Another great week of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
May is a LMD, there are two Aidas, Mace is a fraud, Coulson is the director again. I’m not going to do a full season recap this time. If you don’t know what’s happening so far, you’re reading the wrong recap! On to the episode!
The episode starts five days ago, back in episode 8. May is being sent to Radcliffe’s to retrieve Aida 1.0 for their mission against Ghost Rider’s evil uncle Eli, and Coulson promises to crack that bottle of scotch when she returns. Coulson leaves and Radcliffe enters the hangar, asking how Mace took the news that Aida 1.0 is an android and how they plan on using her on the mission. He offers to study the Darkhold instead of Aida 1.0 and May refuses; he offers to accompany her to the lab and May refuses. May leaves, and Radcliffe calls Aida 1.0 and asks her to activate “Sunset Protocol”. May arrives at the lab, and Aida 1.0 greets her, chatting with her before doping her with a sedative. She opens her charging chamber to reveal a naked May LMD (I’m sick of calling her LMayD – lets call her Mayda), and the incapacitated May watches in confusion. Aida 1.0 apologizes and punches her out, swaps her clothing with the android and uploads her memories to Mayda. She stores May in her charging chamber and activates Mayda, who resumed the conversation where May and Aida 1.0 left off.
In the simulation designed to keep May sedated, she wakes up in an Asian spa. The masseur enters for her massage, and May confides that she doesn’t remember coming here and leaves. She wakes up in the spa again, and the masseur enters for her facial. May refuses. She wakes up in the spa again. The masseur enters and she punches him out. Outside the simulation, May wakes up hooked up to several machines. She escapes and Aida 2.0 chokes her against a wall. Radcliffe tries to intervene, and May kicks him. On Radcliffe’s order, Aida 2.0 drops May to get the syringe. May tries to kick him, but Aida 2.0 sedates her.
Jumping to today, Radcliffe monitors May’s vitals as she is again hooked up to the machines. Aida 2.0 congratulates him for finding the solution. Radcliffe admits it’s not a permanent fix, but if Mayda does her job it doesn’t have to be. Aida 2.0 asks why it matters whether the original May is dead or alive. Radcliffe explains that their LMD software is in beta, and that they aren’t killers – Nathanson was an unfortunate exception, as a last resort. Aida 2.0 doesn’t seem to agree with his assessment. Radcliffe further explains that if their May LMD fails, they have a back-up plan: A second LMD has infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. now.
Who is it!?
In the Playground, Mayda examines her wound where she discovered she was an android. Distracted, she enters a meeting with Simmons, Daisy, Mace, Coulson, and Talbot. Mace and Coulson have decided that in order to boost public opinion, Daisy will sign the Sokovia Accords in a public ceremony. Simmons points out the threat of Nadeer being there, and that it doesn’t sound like Daisy or Coulson to do this. Coulson reveals that since Nadeer will be there, they will use this opportunity for Coulson and Yo-Yo to plant surveillance in Nadeer’s office to keep an eye on her. Talbot refuses; there will be no planting, no eyeing and no Yo-Yoing – now that S.H.I.E.L.D. is legitimate now, they can’t sneak around anymore. Coulson points out that he was juicing up the (ex-)director to pretend he was Inhuman. Talbot warns Coulson that it’s a bad idea, but Coulson plans to proceed anyway. He asks Mayda if she’s with them, and she snaps out of her daze and agrees.
At Radcliffe’s, he declares May stabilized and uses this to make the point to Aida 2.0 that there is no reason to harm her. Aida 2.0 approaches with a cart of cleaning supplies, and purposefully breaks a beaker of cotton swabs, pretending it was accidental, and leaves to get something to clean the broken glass with. May opens her eyes, and pulls the cart closer to her. She smashes a beaker, and uses a shard of glass to start sawing at her restraints.
In the Playground, Yo-Yo and Mack finish having sex. She remarks that she’s happy Turtle-Man came out to play, and Mack shoots her a look. She clarified that Mack is Turtle-Man, not his penis, but offers to give it a nickname (to which Mack refuses). Yo-Yo praises that Mack is a great guy, but also good looking, and Mack says she isn’t bad herself. Yo-Yo disagrees; she’s not just “not bad”, she’s “a knock-out”. Yo-Yo gets up to get water, and Mack gets a text which clearly upsets him. He starts to dress, and Yo-Yo asks if it’s time for the mission already. Mack explains that he isn’t on this mission, and he has to go do something else – that’s what the text was about. He apologizes for the timing, kisses Yo-Yo and tells her that he will catch up with her once he gets back.
