Leave a Comment
Warning: many spoilers ahead for the winter premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 4.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has officially returned to the airwaves after more than a month of hiatus, and the winter premiere jumped right into the action. The fall finale ended on the reveal that Dr. Radcliffe's android A.I.D.A. had attacked Agent May and sent a robot replacement back into S.H.I.E.L.D. At the time, it seemed that A.I.D.A.'s exposure to the Darkhold had resulted in her gaining awareness and going rogue on the humans who created her. As it turns out, however, A.I.D.A. did not act of her own accord when she attacked May. Radcliffe himself was pulling the strings and forcing A.I.D.A. to do his dirty work in his attempts to get his hands on the Darkhold.
The idea of androids turning on their human creators is nothing new. Marvel already did it once before with Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Mack and Yo-Yo spent most of the episode complaining that Radcliffe and Fitz had apparently never watched any sci fi movies featuring mutinous robots. Even the first preview for the midseason premiere indicated that A.I.D.A. was using her newfound awareness to lash out at the humans around her. The reveal that Dr. Radcliffe deliberately programmed A.I.D.A. to get rid of people who got in her way is a fun twist on a plot that has been done many times before.
Radcliffe helpfully exposited his nefarious scheme at the end of the episode when he explained to an updated version of A.I.D.A. that he wanted the Darkhold so that he could unlock its mysteries and learn how to live forever. He evidently spent the entire episode putting on quite a performance for everyone, ranging from Fitz in their basement heart-to-heart about the ethics of android awareness to the agents as they tried to figure out how to escape A.I.D.A. His shock and sadness at Mack's sudden (and pretty damn awesome) beheading of an A.I.D.A. with his shotgun-axe seemed remarkably genuine. It's not hard to see why his friends at S.H.I.E.L.D. didn't catch on to his scheme.
That said, his friends are probably going to feel pretty foolish when the truth inevitably comes out that Radcliffe had his own agenda for the Darkhold. Radcliffe's two most defining qualities from the beginning have been his determination to survive and his dedication to pushing the boundaries of science. It may not have been possible for Fitz or any of the rest to predict that Radcliffe would use his android to try and steal an evil book, but it will probably make plenty of sense to them in hindsight. If only Mack had a working knowledge of movies about scientists programming evil robots.
The big question now is what will happen for the good guys to start figuring out that Radcliffe is up to no good. He and the non-beheaded version of A.I.D.A. still have May captive, and the May-bot seems to be convincing everybody at S.H.I.E.L.D. that nothing is wrong, but if the first three and a half seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have taught me anything, it's that nobody keeps Melinda May down for long. I'm betting that Radcliffe has only a matter of time before May wakes up and starts kicking ass and shredding circuits.