THIS EPISODE OF CPU! WAS SPONSORED BY: CURIOUS ARROW
And their inaugural production of “Lucid,” a performance of original short plays
Opening Friday, September 15, 2017, at Dog Story Theater in Grand Rapids, Michigan!
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CPU! Moderator: Chief Couch Potato Kylie
Who: “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, fall to spring Tuesdays at 10:00 PM (as of this past season).
What: “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” a serial television drama based on the comic/graphic novel and film universe of Marvel Comics.
The mission of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, i.e. S.H.I.E.L.D., is to monitor and collect rogue supernatural subjects, forces, and people and to control them. The Division is kind of like the so-called Men in Black but is focused on any fringe element looking to create the next Tony Stark (Iron Man) or Captain America or Thor without the natural-born endowments (or the cool suit invented by a rich guy). Of course, the mission has been complicated ten times over since the start of the series.
When: The Season 4 finale aired on ABC on May 16, 2017, at 10:00 PM.
Where: The show is set in the fictional Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and closely follows the events of “The Avengers” films, previously directed by series creator Joss Whedon (along with brother Jed).
Why: Two reasons for most of the panel: Joss Whedon and Disney’s first television production of a Marvel-type nature. It seemed like a no-brainer, really.
How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)
CPU! has covered Agents of SHIELD since the beginning, though in podcast format only starting last year. If you would like to catch up on our SHIELD coverage, click the embedded links below, or find the audio equivalents on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and Google Play (links further below):
Season 3A Mid-season
Season 3B (post-finale)
Season 4A Mid-season
Our SHIELD panel is back to talk about the heady second half of the fourth season, with two sections subtitled “LMD” and “Agents of Hydra,” respectively. What’s especially exciting is that our SHIELD panel has experienced some growth of its own for the first time since its inception (which could bode well for the show…maybe…). Kristen, Jen, and moderator Kylie are joined “around the water cooler” by an individual new to the panelist but not to the podcast, namely Micah, most recently heard as part of our ongoing Once Upon a Time panel. Our newly, slightly more robust panel of SHIELD agents tackles talk of Season 4B as well as prognosticates upon possible future plot developments of the fifth season and speculates upon the likelihood that the show has moved markedly toward the bubble of cancellation, especially since the network is delaying the premiere of Season 5 until mid-season and is moving the show to a precarious Friday night time slot. Listen to the podcast, and see if you agree or disagree with our comments, reactions, and predictions.
This podcast was recorded in August 2017, and there are, without question, MAJOR SPOILERS, as the panelists cover key plot points of the second half of the fourth season. Listen at your own risk, and let us know what you think by commenting below!
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Remember, new episodes and blog posts are published weekly! Our next podcast episode will stay in the MCU as a handful of familiar panelists gather around the water cooler to take a First Look while simultaneously Looking Back at the gone-too-soon but never-forgotten, girl power driven spin-off of the Captain America films, Marvel’s Agent Carter. Stay tuned!
Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations
1) Still a Question: Will we learn which planet it is (i.e .Hive’s home planet beyond Earth)?
ANSWER: We haven’t yet, and it’s one of the main questions of the podcast panel.
2) Still a Question: Will we find out about the “purpose” behind the Inhumans, as alluded to by Lincoln (RIP), and explore more of the mythology and connection between the Inhumans and the Cree? Will we ever find out the true origin of the Planet? Is the Planet important beyond being the place where Hive was exiled for millennia?
ANSWER: Still questions without answers.
3) Still a question: Will we ever learn more about the Cree themselves? Are they related to any of the individual Avengers?
ANSWER: As above, still questions without answers.
4) Is Ghost Rider (GR) gone for good? Why was he even brought on the show to begin with? What IS GR? Who was the GR before Robbie Reyes? Is Robbie the last GR, should he never return from where ever he landed with his Uncle Eli? Does GR reap souls from the living? How was GR able to touch the physicists trapped within the dimensional rift? Where do the souls or people slayed or reaped by the GR go? Do they go to hell? Why was the GR mythology not flushed out more on this show if such care and attention to bring him on the show was necessary to the overall story?
ANSWER: Robbie/GR returned in the season finale, emerging from some sort of portal to a hell dimension, bent upon recapturing the Dark Hold. His appearance also served to provide Coulson (Clark Gregg) a way to defeat the ultimate Big Bad of the season – the android Aida (Mallory Jansen), whose interaction with the Dark Hold motivated her to aspire to turning herself into a human and to bolster a virtual reality/artificial computer-based matrix created by Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah), nicknamed the Framework. Further explanation of Ghost Rider and what his mythology is and how it relates to the MCU overall was not provided this half season, perhaps expecting some reliance on knowledge from the comics.
