The core story of this episode, as the title “The Patriot” suggests, is about Director Mace, and his background, and his secrets. It’s an alright episode with some pretty important plot elements weaved into it. Quite a bit of decent action going on throughout the episode, while the over arching LMD plot takes a bit of a backseat to everything.
Spoiler synopsis and notes beyond.
We open up with a ceremony lead by Director Mace, congratulating Agent Dasiy Johnson for her undercover work against the watch dogs and for helping save people during their previous operation against Eli Morrow. The crowd is pretty sparse which is anecdotal but is mildly entertaining from an implied lore standpoint. Also Mack is wearing a suit looking very Secret Service, which is even more entertaining, since it’s not exactly his style. Coulson and Mack have a brief discussion where they comment on the mysterious case that is always nearby with Director Mace, as the case is handcuffed to Agent Borrow’s wrist. During the ceremony, Daisy catches the reflection of sunlight off of a sniper’s scope and alerts everyone to the assassin, who then takes a shot at Director Mace using some sort of fancy exploding drill bullet. Mace manages to block the bullet however using the podium. Daisy captures the assassin while Mace, Coulson Mack, and Burrows escape on a Quinjet.
There are a couple of brief scenes between Doctor Radcliffe and Fitz and then Daisy and May interrogating the would be assassin. The Assassin mentions that this was only Phase 1 and the plan has not failed yet.
Cut to Couslon, Mace, and Mack still flying off in the Quinjet to safety. It turns out Phase 2 is already on it’s way however as the Quinjet gets shot down out of the sky and crash lands in a forest. The three assess the situation in the wreckage after waking up, the pilot has died and Agent Burrows is missing with the mystery suit case
Radcliffe and Aida are hanging out at Radcliffe’s lab checking in on their comatose RealMay and discussing the agent Aida killed previously. Aida mentions that her programming puts Radcliffe’s safety above all else and how next time she will hide the body better, which doesn’t help reassure her creator. Radcliffe is worried about being separated from NotMay for so long and worried SHIELD will discover she is an LMD.
Meanwhile Talbot is taking his job managing SHIELD in Mace’s absence a bit too seriously, much to Simmons’ dislike. He also grants NotMay higher clearance to aide in her search for clue as to where Mace is located or who would want to kill him. Kind of feels like a plot device to get NotMay access to the location of the Darkhold.
Coulson, Mace and Mack discover a Hydra truck that’s cruising through the woods jamming their communication signals, Coulson wants to take it out but Mace orders them to continue looking for Burrows and the mystery suitcase. Also, we don’t KNOW it’s Hydra, Coulson just mentions seeing a similar truck used by Hydra previously.
Back in Radcliffe’s lab, May manages to wake up despite all of the efforts put in place by Aida and frees herself from her prison only to be stopped rather forcibly by Aida. Radcliffe and Aida sedate and disable May again. Radcliffe comments about Aida managing to not kill May this time, which seems to trigger something in Aida a bit. There is definitely this running sort of theme about Aida not killing, it feels like something that will probably come back to haunt poor Radcliffe in the end.
Later, Radcliff realizes that May woke up because the simulation being used to control her wasn’t convincing enough. Aida had designed it to be relaxing, except it’s not anything May would do, so she rejected it. They realize they need to modify the simulation keeping May unconscious to better suit May, the warrior.
General Talbot is busy interrogating the prisoner now, and we get more kind of obvious smoke and mirrors as the prisoner mentions “All probabilities lead to our target’s death”. Everyone assumes that Mace is the target, things more and more point to someone else, Coulson perhaps? Maybe Daisy? The prisoner also says “The hammer shatters glass but hardens steel, you are glass.” To which Talbot replies “Ok, I’ll go get a hammer,” which is pretty bad ass. Unfortunately, it’s kind of an empty threat, which Talbot also laments, because back in the Cold War he could use any tool he had to interrogate people.
Following this Talbot, Simmons and Fitz are talking when Simmons comes across a limited access file on Project Patriot, which she has access too. Simmons and Fitz continue to press Talbot on this file, though Simmons points out she could just read the file to everyone if she wanted, since she has access.
Back and Coulson, Mach and Mace, the soldiers have managed to get a hold of Agent Burrows and the case. They execute a straightforward ambush and Mace manages to get ahold of the case before running off with it. He opens it revealing a couple of fancy syringes and vials which are both destroyed when he gets ambushed by the soldier who had been chasing him. Oh yeah, and he gets shot in the ass.
Coulson and Mack come to Mace’s rescue, wondering why he was so easily overcome by a lone soldier. Except Coulson notices the case and realize that Director Mace isn’t Inhuman at all, or even super powered at all. Unfortunately, the rest of the Hydra soldiers show up and pin them all down inside a small cabin.
According to Talbot, they wanted an enhanced person to lead SHIELD, and they couldn’t fine one qualified, so they made one. He also mentions that the formula is a modified version of the one used by Mister Hyde, aka Daisy’s Father, though they “took the bad stuff out”. They also are no closer to getting any information from their captive about where the Quinjet may be crashed. Simmons comes up with a clever plan to pretend to be an ex Hydra interrogator, using the severed Aida head they have as a prop pretending it’s “the last Hydra operative” who didn’t talk.
Coulson and Mace bluff that Mace is still super powered against the Hydra soldiers and ask to negotiate trading the case for more money than whatever Senator Nadir is paying. Meanwhile Mack is outside, and manages to blow up the jammer truck. A brief firefight ensues before Quake and May shows up to rescue them, with the truck gone, SHIELD is able to easily locate their fellow agents.
Back at base, Fitz is secretly downloading the data from Aida’s head. As a way to find a way to fix her. Coulson isn’t happy about Talbot’s deception with Mace. Talbot also mentions that he was charged with creating a new Captain America and he found the best Patriot he could. In the comics, Mace is known as the hero The Patriot, and for a brief time, he was Captain America. He also is, merely human. Coulson and Mace have a heart to heart, Mace basically just wanted to do what he could to help the Inhuman cause, he also mentions his famous rescue story is all a lie. He wants to resign but Coulson tells him to stay, and be the face, while Coulson calls the shots from behind the scenes.
During the final scene, NotMay is cleaning up in the locker room and discovers that during her previous fight, she was injured, and find an exposed bit of metal under her skin.
Previews from next episode show Aida fighting May again, though that seems pretty obviously the new simulation that was created to keep May sedated. NotMay is now aware, on some level, that she is an LMD, though not much in the previews really suggests anything of what will come from this.
Also, I understand wanting to keep Director Mace, and I like his character still, but I have to admit, I saw a hole for them to slip Daisy Johnson in as Director of SHIELD. You know, because Quake got to be Director in the comics. Honestly though, the way this show is set up, Daisy will never be Director so long as Coulson is around, and Coulson is pretty much the face of the show. Also, I see Daisy being more in the boat of Coulson, let someone else handle the Politics, while she gets to runt he field operations.