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MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: “The Patriot” is Revealed at Last

MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap: “The Patriot” is Revealed at Last

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, “The Patriot,” we highly suggest you do so before proceeding. Okay? We good? Then let’s go.

Well, now we know why Jeffrey Mace said he got too much credit as the “hero of Vienna.” Nonetheless, his backstory makes for another first-rate episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which in its fourth year has easily become the most enjoyable comic-book-based show on TV. I’m hard-pressed in fact to recall a single episode this season that hasn’t delivered.

Part of that is due to the show’s handling of humor. I’m not sure which producer is responsible for the steady stream of Team Whedon’s trademark one-liners we’ve been getting of late, but I suspect it’s Jeffrey Bell, who demonstrated his facility for ensemble wit as the showrunner of Angel. Jokes alone wouldn’t make this show, however, and S.H.I.E.L.D. has proven it knows exactly when to play a scene for laughs, in what has become the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s house style, and when to handle a situation as gravely as it merits. Yet even the throwaway gags are organic; the best one in “The Patriot” being the lab technician who throws a towel over Aida’s gruesome decapitated head when she’s told to keep up appearances.

The heart of “The Patriot” belongs to Jason O’Mara as Mace. Since his introduction this season, he’s been a mysterious figure who’s veered between sinister and silly, in the grand Mutant Enemy tradition. But here we learn the biggest secret he’s been hiding from Coulson and co. — the fact that he has no powers but was merely a politician recruited by Talbot and the government to be the next Captain America in “Project Patriot” (a project no doubt fast-tracked in the wake of Cap’s departure at the end of last summer’s Civil War). A vainglorious bureaucrat who literally tripped and fell into his job as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s new director, he remains likable because he really did want to make a difference, and by posing as an Inhuman he truly believed he could help end discrimination towards them. In his own way, much like his original Golden Age comic-book incarnation, he is as patriotic as Captain America.

Agents of SHIELD 2

Of course it takes the actions of Senator Nadeer to out Mace to Coulson and Mack, both of whom are paired with the director when their Quinjet is taken out by her friends the Watchdogs. Though Nadeer is nowhere to be seen this episode, we get some choice arch-villainy courtesy of Radcliffe and Aida; both of whom learn it isn’t easy to tranquilize a woman who despises tranquility as much as May. I’m hoping the faux Melinda they’ve replaced her with — and who helps rescue Mack, Coulson, and Mace — doesn’t stick around too long, just because we’ve already seen a similar storyline play out back in season two. The fact that she might be growing sympathetic towards Daisy and Coulson also feels a little unnecessary. Doesn’t Aida (of which there are now also two) provide enough opportunities to explore the issues surrounding artificial intelligence? In any case, it looks like S.H.I.E.L.D. will learn about the robotic mole in their midst soon enough since her flesh suit is damaged by this week’s shenanigans.

In the meantime… Fitz has never before acted like a bigger idiot than he does here by hiding his intent to fix Aida’s programming from Simmons, even going so far as to distract her by telling her he’s turned on by the way in which she “goes all Godfather” while interrogating the captive sniper hired by the Watchdogs to take down Mace for Nadeer. His actions are so distasteful they’ve taken me past the point of caring about their relationship. Because “Poppins” deserves so much better.

By the way, it’s worth noting that we’re only two episodes into this back half of the season and I’ve already stopped missing Ghost Rider altogether. Though I wouldn’t be at all surprised to seem him race back to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s aid when things with Radcliffe, Aida, and Nadeer go too far south. Until then, I’m confident the show will remain gripping. There’s not a single weak player in its roster right now, and a winning storyline that takes full advantage of each of their strengths.

Agents of SHIELD 3

Declassified Deliberations

— The Men in Black look suits Mack. He needs to wear a suit and shades more often.

— “You killed a SHIELD agent, tried to kill the director with exploding bullets. They don’t sell those at Walmart… Yet.” It’s always nice to see that S.H.I.E.L.D. the show is as unafraid as S.H.I.E.L.D. the team when it comes to getting its hands dirty with politics.

— “I’m gonna squeeze our prisoner like a lime wedge on dollar beer night.” Talbot’s similes have been missed.

— “Shall I design a dragon?”

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@JMaCabre).

Images: Marvel/Disney/ABC

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