5) Is Nadir affiliated with Hydra? Could Hydra be coming back – since it seems foolish to eliminate them from the MCU completely?
ANSWER: Nadir funds and protects (politically) the Watchdogs, the ranks of which contain some former Hydra agents. Hydra as an actual entity – this side of the Framework, that is – has not, as of yet, returned or does not seem to exist. Yet, events of this season may signal the return of some growing heads of the many-headed enemy. So speculates the podcast panel.
6) Aida, Radcliffe’s newest android creation, seems to have created a double for May (Ming-Na Wen). Is the real May being held captive by Ada (we see a bloodied May in Ada’s storage closet)? Is the doubled May, back at SHIELD headquarters, an android? Or, is she some sort of inter-dimensional echo created by Ada with the knowledge from Dark Hold? Or, is double May an alien? Because, when in doubt – aliens.
ANSWER: The real May is the captive May. The doubled May, indeed an android version, breaks open the precious bottle of scotch that Coulson (Clark Gregg) and May were saving for the right time to drink. This half of the season dealt heavily in the notion of androids, as Aida became more proficient in creating them alongside her creator, Radcliffe.
7) What was the Dark Hold book all along? Some sort of window into Hell? Is it alien? Is it Cree?
ANSWER: It is a book of dark magic that permeates the Marvel Comics (listen to the podcast episode for Kristen’s research). The show does not explain the book’s origins beyond its presumed mystical properties.
8) What happened to the Inhuman undergoing terra-genesis that Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) was blindfolded and squirreled away to help and, then, to abandon when the process was complete?
ANSWER: Unknown. We never see this Inhuman again.
9) Is Mace (Jason O’Mara) going to remain SHIELD’s director? Is he part of a new SHIELD Inhuman fighting force? What secrets is he hiding (since Simmons implied that there were secrets)? Will he be the “Big Bad” in the second half of the season as panelist Jen predicts?
ANSWER: Mace remains SHIELD’s director until he (spoiler) meets his heroic end in the Framework. The only trouble is, as Jen predicted, Mace is hiding a shocking secret: his Inhuman powers are drug-induced and not actual Inhuman powers. He is not an Inhuman but part of an experimental program spearheaded by General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), in which humans injected with a super serum develop superhuman powers; however, if those in the program do not receive regular injections of the serum, they suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms and eventual loss of the enhancements initially provided by the drugs. Mace, however, always has his heart in the right place. He wants to help people, particularly, he confesses, after he was recognized for being a “hero” when he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. The future of SHIELD, on the other hand, hangs in the balance. Listen to the podcast episode for details.
10) Is Coulson really attempting to position Daisy (Chloe Bennett) as a possible future SHIELD director?
ANSWER: It’s hard to see this eventuality as truly possible as of the end of this season, particularly since the Framework fallout cast a gray cloud over SHIELD as an agency once again in the eyes of the judging fictional public. There’s no question that Coulson is fond of Daisy, though.
11) Are Mack (Henry Simmons) and “Yo-Yo” aka Alana Rodriguez going to make a legitimate romantic go of it? What pain is Mack nursing? The loss of his brother?
ANSWER: They are, and they do, make a legitimate attempt at coupling (in all the ways), and it’s a true connection, filled with simmering sexual tension and consummated and mutual romantic interest. The audience, via Mack’s revelation to Yo-Yo, learns that Mack lost a child, a daughter named Hope, a few days after her birth. He and his ex-wife, Hope’s mother, mourns this loss annually and privately, wondering what might have been had Hope lived. This loss haunts Mack more than any others in his past.
12) Will we see any more Avengers or Avengers-related characters on the show? The panel feels strongly that the show would benefit from an injection of movie-caliber quality, either in character appearances or in story reworking.
ANSWER: We haven’t so far, unless you count Framework Hydra…which does not really count…
13) Was Aida truly affected by the Dark Hold? Does her creation of double May mean she is evil or an insane robot now? Will SHE be the “Big Bad” in the season’s second half? Does Holden know or having any inkling of what his creation has become?
