Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire Review
ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season 4, episode 4, ‘Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire,’ was exactly what the title implied. That is, if you’re first thoughts were of more Ghost Rider (Gabriel Luna) team-ups, and customary fight-fire-with-fire convention. Well, execution is everything (along with context); so there was about as much room to get the theme/ meme right, as there was getting it all wrong.
It would’ve been cool to get some Jimmy Hendrix reference miles, off of this episode; but the obvious set-up, to its climax, called out for Katy Perry, instead. I blame the script.
Otherwise, there were plenty of little details to appreciate. For starters, it was nice to see Coulson (Clark Gregg) being a suit, again, and playing the good cop. I guess that made Mack (Henry Simmons) the muscle/ bad cop, by default. Just as well – it was Mack that got the ep’s action rolling.
The cut to the chase happens within the first 10 minutes of the episode, between Lucy & Lola – designer cars (still way too conspicuous for spies/ alter-egos) no one but the owners are allowed to drive (“Hell, no”). That could’ve been a bone toss to viewers – giving them something to chew on, while the episode switched to a procedural footing – but that fight-fire-with-fire opportunity just couldn’t be passed up. First up, however, Robbie Reyes agreeing to let Team Coulson stand by him.
The extra fire, for standing next to, came courtesy of ‘Hellfire’ James (Axle Whitehead) – Hive-free & suitably maladjusted to life, post-S.H.I.E.L.D. processing. Trying to stand next to him, Daisy (Chloe Bennet), and ‘willing hostage,’ Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). It was nice to see that Agents hadn’t run away from the Inhuman arc entirely (dumping the Secret Warriors, and using the last two seasons as a prop for what comes next); but it was nicer to see the Nerd Girls back together again (Daisy even resorting to more hacking than quaking).
To the show’s credit, it still takes the occasional Occum’s Razor to problems like Daisy gaining remote access to Agency servers. That, or the budget has already been largely blown on ghosts, Ghost Rider, and Inhuman SFX – making the K.I.S.S. approach necessary. I like it, anyway.
There was also a charming simplicity to the Aida (Mallory Jansen) sub-plot. Little things, like pitting Aida’s straightforward charm against May’s (Ming-Na Wen) no-nonsense gruff – as an Aida training exercise – made for some interesting lines & interactions (“Most of me is made in China – “). Radcliffe (John Hannah) bringing abstract context to the Asimov element, however, guarantees the kind of paradoxical nuance that will take things off script. You’d think Radcliffe would’ve come across this trope at least once in his life – even before becoming a professional challenge to ethical science.
Personally, I’m hoping that when the moment comes, Aida will be to Ultron what Bishop was to Ash (references to Alien series, there).
Once the fire dance got started (and a certain Katy Perry number cued up), a twist I had hoped against came to pass, and the subsequent ambush was a little clumsy. What came after was porno for pyros (whose ears should’ve pricked up at the first mention of pyrokinetic in a fireworks store); but clearing the Watchdog chaff first seemed like an after thought.
As noisy as the Watchdogs were being, I think they were close enough to have heard the sound of a storage door being lowered; obvious lines & puns were obvious; and once Hellfire’s role was dialed in, the outcome was obvious. That, and maybe I’m pissed that Hellfire did what he did, with his return engagement, after Agents cut off my replicating redhead fix, last season.
Anyways – fireworks did happen; GR got a signature accessory, as a trophy (Hell, yeah); both Robbie & Daisy (the obvious smash-up, to their alter-ego names, didn’t pass the rude & crude test; so I won’t be doing it) seemed willing to heel, for the moment (so much for last ep’s ‘breakup’); and Aida beat everyone on the unwitting panel except one. As that one kept going on about the merits of plausible deniability, in the face of impending mandatory lie detection tests, I guess we can expect a missed lit fuse, or two.
(Damned song’s gone ear-worm on me, now)
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