Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 4, Episode 11, “Wake Up”
After a couple of weeks straying from its recent run of breakneck storytelling, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hit the throttle wide open once again in a story that centered around the two Agent Mays.
The real Agent May is busy shredding her virtual reality as fast as Radcliffe and Aida can create it, leading to some of the best bare feet on broken glass action sequences since Die Hard. Robo May is slowly piecing together exactly who and what she is. Meanwhile, the rest of the team is busy spying on Sen. Nadeer, trying to get enough dirt to take her down.
That description only scratches the surface of an episode that featured numerous plots twists, betrayals and no small amount of character developer all weaved together in tight way that connects nearly all the threads.
The team wants to get some intel on Sen. Nadeer, so Coulson takes the gamble of sending Daisy to testify before Nadeer’s subcommittee about her time “undercover” as Quake. That was supposed to give Yoyo and Coulson enough time to plant their bugs in Nadeer’s office and get away clean.
Unfortunately Nadeer is tipped off to the whole operation, blows holes in Daisy’s testimony, lays a trap in her office and makes S.H.I.E.L.D. look like a rogue operation all over again.
Once again S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised from within; fortunately, since this is happened a lot before, everyone is getting better at finding the mole.
Robo May, who has been questioning her existence since seeing her robo skeleton, instantly and correctly assumes Radcliffe made her the mole. Simmons is on a similar track when she realizes, Fitz has been working on Aida 1.0, possibly activating her broadcasting equipment. Fitz pulls some pieces together and comes to the same conclusion about Radcliffe; he takes a strike team after the not-so-good doctor.
Getting to the scene first is Robo May, who confronts Radcliffe but can’t do anything about it, thanks to her programming. The S.H.I.E.L.D. strike team has no problem with arresting Radcilffe.
Except, it’s not really Radcliffe. As we learn later, once he felt S.H.I.E.L.D. closing in, he created an LMD of himself and fled to the protection of Nadeer and her shadowy organization. Fitz has been around the LMDs enough that it didn’t take him too long to discover the ruse, and confirm his hypothesis by shooting Robo Radcliffe in the head.
Interspersed in all this cloak and dagger stuff are the virtual action sequences with the real May, and some tender moments between Mack and Yoyo, who continue to have amazing on-screen chemistry (additional kudos to Henry Simmons for demonstrating some dramatic range).
In the end, S.H.I.E.L.D. is on the outs with the public, Radcliffe has relocated to an underground base and the real May is in a prison she doesn’t want to escape from, because Radcliffe has corrected the worst day of May’s life (the thing in Bahrain) to a great success.
At first this seemed like it would be one of those rare yet memorable episodes that are focused on character, in this case, May. Any initial disappointment melted away as the pace picked up and the forks in the story became more and more surprising. This is easily one of the best episodes of the season and it relied more on plot and character than it did on VFX, which is a sign of a show that is at the top of its game.