Warning: This post contains spoilers for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Proceed with caution, agents. If you haven’t yet watched this week’s episode, “Broken Promises”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Then let’s go.
Any doubts about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s ability to maintain the breakneck pace of its seventh season storyline with Ghost Rider no longer a regular presence on the show are more or less eliminated by “Broken Promises,” an episode that takes Aida–the show’s resident artificial intelligence run amuck–to the next level. Transcending her programming, as well as the Pinocchio myth that usually ties to such stories, the robot no longer wants to be a real person, but to live forever.
In many ways, this midseason premiere is Avengers: Age of Ultron done right, with a legitimately charismatic and sympathetic antagonist, confronting a team of heroes with personal stakes in stopping her. But where it most obviously improves on the overstuffed second Avengers film is in the humor department, with a running commentary from Mack that references most every killer android movie of the 1980s.
The dark heart and soul of “Broken Promises,” however, comes with the revelation of Senator Nadeer’s plans. She’s a Big Bad that’s markedly different than any we’ve seen before on this show. A coolly, quietly efficient corrupt politician, she’s haunted by the death of her mother during the Chitauri invasion, and burns with hatred towards S.H.I.E.L.D. and the alien virus she believes they’ve shepherded in the form of the Inhumans. We’ve seen glimpses of her agenda before, but here she gets center stage, and is revealed to be the kind of villain who might hesitate before killing her own brother but will kill him all the same.
S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to mirror real world events with astounding confidence, as we learn that Nadeer has aligned herself with the hate/terrorist group the Watchdogs. Though the two parties both answer to a mysterious higher power they refer to only as “the Superior.” Meanwhile, Jeffrey Mace continues to walk the fine line between vain hilarity and bullying.
The two biggest revelations this week: First, that Radcliffe isn’t the bumbling, brainy comic relief he’s always been portrayed as, but rather has secretly partnered with Aida in her bid for immortality. Second, that Nadeer’s brother is the first of the show’s Inhumans to undergo a second Terrigenesis, the results of which are sure to put him against whatever all-powerful threat his sister has empowered. Let’s just hope it arrives before May’s doppelgänger seduces Coulson, which would spell doom for their delicately blossoming relationship.
— I love how the opening titles have replaced the Ghost Rider/hellfire motif with the robot circuitry of Radcliffe’s creation.
— So did the Darkhold corrupt Aida and Radcliffe or would they have brought trouble for S.H.I.E.L.D. regardless? Discuss.
— Daisy and Mace are a surprisingly good pairing. They bring humor and tension to their conversations in equal measure.
— “I think Simmons has been kidnapped like three times since I’ve known her.” “Really?” “Yeah, well, only twice on this planet.”
— “This is exactly how The Lawnmower Man ends.”
— “She did NOT go all Maximum Overdrive on us.”
— And my favorite… “Someone needs to tell Radcliffe to watch all the Terminator movies.” “Even Salvation?” “He brought this on himself.”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).