Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Self Control Review
ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 4, episode 15, ‘Self Control,’ officially took the LMD arc out of Ghost Rider’s shadow, demonstrated the scale of Radcliffe (John Hannah) & Aida’s (Mallory Jansen) ambition, and brought some kind of closure to the current Coulson (Clark Gregg)-May (Ming-Na Wen) dynamic – just not in the way likely expected. It also allowed a few key players to flex some serious muscle – physically & emotionally – that really packed a series of punches, by the end. If you’re a die-hard fan, this might’ve been an episode to recover from.
Groovy moody music isn’t just good for patient recovery, it’s good for vegetation, too – like captive S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents. Ivanov’s (Zach McGowan) line about its appropriateness, however, didn’t take into account the irony trope. Of course the Superior Man wasn’t afraid to die, but he doubtless appreciated the benefits of anesthesia, once Aida decided to salvage him – the A.I. having clearly figured Nurse Ratched to be more his speed, rather than Florence Nightingale. Cue the muzak!
Not grooving to the new sway: Fitz-Simmons (Iain De Caestecker, Elizabeth Henstridge). Faced with the prospect of key colleagues having been ‘switched-out’ with LMDs (just so we’re clear, about my being unclear, I feel the need not to name names, just yet), their attempts at keeping the LMDs from knowing that they know was a little squirm-inducing.
It was hard to blame them. Watching the LMDs go about their business was a special kind of creepy – kind of a glimpse of what Body Snatchers might talk about, between bouts of staring, pointing, and screaming at originals.
It always seems to come back to The Thing, however, with one glitch to their efforts setting the Wonder Twins against each other in a stand-off. The fact that it was a circular logical stand-off made it so much better – a post-infiltration moment at Outpost 31, if MacReady & the others were several pay grades more brilliant. The personal component just upped the tension, tenfold, and it was hard not to get sucked into the sheer breathlessness of it all. This, in turn, made the stand-off outcome that much more of a leg-sweep. Awesome scene. Bloody good acting, on both levels.
Some inspiring words, about the survival of the thing that is Fitz-Simmons, was supposed to bring some color back to the cheeks of fans; but, no – still got what happened stuck to the insides of my eyes.
The other would-be inspirational moment came from the heartfelt memories of LMD May. With the infiltration came an opportunity to realize the office romance the season has been mulling over – at least since the arc began. The fact that it would constitute something of a robo-romance (still not naming names – pay no attention to the inferences) didn’t detract from what it meant to Mock-May, nor what she would bring to intangible elements of the episode’s conflict.
As for the Daisy (Chloe Bennet) reveal/ discovery: seemed odd there’d be so… much to it; but considering most of my thoughts on the matter are mostly unfit to print (mmmn, fun with facsimile), I’ll just move on to the next thing. Nice shout-out to Batman Begins, BTW.
Even better was the Sarah Connor vs Terminator fight (again, trying not to go spoiler with names, here). Oh, the joys of seeing each combatant go gloveless. For round two: Naruto Rasengan, plus slow-mo SFX, equals some pretty exceptional awesomeness. Agents has continuously proven it knows how to save up, before breaking the piggy bank on a scene, or two, and this scene came with a lot of flying shards.
Ultimately, Mock-May got the Beyonce prize, for titular resolve, in a way that was pretty much telegraphed, from the moment of the reunion. If ever there was a place for May’s brand of cold, hard fact relating, however, the robo-romance resolution scene was it. Cue the muzak.
Would it being both fitting & ironic make for a paradox? My head has paradox-absorbing crumple zones, so I can never be too sure….
Still, sweetly awesome is still awesome, all the same; so at this point, the episode played more like a season finale, than just another arc chapter. That’s not to say that it was perfect, however.
It wasn’t made clear how far reaching Mock-May’s measure was, what it meant for the status of at least one other LMD, and every other real, live boy & girl Agent that was rendered unconscious.
The inevitable Aida paradox proved that hard facts often flow through soft heads. The fact that I saw where Radcliffe’s dictated path was taking her, but he couldn’t foresee the conclusion she arrived at, proved as much. Too much of that full immersion experience’ll do that to ya, kids. Say no to VR.
I’ve also been having reservations about Agents going over territory already covered by The 100 (Radcliffe’s Framework has basically been pitched as another A.I.’s City of Light) – and I won’t even get into the fact that both shows have shared McGowan & John Pyper-Ferguson (Tucker Shockley, the self-sploding man, on Agents; The pre-apocalyptic cult leader, on 100).
Still, execution remains the thing; and where the other show’s alternate reality wore thin, relatively fast, our first look at the up-and-running Framework left so many fresh Easter eggs, I’m getting e. coli just thinking about them.
That’s a good thing. I’d hate to think Agents just delivered an episode it couldn’t live up to, going forward.
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