Quake is America’s new hero, Mace just wanted to help, and Coulson is now calling the shots.
While holding a press conference to clear Agent Daisy Johnson to the public, Mace survives an attempt on his life from a Watch Dogs sniper, using the podium to block the exploding round. Following protocol, Coulson and Mack get the director safely aboard a quinjet, just as the attempted assassins planned. They manage to take the quinjet down, stranding the three of them in the wilderness without any support or communication, surrounded by enemies.
With Mace missing, Simmons and Gen. Talbot clash over the running of SHIELD while they search for the missing director and agents. But Talbot makes every effort to block Simmons access to resources that could help find Mace. Finally, after some digging, Simmons uncovers a file known as Project Patriot. Confronted with it, Talbot comes clean, revealing that Mace was never an Inhuman, but acquires his super strength from a diluted version of Kal’s Hyde serum.
Coulson, Mack, and Mace fight against Watch Dogs and their Hydra mercenaries, only to discover for themselves Mace’s lack of Inhuman abilities. With the arrival of Daisy and May, SHIELD is able to put the Watch Dogs down and make it back to base. Coulson confronts Talbot and Mace on the lie perpetuated so the government could create the Inhuman director everyone believed they needed. But Mace’s strength isn’t the only tall tale, as he reveals that his heroics that earned him his fame were also a misunderstanding that Mace simply accepted. Coulson understands Mace’s motives, to genuinely want to help his country and Inhuman relations, so they agree that Mace will keep his role as the public face of SHIELD, but from now on, Coulson is in charge of operations.
While “The Patriot” has a small connection to Luke Cage in the Judas bullet used against Mace, it isn’t one of the strongest episodes. While there is some cool action and entertaining antics to save Coulson, Mack, and Mace, the real meat of the episode doesn’t occur until near the end. The revelation of Mace’s lie about being Inhuman could ultimately lead to nothing but an awkward reveal at the wrong time later on in the season. Or, this could be the first step in a downward spiral that harbors distrust among citizens. Lying about a man being Inhuman to gain their trust, then choosing to stick with the cover-up to retain it? Perhaps his years as director has made Coulson less the man Nick Fury needed him to be, the good man who believes in his purpose, and more of the man Nick Fury was, covering things up because he believed it to serve the greater good, until a splinter group uses that greater good to harbor ill intentions. It may be good to have Coulson holding the reins once again, but LMD’s and Watch Dogs may be less of any enemy than his own decisions.