AOS- Season IV- Ep. 9 “Broken Promises”: A Review

Posted: 01/12/2017 in Uncategorized

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“Broken Promises” began AOS’s “LMD” arc and as with the preceding arc, a lot got accomplished in one fell swoop. While the Ghost Rider/Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) arc is assuredly not done, the Aida/Darkhold story line seems poised to deliver. Great action, comedic moments to cut the tension and requisite amount of twists and turns presented another strong episode to hearken the show’s return from winter hiatus. My opening comments offered; on to my review.

Aida (Mallory Jensen) is both an interesting study in character development and restrained performance. Jensen cannot overact nor can she underplay her role. She sells the character properly, presenting exactly the right amount of creep factor as she plays music for the drugged and unconscious May (Ming-Na Wen). She changes her outfit, clearing off the result of her being shot in the previous episode. Her inability to heal reinforces her inhumanity. Her calming tones to the incapacitated May illustrate that while she is a good simulation she isn’t exactly human. The aspect of her desiring to continue, to live, is referenced as an after effect of her exposure to the Darkhold.

The notion of the corrupting influence of the Darkhold being able to affect even a machine illustrates how truly pervasive its reach truly is. Switching from a purely supernatural arc to a combination supernatural/technological cautionary tale occurs seamlessly. Aida is not unsympathetic although her actions including casual murder do not aid her case. Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) and Fitz (Ian DeCaestecker) are charged with wiping her memory to avoid the potential danger such knowledge can bring about. Their attempt to do so escalates Aida’s timeline and ignites the main plot line. That “Faux May” arc, as a traitor in their midst, plays well hearkening to “Westworld” especially in a scene where “May” attempts to fight Aida to prevent her accessing the Darkhold.

The May ‘replicant’ stands plot line stands to have greater ramifications due to the teasing of a potential romantic entanglement with Coulson (Clark Gregg). Though many have foreseen such a relationship as an inevitable progression, the tainting of such with a substitute for May is a cool dramatic arc, testing the waters if such a relationship could or will occur when the truth is found out afterward.

MVP for the ep has to be Mac (Henry Simmons) whose paranoia of a robot uprising provides countless comedic moments along with the knowledge that building a robot and granting it essential sentience and autonomy can only lead to a negative path. His knowledge of robot themed movies is funny. Yoyo/Elena (Natalia Cordova-Buckley) banks off Mac’s humor, noting both that “smart people are so stupid” and “didn’t they watch any movies from the 8os?”. There is an undeniable chemistry between the two, extending to comedic riffing. Line of the night goes to the duo while they hunt down Aida with Yoya gamely stating “They should be forced to watch all the terminator movies” to which Mac responds “Even Salvation?” Her final comment “they brought it on themselves” is delivered with wry, dry perfection. Neither she nor Mac is a scientist, but both represent the viewer’s perspective that playing God only ends one way. Mac’s later intercession when Aida pleads her case, citing the book overwhelming her with emotion, is as brutal as it is funny and unexpected. It is also vintage Whedon. The scene could easily have been clipped from an episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

The sub arc of Senator Nadeer (Parminder Nagra) holding her recently Terrigen-freed brother, Vijay (Manish Dayal), presented an almost equally strong story arc. Freed from his cocoon by Jemma (Elisabeth Hentsridge), the young man enjoys reconnecting with his sister. Vijay is likeable and garners viewer sympathy/empathy quickly. Ellen Nadeer’s connection to the watchdogs is clarified in this run, along with the level of her commitment as she preps her brother for execution by her group. Her justification that they agreed to eliminate each other if they ever became “infected” by the Chitauri induced “terrigenesis” is mitigated with the knowledge that their mother was killed upon the alien invasion arc, deftly tying in the show to the Marvel movie-verse. This arc brought together the team of Daisy (Chloe Bennett), Jemma and Director Mace (Jason O’Mara). The show runners still play Mace’s motivations as inveigled. He seems ultimately to be honorable yet the constant reference to his being a political animal as well as his effortless spin doctoring of the media casts doubt. He is a welcome character to this season as his methodology differs greatly, particularly at inception, from Coulson’s and yet one can see a steady erosion of his way as it migrates to the “Coulson-esque” natural order and the team organically reforms.

The meeting between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the senator leads to Vijay’s being forced into a choice one that has powerful consequences presenting greater clarification of character in one case and uncertainty of another’s fate overall. The coming together of Mace with the duo occurs naturally and sets the field for the remaining season. The end moment sequence illustrates that the show can still school its viewers, tossing assumptions aside and prepping for the rise of an unforeseen main villain and greater trials to come. AOS remains simply outstanding and well worth your time.

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