Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Invasion of the LMDs!

MALLORY JANSEN, JOHN HANNAH

Thus far, since returning for the mid-season premiere, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” has certainly hit the ground running, offering up twist after twist in its exciting new “LMD”-themed storyline. (That would be Life Model Decoy, for those still wondering.)

Last night’s entry, “Wake Up” was one gratifying twist after another, and though some were easy to predict- for instance that May’s initial attempts to escape would be a mere simulation of her doing just that in the “mind prison” Radcliffe (John Hannah) and Aida (Mallory Jansen) have been keeping her in- others were considerably more clever, thankfully.

HENRY SIMMONS, CLARK GREGG

For instance, there was the whole twist of Radcliffe being in cahoots with Senator Nadeer (Parminder Nagra), which I didn’t see coming, even though, in retrospect, it makes perfect sense. I also fell for the fake-out that Mack (Henry Simmons) might have been an LMD, even though I should have known better, really. What can I say, I was tired last night, lol. Nice reveal about his past, though, from a character-building perspective.

I liked that it was instead Radcliffe himself who had an LMD, which Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) saw coming a mile away- enough to put a bullet in the android’s head pretty much without hesitation, after the faux Radcliffe was taken into custody. Factor in the multiple Aidas, and Mays (Ming-Na Wen)- the latter of which became self-aware at the end of last week’s episode- and one has to wonder if there aren’t more LMDs where that came from.

IAIN DE CAESTECKER, JOHN HANNAH

After all, it’s clear that Radcliffe has been a few steps ahead of everyone else, enough to have a few contingency plans in his back pocket, at least. One of those was obviously cozying up to the viciously-anti inhuman Senator Nadeer, tipping her off about an attempt by the S.H.I.E.L.D team to try and steal files and the like from her office, which ended up backfiring big-time and allowing them to play right into her plans to make the team, and inhumans in general, look bad publicly.

Mission accomplished, and then some, as Nadeer was able to bust Coulson and Yo-Yo in front of everyone at the hearing, thus showing them how supposedly underhanded and deceitful S.H.I.E.L.D agents could be, making them, by extension, untrustworthy in the eyes of other officials, just as the team, and Daisy/Quake (Chloe Bennett) were starting to win them over.

The Blacklist - Season 1

Of course, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that someone who would kill her own brother would stage such a coup- though I suspect we haven’t seen the last of Vijay (Manish Dayal). Indeed, he may be the one that helps to bring his nefarious sister down in the clutch, now that all eyes are decidedly on them for all the wrong reasons.

I am curious as to what Radcliffe’s endgame is, however. We know he’s determined to get ahold of the Darkhold, by any means necessary, and that he aims to use it for some sinister purpose- but what exactly? And how did he get Nadeer onboard with whatever it is, given her own derision for inhumans? I mean, granted, it’s a slightly different thing, using magic as a means to an end, as opposed to working with an inhuman, but it’s still a bit dubious.

JOHN HANNAH

Then again, it isn’t exactly clear how much she does or doesn’t know about Radcliffe’s plans, as it was only just revealed she was in on it in the first place, so maybe she’s in the dark about the whole magic thing. I can’t imagine she’d be too down with that approach, though you never know- to her, the ends might justify the means.

Other revelations over the last few weeks: we found out that Mace (Jason O’Mara) wasn’t actually an inhuman after all, but was being given injections by Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) to make him essentially super-powered. But without it, he was relatively harmless, which, alas, put a damper on the predictions that he would turn out to be “The Patriot,” or as the show wryly put it, the “next Captain America.”

CLARK GREGG

Along with the show defusing the other fan theory about Quake leading a team of inhumans, these twists were hard to see coming, and the plus side was, it brought everyone together and on the same page, working towards the same cause. Unfortunately, the team is still at odds with the military side of things, aka Talbot’s approach to all things inhuman-related, which is what ended up getting them into hot water.

I also like the fact that faux May is not only self-aware, but finding herself with genuine feelings for Coulson (Clark Gregg), even though, on a certain level, she must know that, if he found out she was an android, he would never forgive her. Of all the predictions I’ve made in the past, this one was the closest to being actually accurate, but really, that says more about my affection for the recent “Westworld” than anything else, which had a similar type of storyline with its androids.

MALLORY JANSEN

I do wonder if Fitz will get himself into trouble with his continued obsession with Aida and getting her back on track. It might not have gotten in the way of his busting Radcliffe- or attempting to, at least, given how that turned out in the end- but I do think his inherent affection for her could still lead to trouble yet. (It already has in his relationship with Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge).) We shall see.

All in all, it has been an action-packed first three episodes thus far, and only seems to be getting more twisted- and twisty- as it goes along. Though, unfortunately, the Tuesday night death slot ratings continue to dwindle. The show has gone from the relative highs of the 3.4 million fourth season premiere to the all-time lows of recent weeks, which have seen the ratings descend more and more, with it continuing to drop from the mid-season premiere, from 2.7 million, to just over 2 million.

MING-NA WEN

On the plus side, I do think that, of all of ABC’s low-rated shows, this might be the one that comes closest to being somewhat bulletproof, despite the high cost of making it. After all, ABC is about to do a (kind of) spin-off in the upcoming “Inhumans,” and the show does still outperform some, if not all of the CW’s shows. Both “The Flash” and “Supergirl” are besting it in the ratings, but it’s still doing better than “Legends of Tomorrow” and DC’s flagship show, “Arrow,” so there’s that.

Only time will tell whether or not the sinking ratings are enough to justify the cost of making it to ABC, but overall, I think the prospects are decent. Now, if only they would relocate the show to a less deadly time-slot, which I suspect is at least part of the problem, with the show airing later than normal, which is part of what I think eroded its audience in the first place, despite the decent initial ratings this season, thanks to the “Ghost Rider”-derived bump.

MAOS 6

It will be interesting to see if word of mouth helps to boost the ratings, as TBH, I’m actually enjoying this part of the season more already than I did the whole “Ghost Rider” thing, and I quite liked that overall. Maybe, like I said, it’s having that hole left in my viewing schedule by the end of “Westworld” filled with something similar, but I’m digging the whole LMD thing by and large.

In terms of predictions, I’m at a bit of a loss, really, having been wrong about most of the stuff I thought was going to happen, as evidenced by my previous articles to that end. I’m happy to see the return of fan fave Patton Oswalt, to say nothing of his playing two different roles as brothers Billy and Sam Koenig, making for twice the fun, but aside from one of his characters being given the Darkhold to stash somewhere, I don’t have any idea where all this is headed next- though I can’t say I’m complaining about it.

If anything, as far as I’m concerned, the show is back on track overall, after a slightly off-kilter first half of the season, marred by splitting up the team too much for too long and an overtly dour tone. These last three episodes have been more fun on the whole, and, even if the ratings are down, bode better for the show’s future than the previous ones have, at least in terms of being satisfying and unpredictable. I can live with that.

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What do you think about the LMD storyline so far? Do you dig it, or is it too much “Westworld” for your tastes? Is that necessarily a bad thing? Any predictions as to what’s next? Sound off down below, and look for my next article to drop in mid-February sometime. Thanks for reading!