ANSWER: There is no question that Aida is consummately affected by the Dark Hold – it gives her knowledge, ambition, and desire far beyond her initial programming. “Evil” and “insane” are strong qualifiers that do not quite fit the situation, though. Aida is ruthlessly efficient, incapable of considering collateral damage and human cost beyond the calculations she completes, first to help Radcliffe build LMD’s like her as well as build the Framework, and then to help herself in terms of completing Project Looking Glass, which enables her to become human through a merging of science and mysticism from the Dark Hold. As such, Aida’s increasing observance of Radcliffe’s ambitions (fueled by an unmistakable God complex) matched against her own desire to be human and to be loved – specifically by Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) – positions her as the season’s Big Bad and the ultimate force that our heroes must defeat this go-round. Radcliffe surely knows that Aida surpasses her own programming but is forced to catch up to the realization that Aida has loftier aims than merely creating a Framework, which Radcliffe builds to preserve the consciousness of his real life, ailing wife Agnes, the physical/bodily inspiration for Aida.
1) Will we see Ghost Rider again? Or, is he being limited to this season? The podcast panel votes for a spin-off for this version of Ghost Rider, with frequent guest appearances by Daisy. They have a certain chemistry, we think… And Ghost Rider and Quake together are kind of bad-ass. At the very least, he should simply return from time to time, as long as he is not used as a method of convenient last minute escape (lest his appearances feel cheap).
2) Who captured the SHIELD agents during the season 4 epilogue? Who are the shadowy figures really? Kristen predicts that the government is behind this abduction; Jen predicts Hydra is back and behind this abduction as does Kylie; Micah speculates that a group called “Sword” from the Marvel Comics or the Inhuman Royal Family or groups like “Raid” or “Aim” are all possibilities for the potential perpetrators. Kylie also hopefully wonders if the Cree own the spaceship/space craft on which Coulson finds himself and if the audience will finally be given more answers around the mysterious alien race consistently referred to in the show’s earliest seasons.
3) Where is Coulson? How did he end up in space?
4) Where is everyone else? How did Coulson get separated from the team?
5) How much will Marvel’s Inhumans, premiering in fall, affect Agents of SHIELD, if at all?
6) Will there be lasting effects of the Framework on the team, especially Fitz and Simmons and Coulson and May?
7) Will there be another time jump? If there is, dear writers, explain it!
8) Did Nadir’s brother Vijay start a second terra-genesis when he fell into the water, as Micah observed? If so, what does this mean for Inhumans, for him, and for our team?
9) Will Coulson and May finally admit their obvious feelings for one another? Will a romantic coupling between them feel weird? They’re kind of like the mom and dad of the whole outfit.
10) Will SHIELD survive the move to Fridays? We hope so!
By consensus, our newly expanded podcast panel believes that Agents of SHIELD remarkably rallied in Season 4B, paying off the doldrums and missteps of Season 4A with some excellent action-fueled drama. In fact, all panelists find new excitement in anticipation of the show’s fifth season, after the execution of the excellent “LMD” and “Agents of Hydra” arcs, which rejuvenated the story, our enjoyment of the show, and possibly the performances of the acting ensemble, as the story and pacing felt more energized and more cohesive in the fourth season’s second half. The panelists are more willing than ever, even eager, to continue watching the program at this stage, given that several disjointed story choices have since been corrected, including reintegrating Daisy back into the SHIELD team (the panel continues to regard the season starting time jump as anticlimactic and seemingly unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, for the record). The panel now universally recommends tuning in to SHIELD, provided that would-be new viewers begin with the first season, even if the “tuning in” does not necessarily occur at the time of first airing, as the panel maintains that, despite a bumpy start and a rocky first half of the fourth season, Agents of SHIELD is entertaining and worth the watch, with these arcs and the third season “Hive” arc being the high points for this comic book adaptation.
Agents of SHIELD has been renewed for a fifth season by ABC, which is slated to premiere following the complete airing of Marvel’s Inhumans, on a new night and time, Fridays at 9:00 PM. The Agents of SHIELD podcast panel will next and likely reconvene following the complete airing of Season 5 of SHIELD, depending upon how many episodes are produced and whether or not the show is interrupted by a significant hiatus during a reasonably lengthy mid-point (in other words, will CPU! have enough time to record a reaction panel at some point in the middle of SHIELD’s fifth season? Time will tell). No official premiere date for this show has yet been announced as of the publication of this post. As always, CPU! will keep you informed of news and additional SHIELD coverage. Until then!