Agents of SHIELD return to Broken Promises

ABC

Agents of SHIELD hit the ground running after its winter hiatus with “Broken Promises.” Cranking up the drama, mystery, and taking referential humor to eleven.

Continuing almost immediately after the last episode, over a month ago now, Mace and Daisy have a truly awkward back and forth but seem to have come to an understanding, at least for now. I still feel like Director Mace has a few hidden secrets up his sleeves and I’m sure they will come into the open as the season unfolds. I actually really dug teaming the two of them up though. Daisy has such a get out of jail free card with Agent Coulson, it was nice seeing her have to work a little to win someone over and validate her goals.

It was a bit too convenient that Mace’s goal of finding the mystery Inhuman (the senator’s brother Vijay), and Daisy’s goal of tracking the Watchdogs came together at that exact moment. After all Daisy’s research to track their political connections and one drops right into her lap. One demerit for lazy writing.

The way Vijay and his sister’s relationship was played was very well done. Vijay was played by Manish Dayal, who had an amazing arc on the past season of Halt and Catch Fire (an underrated show everyone should be watching). I still wasn’t sure what his exact power is, but it appeared to be some form of super speed but not in any way we’ve seen before. Also how cold and unexpected was his sister’s betrayal and his murder? A fantastic twist I didn’t see coming. Though the strength of it was a bit lost since they showed his body has re-cocooned, so obviously we haven’t seen the last of him.

Plus there are still numerous questions about what the Senator’s family’s past connection is to SHIELD. They mentioned New York and the Chitauri invasion several times so I assume they lost a parent or sibling in the attack. There is however their pact to take the other out if they are ever infected. There has to be more to this. Perhaps they already have Inhumans in the family, or some other alien influence we don’t even know about. They also seem to specifically distrust SHIELD, Vijay especially so, like a friend or old flame was involved. Lots of questions that I hope we get to explore more this season.

ABC

Then there was Aida. Wow, did the LMD storyline already kind of blow up everything we thought, but we’ll get to that. Mallory Jansen is doing a bang up job as Aida, and became sort of terrifying this week. Disabling her pain receptors and taking over SHIELD headquarters gave her portions a very Ex Machina feel. Fitting that a movie influenced her portion of the episode as during that section Mack turned into a Buffy character riffing movie references left and right.

Now let me say I loved how fast and nerdy his references got. What bothered me was we’ve never seen Mack riff like that before. The writing wasn’t bad, just inconsistent with his character as we know him so far. Plus Mack has kind of turned into a jerk lately. Judgmental and single-minded, he was ready to write off all Inhumans until he fell for one and now he’s afraid of any sort of robotic technology?

I tried to keep track of all the references he, and even Yoyo, made but I’m sure I missed a few. If the Lawnmower Man one wasn’t a deep enough cut (I only got it because the podcast “How did this get made” recently covered it), we also got a wicked burn on Terminator Salvation when Mack suggests using it to punish Radcliffe. Then we got a Maximum Overdrive nod, oh and when they cited Chopping Mall? Gotta be fake right? Nope that is an honest to goodness piece of eighties crap.

Just to cap the whole thing off, when Mack gets to use his axe to behead Aida he made a Small Wonder joke. So fact one: Mack is a giant dork. Fact two: he has terrible taste, or just simply watches everything. Aside from the surprise that it was his character delivering these lines, I absolutely loved them. Gave me the same feels I got from the series pilot when Joss Whedon’s touch could still be felt. More of this but where and with whom it makes sense.

Some other small things I loved:

  • Gemma got some field work, and she got to be a real spy, going undercover (unsuccessfully) and fighting (also not very successful) but still she is spreading her wings a little bit at least.
  • They called out how terrible their computer systems are. Yes it does seem they get hacked at least once a year. Good on you for making it a joke, now let’s not use this plot point again for at least two years guys!
  • Bringing back the mystery. In addition to the Senator’s family there is the question of her superior. The one controlling the Watchdogs. Who or what is behind them? Nice to have some clandestine group that isn’t Hydra (god please don’t have it be Hydra again).

Then to end the episode we finally see what drove Aida mad. Not the Darkhold … in fact nothing did. Radcliffe simply programmed her to act as if corrupted. She is still just an emotionless android. Apparently still in mad scientist mode and hounding for the book. While the “Ghost Rider” section of the season is over, “LMD” looks to be a chapter with a series of many things going on at once. If layered and played right this should be a fantastically complex season or it could end up incredibly muddled. So far the second half of the season seems to be off like a bullet and primed to be a hit.

On the next episode of Agents of SHIELD:

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What did you think of the new LMD storyline? Tell us in the comments section below!

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