In the lab, Fitz is watching security footage of Aida 1.0 entering the base. Mayda approaches and he quickly turns off the tablet. She asks Fitz how aware Aida 1.0 was of her actions, claiming it is for a security report. Fitz deduces that it is not for a security report; it’s for herself. He doesn’t suspect her of being an LMD, however – he thinks she feels guilty about having Aida 1.0 read the Darkhold. He says it was a difficult choice, and Mayda says not when Coulson was in danger. Fitz remarks that that is just how she is built.
Does he know?
In Radcliffe’s lab, May continues to saw at her restraints with a shard of glass and accidentally slashes her hand open. She powers through and continues to cut, pretending to be sedated as Aida 2.0 enters the room with a broom and dustpan, despite bleeding all over the floor. Radcliffe enters and tells Aida 2.0 that he is leaving and will be back in a bit. Aida 2.0 follows him out of the room and asks what she should do if May does become a problem, and Radcliffe dismisses the possibility as unlikely. As soon as she leaves, May continues to cut her restraints.
At the base, Coulson greets Mace and Talbot for the mission and explains that Mack requested personal time off and won’t be joining. Talbot again asks Coulson to reconsider the mission. He explains that if Nadeer finds out they’re investigating her, she will investigate them. Coulson claims he is aware of the problems and is simply being proactive. As Mace tries to mediate, Talbot takes this as an accusation of him being reactionary, and claims that he’s usually reacting to Coulson’s “steaming pile of fart-pebbles”. Coulson counters saying that the other half Talbot is lying to him. Talbot offers to take top-secret S.H.I.E.L.D. documents to a military base as a contingency plan for if Nadeer retaliates. Coulson and Mace point out that they are highly trained in protection and that makes no sense. Mace tells Talbot that Nadeer tried to kill them and agrees that Coulson is right, and Talbot accuses Mace of being Coulson’s puppet and leaves.
May cuts through her wrist-strap and removes herself from the machines. She quietly and quickly makes her way to the front door, when Aida 2.0 punches through the window, injuring her. She tear off a large decorative spiked metal light and attacks May, who defends herself with a chair. Aida 2.0 grab her, and May goes to hit her with a lamp. Aida 2.0 counters with the spike, and May kicks it out of her hands. She throws May across the room and breaks the TV. Aida 2.0 admits to liking May, and promises to make her death quick and painless. May says she isn’t worried, and stabs straight through Aida 2.0 with a fire-poker. She escapes the apartment and runs up the stairs, trying locked access doors as she comes across them.
A well-dressed Daisy and Mace arrive at the capitol building for the signing of the Accords. Mace tells her it’s okay to be nervous, and Daisy says that she is out of her comfort zone, but will just tell the truth. Mace asks her why she doesn’t talk about her childhood, and says that going from foster home to foster home she must have often “put on an act” to get people to like her. He confesses that after a while, it becomes so easy that it is second nature; he sadly admits that he has experience in living a lie. He says, however, that Daisy is the real deal – Coulson has said so from day one, and he trusts his judgment. Daisy says that Coulson believed in her before she did, and he believes in Mace too; he has always contested that Mace just wants to do the right thing. That’s why he kept him around. She confesses that sometimes it feels like an act, and Mace tells her that she’s got this.
That was sweet. I’m gonna be really upset if Mace doesn’t last the season.
Nadeer arrives and coldy addresses Mace and Daisy, and a fight begins to start before Talbot informs her that questions will be held after the meeting. She cryptically says that she thinks a lot of questions will be answered, and wishes Daisy has fun. Daisy and Talbot ponder what that means as Nadeer leaves. Senator Gene Williams begins the proceedings.
