TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 4 Episode 10 “The Patriot”

EPISODE 10: "The Patriot"

SYNOPSIS: Separated from their team, Coulson and Mack discover a shocking secret about Mace, leaving all of S.H.I.E.L.D. in a precarious position. 

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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues to deliver some truly top notch entertainment with the second chapter of the L.M.D. storyline. Keeping the action centralized to a couple of key set pieces, this episode manages to deepen the series narrative while also exploiring the backstory of Jeffrey Mace, director of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Without relying on heavy-handed flashbacks, tonight managed to give us an origin story unlike anything we have seen to date on any Marvel franchise: a false superhero. To say I saw this coming would be an understatement, but the handling of the reveal is one of the most nuanced this show has offered and helps cement the resurging quality of this season. It also managed to bring us back to Coulson in a true leadership role which has been sorely lacking this season so far. But, it also gave us the best explanation as to why there is only one Captain America.

The episode opened with Mace giving a speech thanking Daisy for her undercover service as Quake when an assassination attempt takes place and sends Coulson and Mack on a protection detail for their director. One quinjet crash later, the trio are traversing the forest to find the briefcase attached to Mace's asistant which contains something very valuable. As we soon learn, Mace's actions as The Patriot during the Vienna bombing from CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR was the rationale for providing the heroic poster boy with powers. Using a formula that mimics the Super Soldier Serum, the government found a way to provide Mace with superhuman abilities, albeit for a limited time. Clearly the Watchdogs want their hands on the serum for their own nefarious purposes. Of course, no one will let that happen, especially Mace himself. A deeply principled man, Jeffrey Mace may not be a superhero in the traditional sense, but his moral compass makes him every bit as heroic as Steve Rogers and that makes him a valuable addition to S.H.I.E.L.D..

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So, Mace's role may not be as cut and dry as originally envisioned, but the episode does show us that his presence as S.H.I.E.L.D. director will serve a purpose while also now allowing Coulson to retake the reigns as operational leader of the covert organization. Mace will report to General Talbot, but Coulson will call the shots. This is at once a welcome return and a frightening one as we know that Coulson has knowledge of the Darkhold's location. Back in command, Coulson's clearance will also grant further access to the book by LMD May who is getting more and more dangerous by the minute. Through the episode, the May we know awakens in Radcliffe's home and is once again sedated but the line is blurred between the real and LMD Melinda May. Radcliffe's invention is so life-like even Aida is jealous of her counterpart. It is not until the stinger sequence where the injured LMD May finds a wound that reveals robotic material under her flesh that we see the copy may not be as unknowing of her origin as first thought.

While the LMD storyline was secondary this week, it did not take a backseat. Fitz and Simmons continue their disagreement over the merit of what Radcliffe had created with Aida. Fitz still thinks the LMD has a good purpose and wants to examine Aida's head to fix the mistakes. Simmons is wholeheartedly against it which leads Fitz to continue his experiments in secret. The rift growing between the couple will likely result in some fireworks later this season but for now it continues to drive the argument of whether LMDs are evil or a creation of good. Radcliffe seems less evil this week than last episode as he tells Aida that killing is not an okay option for their plans. It is hard to watch as Radcliffe jabs and insults Aida and you can see the android's eyes betraying her hate for her own creator. It is only going to be a matter of time before she turns on Radcliffe again and this time it will be much worse.

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This hour gave us a lot of Coulson and Mack as they interacted with Mace as well as a good dose of May, Simmons, Fitz, and Radcliffe, but Daisy had some decent screen time as well. With the Inhumans still a key part of the narrative, Daisy has an important role to play, but this episode relegated her primarily to a needed superhuman method to carry the story forward for the rest of the characters. I am not bothered as Daisy was so focal for the first three seasons of the show that giving her some less screen time for once felt refreshing. In fact, the reduced cast has given this series a better and tighter pace than we have seen in a long time. With Senator Nadeer revealed to have a superior in charge of the Watchdogs last week, I half-expected to see that new villain rear their head but the writers are wisely keeping that reveal under wraps for now and building the tension related to LMD May and what Aida could do next.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will never have the prestige of the Netflix Marvel series nor will it ever be taken as seriously as the MCU feature films, but the ABC show has long benefitted from direct ties and connections to the big screen superhero storylines. With GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 not likely to have any direct connections for the show and SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING not releasing until the summer, this show will keep mining the repercussions of CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR and lay the foundation for the Inhumans television series. The best things Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has going for it now is the ability to focus on it's own storyline within the greater universe created by the films rather than being handcuffed to what comes next. So, at least for the rest of this season, this narrative can play out and give us a satisfactory conclusion to Coulson and his team's battle with the LMDs. If the next ten episodes can be as good as the last two, we are in for a great couple of months.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The Super Soldier references abound, including callbacks to Dr. Erskine from CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER as well as the CIVIL WAR references to Vienna.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: "Wake Up" airs January 24th – May races to find the truth about what happened to her, while Aida’s next move could mean the death of them all.


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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.