Agents of SHIELD Wrapped Up Everything, Then Slapped Us All in the Face With a Twist

Image: ABC/Jennifer Clasen
Image: ABC/Jennifer Clasen

The midseason finale of Agents of SHIELD, “The Laws of Thermal Dynamics,” wrapped up most of the dangling plot threads from the beginning of the season—right up until it ended with a big ole twist that opened a huge can of worms.

Illustration for article titled iAgents of SHIELD /iWrapped Up Everything, Then Slapped Us All in the Face With a Twist

Most of “The Laws of Thermal Dynamics” had to do with our team dealing with Eli Morrow, who has a bomb that can take out most of L.A. He’s holed himself up in a compound with the requisite mooks to protect him, so Coulson suggests to the director that they go in with Daisy and Robbie, since their abilities would be useful. Oh, and Coulson tells Mace that AIDA is a Life Model Decoy. Mace is skeptical of Daisy, Robbie, and AIDA, and, to be fair, he is right that building AIs and robots has not always worked out well in this universe.

Eventually, of course, the team—with AIDA and Radcliffe showing up to help—send the bomb to the dimension where, it turns out, Eli gets his powers from. He doesn’t create material, he shifts it over from another dimension. It’s the dimension that Eli ends up in, along with Robbie, who sacrifices himself in order to make sure Eli goes and stays there.


The whole series of events makes Daisy ill, so she has to get rid of the quake building up inside her. Unfortunately, while she does so safely, she also does it in public, revealing her connection to SHIELD. Mace takes this opportunity to declare Daisy a hero and, by declaring her a part of SHIELD in the press, officially ties her to his authority. With that done and Robbie “gone” (Coulson doesn’t believe forever, and neither do I), Senator Nadeer can’t blackmail Mace anymore.

We even get Yo-Yo and Mack ending their “will-they-won’t-they” plot with a kiss, Daisy getting a new SHIELD lanyard, and Melinda May agreeing to a drink with Coulson.

Except, of course, the twist is that it’s not May. Like he did with Daisy, Mace wants to bring Radcliffe, AIDA, and all the LMD research under the SHIELD umbrella. Unfortunately, the agent he sends to pack up the research sees something he shouldn’t and AIDA kills him. Presumably, what he saw was this:

Image: Screencap from Agents of SHIELD, ABC
Image: Screencap from Agents of SHIELD, ABC

An unconscious May. And so, after everyone’s LMD theories about Coulson being proven wrong in season one, we finally have a SHIELD agent getting replaced by one. Of course, it’s a hostile action rather than the traditional “decoy” use, but still.

Eli Morrow (and his amazing powers) and Robbie (and his amazing flaming skull) are both gone, at least for now. Nadeer has been neutralized as a threat, at least a bit. Daisy’s back in the fold. And Mack and Yo-Yo are together. That’s a lot of resolution for a midseason finale. So now we just have to wonder how long we’re going to spend feeling awkward every time we see Coulson and LMD May when the show returns.


We’re also going to be thinking about what the plan is here. And whose plan it is. AIDA’s? How much does Radcliffe know? I mean, it’s information gathering, right? But for what? Why?

Katharine is the former managing editor of io9.

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This week’s episode was the end of the Ghost Rider arc, but hopefully not the end of Ghost Rider in the MCU. Robbie was my favorite on-screen Ghost Rider (once you get through the nostalgia of Declaration of Independence and Ford Mustang thief Johnny Blaze) and I can’t wait to see what else is in store for that guy and Gabe. But here we are, moving forward, always, looking into the abyss that is the mid-season break. This episode wrapped up a few loose ends and established a bunch more, but we know our show. Half the shit they set up last night will be answered within the next two episodes.


1. LMDirector Mace is growing on me. I still think he’s an LMD, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He said that he was mildly attracted to AIDA (just like the rest of us), but those “emotions” could have been programmed, just like when AIDA got shot and was displaying the proper emotions and feeling pain because that’s how Dr. Potter programmed her. It’s entirely possible that LMDirector was programmed to experience a whole lot of emotions (like confusion, pain, lust, shame, etc.) that inform his decisions.

When Senator Nadeer confronted LMDirector Mace with the footage from the prison, he immediately caved and asked what she wanted. Every time someone goes against his team building ideals, he is confused as to why they wouldn’t trust each other. When told that AIDA is an android, he immediately confessed to having some feelings for her prior to that knowledge. His reactions are always immediate, as if he isn’t experiencing those emotions, but rather reacting with them.

2. Along that same line, look what AIDA did with May. She created a Termaynator that showed relief and happiness and badassery to the point of convincing even Coulson, the best Avenger and her closest friend. Like I said, I’m sure it’s going to be figured out that Termaynator is an LMD in the next two episodes, but everything I saw today firms my belief that LMDirector Mace is in fact an LMD.

3. Remember that brain AIDA was cooking up? I was thinking that she made that for Termaynator, but now I think she made it for herself to give herself the knowledge to make a better version LMD. Dr. Potter created AIDA off of older SHIELD LMD plans, so he’s already playing catch up. I think AIDA just skipped ahead with the Darkhold and is now able to make LMDs on LMDirector Mace’s level. Or the brain was for Termaynator. We’ll probably find out fairly quickly.

4. LMDirector Mace. I can’t get made when he goes full Patriot. His suit seemed like a sponsored version of Captain America’s suit, but he doesn’t really need the uniform, does he? That’s mostly for optics and branding. Captain America may be AWOL, but here’s a NEW hero to love and trust: The Patriot! He doesn’t wear a mask so his “identity” is out in the open. People like transparency! I have to admit, that was pretty awesome to see the Patriot in action, SHIELD suit and all.


6. Uncle Eli is was fucked up. He impaled his own nephew in his jack in the box of horrors. Last week I mused that Uncle Eli wouldn’t have too long to figure out what else he could make besides carbon, but apparently he’s a quick study. Last week he made carbon spikes appear out of nowhere. Now he can make plutonium and basic compounds. Thor would have been amused to see that Eli has the same glassware as Dr. Strange.

I kind of liked the end of Uncle Eli’s arc, though. It seemed a little rushed so they could get into the whole LMD side of the action, but it was cool to see Ghost Rider grab Eli and take him into the Dark Dimension (or whatever dimension of hell he escaped from). If we ever see Robbie again, he’s going to be the one helping Ghost Rider settle his scores. He made a deal. Now it’s time to pay up.

7. I almost cheered when Coulson told Daisy about the LAST GHOST RIDER. What else does he know about Johnny Blaze???


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