A well-dressed Coulson and Yo-Yo pass security clearance and head to Nadeer’s office. Yo-Yo asks about Mack’s personal time off, but Coulson asks to be left out of it. He says that Mack is a very private person and he only knows what is in his file; he spent six months on a plane with him and thinks that Yo-Yo still knows more about him. Yo-Yo asks what was on his file, and Coulson tells her to ask him. She says she annoys him when she asks, and Coulson says she is annoying him now. He questions why she would want to learn things all at once in a report when she can learn them organically, and Yo-Yo says privacy is overrated – much better to read a report. She theorizes that it must be tougher with May, and that if Coulson only learns about May in “slow, annoying pieces” they’ll never get together. Coulson claims they are just friends, and Yo-Yo says that she doesn’t need to read a file to know that that isn’t true. He tells her that no one likes a smart-ass, and she uses her super-speed to steal a guard’s security pass and says that in her experience, that isn’t true either. They enter the office.
In Fitz and Simmons’ room, Fitz is sitting on their bed and going over reports. Simmons enters and asks if he wants to join her and Mayda on the op, but Fitz says he has work to do. Simmons says that one of the joys of having a girlfriend is that he gets to talk about what is bothering him, and Fitz says that it hardly sounds like a joy for Simmons. Simmons reveals that she knows Fitz is upset about Aida 1.0’s death; she doesn’t want to intrude while he’s “processing” but she is always there to talk. Fitz says he knows – he just goes quiet with “processing”. They kiss and Simmons leaves. Fitz resumes work on the tablet, which displays a 3-D image of Aida 1.0.
Fitz is acting weird. Is he the new LMD?
During the hearing, Daisy confirms that she knows that being an undercover S.H.I.E.L.D. agent will be very different than a registered superhuman on the Accords, as she will now answer to a different boss – the public. Senator Nadeer asks Daisy if she is more likely to help Inhumans or normal Americans. Daisy takes offense and says that Inhumans are normal Americans, and she wants to help all equally; Inhumans just tend to need more help. Nadeer assumes that this is because they cause more trouble, and Daisy says is it because they are more often the victim of hate crimes. She says that they are our friends, our co-workers – our brothers. This gets a sour look from Nadeer. Daisy claims Inhumans are just as deserving of their help. Nadeer addresses the seven million dollars Daisy stole from American banks while she was undercover, and Daisy clarifies that it was illegally acquired funds used for illegal activity. Nadeer asks if the U.S. government has reacquired the funds, and Daisy says the money has been redistributed to worthy causes. Nadeer accuses her of taking the justice system into her own hands.
In Nadeer’s office, Coulson and Yo-Yo are in position. Simmons informs them to place the sensors around the room for a geometric scan. Coulson uncovers the small sensors in a hidden compartment underneath a compact makeup mirror, and they place them in hidden areas. Simmons informs them that security is approaching, and then updates that they have moved past.
Daisy lies that all funds were confiscated while she was operating as a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and Nadeer points out that this would mean Daisy illegally robbed banks or S.H.I.E.L.D. illegally used Daisy as a powered asset without signing the Accords. Williams tries to stop her line of questioning, but Nadeer claims that S.H.I.E.L.D. is still using illegal powered operatives.
Simmons and Yo-Yo finish placing sensors, allowing Simmons to see a 3-D scan of the room, when the signal goes dead. Yo-Yo sees a blinking light in a desk drawer and is blown back by a pulse bomb. Police enter the room and arrest Coulson and Yo-Yo.
Nadeer claims that S.H.I.E.L.D. is still engaging in illegal activity, and Talbot denies this. Nadeer plays her trump card: moments ago, two operatives were arrested in her office planting surveillance equipment to spy on her staff, and has the police bring Coulson and Yo-Yo into the room. Mace says there must be a mistake, but Nadeer continues – pointing out that Yo-Yo signed the Accords but is now operating on covert S.H.I.E.L.D. missions without U.N. approval. She concludes that S.H.I.E.L.D. really is a criminal organization after all.
