Episode 9 – Broken Promises
‘Broken Promises’ ushered in the next chapter in Agents of SHIELD and the small corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it encompasses. Juggling Life Model Decoy’s (LMD) and the arrival of a new Inhuman, the return of AoS was a good display in the show’s capability of maneuvering between storylines.
Aida, the LMD created by Dr. Radcliffe and refined by Fitz, hunts down the Darkhold after Radcliffe and Fitz try to shut her down on Mace’s orders. Prior to this episode, Aida had recently switched out Agent May with an LMD, who ends up being an ace in the hole for her. The interesting thing about this is that LMD May does not seem to know she is an LMD. Who better to pass the Turing test than an LMD copy of May, who is known for her icy exterior and stonewalling.
The episode splits the team up, with Mace taking Daisy and Jemma with him to track Senator Nadeer and her Inhuman brother. Daisy managed to convince Mace that SHIELD’s priority focus should be on taming the Watchdogs. Their relationship is an interesting one to explore and posits a strong argument that the show is grooming Daisy to take on the directorship mantle. In a surprising turn, the trio work well together, with Jemma going briefly undercover, channeling Peggy Carter and kicking ass, continuing her #BossJemma status.
Their storyline culminates in Senator Nadeer’s brother choosing to follow his fear mongering sister and ending up getting a bullet in the gut. Not all is lost, as we last see Vijay sinking to the bottom of the ocean he is encapsulated in a cocoon. It is a reminder that there is no moral high ground for Senator Nadeer, despite what she has been committed to think. It remains unclear whether her brother, Vijay Nadeer is an established Inhuman character from the Marvel catalog or a new design for the show.
It is revealed in this episode that the Watchdogs are answering to a higher power than Senator Nadeer, to whom they call the superior. Whether or not that is capital ‘s’ superior or not is yet to be explored, but it does allow speculation to begin. Could this superior being in shield? Is it Mace, who has been fronting with lies the entire time? Is it Radcliffe, jealous of Inhumans superiority to humans? Or is it someone completely out of the wheelhouse. Time will certainly tell.
On the other side of the episode, Coulson, LMD May, Mack, Yo-Yo, Radcliffe and Fitz try and hold off Aida from getting the Darkhold. Aida one ups them at nearly every turn until Mack catches her off guard with a surprise decapitation.
There is a highly intriguing conversation that occurs midway in the episode between Radcliffe and Fitz, this is of course, prior to learning Radcliffe’s ill-intentions to get the Darkhold. Radcliffe posits it to Fitz how Aida’s actions may make them murderers. We know from early on that Fitz has been feeling some guilt, and this might just continue that train of thought. Other than loosing Jemma, this is perhaps Fitz’ greatest worry, that something he could create would result in the deaths of his fellow agents and innocents.
‘Broken Promises,’ is an engaging tunnel into what’s in store for the next part of the season. The showrunners have made statements saying that the back half will focus on a third arc, and we may already be seeing the groundwork for that. The episode had some great lines, including Yo-Yo’s “Smart people are stupid,” and Mack’s “Roll credits.” We also enjoyed their banter at the end of the episode trading cheesy murder robot movies. Mack even calls Radcliffe’s seemingly depression post-AIDA a ‘small wonder,’ referencing the 1980s sitcom where a family tries to pass off an android child as their own. Their quips help to set Agents of SHIELD into the already vast wheelhouse of robot/android storyline media. With shows like Westworld, and podcasts like Life After in the market, AoS has carved a neat little niche that doesn’t feel overdone.
At the end, Radcliffe is revealed to still be running tricks, with a promise to use LMD May to get the Darkhold. It looks like he may have picked up on the Philinda feels and will exploit their relationship to get his ends, which would be quite weird, at least for Coulson in the end.
Some other great work in the episode was done by Bear McCreary, AoS’s resident composer. The beginning track, coupled with a fantastic display of costume designer Ann Foley’s work into the wardrobe of Aida sets an ominous tone for the show. When the sound cuts out right after Senator Nadeer shoots her brother, it adds to the emotional climate of the scene and makes for some stellar entertainment moments.
Steady, good pacing
Some boss moments