Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Recap and Reaction: “Uprising”

James Akinaka
Marvel TV
Marvel TV

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returned in full force after last week’s vice presidential debate preempted the TV show’s Tuesday evening airtime. Last night’s episode, “Uprising“, forced S.H.I.E.L.D. out of the shadows. Between an unexpected team-up, Agent May’s mysterious illness, and a so-called Inhuman uprising, our favorite agents had a lot on their hands. Let’s get to the bottom of the series’ newest mysteries.

Quake and Ghost Rider, Sitting In A… Wait, Nope

Inhuman Uprising

This week, I was really looking forward to Daisy Johnson‘s team-up with Robbie Reyes, a.k.a. Ghost Rider. I appreciated that unlike most heterosexual relationships, theirs is platonic, not romantic. Sadly, their long-awaited partnership dissolves before it can even begin. Robbie’s younger brother, Gabe, deduces that Daisy is Quake and sends her away, hoping to protect Robbie from a bad influence. The irony, of course, is that Gabe has no clue his big brother is hosting the Spirit of Vengeance.

Even though it was disappointing that Daisy didn’t get to collaborate with Robbie, it revealed more about Gabe’s relationship with Robbie. Unless Gabe has an ulterior motive, he’s just looking out for his older brother. It also reinforced Daisy’s status as a loner, since she’s periodically failing to let others get close to her.

Daisy will likely encounter Robbie again in the future, so it’ll be interesting to see how their next interaction goes. Still, I wish they’d had a chance to actually learn something about the magical threat that’s affecting the series’ current season.

AIDA (Well, Her Battery) Saves May

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“Uprising” finally resolved Melinda May’s way-too-mysterious psychosis. Jemma Simmons enlists the help of Dr. Holden Radcliffe to save May before her condition kills her. Surprisingly, Radcliffe’s solution is to kill May — and then revive her, of course. Thanks to a conveniently-timed plot device blackout, Simmons can’t use a defibrillator to revive May. Desperate to save May, Radcliffe resorts to using the self-sustaining battery of his Life-Model Decoy, AIDA.

So… that’s it? Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy that May’s back to normal (at least, from what I can see). But it seems like May’s worsening condition should have advanced the series’ ongoing magic-related story line in some way. Or, at the very least, it should have directly forced Radcliffe to tell Simmons about AIDA, since he and Leopold Fitz have been keeping Simmons in the dark about their work on AIDA. Instead, May has fully recovered without any visible repercussions — or answers.

After last week’s “Meet the New Boss,” I felt seriously underwhelmed by the series’ new ghostly villains. Despite causing May’s condition, Lucy, and her nameless cohorts didn’t have any sort of role in “Uprising.” It was interesting that Radcliffe attributed fear as the biological cause of May’s psychosis. Nevertheless, the episode’s plot didn’t even try to show how science can explain magic or vice versa. With Doctor Strange less than a month away, the series still needs to figure out how to meaningfully explore magic.

Who’s Behind the Inhuman Uprising?

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So, the Inhumans weren’t actually behind the Inhuman uprising. Instead, it was their vigilante-type enemies, the Watchdogs, hoping to sniff and snuff out new Inhuman targets. Through the Watchdogs, the series renewed its exploration of discrimination in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Watchdogs have been around since last season, but “Uprising” reintroduced them as a threat.

The Watchdogs initiate worldwide blackouts as a cover to hunt down Inhumans. Agent Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez takes center stage when the Watchdogs take her and her friends hostage in Miami. Although Elena saves her friends with the help of Fitz, Mack, and Coulson, she still loses a friend, Maria, who ostracizes Elena after learning she’s Inhuman. It serves as an important reminder that in the real world, personal prejudices still prevent many people from accepting minorities as equals.

To return to the Inhuman uprising, “Uprising” didn’t make it clear whether the Watchdogs or Lucy’s magical minions are supposed to be this season’s overall villain. The final scene of “Uprising” implied that the Watchdogs’ new benefactor is Senator Rota Nadeer. Nadeer appears to have a brother who’s undergoing Terrigenesis, but does that mean she wants to kill him, too? Guess we’ll have to wait and see. Hopefully, the series will find a fresh approach for the Inhumans, since they’ve already received substantial development in past seasons.

Other Observations

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  • It was a nice touch that when advising Director Jeffrey Mace, Coulson used advice from Nick Fury: “It’s important to know when to throw out the plan.” With that, Jeffrey fast-tracked his plans and (re-)revealed S.H.I.E.L.D. to the world.
  • The relationship between Elena and Mack (a.k.a. “Yo-Yo” and “Turtleman”) is evolving at a snail’s turtle’s pace. Still, it admittedly feels natural that the series isn’t rushing to make them into a couple.
  • At this point, I guess actor Juan Pablo Raba won’t be returning as my favorite Inhuman (and character), Joey Gutierrez. At least, not anytime soon. I still miss him.
  • Apparently, 1 Wine Cork + 1 Needle + 1 Bowl of Water = 1 Old-School Compass. And with that, Fitz proved he’s still got game. Especially since his compasses located the EMPs that the Watchdogs were using to cause the blackouts.

Despite the revelation about Senator Nadeer, it still feels like this season lacks a strong trajectory. Details about the villains are coming too slowly, and so far they don’t blend well together. Even though this week’s Inhuman uprising effectively returned the focus to the Inhumans, the Watchdogs’ intentions are still too unclear. And it’s anyone’s guess where the magic fits into all of this.

Hopefully, Daisy’s former comrade, Hellfire, will help invigorate next week’s “Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire.”

James Akinaka
James Akinaka arrives at Fandom by way of Wookieepedia. He covers Star Wars, superheroes, and animation and has mastered the art of nitpicking. Since he works in publishing, he reads far too many books.
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