Agents of SHIELD Recap: Season 4, Episode 5, “Lockup”

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Welcome to another installment of TMS’ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recaps! Today we’re going over the latest episode, “Lockup.”

Spoilers. No, seriously, spoilers. That’s what a recap is. It’s literally all spoilers. Everything is spoilers. Spoilers all the way down.


We begin, as a few good stories do, in the past.

The good doctors Lucy and Joseph Bauer are doing a bit of suburban Indiana Jones exploring, heading into a dingy old basement in search of Darkhold (mistake number one, right off the bat), the McGuffin evil spooky book for this season’s plot. As they reminisce about their explorer days, Lucy’s light seems to keep finding the more intriguing background bits of this basement. For example: the poster for the Quentin Carnival.

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The carnival features heavily into Ghost Rider’s comic backstory. In fact, the original Ghost Rider, Johnathon Blaze (yeah, I know) was an act in this carnival. Take note of the American flag helmet that looks like it belonged to Evel Knievel and the very delicately placed leather jacket on the trunk. Supposedly, the Bauers are exploring the “family home of the guy who killed the last person who had it [Darkhold].” So are we being led to believe that they’re in the Blaze household? Or perhaps the home of the person who ended the last iteration of Ghost Rider? Hmm.

Upon noticing some floaty bits on the ground, the Bauers find that buried underneath the floorboards is Darkhold. Usually, when I see bits floating off the ground and books mysteriously wrapped and buried, I don’t go poking around for more stuff. In fact, this scenario reminds me a lot of another Whedon-touched universe about a Cabin in the Woods.

They end up reading the book (mistake number two). At first, it’s blank, but then mysterious writing begins to reveal itself on the pages. Lucy reads the words in English and Joseph reads the words in German, implying that as people read it, the book can read each individual reader in return.

Back in the “Now,” Bauer’s having a bit of a fit as he’s been infected with the same virus that affected Agent May and killed many others. He reveals that Lucy knows where the book is, and wouldn’t you know it, she’s back in the old basement, digging it up once more. The only thing is that this time, she can’t read it, as the text appears then disappears quickly. We’re led to believe that this may be because she’s a ghost, but it could be for a bunch of different reasons.

On the Bus, Agents Coulson, Mack, and May are devising a plan to spring Morro from the lockup. They need to know more about the book, especially since they have to assume Dr. Bauer has it. The “simple” plan (are they ever simple?) is to get him transferred into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody. You know, paperwork. Meanwhile, FitzSimmons are discussing Aida (thanks for the correction on the spelling of her name, commenters from last week’s post). Simmons’ polygraph test is imminent, and she doesn’t want to talk about what happened, as it would compromise her test further. As well, she and Fitz seem to disagree on what pronouns to use for the autonomous android—Fitz refers to her as “she,” and Simmons insists on using “it.”

This discussion is something of a tiny encapsulation of the growing theme within the show. In the growing fight between the Inhumans and the humans, acceptance versus rejection is a hotly debated topic. It’s interesting that Simmons doesn’t want to use human pronouns for Aida—which suggests she doesn’t accept her as necessarily human—while at the same time, she’s working to get Inhumans accepted into the general populace. Each of these arguments (android vs. human, Inhuman vs. human) have their own caveats unique to them, but the general idea of acceptance is the same.

FitzSimmons part ways (not in the greater sense, at least not yet) perhaps a bit frustrated at how the discussion went. The ‘ship seems to hit some choppy waters, but I don’t think there’s anything to worry about here—provided, of course, that this problem doesn’t fester.

Back at the prison, Coulson and May negotiate for the release of Morro. Unfortunately, thanks to some decidedly telling clues, May notices that things are very off. Turns out the entire prison staff, including the warden, are infected by the Ghost virus. Apparently Dr. Bauer’s Ghost Squad is on the scene, also going after Morro. The warden whips out a shotgun (seriously does every warden keep a shotgun under their desk), and Coulson and May dodge out of the way of a blast. They’re pinned, and they need extract from Mack, Daisy, and Robbie up in the air.

