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, “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire”, we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Then let’s go.
This week’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. furthers the fourth season’s ongoing plots concerning AIDA and the Watchdogs, and it gives Daisy an opportunity to rejoin Coulson and co. for the first time since last year. But make no mistake — most of this is just preamble to the sight of two guys with a lot of attitude and similar pyrokinetic powers unleashing holy hell on one another in a building chock full of explosives. I am more than okay with this.
The politics and strategizing of the last few weeks’ episodes are left aside this time around — as is S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new Inhuman Director and Mack’s on-again, off-again relationship with Yo-Yo. That’s probably for the best. S.H.I.E.L.D. sometimes falters when it dwells too long on any one subplot instead of being the zippy action show it was always meant to be, and its commentary on real-world events is best offered in small doses lest it grow stale and tiresome. We do wind up getting a little romance this week with FitzSimmons and their happy househunting, as well as a little bit of G-rated romantic farce when Simmons finally meets AIDA, whom Fitz has been crushing on, and Fitz believes she’s discovered his feelings towards the AI — only to sigh with relief when it turns out his girlfriend is too preoccupied with admiring AIDA as a feat of engineering to notice her boyfriend’s reaction.
Her feelings are understandable. Mallory Jansen is pretty terrific in the role, which is about as far as possible from her last gig in an ABC show (that of the scheming Queen Madalena in the musical comedy Galavant). Here, her performance recalls Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Data and Star Trek: Voyager‘s Seven of Nine, with a healthy dollop of Ex Machina‘s Ava. Though she’s a bit more naive than her predecessors, she’s a fast learner. So it won’t be long before she grows tired of being cooped up in Radcliffe’s lab, and the rest of the team discover his and Fitz’s ruse. Will AIDA eventually join S.H.I.E.L.D.? If she proves half as good at kicking ass as she is at treating patients, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
In the bromance department… Coulson and Mack again steal the show, even if they’re operating without Fitz this week. I’ve said it before, but Clark Gregg just seems so much more relaxed and energized with his character once more out in the field. He’s more like the character we first fell in love with back in Iron Man than at any point in this show’s run. We even get to see Coulson in his suit and tie again when he visits Robbie’s uncle in prison, and his demeanor recalls old times to the point where I was half expecting him to call on Tony Stark next. I’d really have no problem if Jason O’Mara’s Mace was made S.H.I.E.L.D.’s director for life. If it means more quips and high-speed chases with Lola, count me in.
Another favorite relationship is renewed this week with Daisy and Jemma. It’s a delight to watch the former’s surprise when she learns her old pal is now the big boss of her division, and as capable as she herself is of tossing out the rule book and going with her gut. (Her marksmanship has also improved.)
Daisy’s relationship with Robbie is also working right now, and that’s something I never said about any of her past love interests. Her relationships with Ward and Lincoln felt much more plot driven than the connection she’s forged with the man inside the Rider. Both of them, it turns out, are shaped by feelings of guilt, revenge, and more than a hint of masochism. Which means the sex, if in fact it eventually happens, should be off the charts.
Yet, again, it’s really the chance to see Robbie light up in a fireworks warehouse than makes “Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire” work so well — and do so as transparently as it does, with Mack pointing out the absurd chances of seeing “two fire dudes dropped into a warehouse full of fireworks.” The treacherous Inhuman James goes down pretty quickly, but Robbie leaves him alive, igniting my hope for a rematch. The Ghost Rider, however, will soon face far bigger threats in the form of the Darkhold’s devotees. We’ve already seen how the book can influence people. Now in all likelihood we’ll get witness the power behind that influence.
— “You were always a sucker for a breakfast nook.” In all fairness, who isn’t?!
— “We had to very gently…kill you.” Radcliffe is just way too cocky to be on the same team as May for very long.
— Remember when we thought Lola would be a much bigger thing than she turned out to be? But if sacrificing her flight capability is the price we pay for seeing her more often, then keep that lady grounded. Between Robbie’s Charger and Coulson’s candy-apple red convertible, “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire” is positively indecent in its car porn.
— There’s a nifty little Easter egg this week in the “Red Skull” rocket that’s advertised on the outside of James’ fireworks store.
— “I get to keep his car, right? Isn’t that how this works?”
What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).
Featured Image: Marvel/Disney/ABC