Synopsis 4×13: Coulson and Mack seek out someone who could lead them to Radcliffe, and hopefully, May. Those working with Senator Nadeer utilize a terrigen crystal to find out who among them is Inhuman. 

Agents of SHIELD over the last several episodes has been returning to it’s spy/espionage roots, and I love them for it. This episode is no different. It opens with Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Mack (Henry Simmons) investigating a woman who might have answers about Radcliffe (John Hannah) and Agent May (Ming-Na Wen), and woman they seek desperately to reveal, needing only an image of her face to know they’ve found the right person.

Radcliffe is stuck with the Russian/WatchDog/Nadeer cronies, who reveal they have been tampering with the Darkhold themselves, seeking an end to the Inhuman scourge. With terrigen crystals left over from his work with Hive (a nice nod to Radcliffe’s every changing loyalties in pursuit of scientific advancement and knowledge), they are ready to reveal a new Inhuman who can then be eliminated.

Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) works with Director Mace (Jason O’Mara), seeking the answer to the serum Mace has been taking. Her results reveal that the serum is not only less effective than what created Captain America, but also more lethal, as it will likely kill Mace in the near future.

Of course, he does not like the possibility of being benched and begs Jemma to continue her research to find a way for him to continue performing alongside the rest of the team. In a case of truly terrible timing, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) delivers a new suit that will inject Mace with the serum and monitor his health; only to be shot down because of the dangers of his using it.

Daisy (Chloe Bennet) is back in full agent swing, placing Inhumans in safe locations and saving them through spy and political means. From there, Daisy and Mace receive contact from Coulson who reveals that the woman he and Mack were following is Agnes Kitsworth (Mallory Jansen), and Radcliffe modeled Aida after her.

I have to say, Agnes is lovable and endearing. Radcliffe may have been attempting to create a semblance of life, but if this is the life he was modeling, he failed. Mack and Coulson interact with her, and encourage her to engage with them in the search for Radcliffe. 

Nadeer (Parminder Nagra) is confronted by one of the Watchdogs, Terrance Shockley (John Pyper-Ferguson), who brings a terrigen crystal in the assumption that since her brother was an Inhuman, she must be also. When smashing the crystal, it is discovered that Nadeer, although she may carry the gene, is not one herself, but in a shocking turn of events, Shockley is encased in the terrigen cocoon, shortly before exploding.

The explosion, unfortunately, shines a spotlight on Inhumans as speculations swirls about who might have attacked her office. SHIELD stands up against this, seeking out the truth of what occurred. Again, returning to their roots, the team assembles at the explosion sight, utilizing the tech available to them, and seeks answers. Even Jemma admits, it’s “old school,” but don’t worry Jemma, the viewers like it better this way. 

Coulson continues to interact with Agnes, explaining his connection to May and his desire to save her and bring Radcliffe to justice. She expresses that Radcliffe left her when he couldn’t save her from a tumor, so he left. She wants only to live out her last days in peace, but eventually concedes to help in order to save May, especially when faced with the truth that the Darkhold could be manipulating the man she used to know.

Shockley returns to their base, trying to explain how he possibly could have survived. He blames Nadeer for the explosion, hiding the truth of his new identity. “You are my superior” apparently works as proof that you are not Inhuman or lying; remember that for future bad-guy interactions.

Daisy takes a team to stop Shockley, capturing him with a Quake blast. However, with how many times bad guys have purposefully allowed themselves to be captured and taken aboard a ship/hovercraft/aircraft (a la Loki), you would think the team would be more suspicious. He only wants to speak to the Director? Maybe don’t let him? Because maybe he has an evil plan? Maybe he’s now Sparky Sparky Boom Man?

In the lab, Jemma and Fitz quickly discover that it is in fact an Inhuman who blasted the office of Nadeer, realizing simultaneously that Shockley is likely the culprit – and being held in the hull of the ship. Fitz and Mace manage to push him out of the craft just seconds before an explosion. But for some reason, the team doesn’t stop to think that they should look for Shockley’s remains. He survived one explosion; why do they not think he will survive another?

Jemma and Fitz come to realize that he likely survived, and they will need Daisy to counter the vibrations of Shockley’s kinetic energy and incapacitate him.

Agnes awaits contact from Radcliffe, after reaching out through an email. As she waits, Radcliffe calls from a phone he has delivered, as he convinces her that he left her to find a way to save her. He has her walk along, following his specific instructions, leading her to his car.

She discusses her anger and heartbreak, including destroying her favorite Degas print out of anger (how can you hate Degas out of extension to an ex?). But Radcliffe’s explanation of the Framework (a virtual world that will allow her to live) convinces her to return to Radcliffe and leave SHIELD behind.

Perhaps I don’t know how to love, but I definitely would not run off with the guy who abandoned me in my medical need and then made a robot in my image. Nor would I want to live out my existence forever in a virtual world (unless we’re already living in one, but that’s, perhaps, a different discussion), but that’s just me. 

Back to Sparky Sparky Boom Man, he arrives at a small town motel where he calls Superior and admits that he is in fact an Inhuman. He understands the monstrosity that he has become, but asks to be allowed to continue his mission to end SHIELD, before exploding the motel (and Mr. Stevens).

The team descends, with Daisy attempting to fight him to exhaustion by forcing his continual explosions, but the fight wears on Daisy as well. Mace injects himself, perhaps for the last time, with the super strength serum, in an attempt to block Daisy, and is captured by the Russians. As Daisy blasts Shockley one last time, Jemma and Fitz absorb him in his gaseous state into a large orb, that will hopefully contain him.

Now with Radcliffe, Agnes enters the Framework where she rehangs her Degas painting before her heart gives out. Aida looks confusedly at Agnes’ body and grasps a necklace from around her neck. I’m still not sure Radcliffe has the control over her that he thinks he does. The Darkhold changed her. Mark my words.

In one final shot, we see May’s furrowed brow. I don’t think the Framework is going to work quite as intended with her. 

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