Welcome back to my review coverage of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. To catch up on previous coverage click here.
Now this is what I want in my weekly episode in terms of substance. Last week I mentioned how I felt that “The Patriot” didn’t have much narrative heft to the overall 45 minutes of TV outside of the big reveal. This week improved upon those failings greatly making “Wake Up” one of the strongest episodes of both season four and Agents of SHIELD as a whole.
“Wake Up” focused largely on both the real and Life-Model Decoy versions of Melinda May. LMD May is starting to struggle with the realization that she is not the real May. When Coulson’s plan to infiltrate Senator Nadeer’s office while she is deposing Daisy at a senate committee hearing backfires, LMD May begins to question whether or not it was she that caused Nadeer to know about the plan from the beginning. Ultimately, LMD May confronted Dr. Radcliffe on what exactly it was he did to her. This revealed that LMD May’s programming restricts her ability to tell anyone, most notably Coulson, anything about the reality of her existence. Her key directive is to find and obtain the Darkhold for Radcliffe and until that mission is a success, no one will know what this May is.
What a nugget that was too, right? Coulson and May have hidden feelings for one another. Back in season one, I would have been against that idea wholeheartedly, but now for some reason it does not bother me as much as I thought it would, in fact I actually am in favor of the story line at this point in both character’s respective arcs.
While LMD May was discovering the mystery of herself, we got to see the real May’s perspective on how she got to become a hostage to Dr. Radcliffe and her reaction to the first induced hallucinations at the resort spa. At the end of last week, Radcliffe had told Aida that he had prepared a new scenario for Agent May, one that involves her having to fight something because that is a scenario that she is comfortable in, that she can relax in almost. In the first sequence of Aida breaking the beaker and leaving May on her own, I was completely fooled, I definitely thought that she was awake, alert, and oh so close to getting out and unveiling the whole of Radcliffe’s plans. Kudos to the show for ensuring that I do get fooled by these little twists. But as Aida said in the hallucination, May was getting better at the scenario and that her and Radcliffe were going to have to come up with one final scenario that would fool May into thinking she was no longer in captivity, but rather in another place entirely, one that fans of this show know only too well. Radcliffe’s final scenario involved him adjusting a particular memory of May’s, one that has caused her immense pain in her life: her failure to save the young girl in Bahrain. For the scenario, Radcliffe simply adjusted the outcome, making this a fight that May psychologically is already determined to keep fighting to correct her mistake. So rather than having the hopeful outcome that the real May is back at SHIELD all safe in sound, she is now more in Radcliffe’s control as ever.
And this all happened without even mentioning Radcliffe’s big reveal. Last week, Fitz had dedicated himself to looking into the details of the rogue Aida’s brain schematics to determine why she attacked SHIELD, and he did this in spite of Simmons’ insistence that he drop the issue. He did not drop the issue in fact, he continued to investigate her perplexities and I thought the show was going to use it to give the two come conflict within their relationship. I was actively worried that that was going to be a thing. I am so glad that it did not end in that way. When Simmons discovered that Fitz did not take her advice, she looked pissed, but luckily Fitz recovered saying that the reason for it all was an investigation into Radcliffe because Fitz had some suspicions. His suspicions were confirmed, and Coulson and the team went to take Radcliffe into custody while LMD may was confronting him.
Fitz then decided to interrogate Radcliffe in his cell to ask him why he had the first Aida make a play for the Darkhold and betray SHIELD’s trust. Just a quick note, early in this episode Radcliffe made reference to having a second Life-Model Decoy ready to deploy if he needed. Well turns out it was of himself, and it was the most advanced one. I did not see that coming until Fitz took the gun from the guard outside of that cell. That bullet led to the question of, then where is the real Radcliffe? Well he is now in on the friends list of Senator Nadeer and as she said, the Superior. We still have no idea regarding the identity of the Superior, but with Radcliffe and Aida on their way to meet him/her/it there can be no doubt that we will have that reveal quite soon.
Final thoughts, the D story line was between Yo-yo and Mack. Their continued intimacy is adorable, but after Mack gets a mysterious text and refuses to elaborate, Yo-yo starts to think that he isn’t as dedicated to their newly established relationship and is ready to pull the plug before it truly develops. When Mack returns he begins to tear down one of his many walls to reveal that he used to be happily married and had a daughter that died only days after being born. The execution of this reveal was all through expositional dialogue, but man I was starting to weep pretty heavily and I’m not afraid to admit it. Mack is one of my favorite characters on this show, and I just felt his pain through this sequence even if it unfolded a little quick for such grim discussion.
Episode Rating: 9/10
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays 10/9c on ABC.