A terrorist group is blacking out major cities and claiming to be the Inhuman Uprising, intent on causing global panic until Inhumans are left in peace, but is all as it seems? Meanwhile, Daisy and Robbie get to know each other better, but will Robbie’s younger brother approve of his sibling’s choice in friends? May dances between life and death, and Simmons and Dr Radcliffe may be her only hope.
This is another episode with three distinct plots intertwining with one another, ensuring that the whole team is occupied and gets their chance to shine.
The Inhuman Uprising and their use of some technique to completely black out entire cities occupies the opening and a good deal of the episode, with the other stuff branching off. The opening, involving what seems to be a new regular cast member plucked from the recurring roster last season, is quite spectacular, delivering a proper balance between the personal fear and large scale hazards of a blackout situation. It also delivers said character some painful looks at the way that the world – even people they thought of as their friends – view Inhuman-kind.
Meanwhile, Simmons is desperately trying to save May, and resolves that Radcliffe may be the last chance to do so. Seeing his interaction with his little secret moments before Simmons and her SHIELD crew turn up with the stretcher-bound May, it is tempting to think that yes, maybe Holden has learned his lesson and is completely on the side of the angels now. However, Hannah plays the character well, and however tempting it is to believe that he’s 100% trustworthy, that delicious little shiver of doubt remains.
Daisy and Robbie hark back to the early days of Skye (as was) and Grant Ward (pre-HYDRA reveal). They work together well, and there’s a small amount of sharing, but trust is still thin on the ground between them, and there’s a sense that their fragile alliance could easily break at any given moment. When the blackout and inevitable accompanying riots descend on Robbie’s home town of LA, his immediate concern becomes his little brother, alone in a city of looters and creeps. But if Daisy thinks that she is going to find common cause with this smart, young man bound to his wheelchair, she may want to think again.
Coulson, Mack and Fitz head to Miami, scene of the first blackout, to try and score director Mace a decisive win as his PR man paces the place worrying about the impending reveal of SHIELD to the world and how this Inhuman-related incident will impact it. It’s nice that we’re reminded that far from simply waving holograms around and speaking techno-babble, Fitz is one smart cookie in every sense. He also seems to have been keeping up thoroughly with his physical training as well, handling himself as well as the others when fists are flying. The mystery solved and the lights back on, more questions emerge, as it becomes clear that not only the nature, but the scale and scope of the threat is way beyond what they had first imagined.
All of which builds up to a finale which almost calls to mind the movies of the MCU, not in terms of explosion and bombast, but in terms of solemn events, important people on TV and various stories and counter stories being fed to the media. As Coulson looks at the team watching events unfold on TV in a rec room at base, it feels genuine when he says to May that he’s right where he wants to be. And in true Agents of SHIELD Fashion, the final shot of the sting leaves us with both a reveal and a whole new set of questions to ask.
Verdict: One hackneyed plot device aside, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable episode, with some nice twists and plenty of pace. Everyone gets a turn to shine, some in less expected ways than others, and the final shot really leaves me on the edge of my seat for the next instalment. 8/10
Greg D. Smith