Agents of SHIELD: The Patriot

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Mace, when these cameras are off…

The Agents of SHIELD are back with, “The Patriot.” When the new Director was brought on, some comic fans recognized the name: Jeffrey Mace, the Patriot, one of the World War II characters that replaced the missing Captain America. Now, we finally get to learn more about what’s going on with him. I will say the name fits to an extent, and they didn’t just randomly pick a character from earlier in Marvel (then Timely) history.

The episode opens with Director Mace giving a big press conference, praising Skye/Daisy/Quake for her undercover work, heroics, and generally being a fantastic SHIELD agent. Mace is clearly in his element, and Quake clearly isn’t. The press conference is mercifully cut short when a sniper takes a shot at either Mace or Quake. Quake manages to push a civilian speaker out of the way while Mace hurls the podium away, which then explodes. The sniper is using far from standard ammunition.

There’s a lot of chaos and panic. Quake goes after the shooter. Mace is about to when the ever-present Agent Burroughs comments that, “You’re on the clock.” Geek that I am, my first thought was DC Comics’ Hourman. I’ll say I was in the right neighborhood. Quake captures the sniper while Mace is hustled away with Burroughs, Coulson, and Mac to a quinjet.

Back at HQ, Aida’s head, taken off in a Highlander moment by Mac, is out on one of the tables. Simmons is not happy about that, and less so when a tech explains Fitz wanted it left out to work on. This is going to be an issue between them, I suspect. General Talbot is back, and proving to be a disruptive influence. I will give him credit, some of the things he’s ordering are actually not unreasonable. No one is happy with him being there, May and Simmons being the most vocal about it.

At Radcliffe’s home and lab, he’s railing about Aida being abandoned and her potential. Fitz, quietly and somberly, points out they just had the funeral for Agent Nathanson, who Aida killed. Radcliffe seems torn by being truly remorseful for Nathanson’s death and utterly obsessive about continuing his work on Aida. Ftiz suggests Radcliffe stay away from the base for a while. A long while. And yes, that’s semi-official. Radcliffe isn’t pleased by this, and after Fitz leaves, starts plotting with Aida II. Radcliffe is worried about LMD May, who is still running around at SHIELD HQ.

At the base, Daisy has somehow or other gotten the shooter back there and in a cell with a speed that would make Quicksilver proud. The man is Russian, with ties to both the KGB and Hydra. He at first refuses to talk at all, but the Daisy/”May” team breaks his silence. They do work well together, even when May isn’t May.

Aboard the jet with Mace, which hasn’t gotten back to base yet even though it took off as Daisy was getting to the shooter, the team is wondering how the sniper got so close. They talk about Senator Nadeer, the Watchdogs, and other possible enemies. Burroughs is happy because Mace looked like a hero again. Coulson and Mac are wondering about the big briefcase chained to Burroughs’ wrist. Things go south when the jet loses communications, then a door, then Burroughs, who was standing by said door. The jet goes down hard.

Most of the team survived, except for the luckless pilot, McCaffrey. Mace immediately demands they search for Burroughs. Coulson and Mac both point out that there’s no way the agent survived from that height, but Mace won’t listen. Coulson surmises Mace is more interested in the case than Burroughs. With no coms, they move out for higher ground (and to find Burroughs), although Coulson’s attempt at a dramatic moment gets spoiled by some of the aftereffects of the crash.

At Chez Radcliffe, the starting to seem mad scientist checks in on May. She’s still out cold, but fighting the drugs. Radcliffe isn’t happy she’s resisting the VR scenario, or about the agents Aida I killed. Aida II sweetly offers to dispose of the next body more discreetly. This chilling answer doesn’t make Radcliffe (or me) feel any better. Radcliffe is concerned that since he can’t go to the SHIELD base, LMD May is on her own. He also says that she should avoid detection better than Aida, because “May” doesn’t even know she’s an LMD. So she’s not lying, she’s presenting herself as what she thinks she is.

May, Daisy, and Simmons are getting more worried about Mace and company being out of touch. When someone brings up the possibility of simple equipment failure, Talbot snorts and asks, “When have we ever been that lucky?” It’s a fair point. There are some mocking comments about Mace’s color-coded security levels (Mace really does seem to be the only one who likes that idea). Simmons pushes to be given access to Mace’s files in hopes of determining who might be after the Director. Talbot keeps stonewalling her, and it’s increasingly obvious the general is hiding something. They get interrupted when the President calls to talk to Talbot. Interestingly, one of the first topics to come up before the scene change is Burrough’s “package.”

Mace obsessively tries to figure out where the case would have landed, and Coulson starts asking pointed questions. Their argument is interrupted when heavily armed troops show up, backed by a truck using com-jamming gear Coulson recognizes as Hydra issue. The agents continue to argue about what the proper priority is.

Simmons and Fitz discuss the missing Director and the mess around Aida. Simmons thinks Aida was a horrible mistake, while Fitz argues she showed promise. They are clearly not seeing eye to eye on this. Considering she’s more into the biological sciences while he focuses on the mechanical, I can understand the basis of that split. Neither of them appears likely to change their mind.

The real May wakes up and frees herself from all the medical monitoring equipment. Even drugged, she’s formidable, but Aida is a lot more than human and May is unarmed. Between them, Aida and Radcliffe subdue May. Radcliffe is making a lot of snarky comments and Aida seems hurt by them. That bodes ill for the future.

Things jump back and forth between the team from the crash and headquarters for a while. Mace and company see the bad guys have captured Burroughs’ body, and are going to extreme lengths to capture the case. Talbot takes a shot at interrogating the shooter, who remains unhelpful. May and Daisy share concerns about Coulson and some early memories of “May’s” about working with Coulson.

Finally, secrets start coming out. Simmons gains access to “Project: Patriot” and we learn the truth about Mace, his background, his powers, and the mysterious case. Coulson, Mac, and Mace come up with a desperate plan to even the odds, and they learn just enough for Coulson to work out what Talbot is grudgingly sharing. Mace comes clean with Coulson and Mac about his history.

Simmons uses some really creative measures to get the shooter to talk, so SHIELD can finally send reinforcements to help out Team Coulson. Coulson comes up with a clever plan to get the thugs distracted, playing on Mace’s reputation and using one of Coulson’s cooler toys. Eventually, everyone meets up again, although one of the Watchdogs very improbably stands up to both Mac and “May” in a fight. LMD May gets injured, but hides it. Of course, the good guys get saved.

The episode wraps with a few interesting reveals. Coulson and Mace come to a new understanding based on the revelations of this episode. Fitz is hiding something important from Simmons that I can’t see going well at all. LMD May is realizing something isn’t right, but doesn’t know what’s going on.

What I liked: Seeing Coulson in action is always good. The team works together well. Mac does something so many in vastly outnumbered situations seem to forget– taking weapons from the enemy. Simmons was clever and persistent and I love how she broke the shooter. The LMD May situation is a mess, but an interesting mess with a lot of potential repercussions, especially if you’ve seen Westworld.

What I didn’t: Radcliffe is sliding down the slope of being a truly mad scientist, although one of the ones with good intentions. I don’t like where Aida seems to be heading, either. Are both (unless there are more) versions of her corrupted by the Darkhold? How did Daisy get back to HQ so much faster than Team Coulson? I think Fitz’s secret they show at the end is rife with disaster.

I’ll give the episode a 3.5 out of 5. I enjoyed it, and think SHIELD overall has upped their game this season.

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