Okay, holidays and end-of-the-year festivities can be exhausting and/or distracting to anyone. And given the note that 2016 ended on, I hope our dear readers understand and will forgive that I fell behind on the weekly TV recaps.
But! Better late than never, eh? Here’s a massive recap post to catch you up on Once Upon a Time and Agents of SHIELD as we continue into 2017. Keep an eye out for my separate post about season three of The Librarians.
Once Upon a Time 6×10, “Wish You Were Here” – Midseason finale, on hiatus until March
Emma, now in possession of the sword that will kill her, has encounter with the Evil Queen at Robin Hood’s gravesite. This sight infuriates Regina, and when a fight breaks out, everyone is surprised to discover that the sword can harm EQ without hurting her other half. But the Evil Queen refuses to let this development hurt her stride: she kidnaps now-genie Aladdin and forces him to grant a ‘wish’ Emma had shared in confidence with him.
“Every time I think about the vision of my future, and I think about my trembling hand and… imagine my family having to watch me die. And I wish I never became the Savior.“
Emma disappears, along with the sword, into an alternate realm created by her wish. In the Wish Realm, Princess Emma has grown up happily with her parents, King David and Queen Snow, in the Enchanted Forest. Her son Henry is soon to be knighted. There is peace throughout the land, as the Evil Queen was defeated and banished long ago.
The most interesting thing about the Wish Realm is that it appears to bend logic and twist truths to fulfill Emma’s ‘wish’ and keep her happy in it. For instance, if Emma never went through the wardrobe and came to our realm, then she never would have met Neal and given birth to Henry: yet in the Wish Realm, there is a version of Henry who’s grown up in the E.F. and who knows his father Neal died a hero. Of course, this may end up just being my head-canon if the writers don’t explore it further.
Anyway, back in
reality Storybrooke, Regina confronts her other self, who is gloating over getting rid of Emma. But Regina cleverly exploits a loophole with the magic of the lamp: The Evil Queen and Regina are technically the same person, so Regina is ALSO master of the lamp. She makes a wish to be wherever Emma is.
The Wish Realm is a bit of a trippy ride for Regina, especially when she realizes that she needs Savior!Emma, not the sheltered princess version. Regina is forced to play the part of the Evil Queen once again. She kidnaps Queen Snow and King David and begins to crush their hearts. As far as Regina is concerned, nothing in this world is real. But even the death of her parents isn’t enough to wake Emma up from her illusion – it isn’t until Henry, angered by the loss of his grandparents, goes to attack Regina that savior!Emma, magic and all, kicks into action.
Back in Storybrooke, David recklessly challenges the Evil Queen. She gets away, and an angsty David hands over the lamp to Aladdin and Jasmine to continue their search for Agrabah. Soon after, a hooded figure steps out from a portal into Storybrooke, turns the EQ into a snake, and makes a beeline for Mr. Gold’s shop. Inside, Belle and Rumple are coming to the realization that something happened to their newborn son. The hooded figure (the same one that kills Emma in her vision) interrupts the conversation to greet his parents. Gideon was abducted by the Black Fairy (his grandmother, as we learned in Changelings) and has grown up in her dark realm where time works differently.
Meanwhile, Regina and Emma open a portal to depart from the Wish Realm. But the sudden appearance of that realm’s Robin Hood makes Regina falter, and they miss their chance, leaving the two women stranded.
Agents of SHIELD 4×08, “The Laws of Inferno Dynamics”- ending of the Ghost Rider arc
With the enhanced Eli Morrow still a threat, Coulson brings Director Mace into the fold. He informs Mace that AIDA is an android and suggests they use her knowledge from the Darkhold to fight against Eli. A special strike team (Robbie, Daisy, and Elena) is also formed to infiltrate Eli’s hideout in a supposedly abandoned warehouse. The place is lined with traps, however, and Elena ends up wounded, much to Mack’s concern.
While the strike team engages Morrow above, Fitz deduces that Eli’s power is drawn from another dimension (hello Doctor Strange AND Agent Carter tie-in), and his plan to acquire more threatens the safety of the city. Beneath Eli’s “demon core,” AIDA constructs a new dimensional device with the help of FitzSimmons. Fulfilling her original design premise, AIDA saves Fitz from being shot by shielding him with her own body. The device starts up and begins to pull the demon core and Eli back to the other dimension. Robbie/Ghost Rider is dragged away as well, having used his abilities to make sure Eli could not escape.
