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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S4 E13 "BOOM"

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S.H.I.E.L.D. encounters a new Inhuman, who proves to be a difficult subject to contain. The search for Radcliffe and the Darkhold leads to the inspiration for Aida.


Tropes in this episode:

  • Action Bomb: The episode revolves around an Inhuman that turns into self-igniting combustible gas and then reforms back into a humanoid.
    Mace: He's the perfect weapon. An undetectable suicide bomber who gets to walk away.
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  • Adaptation Origin Connection: Shockley's powers of being able to explode and then return to normal seem to make him the MCU version of Nitro. In the comics he was a human mutant empowered by Kree experiments, here he's simply an Inhuman, who have similar origins.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Simmons gets mad at Fitz for heroically helping to throw Shockley out of the plane, because he could have been blown up.
  • Appropriated Appellation: Daisy is starting to get used to the media's superhero name for her, referring to having "Quake-slapped" Shockley in their previous encounter.
  • Asshole Victim: Senator Nadeer. On top of all she has done, which includes fratricide, her last action before being blown up by Shockley's powers is laughing at him while he's enveloped by the Terrigenesis cocoon. Daisy even points it out when her death is confirmed, though Mace would have liked to see her be put to trial for her crimes.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
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    • In the teaser, Coulson and Mack are looking for a woman who has been lying low for a while. Her face is hidden until The Reveal, but we do see her dark hair and how very, very tall she is, so one may expect to see Bobbi. It turns out it's the woman Aida's appearance was based on.
    • Shockley assumes Nadeer will be a viable Inhuman candidate because her brother was. When he smashes the crystal, she starts choking... then shrugs it off. Then Shockley turns.
    • Given the comic book roots of the show, you might expect a character named Shockley with a fondness for stun sticks (to the point that Daisy refers to him as the guy who shocked her) to have some kind of electricity-related power. Instead, he explodes.
  • Big "NO!": Shockley screams this when he's the one turning into an Inhuman.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Even after Shockley is revealed to be an Inhuman, this doesn't change his hatred for them one bit and he is still loyal to the Superior.
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  • Brain Uploading: Agnes is uploaded into the Framework before her body dies, ensuring that her consciousness will carry on.
  • Call-Back:
    • Radcliffe still has access to Terrigen crystals, after his previous association with Hive. It's also specifically mentioned that these crystals are free of the Diviner impurities that made the Inhuman-manufactured crystals deadly to normal humans.
    • Phil references how he started feeling kind of useless as an ordinary human when working with the Avengers, but that he did eventually play an important role, and so will Mace. He suggests Mace avoid the part about getting impaled by an Asgardian staff.
    • He also references having lost control of his anger previously to the point that he killed someone - specifically, Ward - and tells Mack that he doesn't plan to open a tear in the universe and accidentally free a demon this time (unlike in Maveth).
    • Daisy's ability to suppress the shockwaves from Eli Morrow's power cell is referenced.
  • Curse Cut Short: Senator Nadeer's rant at Shockley's cocoon ends on her calling him "...you son of a-" before he explodes.
  • Deadly Upgrade: After putting both Mace and the Patriot serum through all the tests she can think of, Simmons gives him the bad news: it gives him superpowers, but each use of it is more and more likely to cause cardiac arrest. The serum will eventually kill him, it's just a question of how many times he can roll the dice before his luck runs out.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Nadeer is unceremoniously killed in the explosion created by Shockley's Terrigenesis. She won't be missed.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: FitzSimmons determining the remnants of the explosion to contain components not of a bomb, but of a Terrigenesis cocoon. They immediately question how Shockley survived the explosion... and promptly run out of the room, just in time to warn everyone.
  • The Face: Mace thinks poorly of his job as S.H.I.E.L.D's public face and PR guy and compares it to being the team mascot.
  • Foreshadowing: Coulson tells Mace he eventually found his role to play in the Avenger team. It was basically to sacrifice himself. Guess what ends up being Mace's role in the team?
  • From a Single Cell: Shockley's secondary ability is to regenerate from his explosions from nothing more than ashes. The team exploits this by blowing him up then sucking his constituent particles into a bomb-proof container.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Mace knows injecting himself with the serum may cause cardiac arrest, but he has no choice in the climax in order to save Daisy, Fitz and Simmons.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Aida seems more than a little jealous of Agnes, and of Radcliffe's affection for her. Previously, she thought she was unique, now it turns out she is just modeled — physically, at least — after the real woman he loved. She even steals the necklace Agnes was wearing when Agnes' body dies.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Mace activates the serum in his suit (which could possibly kill him) to confront the Watchdogs so that Daisy, Fitz, and Simmons can defeat Shockley and escape. While the serum doesn't kill him and activates his superpowers as usual, he still ultimately gets captured by the Watchdogs due to being outnumbered. Apparently his superhuman durability doesn't counter a human being's inherent response to being tased.
