Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: 4.05 Lockup
We're now into the second half of the first pod of stories for this season's Agents of SHIELD and things are hotting up nicely - and quite literally too!
It's been a smart move this season to break the season into smaller, more contained batches of stories that linked together to form a complete whole. It really gives the show a comic book feeling and gives the writing energy and drive with less opportunity or excuse for filler episodes. The writing team do a good job of moving all the storylines along both throughout the episode and in regards to the wider arc and everything feels connected in a tangible and meaningful way.
The episode kicks off with a flashback filling is in more about the history of the Darkhold. It's quite creepy and something the show could play up more. Also, did you spot the Quentin Carnival posters? Nice nods to Johnny Blaze's Ghost Rider.
Coulson now has Daisy and Robbie on his team, albeit reluctantly and temporarily. As usual Coulson gets some fun lines, especially when asking for team input ("this is a safe space") and it was good to see the light shield back. Daisy still has a deathwish and is playing the wounded loner card. It was great to see her back in the suit and back in action but I hope she gets back on board the team properly soon. As May points out being told she is better off in the team is "nothing she hasn't heard before". May also gets some nice lines when questioned by Coulson about her death experience.
There is stress also between Simmons and Fitz as secrets threaten their relationship and their place in SHIELD. Simmons really steals the show here and later in the episode when facing off against Mace. She has a real strength that we don't always get to see.
Robbie gets some real moments to shine here. He's intimidating and he's conflicted. Seeing him take out the ghosts was a great sequence and later giving in to the Ghost Rider was both chilling and exciting - the rest of the cons going back into their cells was a fun touch. It perhaps felt a little convenient that he just so happened to encounter the last member of the gang that attacked him and his brother but it was such a killer moment we'll let it slide. It feels right to use Robbie in this way, he's a fun addition to the ensemble but shouldn't become a member of the team.
We also get to see more of Mace this week. Jason O'Mara is doing a great job of presenting us with a multi-faceted leader. He's likeable, seemingly noble without losing a sense of authority or menace. His face off with Nadeer was just as action packed as the rest of the episode, resulting with Mace outing himself as an Inhuman. Nadeer surely puts a target on her back by revealing knowledge of active ops on air and I can't help feeling that later Mace is playing her as much as she is playing him.
It was a nice touch to link Mace's history into the UN bombing in Captain America: Civil War and helps us feel that the Inhumans are a part of the wider MCU. With Black Bolt being cast for the upcoming Inhumans TV series/TV movie it would be nicer to see the wider MCU start to reflect the televised world - if only in the details.
Lockup is a fast moving episode with plenty of great action. It does a lot of work to move storylines forward whilst tying them together. Hopefully the rest of the season will continue to keep up this pace.