“Let Me Stand Next to Your Fire” begins to weave the separate storylines of the show’s Fourth Season together. Daisy (Chloe Bennet) reaches out to Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) for help finding the leak in S.H.I.E.L.D. which is supplying the Watchdogs the locations of Inhumans. Unwilling to let her injured former teammate follow the lead on her own, Simmons joins Daisy to warn an Inhuman in a move that backfires and almost gets both women killed. Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Mack (Henry Simmons) finally meet Robbie (Gabriel Luna) who agrees to help S.H.I.E.L.D. after learning his family’s history is tied to the ghosts now loose in the world (of course it is, because in Marvel’s TV super-hero shows apparently everything has to be three-degrees of Kevin Bacon or less).
“Uprising” continues the season’s trend to split the team, and focus, of the episode in several directions. This means the storyline with the biggest stakes (the life and death of a core character) is shuffled off to a subplot. Let’s be serious, at no point since her ghostly infection did Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., even for a moment, make me believe they were willing to let May (Ming-Na Wen) die. And, because of the strong foreshadowing, the episode tips its hand far too much in just how Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah) will save her as the blackouts effecting the rest of the country finally find their way to his lab.
Set after the events of Captain America: Civil War, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins its Fourth Season with the Sokovia Accords firmly in place requiring all super-powered beings to be registered with the government. For Daisy (Chloe Bennet) that means life back on the run continuing to hunt down the Watchdogs. For S.H.I.E.L.D. that means increased funding, bureaucracy, and oversight and a new director who will go nameless over the course of the season premiere.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s two-part Third Season finale drags out the end of the Hive (Brett Dalton) storyline as Daisy (Chloe Bennet) spends most of that time guilt-ridden in quarantine while her friends work around the clock to prevent Hive from detonating his Inhuman warhead in the upper atmosphere. Hive’s attack on S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters forces Daisy into action, first in pleading with the Inhuman creature to take her back and, after realizing that’s not possible, doing everything she can to kill it (more because she feels like a spurned lover than any heroic impulse).
If you can’t control humans then turn them all into super-heroes you can control. “Failed Experiments” not only reveals the origins of Hive (Brett Dalton) as a Kree experiment but also the creature’s current plans to continue that experiment and transform all humans into Inhumans who he has the power to control. As evil plans go, giving everyone super-powers doesn’t rank all that high. Of course the fact that the experiment doesn’t work and is killing all his test subjects is a hurdle. The episode also teases the idea that part of Daisy (Chloe Bennet) is fighting Hive’s control, although we don’t see much evidence of that when she’s beating Mack (Henry Simmons) half to death to protect the plans of her new best pal.
“Paradise Lost” turns out to be mostly filler and set-up as the episode explores the past of Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) through extended flashback sequenes and sets the stage for nearly all of S.H.I.E.L.D. to be captured by Giyera (Mark Dacascos). With Daisy (Chloe Bennet) and Lincoln (Luke Mitchell) off on their own mission talking to a former member of Afterlife, it will apparently fall to these two and the rest of the Secret Warriors to save the lives of their friends.
Hydra scores a victory against S.H.I.E.L.D. in “Inside Man” as the illusive Gideon Malick (Powers Boothe) remains one-step ahead of Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team. Attending the Symposium on the Alien Contagion in Taiwan in hopes of discovering Malick’s inside man, Coulson is betrayed by General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar) in a way that allows Malick to worm his way into the graces of the Russian representative (Ravil Isyanov) and secure a home for Inhumans far from the prying eyes of the rest of the world. Likely more important for what it sets up than the events of the episode itself, “Inside Man” is an okay episode but a large percentage of the plot is directed towards events that may, or may not, pay off somewhere down the line. Also, Coulson’s entire role at the conference (as the sole scientist) is odd as is the fact that multiple world leaders are apparently happy to attend an unsecured event without any of their own security.