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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S4 E11 "Wake Up"

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S.H.I.E.L.D. makes plans to gain intel on Nadeer, but may walk into an unexpected trap. Aida and Radcliffe continue their efforts to keep the real May under control.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Actually a Doombot: In the end, Radcliffe's treachery is revealed to S.H.I.E.L.D. and he is arrested at his lab — but it turns out to be an LMD, with the real Radcliffe having long since escaped with the real May in tow.
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  • And I Must Scream: LMD May learns what she is, but she can't tell anybody about it because of her programming.
  • Anti-Villain: Radcliffe is shown more and more to be one; he actually thinks he's working for good, rejects the idea of killing when it isn't needed, and is uncomfortable with Aida doing it even when it was needed. Even when he takes May's own memories to keep her trapped, he does so by taking her worst memory and giving it a happy ending. However, he's also fine with working with Nadeer and the Watchdogs to achieve his goal.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Aida still apologizes to May when attacking her.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Nadeer and Radcliffe, seemingly an unaffiliated Big-Bad Ensemble in the previous two episodes, are indeed working together.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Fitz shoots LMD Radcliffe in the forehead, but the bullet ricochets off of his metal skull. The impact, however, does put the LMD out of commission and it starts "bleeding", so to speak.
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  • Both Sides Have a Point: When they get into an argument after Yo-Yo and Coulson get caught bugging Senator Nadeer's office, both Talbot and Coulson point out some legitimate mistakes the other party has made in the past.
  • Broken Pedestal: Fitz is heartbroken about finding out what Radcliffe has done, as he was not just a colleague, but a father figure to Fitz.
  • Call-Back: Radcliffe's final simulation is a modification of May's mission in Bahrain, this time letting her save the girl.
  • Conveniently-Placed Sharp Thing: The real May shatters a beaker to get a sharp piece of glass to saw at her restraints with — except it's all part of the simulation.
  • Foreshadowing: Aida mutters "Oh no, not again." It later turns out to be a simulation loop.
  • Everyone Can See It: Radcliffe and Elena make this observation about Coulson and May (the LMD), despite both parties independently denying it.
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  • A Glitch in the Matrix: May is able to beat the simulations because they can't render the environment fast enough to keep up with her. The first is just a single room that repeats endlessly, causing May to freak out and attack the masseuse. In the second, May adapts to the scenario fast enough that pitching Aida over a balcony fails to render her fall, exposing the ruse. Memory wipes are used to deal with this, but May retains traces of memory that allow her to improve with each iteration. The final simulation solves the problem by using May's own memories, so May never goes off-script, so to speak.
  • Good Is Not Soft: When Fitz (rightfully) suspects that Radcliffe is an LMD, he shoots him in the head to test the theory.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Melinda's simulation is the same scenario over and over again, with her memory being wiped before each restart. However, traces of memory allow her to do better at the simulation each time, so Radcliffe switches it for a modified version of her mission in Bahrain, only with a happy ending to keep her docile.
  • Hypocrite: Nadeer again, when she accuses S.H.I.E.L.D. of taking the law into their own hands. Ignoring the fact that that is arguably S.H.I.E.L.D.'s job in the first place, Nadeer herself is funding an extrajudicial terrorist group.
  • I Call Him Mr Happy: Invoked but Averted. After Mack and Elena have sex, she says she's glad "Turtleman" came out, and Mack thinks she's refering to this trope, but she was refering to Mack himself. Elena then says that they can come up with a nickname, but Mack is quite okay with not using one.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • The simulation of May fighting Aida in the Framework features some of these at first glance, though it may be due to the fact that the simulations are being created on-the-fly. The most prominent would be May running up a set of stairs after defeating Aida, instead of just leaving though the front door. The same is also true for the simulation's version of Aida, who takes the time to gloat instead of just finishing May off.
    • May's initial capture by Aida. She's a highly-trained spy who is (justifiably) paranoid and cautious as a rule. She's concerned that Aida may have been corrupted by exposure to the Darkhold, and doesn't trust that she'll behave within her programming. Yet she goes to collect Aida alone, and turns her back on her long enough for Aida to attack and sedate her.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Senator Nadeer is obviously moved when Daisy alludes to the senator's own brother being an Inhuman, but she continues the hearing nonetheless.