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Speaking of, they’re all up in the Bus coming up with a plan for extract. The idea is to split teams, with one grabbing Morro and the other grabbing Coulson and May. Guess which team ends up escorting Robbie. Two guesses, and one doesn’t count. One caveat is that Morro can’t find out about Robbie’s more, uh … fiery side, let’s say. So there’s another kink they have to work around.

Fitz, meanwhile, shows up with the specially-designed Ghost virus cure, which needs to apparently be shot into the back of the head, into the brain stem. Mack, who is apparently afraid of needles, really isn’t happy about that.

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At HQ, Simmons is mid-polygraph test. She’s apparently being interviewed by Garrus freakin’ Vakarian himself, Brandon Keener (who plays Agent Harlan here). Seriously, I’d know that voice anywhere, and I know I’m not the only one who had a bit of a squee moment upon hearing his voice. (Wistful sigh) Anyway.

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She’s failing, miserably, until she’s pulled out of the test by the Director. He brings her to his office, and we’re taken on a bit of a bait-and-switch as the ominous music and deadly serious tone make it seem like he’s about to dismiss her. Turns out he actually just needs help with something: an upcoming debate between him and Senator Nadeer. He needs Simmons to coach him via earpiece live on television, and by upcoming, he of course means just minutes from then. Aren’t directors of spy organizations supposed to be, well … a bit more organized than that? Then again, this is S.H.I.E.L.D., so who knows.

In prison, Mack and Robbie are headed to pick up Morro and perhaps intercept Bauer’s Ghost Squad. On the way, Robbie has a … let’s say discussion with one of the inmates, who is a member of the Fifth Street Locos. Robbie’s beef with him (and the Locos) is unclear, and Mack stops Robbie from doing anything right then and there. Meanwhile, Coulson, May, and Daisy link up. On their way through the prison, they pass through a cell block that’s just full of Watchdogs. Daisy realizes that this is where they’ve been recruiting people—right out of prison.

And, you know, since this is a television drama, guess who shows up to release all the inmates from their cells: Dr. Bauer, of course. As the Agents face down possibly getting killed by the newly freed inmates, Coulson orders Fitz to open the locked exit door. Fitz says that’ll free everyone in the prison (what is it with prison security even having a “free everyone” button), potentially causing a riot. Coulson orders him to do it anyway, and this is where the poop hits the proverbial fan.

Mack and Robbie have their own showdown with a pair of ghosts in a prison maintenance room. Robbie arms himself with a chain nearby (because yeah of course he does), and ends up whipping it around a ghost’s waist, cutting him in half. Another ghost catches them by surprise and passes through Mack, infecting him. After Mack’s AxeGun (wow) proves ineffective, Robbie surprise attacks the ghost from behind, grabbing him by the neck, making him vanish in a big flash of fire. Mack, afraid of needles, does what he needs to do and uses Fitz’s The Rock-inspired cure to save himself.

Back in HQ, the director is just sitting down to begin the debate. Simmons is nearby with an earpiece and a datapad, ready to coach him. They’re on an ABC News program, doing the traditional “talking heads” segment with the Senator lobbing accusations at the director, who fends them off thanks to Simmons’ facts. The Senator, however, manages to catch them off guard as she apparently has information about the current op happening in the prison.

Speaking of, Coulson, May, and Daisy are doing their best Karate Kid re-enactment, running through a cafeteria away from the Watchdogs. After Coulson and May make it out the other end, Daisy slams the door behind them, breaking the knob. She’s apparently holding them off to try to buy them time to escape. Coulson, not one to take self-sacrifice sitting down (or running away, as it would seem), heads off with May to find a way back into the cafeteria, where Daisy’s kicking some serious butt. Meanwhile, Mack and Robbie find Morro, who is especially unhappy about the fact that Robbie’s allied with S.H.I.E.L.D. now.

As the debate back at HQ develops, Senator Nadeer says that Director Mace isn’t the man for the job. At this point, he shuts off his earpiece. He delivers some strong words on acceptance and differences before dropping a huge bomb on everyone: He’s an Inhuman.

Coulson and May, doing the field work they love so much, end up needing to climb through a pair of garbage chutes to get back into the cafeteria. But before they do, they pick up a conversation they had just been having about the afterlife (with Coulson having forgotten everything about dying and May having just died and subsequently revived). Coulson asks what she saw, to which May replies, “I saw you.”

