Things are getting ugly for the Agents of SHIELD in “Uprising.” The team spends a lot of the episode scattered all over as they deal with various aspects of both the events of this episode in particular and some of the plots that are stretching over the season. It’s not a good episode for almost anyone on the team, really.
In Miami, Yo Yo is attending a bachelorette party for a friend. It looks like a good time, with someone even doing slight of hand tricks to amuse some of the guests, when suddenly the power goes out. It’s not a regular blackout, since cell phones die off as well, and then a helicopter drops out of the sky. One of Yo Yo’s friends proves how vapid she is when her reaction is, “This is really bad. No more blended drinks.”
Before you can really wonder what’s going on, a video statement pops up of a silhouetted man with a voice distorter. He claims to be with the Inhuman Resistance, and they are going to keep attacking cities until the Registration required by the Sokovia Accords is repealed. SHIELD begins looking into this at once, after some disagreement about concerns over public relations problems since SHIELD is supposed to be publicly revealed as still active in roughly a month. Mace, the new director, orders Mac, Fitz, and Coulson to go find out what’s happening in Miami.
The first problem with this is that Phil Coulson is busy in the lab with Simmons, trying to find out what’s going on with May. They have a remote link to her telemetry and her vitals are looking horrible. Just to emphasize how bad things are, the gangster they have who is suffering from the same thing May is goes into spasms and dies. Director Mace really impresses me with his next two moves. When Simmons starts to say she has an idea, he tells her to go and do it without even hearing the details. The other is that he orders Phil to still go with the others to Miami, and explains his order, respecting Phil’s feelings but standing by his order.
Things get much worse in Miami. They can hear riots in the distance, and despite Yo Yo’s good advice, the bridal party decides they should go look for the fiancé. They also look surprised and mistrustful when Yo Yo identifies what’s happening as the effects of an Electro-Magnetic Pulse. Personally, I don’t like people who look at their friends funny for actually knowing things. Down in the lobby, a mob bursts in with weapons, saying that they know an Inhuman is hiding in the building and they are here for them.
On the other side of the country, Robbie and Daisy are driving around in LA. Robbie says that his uncle used to work at Momentum Labs, the place where Mac and Fitz met the various ghosts and Ghost Rider. Apparently, this uncle wasn’t exactly an angel, since Daisy has dug up that he did time for manslaughter. Robbie starts worrying about his wheelchair-bound brother, Gabe, just as LA loses power, too.
Another character that impressed me this episode was Dr. Radcliffe. He’s still working with his Aida, the sort of Life Model Decoy, but he puts that aside to help Simmons with May. When they get to her, May is seeing not only the creepy effect on people, but some kind of black, rot-like effect on the walls and ceiling. It’s really ugly, but also a bit reminiscent of some of the things they’ve shown us in the Dr. Strange trailers. I wonder if there’s a connection. Radcliffe scoffs at the idea of ghosts from Mac’s report, but he’s open-minded enough that he doesn’t just dismiss it out of hand.
The Zephyr is airborne with Phil Coulson, Mac, and Fitz. The tv blathers on about the current crisis, with Senator Nadir (I can’t believe they named her that) doing her best to fan the flames of racism and paranoia like the anti-mutant bias in most of Marvel’s comics in the 90’s. More cities are losing power, and the common thread is that SHIELD relocated Inhumans to all those locations. Fitz is convinced there’s some kind of gadget being used, and he’s going to track it.
Out in Los Angeles, thugs are roaming the streets. Naturally, Robbie’s brother Gabe gets caught in the chaos. Robbie’s car is still working in the EMP deadzone, so Robbie and Daisy arrive just in time. It’s an impressive fight with no powers being used at first. Daisy blows that cover when one of the gang-bangers puts a gun to Gabe’s head. Her power feedback problem is getting worse, and she hurts herself doing it.
With a lot of jumping around, we see progress in several areas. Radcliffe and Simmons keep working to save May. They narrow in on her adrenaline system being hyperactive and try to find a way around that. The mob in Miami emphasizes that they just want the Inhuman, and some of the cowardly party guests suggest it’s the guy that was doing magic tricks. Coulson’s team gets to the area, and then all their tech dies. First off, they were foolish in bringing only high-tech weapons to an area with power issues. Second, maybe letting the guy with the mechanical hand drive wasn’t the best plan? As they eventually manage to walk away, there’s a lot of banter about Ghost Rider’s flaming skull being useful in a blackout. I admit, I can’t really argue with that.
Daisy, Robbie, and Gabe hide out at the brothers’ place. Gabe is conviently off-screen while Daisy and Robbie talk about the perils of vigilantism. Robbie reveals something impressive about some of his Ghost Rider abilities, and then cautions Daisy that Gabe doesn’t know about his “night job” and he wants to keep it that way. Because keeping secrets always work so well on current-era hero shows, right?
Back at the not really a party any more in Miami, the luckless magician is getting beat on and threatened by the thugs. When things escalate, Yo Yo uses her speed powers to start stealing their weapons. Unfortunately, prejudice and fear have set in, and some of her alleged friends turn on her. Fortunately her real friends show up as Coulson, Mac, and Fitz arrive just in time. Weirdly, the fight is mostly hand to hand. Did Yo Yo get everyone’s guns? Yo Yo’s friends are certainly lacking in acceptance and understanding, so she goes to work with SHIELD, trying to figure out what’s going on. Coulson uses a rather dramatic way to demonstrate that the thugs are not what they appear to be.
As Dr. Radcliffe comes up with a radical treatment for May, Gabe and Daisy share some food. Gabe reveals himself to be both strangely knowledgeable and ignorant all at the same time. It’s a really weird conversation. Lorenzo James Henrie who plays Gabe, was a psycho on Fear The Walking Dead, which may be biasing me here, but I really don’t like Gabe at all.
Coulson’s group finds some very disturbing information on one of their prisoners. It’s something I was worried about from the moment the Sokovia Accords were explained. Fitz uses some low-tech science to figure out where the device is that’s causing the EMP in Miami, and the team goes to work.
The treatment for May almost fails spectacularly, and Radcliffe goes to some really extraordinary lengths to make it work. He’s taking a big risk for some of the things that are important to him, but he doesn’t even hesitate, which redeems him a lot from where he was last season. May’s reaction after the treatment, especially to Simmons, is really entertaining.
The last few scenes show some interesting developments. The attacks force Director Mace’s hand, and he steps up his time table for something big. We see some of the big back story for Senator Nadir, which is arguably tragic, but doesn’t excuse what she’s doing. And Daisy is now off on her own again.
What I liked: A few of the characters really impressed me, especially ones I either haven’t really liked or frequently don’t get to do a lot. Fitz was brilliant, Director Mace really stepped up, and even Dr. Radcliffe did some great work. Given what happened, I’m hoping Yo Yo is going to be a more active part of the show now. And on a personal note, I think parts of this episode show Team Cap was right in Civil War, which yes is the team I supported.
What I didn’t: Coulson’s unit got off slow and did some really dumb things when they got to Miami. I think the anti-Inhuman prejudice is spreading ridiculously quickly, considering they haven’t been around that long. And I really don’t like Senator Nadir, either her name or the things she’s doing.
I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. I think all the hero shows are doing better this season, and I’ll happily include this one in that list.