  • How's Your British Accent?: Mallory Jansen is Australian, but she portrays AIDA with an American accent. In this episode she also plays Agnes, the original human template for AIDA, who is Australian.
  • Idiot Ball: Despite knowing that Radcliffe is working with an army of Russian henchmen and can build super-strong, combat-capable machines, Mack and Coulson have no backup or ops teams, allowing Radcliffe to escape easily.
  • I Just Want to Be Badass: Mace begins to feel this after Simmons warns him that Cal's super-strength is potentially lethal, since the one thing that made him part of the team, politicking aside, is now too great a risk to use. It doesn't help when he starts feeling like the others are treating him with pity.
  • Irony: Fantastic Racist Shockley believes that Nadeer might be an Inhuman because her brother was, so he exposes her to a Terrigen crystal to prove it. As it turns out, he's the Inhuman, much to Nadeer's (brief) amusement.
  • It's Personal: Coulson notes that he's trying not to make searching for Radcliffe and May personal, as she would hate that, but it still is.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Demanding to know where Radcliffe is, Daisy sends a vibro-blast at Shockley's head, making him smack the head of the Watchdog behind him.
  • Karmic Transformation: Shockley, a fanatical anti-Inhuman bigot, is revealed to be Inhuman himself and undergoes Terrigenesis.
  • Killed Off for Real: Ellen Nadeer (and two members of her staff) definitely die after Shockley's new Inhuman powers manifest as an explosive ability. When Daisy suggests that that Nadeer is Faking the Dead, the news reporter says one of the three corpses has been positively IDed as Nadeer.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After Ellen Nadeer and Shockley exchange harsh words about Inhumans, he breaks a Terrigen crystal in her office to see if she would turn. While she fails to go into a cocoon, Shockley does. Then he explodes, killing her.
  • The Load: Mace is starting to feel useless because he has neither his former authority as director nor his superpowers. In his words, "demoted from head coach to quarter....team mascot". Coulson assures him that he will find his place and role on The Team.
  • Love Epiphany: Coulson seems to have gone through this with regards to May after the kiss with her LMD, as he tells Agnes that "she means everything to me" when trying to get her help.
  • Lured into a Trap: Shockley deliberately blows himself up to get S.H.I.E.L.D.'s attention. While Daisy is busy handling him, Ivanov moves in to capture the Director. Mace pulls a You Shall Not Pass! to make sure it's only him that Ivanov captures.
  • Magic Pants: Averted, Shockley's clothing does not reform with him after an explosion. He makes lewd jokes at Daisy to this effect.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Fitz makes modifications to Mace's battle suit that enable it to serve as the delivery system for Cal's super-strength serum, so the really conspicuous briefcase is no longer necessary. It also has devices for monitoring his vital signs in case his health goes south while using it.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Simmons tells Director Mace "You'll never be Captain America". His comic-book counterpart did in fact take on Cap's identity after his disappearance during WWII.
    • Shockley explodes in Nadeer's office, which was part of the Stamford Wing on Capitol Hill. Stamford, Connecticut was where Nitro killed the New Warriors and over six hundred people, igniting Civil War.
    • Daisy setting off Shockley repeatedly is similar to an Iron Man and Nitro fight from IRON MAN (Vol 2) #15.
  • Not So Different: Coulson isn't mad at Agnes for going with Radcliffe, as she was desperate and took the slimmest chance she had, something he would have done too (in regards to May).
  • Oh, Crap!: Nadeer's amusement about Shockley's Terrigenesis quickly fades when she realizes he's going to blow up.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: The Superior tries to cut out the middle man and read the Darkhold himself, but all he learns is that he needs Radcliffe to use it, suggesting that the book doesn't think him capable of using its knowledge alone.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Daisy is rather cold about Shockley killing Nadeer with "villain-on-villain violence."
  • Pet the Dog: Shockley tells the motel owner to run away before he blows himself up, although it's unknown if the man made it out of the blast radius.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: To be expected given that Shockley is part of the Watchdogs, a Right-Wing Militia Fanatic, though this episode makes it clear he's not just bigoted against Enhanced and Inhumans, but is constantly making sexist comments towards Daisy.
  • Properly Paranoid: Radcliffe wisely didn't meet up with Agnes in the appointed location and has a bunch of armed guards as backup, suspecting Coulson to be on his trail.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Daisy does this while interrogating Shockley.
    Daisy: Where. Is. Radcliffe?
  • Reality Ensues:
    • As it turns out, the Patriot serum is potentially lethal. That's to be expected when you modify a Psycho Serum, particularly one that nearly killed the last person (who happened to be its creator) to use it.
