SHIELD is back, and now with more plots, intrigues, and opening scenes involving a slowly-undressing android. So with the LMD story arc starting off, let’s take a look and see how it goes, with minor spoilers.
1. Robot Rebellion
Let’s just start off with the main draw for this season: ADA’s robot uprising. With May replaced by an LMD duplicate, and Agent Nathanson dead by her hands, we were all geared up for it.
Amazingly, even before her strange behavior gets noticed, SHIELD decides that they should wipe her hard drive, just in case the Darkhold did anything. It’s a proper precaution that’s quite reasonable, and part of the reason why she gets backups. Smart! But also too late, as she’s taken control of her own systems and beats the crap out of the agents sent to reboot her.
It’s around this point that Mack starts telling off all the science-types about making robots, because robot uprisings always happen in the movies. Mind you, that’s completely overlooking the fact that they just recently had a robot uprising thanks to Ultron, and it’s why the Sokovia Accords have a pretty strict “no robots” clause, but it’s more about Mack and Yo-Yo referencing sci-fi/horror movies as a way of bonding and lightening the mood.
But this is why the Three Laws of Robotics are important. Asimov thought these things through.
2. Family Matters
Robots aside, this episode was pretty much split into two completely unconnected plots. While ADA’s rebellion was Plot A, Plot B involved Senator Nadeer and her Inhuman brother, Vijay. They talk, they reminisce, they reveal a little about how their mother was killed during the Chituari invasion, and she walks him right into a Watchdog trap.
Yeah, apparently they made a promise that if either of them turned into an alien, the other would kill them. Bit of an oddly specific thing to ask for, but technically “hiring the Watchdogs to surround and kill him” is still true to the nature of the request.
Not until we get to see Vijay’s powers, though. He’s got super-speed… just like Quicksilver had, and kind of like what Yo-Yo has, so not the most original powers, but still a fun one. What will we see happen to his character? Will he eventually join SHIELD? Will he help her sister see the error of his ways? Or will he be shot in the last minutes and dumped into the ocean after foolishly trusting the people who were so eager to kill him earlier?
Yeah, so much for that character arc.
3. More on the Watchdogs
Oh, right, the Watchdogs again. I know I keep saying this, but they’re really just an ongoing B-plot of villains. They’ve been around for over a season now, and we’re always hearing about new “superiors” or seeing their funding, but because they’re almost always off to the side of the episode’s main plot, they just don’t feel like a threat.
Daisy describes them as a top priority enemy, with ties within governments and organizations worldwide. But I’m just not buying it, because the LMD storyline is so much more interesting. Maybe this season will finally make them a legitimate threat?
And this is entirely inconsequential, but I can’t be the only one who thinks their masks look like “Bleach’s” Hollow Ichigo masks repainted to be more dog-esque, right?
Back to Plot A, we still have the little matter of Melinda May’s robot replica running around in her place. As far as LMD infiltrations go, it’s working just fine; they seem to be going with the “sleeper agent” thing, only switching her to robot mode to implant commands before making the LMD think she was knocked out.
Should I be using “she” to refer to a robot? It feels weird to refer to her as an “it,” even if she is a robot spy replacing the real May.
At any rate, it doesn’t look like Coulson has noticed either, which makes the slowly-growing romantic tension between them all the more awkward to watch.
5. Another Sudden BetrayalContinued below
Of course, it wouldn’t be a mid-season opener without a twist at the end. In this case, we learn that ADA’s entire uprising, her ploy to steal the Darkhold, and her apparently-emerging emotions were all set up by… Radcliffe.
Remember when I was so glad how, in the previous half of the season, he glanced at the Darkhold once, went “Nope, it’s too much for one person” and shut it? How we finally had someone with access to a dark tome of forbidden knowledge that wasn’t going to fall into the old “corrupted by the knowledge” cliche?
Shows what I know.
On the other hand, it was all a clever ruse, with a duplicate ADA acting out his script, trying to steal the Darkhold for him, and generally making the robot rebellion seem legitimate. And as far as twists go, it may not have been the least predictable, but at least it makes sense. It just feels like a pity that he’s doing the exact same thing as the villains of the previous season, except this time with androids.