Hold for a moment. Let that sink in. Now say it with me: awww. Now stop that because May wouldn’t be down with that. In fact, she follows up her answer with, “Don’t let it go to your head,” which maybe feels like a statement directed at both Coulson and us. (Darn it.) Upstairs, just as Daisy’s about to be choked to death, May lands a pretty serious drop kick on the Watchdog. She and Coulson make quick work of the rest of them, and they have a Very Angry Discussion with their rebel daughter.

In the process of extracting Morro, Robbie and Mack come across some captured guards. Mack stays behind to help them, sending Robbie and Morro ahead. Guess where they have to pass by again. When they come across the gang member’s cell from earlier, Robbie sends his uncle ahead alone. He goes back to face off against the gang member, and in their discussion we find out that he apparently organized a drive-by that ended up severely injuring two brothers, one of whom will never walk again. (Hmm … Robbie’s brother can’t walk …)

A showdown like this ends one of two ways: Robbie walks away, not giving in to the temptation of enacting Ghost Rider-style justice, or he caves and does exactly the opposite. Going with the latter, he gets all Ghosty and burns the man to death. As he leaves the cell, the rest of the rioting inmates all quietly and quickly get back into their own cells. Wonderful.

Robbie links up with the rest of the Agents outside, only to find out his uncle never made it out to them. Turns out, he was captured by Dr. Bauer, who escapes the scene in an ambulance. You had one job, Robbie. One job.

At HQ, in the aftermath of the debate, it turns out that the director’s approval ratings since his revelation have gone way up. Great! Still, the director wants to send Simmons back to take a polygraph. Not great. That is, until she ends up strongarming him into relieving her of this (and all further testing) by suggesting that she could be asked about a certain bombing in Vienna (which was referred to heavily during the debate). Simmons knows the truth behind the bombing, and says that if she takes the test, she’d be forced to tell that truth, “which we both know you didn’t do,” as she put it to him. Nice, Simmons. Very nice.

May and Daisy have a heart-to-heart, discussing Daisy’s rejection of others’ care and attention. In going rogue and becoming a vigilante, she’s had to distance herself from the people who care about her, which May refuses to stop doing. “You don’t get to choose who cares about you,” she says. “Lincoln wouldn’t want you killing yourself over what happened.” As May walks away, Daisy says, “I told Coulson I’d see this operation through. After that, I’m gone.”

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Dr. Bauer and Morro, meanwhile, are back at Momentum. She forces him to open and read the book, which slowly reveals its texts to him. His eyes widen, and a hint of a smile just barely begins to show on his face before the episode ends.

In the post-ending stinger, Director Mace heads out to meet someone in a car. Turns out he’s meeting with Senator Nadeer, who reveals that she has the pictures and footage of the somewhat-failed prison operation. As well, she shows him Ghost Rider, who, as it turned out, killed a gang member who was “reformed,” a “model prisoner, ready for early release,” as it were.

She uses this all as leverage against the Director, who’s forced to then ask, “What do you want?”


Quick Takes:

  • Reiterating my point from last time, it’s seriously wonderful to watch Gabriel Luna as Ghost Rider. I’m really hoping he gets to stay on or show up later down the line after this season’s over, as I’m finding myself really engrossed in his story. Excellent work.
  • The episode is littered with easter eggs to Ghost Rider’s backstory, which I think is delightful. Agents is a show that certainly subscribes to certain tropes, making such eggs obvious (see: the poster in the basement, the very deliberately lit leather jacket), which helps with people (like me) who don’t know a whole lot about character history.
  • What’s up with FitzSimmons? They’re arguing, and like I said above, I’m really hoping this doesn’t develop into a serious problem between them. Of course, this being a drama, I know that’s exactly what’s going to happen, so maybe I just need to brace myself for some potential fallout.
  • If Mack didn’t trust Robbie before that operation, he sure as heck doesn’t trust him any more now.
  • Robbie losing his uncle to Dr. Bauer stings the Agents, but I just know it’s going to piss off Robbie. Things will not end well for Dr. Bauer.
  • Garrus was in this episode. Garrus was in this episode. <3

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.