    • Also, despite his power, Mace gets quickly captured by the Superior's men. Ivanov admits Mace is strong, then wonders aloud if he's also bulletproof, but the Russians subvert this by simply tasing Mace into submission.
    • Happens off-screen, but it's mentioned that without his powers and without the same rigorous training most of the agents have, Mace is basically useless in combat, getting pinned by the tiny Agent Piper in ten seconds.
    • There is no guarantee Nadeer would actually become an Inhuman, despite her brother being one. Plus, any Watchdog could potentially have an Inhuman gene, no matter how much they despise the notion.
  • Scenery Censor: Shockley's post-explosion naked body is always either shown from the waist up or has him standing behind a waist-high object.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Daisy says "Frack" when she can't find the right counter-vibration to Shockley's. Entirely coincidentally, the episode aired the day Richard Hatch died.
    • The containment unit that FitzSimmons build to contain Shockley is a large sphere with a circular entrance that changes color to red once he's captured. It's basically a Pokéball.
  • Suicide Attack: As Director Mace lampshades, Shockley's Inhuman power has essentially made him into an undetectable and reusable suicide bomber.
  • Taking You with Me: Invoked by Shockley when Ivanov leaves him to be taken by S.H.I.E.L.D., as he intends to blow up the Director and anyone else nearby when he gets the chance. Mace and Fitz manage to wrestle him into the containment module and eject him from the plane before he can succeed.
  • Talk to the Fist: Daisy repeatedly blows Shockley to pieces mid-sentence when he tries to trash talk her.
  • This Cannot Be!: Shockley's reaction as he's being cocooned.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Shockley the anti-Inhuman bigot turns out to be an Inhuman.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Nadeer takes some time to mock Shockley for being an Inhuman, even though he's already made it clear she's now expendable and isn't likely to be any happier once he's out of the cocoon. She gets blown up for it.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Played for Laughs with Fitz and Simmons trying to get Daisy to try the very risky idea of learning to stop Shockley's explosive powers. The scene plays out almost like two people convincing a friend to try something stupid, even if ultimately it's for a good cause.
  • Uncanny Valley: Invoked when Radcliffe explains to Aida that her physical appearance was borrowed from Agnes, and she sums it up with the necessity to avert this trope. It might also double as a Lampshade Hanging.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: After Shockley explodes on purpose for the first time, he says "That was fun".
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Agnes is introduced in this episode as the former lover of Radcliffe and model for Aida's body, and dies by the episode's end. She's still in the Framework, though, so a return appearance isn't out of the question.
  • Wham Shot: Aida taking the ring Agnes wore around her neck off of her corpse.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We don't find out if Shockley killed the driver or the owner of the restaurant, though the latter at least was given a chance to run.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mack criticizes Coulson for being willing to upend what little time Agnes has left to get at Radcliffe. Coulson takes it to heart and instead convinces her to help willingly.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: When the plan for Daisy to just counter the vibrations of Shockley's explosive power proves to require too much time to practice, Daisy just resorts to making him explode over-and-over in the hopes of tiring him out. It doesn't quite work as Daisy's power takes more out of her than his does, but it does hold him off long enough for Fitz and Simmons to drive the containment device to capture him post-explosion before he can re-form.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: After news of an explosion at Ellen Nadeer's office breaks over the news, Daisy is quick to assume it is simply another Inhuman frame-up campaign. She proceeds to point out Nadeer's usage of this and predicts an upcoming press conference is in the works, right before a reporter confirms a body count and a positive ID on the senator.
  • You Are What You Hate: Shockley, Inhuman bigot and hate crime committer, turns out to be an Inhuman.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • The Superior deems Shockley a liability after the incident with Nadeer, which Shockley accepts. Later, after Shockley admits to being an Inhuman, the Superior uses him as bait to capture Mace and leaves him behind once again. In this case, however, Shockley actually agrees with him and willingly plays his role.
    • Subverted with Radcliffe. After getting the Darkhold, the Superior had planned to eliminate him. However, his attempt to read the Darkhold only told him that he would need Radcliffe, so he has to keep Radcliffe around.
    • The initial plan for Nadeer was this, especially given Shockley's dialogue before breaking the crystal — the Superior has apparently decided she was of more use as expendable Inhuman bait than as the front of their organisation.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: Mace confronts the Superior's men alone so that Fitz-Simmons can extract Daisy from the trap and contain Shockley. He gets captured as a result.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: Agnes has an inoperable brain tumor. When Radcliffe realized he couldn't do anything to fix it, he ended the relationship. By the episode's end, Radcliffe discovered a loophole; he can't save her body, but her mind can live on in the Framework.

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