‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Review: ‘Lockup’ Does ‘Prison Break,’ Ghost Rider-Style
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Lockup”:
Breaking into prison to rescue someone is an old action standby, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “Lockup” certainly deserves some credit for venturing into that particular trope. It can be easy to overlook that Agents puts out ten more episodes a year than any of the Defenders series in half the time, not to mention parceling out a budget to include expensive CGI work like fancy planes and Ghost Riders.
“Lockup” definitely had its fun with that concept as the group attempted to infiltrate a prison in order to rescue Robbie Reyes’ uncle Eli, staging everything from close-quarters ghost-busting, to an impressive Daisy fight scene and all-out riots in between. The individual pairings also worked reasonably well, allowing May and Coulson to bond over some shared and not-so-shared experiences with death, while Mack attempted to keep Robbie’s murderous impulses on a chain.
At least with Daisy, the emotional undercurrent of all the action felt more than a little misguided. Dark loner death-wish Daisy is nowhere near as compelling as the series wants it to be, and I doubt writers will ever truly shake the idea that Daisy’s given mindset is of paramount importance to the overall story. I can understand the residual guilt over Lincoln’s death – a point nicely buttoned by May speaking to her within an empty Quinjet – and even a desire to strike back at the Watchdogs, but the self-sacrificial angle that put Daisy in “Lockup”s otherwise impressive action sequences felt especially contrived.
The other part of the hour that felt notably out of sync saw Simmons aiding Jeffrey Mace in his first televised debate since the re-launch of S.H.I.E.L.D., consistently dashing any energy or momentum built up from the prison scenes. Granted, Season 4 needed to flesh out both Jeffrey Mace and Ellen Nadeer a bit, as well to pick up with Simmons’ anxiety over the weekly lie-detector test; it just seems there was trouble balancing the tone of either story this week. The closing tag between Mace and Nadeer didn’t do much to flesh out their dynamic either, especially in light of Simmons somehow deducing that Mace’s heroic reputation was not what it appeared.
Still, the trip to prison did offer a small window into Robbie’s difficulty controlling the Ghost Rider’s need for vengeance, especially with regard to Robbie and Gabe’s own history, something I imagine we’ll explore further in-depth by the coming weeks. I’d guess/hope that the mystery figure who apparently ordered the hit on the Reyes brothers somehow traces back to Uncle Eli himself, given the character’s role in the comics, as well as the fact that Season 4 will need a much better villain than these awful ghost figures.
The arrival of the “Darkhold” (that neither Red Skull, nor Nick Fury could apparently find in someone’s basement), might be just the way to draw Eli further into that role.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- So … Kerr Smith signed on for a role that was killed off after three minutes of screentime?
- I know we’ve mentioned the ghost effects before, but good grief, the awfulness of Lucy’s scream at the book.
- Coulson’s holo-shield is always neat.
- Jeffrey Mace was starting to remind me of The Tick, before he got all sinister, anyway.
- Maybe don’t tell one of your top advisers you need her Inhuman expertise fifteen minutes before a live broadcast?
- Sure, George Stephanopoulos cameo. Why not.
- For anyone who didn’t catch it, Mace’s apparent presence at the U.N. bombing in Vienna is a direct tie to the events of Captain America: Civil War, at least before Simmons debunked it.
- It definitely seemed like Mace and Nadeer planned for him to announce his Inhumanity, didn’t it?
- The prisoners retreating into their cells after Robbie flamed out was a nice touch.
- That poor PR guy is going to end up horribly murdered, isn’t he.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4 will continue Tuesday, November 1 with “The Good Samaritan,” airing at 10:00 P.M. on ABC.
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