Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: The Man Behind the Shield Recap

Synopsis 4×14: The team continues in their quest to find May and bring Radcliffe to justice, but falls just a little short of that when LMDs become dangerously involved. The history of Coulson and May is visited through past missions that tie in directly to the mission at hand. 

Rating:
Picking up right after the action of last week’s episode, “The Man Behind the Shield” involves the search for May (Ming-Na Wen) and Radcliffe (John Hannah), while also including a game of cat and mouse between the Russian leader of the Watchdogs and Coulson (Clark Gregg), who is blamed for the deaths of numerous Russian soldiers during a mission, which we view through flashbacks, with May. 

As the episode opens, Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Coulson spar with the two trading unusual commentary about the feel of the fight. It is soon revealed that they are, in fact, within a much smaller version of the Framework, which was created by SHIELD for training agents. Of course, Radcliffe took the concept and made it much more complex, to the point of developing a world that can keep an individual satisfied. From this discussion, a lock on the location of Director Mace’s suit is discovered and they leave for Alaska, only to discover the suit lying on the ground, and an unusual wall of evidence all centered around Coulson.

The interwoven flashback begins here, as we see a mission in Russia that Coulson and May worked together, and which somehow ties back to the Watchdog leader. 

In a continuously intriguing aspect of the LMD program, Aida (Mallory Jansen) seems to be working with the Watchdogs, but of her own accord and not under the specific direction of Radcliffe. Perhaps the Darkhold really did illuminate her. 

Director Mace (Jason O’Mara), using some of the last residual power of the serum, breaks the chains (and shows off some incredible abs in the process) and attempts an escape, only to discover he was allowed out as the Watchdogs have discovered the truth of his “Inhuman” ability. He is promptly knocked out and returned to his cell. He’ll probably have to fight another day.

Returning to SHIELD, in what is probably my least favorite aspect of this episode, Mack (Henry Simmons) throws shade at poor Fitz (Ian De Caestecker) for helping to create the LMDs and the Framework, which are both being used for such terrible deeds now.

It seems that the writers just needed someone to put doubt in Fitz’s mind and create tension between him and the others, but it seems so uncharacteristic of Mack to attack Fitz in any way, especially given his history of coming alongside and helping Fitz when he needs it most (aka when Fitz had lost much of his capacity to communicate thanks to Ward).

“I know you’re not a bad person, Fitz… but this gear has been used for some really bad things.” Seriously, Mack? And seriously, writers? This is not Tony Stark creating Ultron. This is someone stealing tech and ideas and building off of them to evil effect. This isn’t the scientists in Jurassic Park who were so consumed with if they could accomplish something and forgot to ask if they should. This is a scientist creating tech that is almost always useful in saving the day and/or saving lives, and it is simply being manipulated by someone else for terrible purposes. Ok, Fitz protection rant over. 

In the Russian flashbacks, we see a familiar side of Phil, as he interacts in many of the ways familiar to fans of the original Marvel films. May suggests he wears glasses. He casually saunters up and requests entry with a smirk. It’s all very Coulson. In the present, the team is still uncertain as to why they have been drawn to this particular location, and how it relates to Coulson’s history. 

In a tense scene between Aida and the Watchdog leader, she begins to reveal some interesting tells, suggesting that she is perhaps beginning to feel. The whole scene either suggests that the two have a bit of sexual-tension between them, or that Aida is going to kill the man. Not sure which yet.

The team discovers the remains of Russian soldiers, who are suggested to be the reason why the Watchdogs have such a beef with Coulson; somehow his fieldwork in Russia with May led to the deaths of all of the leader’s men. Because in losing the object to SHIELD, they were killed. 

Fitz continues to search for Radcliffe, with Coulson sending a bit of aggression his way as well. Seriously, guys, it’s in no way his fault. But leave it to Simmons to remind him that he has a good heart and that only together can they right the wrongs of Radcliffe. FitzSimmons is at it again with the saving the day!

Director Mace, Inhuman or not, turns out to be a truly heroic individual, who refuses, even under pain of death, will not turn on his team, his friends, or Coulson. Unfortunately, his commitment does not protect him from harm, and Aida simply looks on at the violence. 

In the Watchdog base, the team separates, with only Fitz and Simmons remaining together. Moral of the story, as you will see, is that the rules of horror movies apply to spy missions too. 

Coulson and Daisy temporarily meet up, while Daisy obliterates the Watchdogs. But again, she is left alone with the man, and Coulson leaves for his own search of the facility. Mack discovers Mace, and saves him from his attackers, with a little assistance from Coulson at the end. And finally, even Simmons splits off in order to chase down Aida. In a world of robots built to replicate humans, can you trust anyone?

With Mace in tow, the team rejoins each other, but are they really themselves. Jemma seems concerned by the timeline, suggesting that the team lost contact with each other for much longer than expected, and that members of the team may have been replaced with LMDs. Only Fitz and Simmons seem to be unaffected (or at least that is what we are led to believe). The LMD detection flagged the whole team. Dangerous times lie ahead for the Agents of SHIELD, and it seems it is up to FitzSimmons to save the day. 

In one final scene, LMD Coulson reawakens LMD May, but to what end?

#IBelieveInAgentCoulson