Synopsis of 4×01: With the Sokovia Accords and with Hydra destroyed, S.H.I.E.L.D. no longer needs to operate in the shadows; Coulson and Mack team up to confirm the presence of Inhumans; May needs to train specialist strike teams.
I’m glad that I’ve mentally gotten to a point where I feel like I can be painfully honest about a show like Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. For a long time, I thought I was maybe just that wannabe edgy person who disliked Marvel out of spite, but then I realized that what I really disliked was how Agents of SHIELD is written. This show has had more than enough chances to redeem itself in my eyes, each passing season has seen this show deteriorate into what we have now.
And just to show you what we have now, let’s talk about that opening scene. It introduces the new(est) version of Daisy. She’s back to basically being Skye, except with her super powers. But instead of giving us a scene of the girl we saw in the season finale of season three, kneeling in front of a little girl and her mother to talk to them, we get a shot of her ass as she puts on her underwear. Yes, the male gaze is overwhelmingly and stomach-turningly obvious in this.
She’s wearing Bucky levels of eyeliner around her eyes and downing bone-mending pills like they’re Skittles. Of course, she’s there to intercept some kind of illegal activity gone wrong but she gets interrupted by Ghost Rider. His introduction has dashes of pseudo intensity and glorious CGI flames, there’s even a moment when you see the switch between practical and digital effects and it’s so painfully obvious. Given how strongly SHIELD has been relying on Ghost Rider marketing, we might be seeing more of these CGI flames. Then again, Secret Warriors was their tagline for season 3 and that lasted for a literal episode.
I think one of my largest problems is how much the creators of this show love to tout that theirs is a show of strong female characters. I mention this a lot, and it’s only because they do. I am responding to their claims, and I am always disappointed. Daisy is physically strong, but then you shoot her ass and her putting on a shirt in mood lighting. Is that how you depict a strong female character?
The same goes for May, who we see is breaking in the new trainees, and has gone back to strong silent soldier (if she ever left that role). She and Coulson and Mack are sidestepping the new director and we’re reminded every god damn minute there’s a new director. Yes, SHIELD, we know. You love info dumps and you love to reiterate points and eat up time. I’m sorry you didn’t get a higher rating for that.
The gang is broken up, as ordered by the new director, and Jemma and Fitz must undergo daily lie detector tests to make sure they’re not hiding anything. There’s a sense of enforced transparency, one that Coulson and Mack dislike and May seems to vehemently disapprove of. It’s hard for me to feel even an iota of sympathy for them given SHIELD’s record. They were infiltrated by Hydra, they became what was essentially a black ops group, they played a part in nearly every major global disaster in the last decade, a little forced transparency is needed. If you don’t like it, you can retire.
SHIELD’s methods are questionable, yes, but they’ve kind of always been questionable. The new director’s put up another system of levels, instead of numbers it’s colors. It’s funny because it’s confusing, but it’s not like there wasn’t an inherent chain of command when Coulson was the director. May just seems to be complaining because now she’s not on top (and she’s always on top, remember?)
There’s a hilarious moment where May says, “I think the Director broke up the band on purpose.” And before I can roll my eyes so hard that I’m knocked on the floor, Jemma retorts back “Of course he did!” In that moment, there was a shining beacon of hope for me in this show. I’m really tired of Jemma playing the problematic character, or Jemma playing Fitz’s love interest, or Jemma just being the scientist rambling in the back, I want a real storyline for her that holds for the whole season. It’s season four, SHIELD, you can afford to spend some time on someone other than Coulson, you really need to.
Anyways, Mack and Coulson go out to Los Angeles because there are murmurs of Daisy, even though she’s said multiple times she doesn’t want to be found and is running for a reason, and on the way they pick up Yo-Yo. I love Yo-Yo. I love seeing Natalia Cordova, and I think she and Henry Simmons have good chemistry together. She’s fun, but there is something stilted about the way they talk. They were merely skirting around flirting last time we met, and suddenly they’ve gone on dates and she’s suggesting sex? I’m not saying that time hasn’t passed, I’m not saying they can’t just have sex whenever they want, I’m saying this doesn’t feel organic and we haven’t seen any of the whole story. It feels a lot like fan service and wanting to bring in the shipping crowd.
