Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4, Episode 13: BOOM!
Directed by: Billy Gierhart
Written by: Nora Zuckerman & Lilla Zuckerman
Starring: Clark Gregg, Jason O’Mara, Mallory Jansen, Henry Simmons, Elizabeth Henstridge, Adrian Pasdar

BOOM!” Besides being the title for the latest episode of Agents of SHIELD, it’s also both a figurative and literal description of the contents of this week’s installment. This week is absolutely jam packed full of surprises.

The biggest surprise certainly has to be the end of Senator Nadeer. There’s no doubt that this will have left a lot of viewers with open mouths because not only was it unexpected, but to bump off a major series villain so early is a big shock. It is unfortunately a little reminiscent of Sherlock’s decision to kill Moriarty off after only a season of mischief, but, with luck, AoS might have a little bit more luck with keeping the show on the rails after Nadeer’s untimely demise. The way the death was carried out was an even greater surprise as we learn of Shockley’s Inhuman abilities, which are no being used for nefarious purposes. It was a clever move which gives us an interesting new piece on the board of The Superior’s chess game (especially as the Darkhold revealed that, perhaps, Shockley and Radcliffe may hold the keys to Inhuman destruction), as well as a really cool and clever face off against Daisy. It’s a bold move and, hopefully, one that might pay off.

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Furthermore, The Superior’s game has taken, what he believes to be at least, SHIELD’s king. After unwisely using his powers, despite the physical cost to himself, Director Mace has been captured, which may prove catastrophic, whether The Superior discovers that he is an Inhuman or not. Whether the usage of his powers was unwise or not, hubris-driven or selfless, admirable or idiotic; it’s hard to judge Mace too harshly. As well as genuinely wanting to help, Jason O’Mara has done a really great job with making this character endearing, despite his ability to remind us all of the irritating corporate bosses that flood our otherwise relaxed workplaces. There’s no way to tell just yet if this turn of events will further The Superior’s plans or eventually hinder them, but it does mean that both May and Mace are off the board, as such, for now.

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Speaking of May: It’s finally happening. Coulson is finally getting a conscious clue as to his deeper feelings for May. There’s been no denying their deep relationship from the very start of the series, but this season in particular has been a trial by fire for them. Coulson is really starting to wise up to need for the other agent, especially after finding out the truth about the LMD. Seeing them together again is going to be a joyous occasion: So long as the writers don’t pull the rug out from under us in a heart-breaking finale.

The mission can’t stop for love however and so this episode sees Coulson and Mack searching for the original AIDA, or, at least, the human that the LMD is based off: Agnes Kittsworth. Agnes’ sob story is a little uninspired (she was sick and, no surprise, Radcliffe failed to help her) and she drums up very little additional sympathy when she decides to go back with Radcliffe after meeting him again this episode. It’s a fatal mistake, but not exactly a shocker. What’s that old phrase? Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice – well, you get the picture.

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It’s secured Radcliffe as one of the most dangerous kinds of villains in this season: The Trickster. It’s an old trope, but makes for a successful villain (Loki, we’re looking at you here). Radcliffe might not be able to change his shape or create illusions, but he has a silver tongue that still somehow manages to beguile and endear us, and an ability to be whoever he needs to be to get the job done. Part of this definitely comes down to John Hannah, who has been brilliant right from the beginning with this character. He’s a TV veteran by this point and his experience and charisma shows every single week he’s been on the show.

BOOM!” really does go off with a bang and, after a somewhat tame filler last week, it was a pacey, exciting ride to be on. Only two episodes left to go (with what appears to be a tense episode next week), and we’re hotting up for a blazing finale.

BOOM!” gets 4 out of 5 explosive Terrigen Crystals (boom!)

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