Lies, Deaths, and a Big Reveal Collide in 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s "The Patriot"
When it comes to big reveals, Mace has had his share of them this season. After meeting the new Director, we learned he was Jeffery Mace, aka the Patriot, and then came the surprising discovery of his Inhuman nature. But we hadn't learned the new Director's biggest secret yet. Apparently, the huge Inhuman reveal was actually a hoax and Mace has been taking regular doses of super-power serum—which explains why he had his own PR guy following him around constantly. Now that Mace no longer needs a public relations specialist/super-serum carrier, Burrows has been unceremoniously offed. His sudden death initially felt contrived, but now makes a bit more sense given Mace's reveal.
It was easy to fault Mace for his lies at first, but it's worth remembering that he had orders to protect his image and promote S.H.I.E.L.D. as it went public. Mace clearly felt that despite the burden of keeping secrets, accepting the role of Director was still the best way he could advance the causes he cared about, and he genuinely seems to care about S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Inhumans. Before now, Mace has seemed a little suspicious and it was easy to doubt his intentions. Now his intentions are clear, and Mace wants to live up to the heroic image of himself created in Vienna.
That photo may have been an accident, but his actions since then certainly haven't been. Mace has put himself directly in harm's way multiple times for the sake of protecting the team, and now that he has a fancy super-suit of sorts it's likely we'll get to see him in action more often. The best part of all this is that Coulson gets to call the shots again. Upon learning his secret, Coulson discourages Mace from resigning, instead asking him to stick around and handle the politics of being the public face of S.H.I.E.L.D. Like a true member of the team, Mace will act as the shield that protects the reputation of the organization. That scene with Coulson finally made Mace feel like a true member of the S.H.I.E.L.D. family and did away with the tension of having him as the new Director.
Speaking of secrets, Radcliffe is still intent on keeping his. Although he's a selfish, manipulative, morally confused jerk, he is genuinely upset that Aida killed someone. Radcliffe might have fooled even the original Aida into believing in her sentience, but he seems to have fooled himself as well. Despite having programmed the LMDs himself, he almost expects them to act in accordance with a moral code, even though he hasn't written one. This could just be seen as an oversight, but after spending so much time with his LMDs, even Radcliffe might be forgetting that they only operate based on his directives. LMD May is created to behave like the real May would, but since Agent May is already prone to violence, it follows that LMD May could be particularly dangerous—especially now that she's realized her humanity is a lie. Even if Radcliffe figures out how to fix his error, he doesn't know that Fitz is hiding the original Aida, which means there's another LMD that's unaccounted for.
This week's episode was a melting pot of secrets, lies, and deception. Not to mention the tertiary characters dropping like flies. The abundance of new developments have been advancing the plot at a decent clip, all without feeling disjointed or rushed, which has been a recurring problem in past seasons. Season 4 has arguably been the show's strongest season yet, and the second half of the season continues to follow that trend. The LMD arc has had endless twists and turns so far, and adding The Patriot into the mix is just an added bonus.
Next week will bring Senator Nadeer back into the mix as a leak is discovered within S.H.I.E.L.D. And after that last scene with LMD May, hopefully we'll get to see how Radcliffe's androids deal with an identity crisis.
Best Lines + Stray Comments
- "Could be anything—nuclear codes, hush money, Girl Scout cookies."
- "Agent May, with the exception of my mother, you are the single most intimidating woman I've ever met."
- "You killed a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and tried to kill the Director with exploding bullets. They don't sell those at Walmart—yet."
- "You know the saying, if a jet crashes in the woods and there's no one there to hear it, stay close to the guy with super strength."
- Talbot having his ringtone set to "Hail to the Chief" when the president calls. Of course he does, how else would everyone know what an important call he is on? Speaking of which, Talbot is even bossier and more self-important than he used to be now that S.H.I.E.L.D. is public.
- The mention of Agent Nathanson's death again. A painful loss for the team, I'm sure. Just not for the audience. Even Mace's new PR guy was a much more tragic loss.
The next episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., "Wake Up," will air on January 24th, 2017 on ABC.