She checks in with SHIELD and tells them she’ll keep a look out for Daisy, and then immediately goes to meet her on a bus. They talk a little and she tells Daisy that everyone gets attached before dropping off some more meds and they part ways. It almost makes me miss the one-episode Secret Warriors.
We also see Fitz meet up with Radcliffe as the two plan to do the most European thing ever, watch a game of footy. Unfortunately, we never get to see who wins the game because the show decides to be horrendously gross again. Radcliffe’s life model decoy—the one we got a sneak peek of in the finale—comes out to greet Fitz. AIDA, the LMD, is played by Galavant star Mallory Jansen. If you’ve seen Galavant, you’ll remember Jansen as a vibrant, energized actress who portrays an evil queen with a potential heart of gold, a character with all the agency in the world. Well, you better hold onto that memory, because you won’t be seeing that version of Jansen any time soon.
AIDA arrives and surprises Fitz. She’s completely naked and scares the crap out of him. She malfunctions, which leads Radcliffe to shutting her down and talking about how he wants to breach the Uncanny Valley, basically creating a LMD that looks almost perfectly like a human. Radcliffe, did no one show you Ex Machina when it came out?
He throws a robe on her while she stands there, turned off, while he and Fitz talk about her function as they circle her. I’m sure some people laughed when she first came on screen, but this scene was just the epitome of all that is wrong with this show. A woman stands nearly naked while men circle her and judge her and decide what to do with her. And before you say she’s just a robot, Fitz distinctly calls her a “her” and Radcliffe expresses desires to make her sentient. Tell me this isn’t problematic, I dare you.
Even worse is her function, which makes absolutely no sense. She tells Fitz that Radcliffe programmed her because he was so guilty about having a hand in hurting all those people, and he wanted to create something that could save people. So he created AIDA, a beautiful female robot, who could essentially be a crash dummy. Are you kidding me? If he wants people to run into battle, ones that look human so they can be bait, that’s fine, that’s really comic booky and I can stand by it. But they decide that robot is going to be Mallory Jansen? Why not create someone who looks like Mack? Or someone who looks like May? They’re soldiers, they’re fighters. Radcliffe has her answering phones and laughing at jokes, she’s essentially one of Don Draper’s secretaries.
I can’t begin to describe how vitriolic this scene made me, but we can’t linger on that for too long or else we’ll be here all day.
The main plot with Ghost Rider seems to only be there to serve his introduction. The Watchdogs are brought up again, having gangsters work for them as they’re being chased by Quake and by Ghost Rider. Robbie Reyes’ Gabriel Luna is actually pretty enjoyable. He’s so enjoyable I wish he could immediately be transferred out to a Netflix show before he’s killed for being Daisy’s potential love interest.
It’s unclear whether or not he’s an Inhuman, but we do get to see him using his powers in a fight with Daisy. It’s a special effects fight, one that ends with Daisy begging to be killed. She’s feeling really guilty and living up to the “death follows her where ever she goes” prophecy. I’m not saying this isn’t a natural progression of the story they’ve been building to, but this is painfully predictable and on the verge of being absolutely boring. A scene with flaming swords and skulls and superpowers shouldn’t be so predictable.
Anyways, that’s the premiere. SHIELD is back, there’s a new director (I’m sure you haven’t heard), Coulson high-fives his own hand for cringey comic-relief, Daisy buys eyeliner in bulk, women are written to be fridged, and red and yellow make orange and that’s how we’re ranking people who work for this government agency. Oh and there’s some weird ghost virus that gets about 10 seconds of screen time. I’m sure they’ll milk it for another episode and then it’ll be over.
Oh, and pour one out for the reviewers at ComicsAlliance for no longer covering this show. Gone, but not forgotten.