It’s the Fall finale for Agents of SHIELD and if we can say anything, it’s that this season has been one of Marvel’s early Christmas treats to us, including this episode.
The episode wrapped up the Ghost Rider storyline with a bang, facing down Eli in one final master stroke. While Eli won’t remain in memory as a particularly memorable villain, Ghost Rider has been one of the critical elements of success in this season so far and so it’s one sad thing to see him go. While his conclusion was dramatically satisfying, audiences are likely going to be clinging to the hope of a return, given that he was so much fun and added so much depth to the show. It’s a very likely possibility, as not only is his return physically possible, but the Spirit and Robbie have a deal. As we all know, Ghosts don’t leave unfinished business behind. Who knows, with the hints towards a previous Ghost Rider, maybe next time we will get more than one Rider?
While “Laws of Inferno Dynamics” was an episode of conclusion, it was also one of beginnings as the show brought many of its storylines back into the light. For every door closed, another one opened. One of the most satisfying conclusions was the resolution to the Jeffrey Mace question. All season we have been questioning Mace’s motives and wondering if, despite his nice-guy exterior, is he to be trusted? This episode gave us a resounding “yes!” as not only does Mace fight alongside the team (in style too), but he brings Daisy back into SHIELD. The blackmail explanation isn’t really going to light the most exciting of narrative fires, but the coercion of Mace’s character is surprisingly empathetic, as an Captain America style patriot is forced into corruption. It echoes the treatment of Cap’s character in Civil War, tarnishing the patriotic, perfect image of America in the Marvel universe. It’s refreshing and respectable, which makes Mace a character you can feel much more secure in rooting for.
Mace also gives one of the best reactions to one of the openings in this episode with his reaction to AIDA. He immediately brings up Ultron, which, after a whole season of hinting at the dangers of AI, probably had viewers screaming at the screen in validation. It’s a familiar set-up, we know the drill.
However, this episode did provide a brilliant spin on the old formula in two ways. AIDA’s murder of Nathanson (who was so close to having people remember his name!) was pretty by the book, but the final moments, in which it is revealed that May has been replaced with an LMD of AIDA’s design, is a real kicker. It might be another familiar step in May’s storyline, but the whole layout is beginning to look like an espionage of Battlestar Galactica proportions. There’s no telling who the robots are, nor their motivations. It was a good way to refresh the idea of the evil AI and the episode further invigorates the formula by taking the time to characterise AIDA. With Westworld also reaching a dramatic conclusion this month, the idea of thinking and feeling in AIs is hot topic and AIDA presents us with an actual character, not a robot. She feels (and bleeds), she has multiple motivations and she can be likeable, which all the more endears us to her for whatever she is planning in the rest of the season.
The one frustration that really stood out this episode was the treatment of Yo-Yo. Despite having orchestrated the entire take-down of Eli Morrow, her re-introduction feels more boiled down to her romance with Mack than anything. The kiss was a “well, finally” kind of moment, as we have been waiting a long time for Mack to finally pluck up the courage, but it seemed to overshadow her absolutely critical role in this episode. While viewers hopefully appreciated it, it seemed as if most of the characters didn’t bother to think about it. Either way, hopefully Yo-Yo will be having more screen time in the next part of the season. And if it brings more of the fantastic action that we saw this episode, there won’t be any complaints.
“Laws of Inferno Dynamics” was a finale packed with fine action sequences and a showcase of some of the best elements of the season so far. With so much uncertainty in how the structure of the next part of the season will go, the teases to upcoming story lines were welcome and promise to make 2017 an exciting year for Agents of Shield.
I give “Laws of Inferno Dynamics” 4 clowns in the dark (sorry Fitz)