Considering how much the show attempted to beat us over the head with the mystery of the second secret LMD (I lost track of how many times someone uttered a groan-worthy line about being real, how they were built, or someone not acting like themselves), the final moments of the show did a lot to relieve the tension and shine light on many of the character’s various secrets. Just when I was starting to have issues with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and question the writers, they reminded me why this is one of the best-written action shows on TV. This week, the bulk of that redemption comes in the form of Melinda May’s story. Over the past two seasons, the writers and producers have given Ming-Na Wen very little to do, and I’ve made it clear how much her sidelining at the expense of the Ghost Rider and LMD plots have bothered me. Luckily, last week provided hope and “Wake Up” delivered. Almost in an effort to make up for how they’ve treated May, the show went to great lengths to give us her greatest hits (including a bittersweet resolution to the moment that made her the Cavalry). And despite Kevin Tancharoen directing last week, Jesse Bochco actually gets the chance to handle the much-coveted May fight scenes for the episode. Having two May’s struggle through two different issues is making for some great television, and though I’m still not thrilled about her relationship with Coulson moving forward with an impostor, the plot is finally worthy of Wen’s talents.
Another issue I’ve had this season is forced relationship drama. That’s mostly come in the form of FitzSimmons, as the writers have employed the time-honored trope of putting two characters together only to attempt to drive them apart. Because it’s dovetailed with the LMD plot, it’s been especially troubling to me, as almost every week has seen Fitz develop his creepy obsession with Radcliffe’s fembot. But once again, the reveal made it all worth it. Though Fitz still clearly had a weird thing with Aida and there was no reason for him to keep Simmons in the dark, it was wonderful to learn he wasn’t trying to revive the killer robot but root out what had really happened. It’s been very peculiar that no one has laid any blame at Radcliffe’s feet for what happened with Aida, so it was nice to see it pay off with Fitz reluctantly turning against his friend. It’s still a forced plot decision, but it was satisfying nonetheless.
Hopefully, Fitz and Simmons can go back to being happy, as there’s nothing that says a show or relationship can’t have dramatic stakes without there being conflict and mistrust between characters. Case in point, Mack and Yo-Yo. The idea of someone named ‘Hope’ was brought up last year and at the time my first instinct was to assume the writers just drummed it up to create tension between Mack and Yo-Yo. Surprisingly, the issue never came up again until this episode and was resolved before it was even over. It was such a refreshing moment and highlighted how you can make something dramatic without pitting characters against each other. Sure, there was some deceit at first, but it’s totally understandable for both Mack and Yo-Yo to react the way they did. It was also incredibly heart-wrenching for the usually private and reserved Mack to unload about his past. Aside from his brother, we know virtually nothing about Mack, so peeling away his layers is a great way to make one of the show’s most lovable characters even more well-rounded. It also helps strengthen his relationship with Yo-Yo, as she’s able to bring out a new side of him. Though Huntingbird will always be missed, Yack is my new favorite couple on the show (we’re all agreed on that name, right?).
The rest of the episode fleshes out the show’s mysteries a bit more by revealing that Radcliffe is now working with Senator Nadeer and is about to meet ‘The Superior’ (eye roll). Hopefully, the villain will live up to their lofty name, but I’m more interested in why Radcliffe is getting involved with Nadeer. Sure, she’s against S.H.I.E.L.D., but Radcliffe’s motives are pretty hazy at this point. His professions of wanting to protect life and help evolution would seem to indicate he’d be very pro-Inhuman and therefore very anti-Nadeer. Instead, he’s coming across as more of a sociopath who hasn’t quite admitted to himself that he covets power more than peace. That’s fine by me, as both Radcliffe and Nadeer are villains with a lot more shades of gray than we’re used to on TV and should be fun paired together. All in all, an equally exciting and touching episode from what’s fast becoming the best season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. yet.
4.5 Camo Suits out of 5. Seriously, what was up with Radcliffe’s jacket?
“I’m happy Turtle Man came out to play this morning.” Gross.
Coulson: “No one likes a smart ass.” Yo-Yo: “That hasn’t been my experience.” Yo-Yo is the best and I will be using that line a lot.
So if May’s spa loop only lasted about 30 seconds before it rebooted, that means she must have relived it hundreds of thousands of times in the few days before she woke up the first time. How hellish.
Imagine a show that had the guts to do the whole “kill the impostor” move and have it turn out they were real all along. I get that it’s a bold moment, but it’s been so done to death at this point that no person watching would ever be fooled into thinking Fitz was actually going to shoot Radcliffe in the head. There’s got to be a more subtle way to prove someone’s a robot.
“Cauliflower isn’t great. Today was a kick in the balls.”