Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Returns With A "BOOM!"

The Good: Good character development, Decent performances, More focused plot
The Bad: Still has a bit too many threads, Annoying use of torture by Daisy.
The Basics: Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns to its more familiar form with "BOOM," which reminds viewers what the show used to be about and how interesting the characters used to be by giving a very classic feeling episode!

Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. has largely lost its focus, but as "BOOM" begins, the show had its best potential in a long time to find itself once again. The fourth season had been unfortunately scattered whatwith the early addition of Ghost Rider, followed by the obsessive quest to find the Dark Hold being combined with life model decoys everywhere and the resurgence of the anti-Inhuman Watchdogs . . . all amid S.H.I.E.L.D. being fractured by a change at the top following Daisy going rogue. But, the events of "Hot Potato Soup" (reviewed here!) put Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a place where the season could reasonably get very focused.

After all, as "BOOM" begins, the LMD May has been outed and incapacitated, which puts Coulson on a very clear mission; to hunt down Dr. Radcliffe and find the real Melinda May. Fortunately, "BOOM" has S.H.I.E.L.D. refocused on finding May. Radcliffe grows into being a villain while he works with the anti-Inhuman Watchdogs by working with the Watchdogs. In "BOOM," the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. actually return to being smart and doing some spy work, while the Watchdogs focus their hate on the Inhumans and Coulson. And, the result is a fairly good episode!

Coulson is sitting, talking to Mack on the comms while out on a mission that has them hunting the human upon which Aida was based. Aboard the Superior's submarine, Radcliffe and Aida maintain May in her virtual world. Radcliffe provides the Superior with a refined form of terragin crystals intended to turn potential Inhumans into Inhumans so the Watchdogs could experiment upon them. While Simmons delivers the bad medical news to Director Mace, Daisy begins relocating Inhumans to prevent the Watchdogs from getting them.

Confronting Agnes, the woman upon whom Aida is based, Coulson and Mack get an ally in finding May given that she now loathes Radcliffe. When one of the Watchdogs attempts to turn Senator Nadeer using the new terragin, her office is blown up! Coulson and Mack learn that Agnes has an inoperable brain tumor and she is horrified to discover Radcliffe has made a Life Model Decoy duplicate of her, which makes her not want to waste her time even trying to help Radcliffe. When Terrence, the new Inhuman, returns to the Superior and the Watchdogs, he lies about being turned and the assassination of Nadeer - remaining loyal to the Watchdogs.

"BOOM" is nice in that it restores the chemistry of Fitz and Simmons, even if it spends a bit of time fleshing out Mace. Mace has been a fairly underwhelming addition to Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and now that he has been exposed as a lab rat and a fraud, he is a character that is hard to remain invested in. In "BOOM," Mace is relegated to the role of face of S.H.I.E.L.D. in dealing with the public relations nightmare that follows Nadeer's assassination.

Fortunately, Daisy's plot is fairly enlightened as she helps Mace lead the team to deal with the Inhuman who killed Nadeer. Daisy returns to the field properly as an investigator. "BOOM" actually feels like an Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode for the first time in a long time in that the protagonists actually work together doing the forensics half of a spy mission and the result is entertaining in a way that most of the season has not been.

On the Coulson front, Coulson manages to bring a lot of heart to "BOOM." Coulson is expertly played by Clark Gregg and he makes a plausible emotional appeal to Agnes. Gregg is finally able to play Coulson as emotionally realized as Coulson appeals to Agnes to try to find May. Coulson is finally close to admitting his feelings for May and as he tries to use Agnes to get to Radcliffe, Gregg has a chance to deliver his lines with a passion that Coulson is not usually allowed.

Just as Gregg is given a chance to shine in "BOOM," Mallory Jansen continues to illustrate an impressive range with her acting ability as she plays both Aida and Agnes in the episode. As Aida, Jansen delivers her best performance of the episode in a scene where she does not even speak. As Agnes, Jansen is able to play without any of the occasional stiffness of her body language that helps her to characterize Aida and the transitions between the two characters are seamless.

"BOOM" comes together surprisingly well as the new anti-Inhuman Inhuman gives viewers some fun and creepy moments. Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. finally becomes interesting and engaging again as it focuses in "BOOM!"

For other television works with John Pyper-Ferguson, please visit my reviews of:
"Broken Promises" - Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
X-Men: The Last Stand
The Adventures Of Brisco County Jr.
"A Fistful Of Datas" - Star Trek: The Next Generation

[Knowing that single episodes are an inefficient way to get episodes, it's worth looking into Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. - The Complete Fourth Season on DVD or Blu-Ray, which is also a better economical choice than buying individual episodes. Read my review of the fourth season here!


For other reviews of elements of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, please check out my Marvel Cinematic Universe Review Index Page for a listing of all those reviews!

© 2017 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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