AOS – Season IV – Ep 14: “The Man Behind The Shield”: A Review

Posted: 02/15/2017 in Uncategorized

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AOS’s latest run was an exercise in simplification. Presently juggling the Inhuman/Superior arc and the LMD takeover plot line, the show has demonstrated a skillful handling of both. As with all things, something has to end. The determination of which plot was superior and gets to progress to next level to season four’s finale is presented quite adeptly with this run. My brief open commentary presented, on to my review.

This ep had a lot going on, including a pretty solid flashback sequence set “some years ago.” The presentation of a younger Coulson (Clark Gregg) and May (Ming-Na Wen) played very well. The notion that he was less capable and she was more joyful sharply illustrated the evolution of each character while noting there was a spark between the two at the very beginning. The banter, the flirting and the revelation of May’s “last date” sabotaging the possibility of romance between the two is given due punch especially with the knowledge of the fate of the man whom she dated. When one has followed each character’s path from the beginning, this revelation is heartbreaking. Kudos have to be given to the show runners for taking characters we know exceedingly well and giving them an ‘unknown origin’ story which works incontestably.

The Superior/Ivanov (Zach McGowan) makes his play and an explanation of his story being linked with Coulson’s plays out in the flashback arc in Russia. Meanwhile the tech crew, namely Fitz (Ian DeCaestecker) and Jemma (Elisabeth Hentsridge) work at tracking May upon learning of the framework and endeavoring to crack it. Mac (Henry Simmons) is again the voice of reason and a little bit of judgement. He essentially tells Fitz that while his intelligence and knowledge are unquestionable, the direction in which he has delved regarding A.I. has made the price for such knowledge too high. Mac  avoids directly blaming Fitz; but counsels that the younger man avoids the path of becoming another Radcliffe and question if he should do something rather than pushing forth for scientific achievement. While Fitz argues his goals are for the betterment of the world, Mac’s point finds its mark.

The key players of this run are unquestionably Radcliffe (John Hannah) and Aida. The game hits such a terrific high that we simply aren’t prepared for. So much is made of the Watch Dogs;  including Ivanov’s reasons for hating Coulson and wanting to “shut the door” on the alien technology/influence introduced in Avengers. The truth is brought about so plainly but we just don’t see it. After torturing Mace (Jason O’Mara) to get him to recant his alliance to S.H.I.E.L.D. the director simply tells him “I believe in Coulson” which could pretty much be the show’s mantra. O’Mara does a terrific job at playing a man who while deeply fearful of what is about to happen to him, manages to keep it together for the good of his people.

The meetings between Ivanov and Aida are later paralleled with his face to face with Coulson. He calls her “fake” followed by “even filth has a purpose”. Her obvious dislike of his disrespect is preceded by her protecting Radcliffe ‘as one of the greatest minds in human history” when Ivanov attempts to disturb him from ‘interfacing’ with his newly created reality of “framework”. Radcliffe’s advising Ivanov that Aida speaks for him and his interests is met with disdain.  A later meeting gives Ivanov voice as to his hatred toward Coulson citing the earlier Russian mission he ran with May. Coulson’s retort informs the reality behind the episode: “Cute origin story but you’re just another red shirt…” He then unleashes Daisy/Quake who is allowed a measure of retribution against the man who pushes such hate toward her people.

Today’s word is “feint”. The combination of action and drama- via guilt laden discussions among team members- serves one purpose – to distract. I frequently compliment this show for still surprising while being entertaining and generally solid all around. This ep proves worthy of my praise with an end sequence that amazes and shows how to properly set up a red herring and a powerful end game. AOS still rules the roost as regards superhero genre tv. AOS remains simply outstanding and well worth your time.  I hope this show gets another season as truly it has earned it.

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