmons with agents, make their way to the homestead and go toe-to-toe with the Watchdogs but an attempt to get Vijay to come with them goes sour and his powers are finally revealed.

It seems that everywhere you turn in the land of super hero TV there’s an enemy who not your enemy, not your friend but an ally with ulterior motives and distorted vision on how to reach their target with the least care in doing it. With us so far? Good, ’cause we’re barely keeping up. This episode gives us an idea of what’s in store for the core team and it ain’t pretty.

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In a show that continues to define the ramifications of superhero and villain activities it certainly doesn’t let up going from one dramatic moment to the next. Watch this space as things are about to get interesting for these guys.

Broken Promises gets 4 out of 5 kill-crazy robots.

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