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Recap / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S4 E3 "Uprising"

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Daisy, Robbie, and S.H.I.E.L.D. must deal with coordinated EMP attacks blacking out cities, caused by a supposed Inhuman resistance group. Simmons and Radcliffe work to cure May's condition as her possible death approaches.


Tropes in this episode:

  • 90% of Your Brain: Addressed by Simmons and Dr. Radcliffe, who correctly identify it as a myth. They also correctly identify that while the brain is never unused, parts of it are idle at times. May and the other ghost victims are suffering from hyperactivity in certain areas of the brain, which are essentially scaring them to death.
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  • Big Brother Instinct: Inverted. Gabe threatens to reveal Daisy's Inhuman secret if she continues to hang around Robbie, wrongly assuming she's a bad influence due to her notoriety as Quake.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Coulson, Mack, and Fitz show up in time to save Yo-Yo from the Watchdogs.
  • Bulletproof Vest: The Watchdogs are wearing high-end body armor, which Coulson reveals by casually shooting one.
  • Call-Back: A relatively stealthy one, Fitz counts out the timing between EMP pulses by saying "One chimpanzee, two chimpanzee..." in reference to his fascination with chimps early in the series.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Jemma carries out CPR on May and seems to forget the EAR part. Then when May comes to she immediately sits up and is perfectly lucid.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: On two occasions, Coulson, Mack, Elena and Fitz face a greater number of heavily armed Watchdogs. Both times they utterly wipe the floor with them.
  • False Flag Operation: The Watchdogs are the ones setting off the EMPs, blaming them on the Inhumans. They have United States Congresswoman Nadeer backing them, and not only is she providing them with intelligence and weaponry, she's also leading the public outcry against the Inhumans. Even after the Watchdogs are proven to be the perpetrators, she still claims the Inhumans were behind it.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • The Watchdogs, as usual, are playing on this. However, many civilians are buying into it as well, including one of Elena's friends.
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    • Senator Nadeer (who's secretly assisting the Watchdogs) hates the Inhumans because her brother died during Terrigenesis (though it's possible that he hasn't fully completed it yet).
  • Flatline Plotline: In order to "reboot" May's brain, they actually had to kill May and keep her dead long enough.
  • Fright Deathtrap: The victims of the ghosts have the areas of their brains responsible for sleep/wake transition hyperstimulated, resulting in vivid waking nightmares. Eventually, the victims become so terrified that they die from a constantly active fight-or-flight response.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Simmons thinks Dr. Radcliffe's idea of killing May in order to save her life is crazy, but he points out that they are out of both time and options; she will be dead soon anyways. So, Simmons agrees.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Coulson has no problem shooting at one of the Watchdogs in order to prove a point.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Robbie's powers include a healing factor, which is good, because he mentions that he's received multiple injuries since becoming the Rider.
  • Have You Tried Rebooting?: Dr. Radcliffe suggests doing this to May's brain in order to remove the ghost possessing her. It actually works.
  • Hulking Out: Invoked when Robbie is driving at full speed to reach Gabe. Daisy cautions him against accidentally showing off the flaming skull, but he insists that anger isn't the trigger.
  • Impaled Palm: During the fight with the Watchdogs, Fitz stabs one of them through the hand.
  • Irony: The Right-Wing Militia Fanatic organization, which unsurprisingly is made up of white males, has a woman of colour for their benefactor.
  • Mook Horror Show: Consider the Watchdogs guarding the EMP device. Everything as far as they know is going to plan. And then the lights start going out one by one, then in the light pulse from the EMP, they see a woman grinning at them, and then in the darkness they start being taken out by assailants they never had a clue were there.
  • Morality Chain: Gabe lampshades this about himself. Though he may not know what Robbie does at night, he knows Robbie tries to be a good person for his sake.
  • Mugging the Monster: When Robbie shows up to protect his brother from the looters, they turn their sights on Robbie's car. He uses his powers to heat it up, burning the hands of the guy touching it, then all of them get a well-earned beating.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: Senator Nadeer's brother is stuck in a Terrigen cocoon and may or may not be dead. She still talks to him.
  • Poisonous Friend: Gabe is concerned that Daisy is this to Robbie, since he knows she's Quake. Daisy respects Robbie's wishes about hiding his night life and goes along with his request that she leave.
  • Post Modern Magick: While the ghost that affected May was supernatural in nature, its effects can be detected and countered through scientific means.
  • Power Source: When an EMP hits Dr. Radcliffe's home, he uses Aida's magnetically-shielded battery to power the defibrillator to revive May.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The reason Jeffrey shipped off May and kept the location a secret was to stop Team Coulson from leaving for a visit in case of a crisis, which this episode shows was an entirely reasonable precaution. However, when Simmons starts suggesting she might have a way to save May, he doesn't let her finish the sentence before telling her to go and take whatever resources she needs, and he eventually takes Coulson's advice to heart about sometimes having to change plans when the situation calls for it.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Robbie's '69 Charger is too old for the EMP to disable it.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: When one of the looters tries to hold Gabe hostage, Daisy hits him with a shockwave.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Daisy calls Robbie a "Vengeance Demon."
    • The sequence where Elena grabs all of the guns from the main Watchdog group (almost) makes her a female Quicksilver.
  • Skewed Priorities: Mack rips into Burrows because he's more worried about bad PR for S.H.I.E.L.D. than he is about the lives at stake from the EMP attacks. Mace points out that Burrows is a PR agent, and it's literally his job to worry about bad PR.
  • Start X to Stop X: The ghost's influence on May's brain will eventually kill her, so Radcliffe figures they can kill her first and let her brain calm down before reviving her. It's a close call, but it works.
  • Step into the Blinding Fight: When Coulson, Mack, Fitz, and Elena find the EMP generator, it's in a room guarded by several heavily armed Watchdogs. Elena uses her speed to extinguish every light source other than the generator, which glows brightly in two second intervals. The team then uses the darkness to close in and defeat them.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Fitz shows off some impressive fighting skills for a noncombatant. At one point he even stabbed a guy in the hand!
    • Also the Watchdogs, who have gone from domestic terrorism to a global threat thanks to some high-profile backing.
  • Ungrateful Bastard:
    • Elena's friend María (who's already showing Fantastic Racism against Inhumans) breaks off their friendship after Elena saves her from a knife to the throat.
    • In general, any of the Miami party guests with speaking lines. One rich guy, after failing to bribe his way out of a hostage situation by giving up his wallet, begins accusing the party magician of being an Inhuman, just because he said his magic was a gift. When Elena begins disarming the Watchdogs before they can start killing people, the women near her sees her dropping guns into the plants, and outs her instead of letting her continue.
    • Then, there's Gabe. His concerns might be understandable were it not for the fact that Daisy used her powers to save his life. He would have never even known who she was if she hadn't bothered. Does he thank her? No. He kicks her out anyway, even knowing that she can't go to a hospital for help.
  • The Unmasking: The Watchdog false-flag attack forces S.H.I.E.L.D. to reveal themselves to the public before they'd initially planned.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Mack has one when Coulson shoots one of the Watchdogs. Turns out that he had a military-grade bulletproof vest on.
    • Mack again near the end when he confronts Elena about her secret meetings with Daisy.

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