Daisy gets caught on camera just after everyone’s saved the day, and Director Mace turns the media attention into a way to publicly clear her of her vigilante reputation. Mace also signs off on Radcliffe to continue working on his LMD program, under supervision. Elena and Mack finally hook up, Daisy’s an agent again, it’s good times for all.
Except for a certain Agent Nathanson, who goes to Radcliffe’s home to retrieve AIDA. There he finds a wounded and unconscious Melinda May, and AIDA snaps his neck. Back at HQ, Phil Coulson has no idea the Melinda May he’s celebrating with is a sophisticated Life Model Decoy.
4×09, “Broken Promises”– beginning the LMD arc
Let’s be real, the minute AIDA came on the scene, we knew the android-of-good-intentions would go bad. My absolute favorite part of this episode was how the writers chose to lampshade that fact: specifically, Mack berating Radcliffe for not watching any of the movies in the last thirty years that show what happens when you mess with artificial intelligence.
AIDA reveals she’s made a few upgrades to herself when Fitz and Radcliffe go to retrieve her so they can wipe the Darkhold from her hard drive. She then infiltrates SHIELD’s base, and purposely traps LMD!Melinda with Coulson to find out where he’s hidden the Darkhold. Meanwhile, Jemma, Mace, and Daisy are off base, tracking down Vijay, the brother of Senator Nadeer whom Simmons saved from his Terrigenesis coccoon.
The Senator is biding her time with her brother, setting him up to be assassinated by the Watchdogs. They had made a promise to each other when “the Inhuman virus” started to spread, that if one became infected, they would kill the other. Vijay insists that nothing about him has changed, he has no powers or altered appearance. Even after learning his sister’s plan to kill him and accidentally displaying an ability, he turns down an offer to go with Jemma and SHIELD. His sister coldly shoots him in the helicopter and drops him into the ocean. Vijay slips into another terrigenesis cocoon.
Back at base, AIDA obtains the book, but Fitz takes back control of the computers and Mack beheads the android. The team mourns the potential of AIDA, and Fitz specifically wonders how she could have gone so off-course. Dr. Radcliffe, however, in the privacy of his home, shares his frustrations to a NEW model of AIDA that his plans to obtain the Darkhold came up short.
4×10, “The Patriot”
While holding a press conference to publicly thank Daisy for her “undercover work,” Director Mace is attacked. Protocol dictates that Coulson and Mack get the director somewhere safe. PR Agent Burrows accompanies Mace on board the quinjet, which soon explodes. Burrows, with a mysterious briefcase on his wrist, is sucked out of the plane to certain death.
After a crash landing, Mace refuses to follow protocol and get to a safe house. He insists the right thing to do would be retrieve Burrows’ body. Back at base, General Glenn Talbot puts Melinda May in charge of finding the director, rather than the more obvious Jemma.
LMD!Melinda and Daisy work on tracking where the quinjet fell, and Melinda admits that something feels “off.” In Radcliffe’s home, the real Melinda breaks free of a sedated illusion and is nearly killed by AIDA 2.0. Radcliffe comments that her programming to protect his secret cannot involve any more killing if they are to maintain a low profile. He also mentions that LMD!Melinda is “more sophisticated” because she is not aware she is an android.
In the woods, some ex-Hydra agents have now aligned with the Watchdogs and take the briefcase from Burrows’ dead body. Mace recklessly tries to take the case: its contents end up destroyed and he gets shot. Agents Coulson and Mack inquire what happened to his powers, and Mace admits his secret: he is not, in fact, an Inhuman.
As Jemma discovers when she finally gets her hands on the Director’s files, he was part of a super-soldier project. Rather than try and recreate the Erskine Program (see Captain America: The First Avenger), they experimented with the formula that Cal Johnson, Daisy’s dad, developed. Talbot claims they took out the bad stuff, but that Mace needs injections at regular intervals to maintain his abilities.
Director “Faking-I-Still-Have-Powers” Mace distracts the Watchdogs so Mack can take out the tech that’s preventing SHIELD from tracking the quinjet. Melinda and Daisy arrive to take out the remaining bad guys, and Melinda is injured. Back at base, Mace says he ought to resign, as his ‘hero of Vienna’ reputation is another distortion of the truth, like his abilities. Instead, Coulson strikes a deal with Mace: remain the public face of SHIELD and handle the politics, while Coulson handles the tactics and missions.
A Team That Trusts is a Team That Triumphs….except that Fitz is secretly examining AIDA 1.0’s android head to determine what happened to her programming. And when LMD!Melinda examines her “scratch” in a mirror, she finds metal and wires instead of flesh and bone.