Happy Holidays everyone! I hope you had a great time with the fam bam, ate too much, got into fisticuffs about your local politicking, and bought too much crap on credit. TIS THE SEASON. But now we’re back, with this family we’ve grown to love over the past three and a half seasons, and it’s time to get into fisticuffs about other things, like artificial intelligence and inter-dimensional portals and whether Mack is the baddest motherfucker alive. You know, important stuff.

I was able to see Dr. Strange (FINALLY) over Thanksgiving break here in the States, and although I loved it, I didn’t think it really warranted its own post. Much of the movie was self contained and aside from a few references to the larger MCU (more on that in a bit), had little for me to talk about other than what was on the screen.

WARNING: SPOILERS LIVE HERE!

One of the biggest things of course was the Eye of Agamotto. For some reason, Wong and Mordo let Dr. Strange keep the damn thing until the end of the movie, right up until Wong told Dr. Strange that it wasn’t safe keeping a motherfucking infinity stone around your neck. Of course, Dr. Strange had no idea what he was talking about, but he gon’ learn. The big reveal was that the Eye of Agamotto was actually the Time Stone, which is interesting because that makes two Infinity Stones presently on Earth, with the Tesseract having been stored on Earth until Avengers and the Reality Stone making an appearance on Earth after it infected Dr. Foster. So far as we know, at least four of the six Infinity Stones have been on Earth at some point in time. We still haven’t seen the Soul Stone and the Power Stone is “safe” on Nova Prime.

I loved how they approached the Time Stone and it’s powers. Instead of simply rewinding or fast forwarding time as a whole, the user could specify exactly what and how much of the environment was effected. Dr. Strange could turn back or fast forward time with regards to a single apple or a book (which interestingly re-created the pages taken, suggesting that he either got the pages back from Kaecilius or re-created them, meaning that he just unlocked the power to create matter from nothing (more on THAT in a bit)) or an entire neighborhood, and even other dimensions.

Think about it: when Dr. Strange was turning back the clock at the Hong Kong Sanctum, it also reversed “time” of the Dark Dimension where Dormammu was living. When Dr. Strange went to bargain When Dr. Strange went to bargain When Dr. Strange went to bargain When Dr. Strange went to bargain When Dr. Strange went to bargain When Dr. Strange went to bargain When Dr. Strange went to bargain the Time Stone was affecting the Dark Dimension, which was timeless. The Infinity Stones were created when our universe was created, because they were six singularities that existed before our universe. This suggests that they existed before our dimension was created, and are relics (remember those from Dr. Strange?) from other dimensions. Are there dimensions where these don’t work? If so, Dr. Strange might be more important in the fight against Thanos than anyone else.

Another point that stuck out to me from Dr. Strange was Asgard and it’s existence in another dimension. The Ancient One told Dr. Strange that there were endless numbers of dimensions, and she even sent him on a Peyote trip through a bunch of them. At the end, during the credits, Thor was in Dr. Strange’s office drinking the best damn glass of beer imaginable and asking for help finding Odin. Dr. Strange told Thor he was keeping a list of inter-dimensional beings on Earth as a way to keep Earth safe, and offered to help Thor and Loki search for Odin so long as Loki got the fuck off Earth like yesterday. To me, that kind of confirmed that although Asgard is depicted as being somewhere in the cosmos, it’s actually in a separate dimension than Earth and the other eight Realms. Basically, the Rainbow Bridge and Heimdall’s gate are over-engineered sling rings and inter-dimensional portals (sound familiar yet?)

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But I digress. Agents of SHIELD is back (for two weeks, when the Winter Break starts) and going full throttle right off the line. Oh how I’ve missed it.

1. Now that everyone except LMDirector Mace seems to know that AIDA is an “Android,” I need to first admit that I was wrong. I figured May had her pegged as non-human from the beginning, but she seemed genuinely surprised for that split second before she agreed with Dr. Potter’s plan to let AIDA read the Darkhold. I guess May is human, too.

But the bigger connection I noticed was that the Darkhold taught AIDA how to make a sling ring. That inter-dimensional portal had the same effect as the sling rings used to get out of the Mirror Dimension and around Earth in Dr. Strange. In Dr. Strange, we learn that magic is more than just spells, but also heavily dependent on ritualistic and precise body movements and concentration. This episode confirmed that those requirements are not limited to just humans. AIDA and the gang may have built the hardware (the sling ring is a piece of hardware), but AIDA’s precise hand movements and concentration turned that portal on. She made a fucking sling ring.

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And then, at the end, because we all saw it coming, AIDA made herself the antagonist for the second half of the season by conjuring up a brain for herself. Notice that all she was using were those fancy gloves. AIDA was using the technique taught by the Darkhold to conjure up a brain. My first thought was Jonathan Pangborn from Dr. Strange: The guy who was using magic to allow him to walk; the guy Mordo delicately reminded not to fuck around. Pangborn used magic as a mystical brace to allow himself to walk and run and posterize people; AIDA used magic to make an artificial brain. Maybe Mordo was right. There are too many sorcerers these days.