After the hearing has concluded, Nadeer and Williams talk behind a closed door with Mace and Talbot. Daisy, Yo-Yo and Coulson sit in the next room. Daisy says that it doesn’t look like a fun conversation, and Yo-Yo doubts that any conversation with Nadeer is fun. Coulson points out that they knew that Yo-Yo specifically would be there, and Daisy realizes that there has to be a leak. May and Talbot enter and say there is free to go, but Talbot angrily says that the catch is that they’re launching a full investigation and possibly pressing charges. Coulson claims that this is the risk of going legitimate, but Talbot says that it was the risk of going after Nadeer. He points out that he warned Coulson, but Coulson ignored him like he always does. Coulson reminds him that he lied about the Taiwan Inhuman Symposium (which led to Bobbi and Hunter’s dismissal in season 3) and lied about Mace. Talbot defends his actions, saying his son was in danger, and he appointed Mace because Coulson stepped down. Coulson defends that they have different styles, and Talbot attacks saying that Coulson’s style gave their enemy all the ammo she needs. Coulson disagrees, saying it exposed a leak, accusing Talbot of turning them in since he opposed the operation. Talbot says he is not the leak; S.H.I.E.L.D. only exists because of him, and maybe that was a mistake.
May continues to make her way through the apartment complex, and finds a large empty apartment with an unlocked door. Aida 2.0 enters with the fire-poker. Refusing to turn herself in, May says that Aida 2.0 will have to kill her. Aida 2.0 acknowledges this and they fight. May gets the upper hand and knocks Aida 2.0 through the sliding door to the balcony, shattering it. She kicks Aida 2.0 off the balcony, but she disappears and the air glitches and ripples.
Is this a simulation!?
May realizes something is wrong as Aida 2.0 is behind her in the apartment, who congratulates her for getting further than she previously had in this course. She asks what is going on, and Aida 2.0 says it is a simulation called the Framework. Radcliffe has programmed this in for May to keep fighting her, but they can’t keep up with May in programming the simulation. She resolves to simply wipe her memory and try again. May says that she is getting better each time, and Aida 2.0 concurs, saying some of May’s memory traces are holding over. She runs at Aida 2.0, who begins to count down. In Radcliffe’s lab, the beaker of cotton swabs shatters, and Aida leaves to get a broom and dustpan. May opens her eyes and pulls the cart closer to her.
In the Playground, Mayda confesses to Simmons that she thinks an inside man was helping Nadeer, and Simmons agrees – and sees Fitz on the tablet studying Aida 1.0. She angrily approaches and grabs the tablet, reminding him that he was specifically ordered not to do so. He tries to defend himself, but she calls it an obsession and asks if he turned Aida 1.0’s head back on. He says he did, and she says that due to her Deathlok eye technology, Aida 1.0 has been watching them the whole time – she hacked the base and leaked information to Nadeer. Fitz claims that her conclusion is impossible, as he wasn’t in the briefing and Aida 1.0 never saw that. She says he put them all at risk for his obsession, and he says it isn’t an obsession – it’s an investigation.
Radcliffe gets a knock on his door, and answers to find Mayda questioning what the hell he did to her. He smiles and asks what tipped her off. She said she’s not an idiot, and she got hurt. Amused, he says he was worried about injuries, but didn’t have time to do anything about it. He asks how she feels, and what her reaction was. Mayda is incredulous and angrily asks how much of her is even “her”. He assures her the real Melinda May is fine. She accuses him of having her spy on her own people, and Radcliffe is amused at her calling S.H.I.E.L.D. “her people”. Mayda threatens to tell Coulson, and Radcliffe tells her that she can’t; she has a mission that will be activated eventually, and until then she is programmed not to jeopardize it. She asks what her mission is, and he says that she doesn’t even know where May’s memories end and her programming begins. She claims that there is enough May in her to know what has to be done, and tries to kill Radcliffe with a paperweight, but can’t do it. He says she is programmed not to do that, either. He tells her that he didn’t program her to not kill him or not tell Coulson; he programmed her to not want to. He suggests doing what she wants, and Mayda questions what that is. Radcliffe brings up her clear attraction to Coulson and says that May and Mayda have an aversion to happiness; that she is a constantly fighting a battle from her past that she already lost. He questions whether that is the simulation May needs.
Suddenly, Coulson, Simmons and Fitz break in with guns and the S.T.R.I.K.E. team. Simmons reveals that Fitz had a theory all along that it wasn’t reading the Darkhold that turned Aida 1.0, that Radcliffe programmed her to do it – and he was right. S.T.R.I.K.E. agents arrest Radcliffe, and he tells Fitz he can explain, and Fitz leaves. Coulson questions what Mayda is doing there, and she lies and says something Fitz said got her thinking after the leak – and the truth came out. Radcliffe smirks at her lie, and Coulson has him carried out.
