Danny Hale reviews the seventh episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4…
I don’t know about everybody else but I really felt Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s absence these past few weeks, as such when I sat down to watch ‘Deals With Our Devils’ it was with a higher level of excitement and expectation than I would usually have. And although this episode wasn’t perfect its high points and strengths far outweighed its small issues. Eli our villain, for the time being at least, showcased exactly what he can do in this week’s opening minutes. His powers clearly have the ability to be used quite aggressively and to see a character on this show take down four armed and armoured S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in such a brutal way is exactly what an Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. villain needs.
A burning question we’ve been left sit on for the last few weeks was where Simmons was being sent on her apparent top-secret mission. The show’s return reveals her deployed at a nondescript location to work on a man who has been apparently gestating for seven months undergoing terrigenesis. It was hard not to get caught up in Simmons’ inquisitiveness and apathy but I think we can assume that this is Senator Nadeer’s brother who we saw a few weeks back. I was surprised to see his stone cast break away so soon but once Simmons was snatched away from him I was left wanting more, with more questions than before. It was unclear how much Mace knew about Simmons’ excursion so I was intrigued to get a glimpse at the Director while he was away from our team. He made a promise to contact Simmons and inform her of their situation and Fitz’s questionable fate. I really can’t help but feel that Mace is just a good director. I keep expecting him to be dishonest but was reassured to see him genuinely try to get Simmons back, even if he wasn’t successful.
We were only left in suspense as to Coulson, Fitz and Robbie’s whereabouts for the opening nine minutes before the reveal that they were co-existing unseen and unheard with the physical world. Coulson had so many great moments this episode. I’m really loving non-director Phil; his appreciation for Mack for insisting May heed Coulson’s advice and not open the Darkhold was great and only topped by his “Do we look that stupid on comms?” line. It injected some welcome and surprising humour to a pretty tense plot. In a way I felt this episode’s strengths all centred around Coulson and his relationships with the others, May in particular. Their relationship goes beyond this show and it is felt every week. This season has done a great job keeping that bond alive. Despite a portion of fans shipping the two I have never necessarily gotten a sense of romance between Phil and May. However, recent weeks have started to allow me to see that as a possibility, given everything these two have experienced these past few years.
I always enjoy Coulson and Fitz together and this week didn’t disappoint; you can see the fear that Fitz has for Simmons’ safety and the frustration of not being able to contact her or help her. His outburst at Coulson subsequently feels real and earned. It also shed more light on why Coulson stepped down as head of S.H.I.E.L.D., legitimising Coulson’s actions and saving it from being a weightless ‘shake-up’ on the writer’s part. My personal favourite moment was Fitz’s “I need you in this fight because I need to get back to her;” the delivery was perfect and shows just how much Fitz has grown.
I am so happy the writers are still giving Daisy and Coulson the attention they deserve; things are not okay between them and until they hash out what went down in the aftermath of Hive there will always be a wall between them. This week had a very effective moment highlighting this where Coulson and Daisy were reunited but due to their unresolved issues they were unable to properly express their happiness and relief to see each other. The result is that I now crave their reconciliation and the eventual outcome is likely to be that more powerful.
Aida though was the real MVP this week; it was great to have her and Dr. Radcliffe in the mix. The idea of her reading the Darkhold was a strange one; I believed it would help our lost characters but I couldn’t see it working without a price. To see that the impetus to read the book actually came from Fitz was a nice little moment but the apparent ease with which Aida seemed to process the Darkhold was slightly alarming. The final shot we had of Aida showed her, at the very least, studying a human brain if not downright designing one for herself. As a result Aida this week left me somewhere between awe and apprehension.
‘Deals With Our Devils’ wasn’t without its bumps; some of the convenient out loud solo conversations felt a little forced to facilitate Coulson, Fitz and Robbie’s situation. Some of these worked and some felt like a bit of a stretch. Regardless, the attachments our characters have developed for each other so far this season with the already established relationships between our core cast is what kept me gripped this week. Coulson, Fitz and Robbie’s fate at the end of ‘The Good Samaritan’ could easily have felt like a shoe-in cliffhanger in an attempt to retain viewers over the break but after this week, although this plot thread has essentially been ‘resolved’ I feel I’ve learnt more about May and Coulson relationship, gotten to further understand Coulson’s stepping down as director but most importantly I think this week has forever altered Aida. As such, any fallout from Aida will be a direct result of Fitz’s actions, giving any potential consequences a lot more weight. I can’t wait to see where this leads.