2. It’s interesting that AIDA was able to read the Darkhold in the first place, though. We know that the Darkhold presents itself to the reader in a form that the reader can understand, but Lucille Ghost couldn’t read it in her Casper state. Hell, even Fitz and Coulson couldn’t read the words as AIDA was unlocking the secrets of the dark arts. I guess the book is only legible in the one dimension, to anyone (or anything) that reads it.

Please no one show the book to your cat. I beg of you.

3. The impossibilities in the MCU really are endless. The Ancient One sent Dr. Strange on the trip of his life, and when all hope was being lost, Daisy reminded us that Coulson (and May) came back from the dead, that Fitz traveled the stars through a rock to save Simmons, and that there was a dude whose head caught on fire. So thinking everyone died the instant they disappeared from the screen was a tad bit premature there, May.

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4. Eli wanted the power to create matter from nothing. That was the whole point of the experiments that turned Lucille into a ghost and sent Coulson, Fitz, and Robbie to the death dimension. Now he has it. So far all he can do is create pure carbon, which is damn sharp, not not too strong (which made that wall of carbon that much funnier.) Based on next week’s teaser, it doesn’t look like he will have much time to figure out how to make other elements, but we’ll just have to see. I have a feeling Ghost Rider gives Robbie his vengeance next week, and the second half of the season is the team dealing with AIDA’s newfound thoughts and Robbie giving the Ghost Rider his vengeance.

But that begs the question: Is the Robbie arc going to take a turn like the comics? In the comics, the Spirit that possessed Robbie took over for a time, causing Robbie to neglect his brother (to the point of malnutrition.) Here, Gabe is a little more independent than the book, but the story is set up. Once Eli is gone, will Robbie have to take a back seat to the Spirit, and leave Gabe behind?

5. I like that they keep using the Inhumans as a side story, as it keeps them fresh for the new series coming out in the next year or so. Simmons was taken to a secure location to learn as much as possible about the Senator’s terrigenesis problem. Apparently this guy was gestating for seven months, and it appears he was conscious the entire time. Now that Simmons was able to calm him down and give him some human interaction, I fear that he may escape and come looking for her, causing a wedge between her and Fitz. What if this guy’s Inhuman power was simply to survive long periods in close spaces? That’s a shitty power.

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6. Mack and his motherfucking Shotgun Axe are the motherfucking truth. And then to top it off, we got to see what a Mack infused Ghost Rider would be like and oh lordy, I got the vapors. I’m only sad that we didn’t get to see that Shotgun Axe infused with fire. Hot damn.

7. Pissed off Fitz is the best Fitz.

8. May was desperate to get Coulson and Fitz (and Robbie I guess) back from wherever they may have been, but I was a little nervous with the thought of May and whatever power the Darkhold would have showed her. Remember May with that Berserker Staff? Holy shit imagine her with something from the Darkhold.

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Also, the Berzerker Staff is powered by dark magic. (Sound familiar?) That makes it a relic, much like the Cloak of Levitation and the Wand of Watoomb in Dr. Strange. Remember when Mordo was teaching Dr. Strange how to fight and explained that some magic was too powerful for people, and was instead absorbed by inanimate objects, which chose their wielders? Now I’m thinking back and have determined that the Berzerker Staff chose May. Good god she would be unstoppable with the Darkhold, too.

9. I loved some of the humor this episode had to offer. From Coulson coming to the realization that they looked stupid while using coms to Fitz ready to knock LMDirector Mace stupid, I was rolling.

10. But seriously. Mack as Ghost Rider. YES PLEASE. I just realized that the motorcycle on the Zephyr was this season’s Checkov’s Gun. It was always just sitting there, and you know the rules: If you put a gun in the first act, it better go off in the third. Well here we are, two acts later and that gun just went off (oh myyyy).

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11. It’s also interesting that Robbie and Ghost Rider were the only ones (through the Spirit of Vengeance) that could manipulate other dimensions. Robbie and the Spirit got pissed and were able to move the blinker in the car. No one else really had that ability.

Except maybe Fitz. When he was yelling at AIDA, she seemed to come to the conclusion of reading the Darkhold herself right at Fitz was suggesting it. While she was going through the motions to open her home made sling ring, she was sure Fitz and Coulson were near, and she felt when they were running out of time. I’m interested in seeing how connected AIDA was to mystic arts before even having a chance to read the Darkhold. Maybe she’s the type of technology Thor was talking about when he said “Magic is just technology you don’t understand” back in Thor.

12. Mack has pain. I just want him to be happy.

13. I noticed at the end they did not dismantle the inter-dimensional portal sling ring machine, and Robbie was able to use it on his own at the end with no activation from anyone on Mack’s side. What else can come through there? Don’t forget Avengers and that pesky Tesseract. Hawkeye was the first to deduce that the Tesseract was a door through space, and that doors can open from both sides.

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Well, this is a door through dimensions, and doors can open from both sides. WHERE IS HAWKEYE WHEN YOU NEED HIM? Too busy deciphering languages and shit, I presume.

SPOILERY EDIT:

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From Imgur.