Mack arrives back at the base and asks Yo-Yo how the mission went. She says it didn’t go well, and they could have used him. She cuts the small talk and says that Coulson told her if she wanted to know where he went she should ask, and he was right. Mack sighs deeply and reveals he went to see his ex. He tells her he has been wanting to talk to her about Hope for a while.
So that’s who Hope is?
Yo-Yo breaks up with Mack, saying first he was taking things way too slowly and now is sneaking behind her back. She says she doesn’t want to be jealous or pry or nag, because she’s not interested in being a cliché. If Mack is interested in sneaking around and seeing other women that’s fine, but it’s another cliché she isn’t interested in. She starts to leave and he tells her that Hope was his daughter. She died eleven years ago. He and his ex Nicole had planned a life together, and she got pregnant. They were happy, but Hope only lived for four days, ending her story before it started. Yo-Yo apologetically says she didn’t know, and Mack says he knows. He says that tomorrow is Hope’s birthday, and Nicole texted him because she has a hard time with it. He tearfully admits that he wanted to spend a day celebrating Hope, too. He confesses that he has been meaning to tell Yo-Yo this for a while. She apologizes and they hug.
Damn that was sad.
As Coulson stares off in concentration, Mayda brings him alcohol and tells him to drink, admitting the day wasn’t great. Coulson retorts that cauliflower isn’t great; today was a kick in the balls. He says that Nadeer has them on the ropes, and Talbot is pissed – and he was right, Coulson was being reckless. Mayda dismisses this, saying they are who they are, flaws and all. He asks if she is fine with that, and she says she is.
An agent escorts Fitz to Radcliffe’s detention cell. Radcliffe tells Fitz that it was all a misunderstanding that got out of control. Fitz reveals that during his investigation, he wanted more than anything to be wrong because Radcliffe is his friend – but he turned on everyone. Radcliffe counters, saying he wanted to help everyone. Fitz calls him a sociopath. Radcliffe reminds Fitz that he stood by him and believed in him, and Fitz claims it was a mistake. Radcliffe disagrees, and says he means well. He asks Fitz to put in a good word for him with the others, and Fitz calls him mad. He continues that his first goal is to preserve life always, and puts it above all others.
That sounds suspiciously like a programmed directive.
Fitz picks up on this and takes a gun from a security guard outside as Radcliffe protests. He claims he still cares about Fitz, and Fitz shoots him in the head, revealing he is an android. The malfunctioning Radcliffe LMD claims he still cares about Fitz on loop and shuts down. Fitz tells the security guard he needs medical and engineering assistance. As Nadeer watches the feed through the LMD Radcliffe’s eye, the signal goes dark. She tells Radcliffe that they have a problem. Radcliffe confesses that he knew he wasn’t safe the moment Aida 1.0 failed to get the Darkhold, so he replaced himself and called Nadeer. He is offering S.H.I.E.L.D. intel for his protection, and Nadeer says that she won’t be the one protecting him – he needs to meet “The Superior”. Radcliffe agrees to do so.
In what appears to be a dingy underground bunker, Radcliffe asks Aida 2.0 if May gave her any trouble through the move. She says that May was fine due to the new Framework simulation. Radcliffe says he based it on an old memory.
You psychopath. You didn’t.
Aida 2.0 congratulates him on a working simulation, and he says that relaxing and fighting both weren’t enough – he just had to change the fight she had already lost.
You leave Bahrain alone! What is wrong with you!?
In Bahrain in 2008, as the young Inhuman girl Katya Belyakov watches, May takes out agents and kills her Inhuman mom Eva Belyakov. Instead of the revelation that Katya was controlling the soldiers all along, Eva’s death saves the day – she was the one controlling the soldiers with her powers. May calls her (ex-)husband Andrew, and tearfully tells him she saved the girl. From her medical stretcher, Katya thanks her.
That is so messed up! Radcliffe, you monster!
This episode was yet another strong addition to the LMD arc, and the impossibly sad reveal of Mack’s daughter and the return to Bahrain cement it as the most emotional episode in a while. I give this one an 8/10 because Fitz didn’t shoot the real Radcliffe in the face. That dude needs to go!