Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has thrown a lot at us in season 4 so far: Ghost Rider, Watchdogs, AIDA, anti-Inhuman conspiracy, unexplained ghost cabal. This week the show finally shed some light on these different threads and went a long way toward showing how they might fit together over the next few episodes. Let’s begin.
“Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire” starts off with a beloved pairing we haven’t seen much of this season. That’s right, FitzSimmons are house hunting! After their roller coaster season 3, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s lovable nerdy scientists have mostly taken a backseat to other drama, so it’s nice to have this little check-in with them. Simmons wants a cozy breakfast nook; Fitz wants to make sure they’re staying in their price range. Turns out New York rents are an even bigger challenge for these secret agents than alien invasions and evil gods. This opening also has immediate plot relevance, because when Simmons finally enters the apartment, she finds it empty but for a wounded and desperate Daisy. Her arm looks worse than ever.
For all her superpowered vigilantism, Daisy hasn’t lost track of the hacking skills that originally made her an important S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. She found Simmons’ search history, knew she couldn’t resist a breakfast nook, and set up this little get-together. Just in time, too — Daisy got shot by a Watchdog on the way and needs medical attention. As Simmons works on the wounded shoulder, Daisy passes her a blood-spattered piece of paper containing Inhuman data. Apparently someone else has been hacking, too; one of the Watchdogs figured out how to hack S.H.I.E.L.D.’s server. Daisy thinks she can stop it, but she needs to get in to the system herself. Unfortunately Simmons can’t help her voluntarily, what with the protocols and lie detector tests and all that… so Daisy pulls a gun on her to make it involuntary. “I’ve missed you, too,” Simmons responds.
Meanwhile, someone is visiting the mysterious Uncle Eli in prison, but it’s not his nephew Robbie Reyes. First up is Coulson, back in a suit now after the official S.H.I.E.L.D. unveiling; he’s curious about what Eli was doing at Momentum Alternative Energy Lab. Coulson reveals that the co-workers Eli thought dead are actually alive and powered by abilities (this would be those creepy ghosts from two episodes ago). Eli is shocked by this but still doesn’t want to get involved and blows off Coulson, which is just about what the veteran S.H.I.E.L.D. agent expected on his first try. As he’s commiserating with Mack in the prison parking lot, they catch a glimpse of Robbie arriving in his big black car. Mack recognizes him immediately from their previous run-in, and the chase is on: Lola vs. Ghost Rider. Well, Robbie doesn’t flame out, instead trying to use his powerful engine alone to outrace the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. After a fun little chase, it seems like Robbie is finally pulling away — only to run straight into a cloaked Quinjet. Game over, for now.
Meanwhile, May is recovering from her recent death experience (not even “near-death”… she actually died) at Radcliffe’s lab, tended to by AIDA. Introducing AIDA to outsiders makes Fitz nervous, but Radcliffe explains it as the ultimate Turing Test. For those who haven’t seen The Imitation Game, the Turing test is a famous way to determine whether an uninformed observer can tell the difference between an artificial intelligence and a human. May is the most discerning S.H.I.E.L.D. agent around; if she comes away from this thinking AIDA’s normal, maybe it’s time to introduce her to the rest of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Daisy is also nervous. She’s come up with a plan for Simmons to sneakily insert a flash drive into the S.H.I.E.L.D. server that will allow Daisy to get inside and stop the Watchdogs. It involves tricking a woman who has access to those servers, but while Daisy’s busy going over the plan again and again inside the van, Simmons simply steps out, talks to the woman, and hands her the flash drive. Since Simmons is such a high-ranking agent now, that woman has to do whatever she says. Much easier.
This plan works perfectly, and allows Daisy and Simmons to see the Watchdogs’ next target. Prime among them: James, a.k.a. Hellfire. James apparently took withdrawal from Hive just as hard as Daisy did, and he mostly stays away from S.H.I.E.L.D. now. Feeling a kinship and responsibility, Daisy wants to help him and makes to take off now that she has what she needs from Simmons. Her friend rightly reminds her that she can’t have it both ways: She can’t go off on her own thing and then come running back to S.H.I.E.L.D. only when she needs them. Suck it up, Daisy; Simmons is coming along.
NEXT: Deals with the devil