  • Internal Reveal: S.H.I.E.L.D. finally finds out about Dr. Radcliffe's treachery.
  • Lady Macbeth: Aida still argues for killing the real May, to which Radcliffe still strongly objects.
  • Like a Son to Me: Radcliffe says this to Fitz when he (or rather, his LMD) gets imprisoned and questioned by Fitz in an appeal for help in clearing his name.
  • The Mole: Radcliffe leaked S.H.I.E.L.D. plans to Nadeer in exchange for her protection, and the fact that they still don't know that he can see through the May LMD's eyes means that Nadeer now can do the same.
  • No-Sell: Aida shrugs off everything May throws at her, including getting Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. In the end, she even comes back from being thrown out of a window, because it's all just a simulation.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Right after Mack and Elena have sex for the first time, he gets a text message and leaves. She's obviously very hurt by this and can't get any straight answers out of anyone about where he went (even Coulson says he doesn't know), and comes to believe he went to meet another woman. When she later confronts him about it, mentioning that perhaps they should break up, Mack cracks and tells her the truth: that he did go see another woman; his ex-wife, the mother of his deceased daughter. With the next day being their daughter's birthday, he went to her so they could remember the girl together, it was just bad timing. By the end of the story, Mack and Elena have reconciled.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: When May's "Fight and escape" simulation resets, Aida muttering "Oh no, not again" as she breaks the beaker becomes a lot more meaningful and chilling.
  • Pet the Dog: Radcliffe creates a fake memory based on May's mission in Bahrain, where she doesn't fail to save Katya Belyakov.
  • Red Herring: After Radcliffe mentions that he made a second LMD (while implying they could already be in S.H.I.E.L.D.), the episode sets up possible suspects. The main focus is on Mack (who is off-base for most of the episode) and Fitz (who spent a lot of time with Radcliffe), but in the end, it turns out to be Radcliffe himself.
  • The Reveal:
    • Fitz wasn't working to fix Aida, he was investigating because he was suspicious of Radcliffe.
    • Radcliffe and Nadeer are working together.
    • The "Hope" that Mack lost was his infant daughter, who only lived four days.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Fitz realizes Radcliffe is a LMD when the latter stresses that his goal is to protect life in the same way that Aida does.
  • Spotting the Thread:
    • Part of the reason why May realized she was stuck in a Lotus-Eater Machine was because the activities in the virtual reality spa was a "Groundhog Day" Loop of facial/massage/facial/massage...
    • Fitz appears to realize Radcliffe is an LMD after spouting a line about preserving life, which is the stated purpose of an LMD.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: Flat-out defied with Mack and Elena. After she asks him about the personal time he took (which left him out of the mission) and he replies that he was visiting his ex, she gets the wrong idea and tries to calmly walk out, only for him to explain that he was merely providing said ex a shoulder to cry on as they remembered their deceased baby girl. Elena is instantly sympathetic and the air is cleared.
    • Also averted with Fitzsimmons, when it appears Jemma may be on the verge of making an ultimatum before Leo clearly explains that his secretive work on the Aida-head isn't a fixation, but an investigation based on suspicions he's been having about Radcliffe.
  • Thwarted Escape: May breaks out of her restraints, defeats Aida, and escapes Radcliffe's lab, only to discover that the whole thing is a simulation inside the Lotus-Eater Machine, after which her memory of the simulated escape is wiped and she starts all over again.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailer implied this would be a Wham Episode in which Nadeer manages to cast S.H.I.E.L.D. as a rogue organization. Though there's bad press certainly, the situation isn't that dire.
  • Villain Has a Point: All the legal violations by Team Coulson which Senator Nadeer brings up are factually correct. Talbot tried to warn them.
  • Wham Shot: May isn't the only person Radcliffe has replaced with an LMD. The second LMD turns out to be Radcliffe himself.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Jemma scolds Fitz for reactivating Aida's head because it put them all in danger.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Aida openly questions why they need to keep the real May alive when they have successfully planted her LMD double in S.H.I.E.L.D. Radcliffe insists that they need to keep her around for further testing and improvements on the LMD May, plus he doesn't see himself as a killer.

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