We've been waiting for half a season, but it's finally happened: the mystery of Jeffrey Mace has been revealed on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.! In Season 4, Episode 10 — fittingly called "The Patriot" — all of the character's secrets were revealed. It was a tense episode, one filled with action and drama, and one that sets up a massive change to the show's status quo. It reveals just how flawed and fragile a man Jeffrey Mace truly is...
Jeffrey Mace's whole career is built on a lie. Mace was on hand for the signing of the Sokovia Accords as a reporter, and — as anyone who's seen #CaptainAmerica #CivilWar will know — things went south. Zemo bombed Vienna, and in the chaos, Mace stumbled. A photographer snapped a photo at that crucial second, capturing him apparently leaping to a woman's defence. The image went viral, and Jeffrey Mace became an international hero.
This is probably the saddest of Mace's secrets; he isn't a hero at all, he's a man who liked the idea of being a hero. He keeps a copy of the photo, framed, in his office as a reminder of who the world believes him to be.
The Next Captain America
This is where things get particularly interesting. The US Government has been attempting to create super-soldiers since the days of Captain America: The First Avenger. Although Erskine's formula has never been successfully duplicated, we learned in The Incredible Hulk that further super-soldier experiments had included Gamma radiation. It seems that S.H.I.E.L.D. files clued General Talbot in on another method.
The clue was in the formula used by Quake's father, Calvin Zabo. As we saw in Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Zabo created a drug that gave him superhuman strength and endurance. It included:
- Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids
- Live Enzyme Blocker
- Various Metabolic Enhancers
- Gorilla Testosterone
- A Drop of Peppermint
Government scientists were able to strip out most of the dangerous aspects of Zabo's formula, and presented this to General Talbot as a new way of creating (albeit temporary) super-soldiers.
Here's the significant thing; Talbot wasn't tasked to create the next leader of S.H.I.E.L.D.. He was tasked with creating the next Captain America. In the wake of Civil War, the US Government became focused on creating a replacement for Steve Rogers. Coulson's insistence that an 'enhanced' individual needed to be the public face of S.H.I.E.L.D. changed everything.
Essentially, this formula gave the US Government a massive degree of control over S.H.I.E.L.D.. President Ellis could chose anybody he wanted to become the new leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., give them the formula, and just have them declare themselves to be Inhuman. Why choose a journalist who'd just become a national hero? To make him a symbol, but also to make him a patsy. Mace would be utterly dependent on Talbot's continuing provision of the super-soldier serum, and that dependency would ensure that S.H.I.E.L.D. was kept in line.
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Little wonder that #Coulson was so angry; he understood that S.H.I.E.L.D. had just been compromised with incredible efficiency. For a brief time, Jeffrey Mace was one of the most important figures in the #MCU; now, he's just been taken down a peg or two. That doesn't mean his story's over, though; after all, the Government wasn't originally planning to make him head of S.H.I.E.L.D.. They were considering him as the next possible #CaptainAmerica...
Do you sympathize with Mace's decisions?
(Poll Image Credit: Marvel Studios)