Agents of SHIELD 4.14 Review: “The Man Behind The Shield”
A periling, claustrophobic episode focusing on character history and plot progression is just what the doctor ordered.
A Brief History Of Philinda
Mr & Mrs Smith, but much more adorable. Thankfully we finally learn some of the early interactions between Coulson and May. On a mission that ties to Ivanov directly, we learn about their own “Budapest” moments. The flashbacks show the different mentalities they take while on missions, and also heavy-handed flirty teasing. Lots of it. In a good way.
Flashbacks can be wrought with convolution and eye-rolls. This genuinely felt like watching Phil’s memory unfold from the first moment. Truly shaping the drive Coulson has as a character for finding May while playing in harmony with plot development.
Living through torture and isolation, Director Mace is experiencing things the spy game has always guaranteed the audience would happen if captured. The beatings, the slow cutting of skin. It’s all extremely visceral and seems as if AoS took a few notes on grit from Marvel’s Netflix shows.
I’ve had my issues with Mace continuing to live in the shoes of a community he admittedly isn’t a part. I still feel that way but can segment that off with the fact that it was out of naivety naïveté. That aspect of character didn’t affect me while watching him be brutalized. O’Mara is solid with finding a balance and can help find an in even when I don’t particularly want to like a character.
Plus, he looks like he’s about to save Nakatomi Plaza as he attempts an escape.
Never Forget The Fallen
Speaking of 80’s movies, by placing a phone in the mouth of his skeleton buddy Ivanov has finally become the villain we all hoped. Until now he seemed like he could be answering to someone even higher. This is the first time the Watch Dogs feel as if they have a definitive leader. The role felt heavier and more imposing than he had before and honestly felt like the main threat.
As gripping as the fight with Daisy is he’s unfortunately taken out. Aida does imply he’ll be LMD-ified but that’s not quite the same.
Nothing But Netflix
Earlier, I mentioned how the tone during Mace’s torture felt a lot like Marvel’s Netflix corner. It wasn’t just the tone that felt that way. The choice to expand the history of May and Coulson in flashbacks felt like a page out of their book as well. With an overall lighter tone than Daredevil’s flashback usage, but similar nonetheless.
Puttin’ On The Fitz
Low-and-behold confident Fitz is back. Internally and externally he’s taken the brunt of the blame for the LMD situation. Something I’ve felt was detrimental to his character. Luckily, Simmons is around to counter Mack’s speech that in real life would probably end any friendship between the two.
It’s A Set-Up!
I’ve got to admit, I was wrong in my last review. Turns out AoS did still have plenty of story setup to go around. Granted, this does pay off how often Fitz has been talking about the LMD detector in recent episodes.
Network schedules tend to drag once they reach the three-quarters mark in a season, at least for me. Halfway through “The Man Behind The Shield,” I started feeling like the show’s fourth season could wrap up in the next two episodes. It was when Daisy took out Ivanov that I saw yet another cliffhanger over the horizon and it came in the form of many new LMDs of our favorite SHIELD agents. I loved this episode up until those final moments. Geared up for a conclusion, I hope setting up more infiltration is the right move.
AGENTS OF SHIELD airs Tuesday nights, 10/9c on ABC.