Welcome back to my review coverage of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. Be sure to catch up on previous reviews here.
This week finally gave us the big answers to a lot of our big questions. The identity of the Superior was revealed, Fitz and Simmons discovered what Aida had created from the knowledge gained in the Darkhold, and Philinda finally happened with the much anticipated kiss between the two agents, even if it was slightly inauthentic. All of that mixed in with the return of Patton Oswalt as the many different versions of Agent Koenig.
Oswalt’s return immediately gave the episode its own type of energy. His comedic tendencies lend well to this show in that it lets the audience breathe for a little bit amid all of the other rising tensions of the plot. I can tell through his performance that Oswalt is genuinely passionate about this universe, especially when they include little sequences of one of the Koenig’s gushing over being in the presence of Quake (Daisy).
The many Agent Koenig’s however do have a very important role to play. Coulson had entrusted Billy Koenig with the task of handling and hiding the Darkhold. The Watchdogs were able to discover that Agent Koenig did have the book, they just didn’t know that there were multiple Koenig’s. In the beginning sequence, Billy Koenig is captured and taken onto the submarine that Dr. Radcliffe is currently on as well as a guest of the Superior. The identity of the superior was revealed to be Anton Ivanov, played by Zach McGowan (Black Sails), a Russian industrialist with a preference for the old ways. He is a recluse with lots of resources, monetary and otherwise. In his few conversations with Dr. Radcliffe, he explains his distaste for the Inhuman race, calling them unnatural beings who did not earn their abilities.
I’m quite intrigued by McGowan’s portrayal of Ivanov. On the surface, his desires are quite pedestrian when it comes to what we expect with this show, but simplicity I think can be the show’s greatest ally right now. Even though I immediately disagree with his position, and I should – he is the villain after all – but I can see where he is coming from, I understand what concerns him. This is a counter to what Radcliffe is. I don’t know what Radcliffe is after outside of higher knowledge that only the Darkhold can provide. The continued progression of the LMD creations also muddles Radcliffe’s end game. Not to mention that the technology that fuels these androids is incredibly complex, and I think having Ivanov there overseeing everything can help contextualize the ongoing conflicts.
Speaking of other conflicts, at the beginning of this episode, SHIELD is still not aware that Agent May is actually not the real Agent May. That did changed for two reasons, the first being that LMD May got a hold of the Darkhold and her programming revealed her true mission, and the second was that Fitz, Mack, and Simmons were able to uncover who May actually was through a series of discoveries. The first came from analyzing the programming of the LMD Radcliffe that is now in SHIELD’s possession from last week. The code that exists for him is far more advanced than anything Fitz has ever seen. While Fitz is attempting to discover why, LMD Radcliffe is distracting Fitz by telling him a story about how he knew Fitz’s father in college, how he was so proud of his boy. It did get to Fitz a little bit, clearly there is some repressed feelings about his father that has made me curious now about who this man is and what he did to make Fitz so angry at him. It makes me wonder if an appearance from his father is far off, but I digress. When trying to calm Fitz down, Simmons is able to trigger an epiphany for him, which leads to him cutting a hole into the back of LMD Radcliffe’s skull to reveal a brain, the brain that Aida was designing at the end of the episode where she first looked at the Darkhold. This discovery caused LMD Radcliffe to slip up in his explanations and revealed that there are multiple mapped brains from which Simmons remembered that Radcliffe had mapped Agent May’s brain when she was recovering from the ghost disease in the first half of the season.
After the exchange at the Labyrinth between SHIELD and the Watch Dogs, Billy is able to get a hold of the Darkhold and make an escape. He runs into the LMD May who was disabled by Daisy when they discovered who she really was, the only problem being that Billy doesn’t know that so the book once again changes hands. Radcliffe then arrives and is given the book. May pleas for Radcliffe to take her with him, but he refuses by saying that she was not built to last. Long story short, Radcliffe has the Darkhold now.
In the final tease scene of the episode, The Superior explains that since Earth has had increased interaction with alien life in the past number of years, there is something linking each instance together. For Ivanov it is a man revealed to be Coulson. An intriguing choice, which probably means that there are still secrets about the Tahiti project we don’t know about or possibly about who or what Coulson is/was before he died in The Avengers. Some of the images shown in this episode were taken before his death and before this show, so this isn’t nothing new, but currently I have no guesses as to what this could mean.
Episode Rating: 8.5/10
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD airs Tuesdays 10/9c on ABC.