Past And Present Collide In Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s “The Man Behind The Shield”

Credit: Jennifer Clasen/ABC

If we can’t have present day, real Melinda May, flashback Melinda May will do. We’re treated to a very special flashback this week as well as a major advancement in the LMD storyline. Let’s get started.

Now that they know Radcliffe is keeping May hooked into his own version of the Matrix, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a way to track him down. Using the combat simulator we’ve seen before, Fitz demonstrates what kind of world Radcliffe has likely created, though they know it must be more expansive. While Fitz searches for digital clues as to Radcliffe’s location, the rest of the team follows up on a ping from the tracker in Mace’s suit. They find it in an abandoned warehouse in Alaska, along with the Superior’s conspiracy wall all about Coulson.

A quick scan of the wall reveals there’s an old Russian mining based pictured that connects to the Superior. Coulson recognizes it from a mission he and May were on many years ago and knows they need to return to the site. They find the skeletons of three guards, one with a cell phone in his skull. Coulson answers the phone and it’s the Superior on the other end. He blames Coulson for the death of his comrades and for opening the door to aliens and super powered beings.

Flashback! Years and years ago, when Coulson was only Level 4, he was sent to that site to retrieve an object. A Level 3 May showed up as his surprise backup and helped him actually get into the base by knocking out the guard. Once inside, they’d located a safe but Coulson has barely gotten started with the explosive to open the safe when armed guards show up. While Coulson stalls the guards with his still-developing charm, May blows open the safe and drives off with whatever’s inside. But Coulson is only left behind for a short while; she comes back to knock out the guards and rescue her man.

Things aren’t going as well for Director Mace. After using the last of his strength to free himself, he’s immediately thrown back in his cell after the Superior beats him down himself. Then the Russian mocks him for being a S.H.I.E.L.D. patsy but Mace doesn’t take the bait, remaining loyal to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Coulson. I’m sorry I ever doubted him; he’s a good man. Too bad he’s being used as bait to lure Coulson and the team to the Superior.

And S.H.I.E.L.D. is following the trail perfectly. Daisy locates a submarine base that is likely the Superior’s base and the team heads there. En route, Fitz laments that he’s had a significant hand in creating both the LMDs and the Framework. Simmons once again cheers him up, telling him it’s not his fault Radcliffe uses his inventions for evil. Fitz bounces back by realizing he might have a way to crack the Framework’s source code.

As the Superior leaves Mace to be beaten to death by his comrades, while AIDA watches passively, S.H.I.E.L.D. infiltrates the base. FitzSimmons go down to the computer room while Coulson confronts the Superior, or rather, keeps him talking until Daisy arrives. She’s the one who actually wants to go one-on-one with the Russian and it’s pretty one-sided thanks to her powers. In no time, she’s knocked him unconscious and rushes off to rendezvous with her team.

Coulson and Mack are able to rescue Mace just in time while Simmons just misses out on AIDA, who escapes on the submarine. She guesses May must be on the sub as well. Everyone regroups and Coulson decides they need to attend to Mace; they’ll pick up their search for May again later. But Simmons feels something is off. Daisy, Mack, and Coulson somehow arrived all at the same time despite being in separate areas. When she and Fitz discover the base’s LMD detector was tamped with, they dig a little further and see Coulson, Daisy, Mack, and Mace have all been replaced with LMDs during the mission.

LMD!Coulson’s first act? Reactivating robot!May. See back in the day, after she saved him from those Russian guards, May told Coulson she was about ready to give up dating civilians. He’d offered to get a drink with her if the current civilian didn’t work out… except that guy turned out to be Andrew. Now LMD!Coulson is ready to take action with robot!May.

Field Notes

  • The Superior doesn’t like AIDA very much and called her “scum.” She later returned the favor in a satisfying moment at the end while he was unconscious. It would be a special kind of poetic justice if he were made into an LMD too.
  • I know the issue is he doesn’t have any field training but Mace is so obviously fit and muscular it’s hard to see him just get beaten down like that.
  • While teasing Coulson about his horrible bluffing skills, May suggests he wear sunglasses to hide his shifty eyes. And a character defining trait is born!
  • Philinda shippers, they are teasing us and I hate it and yet it’s totally working because I’ll be damned if I miss a single episode.
  • Early days Philinda is all I could’ve asked for. Teasing, banter, fumbly bumbly Coulson, badass May already totally into him. I need ALL the details of their assignment where they were posing as a married couple (and all the fanfic…).
Stephanie Coats
Follow me