It was a wild ride from the very beginning to end, and the show really made use of their 10 p.m. time slot. Not a single scene was wasted throughout the span of 45 minutes. Each break for commercial yielded a whole new reason to shriek, curse or gasp.
Opening (and closing) on psych-rock’s The Dream’s- Have You Heard Parts I & II, The Superior, Anton Ivanov comments how he always thought the song was a good song to be born to. AoS did exactly that when they revealed the fates of the agents in the Framework. But before we get into that, let’s discuss the insanity preceding that shocking cliffhanger ending.
After watching Aida dig deep into the Superior to rebuild him as an LMD, we are brought back to the Playground to pick up right where we left off, with Fitzsimmons discovering their team had been body swapped for Agents of SHIELD. After Fitz and Jemma isolate themselves, it becomes apparent that one of them in an LMD. The ensuing scenes between the couple were gutting. Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain de Caestecker were miracle workers in these parts. The depth of their performances hinged on the realization that one of them was an LMD. For a couple who has been torn apart on multiple occasions there is no worse fate than realizing the person you love is trying to kill you. In those first few scenes, it would be hard not to be shocked by Jemma, who held a gun to Fitz, or to Fitz, who stabs and knocks Jemma out. Jemma, not even sure if she isn’t an LMD, cuts down the imposter Fitz and drives a knife into him multiple times. The visual of Simmons in this act is gutting and we are gifted a small reprieve that Jemma was right.
Fitzsimmons once again heavily provided the emotional backbone of the show. Their performances were some of the best we have ever seen in the MCU.
That means, the other non-LMD agent in the building is Daisy, who stumbles upon a ‘sleeping’ legion of herself. Catching onto what happens, she pulls a fast one on LMD Mack and finds a safe area. She’s privy to LMD Fitz’ ‘murder scene’ and Coulson and Mace killing agents who knew too much. She finds Jemma, and there is a struggle to confirm that neither of them are killer robots. In this scene, Chloe Bennet joins the circle of powerful performances in this episode. Whedon has really been able to facilitate the finest work out of these actors to date.
Daisy and Jemma now embark on a survivalist mission to get out alive. They are confronted with the people closest to them in the world hunting them. Daisy takes on LMD Mace, who has suited up in full Patriot gear. The choreography in the lab fight scene was fully rewarding.
But you know what was also rewarding? Getting Ward back. Whether you stood with Ward or didn’t, the show brought back Grant Ward in an interesting way, plopping him inside the Framework as Daisy’s boyfriend. It will be nice to see Brett Dalton back on the show, but it does bring up questions of the shows longevity. The episode pulled plenty of allusions from season one, and Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancheron have already talked about some other season one storylines that may be cinched up (such as Gravitron). With no information about a season five renewal and this 6 week break before the third arc, one can stipulate that we may not get to see our agents get a fifth season. Given the depths this season has given us, it would be a damn shame.
To not end this review on such a downer, let’s talk about another fantastic point in this episode where LMD May fought with LMD Coulson, while not in the physical sense, the emotional bearings of May’s realization about memories and living were impactful lines.
We were sad to see Radcliffe go in the physical world. His trope is largely featured in any robot-making storyline. The builder of the AI is killed by the thing he created because he is the biggest threat. While we may not see him in the physical world, we may still get to see him in the Framework.
Now, let’s talk about the Framework. While uploading humans to a digital system has been done before in loads of sci-fi media, Agents of Shield joins the rank of those who have done it well. What we get at the end is the agents in the Framework, which Aida has recently rewired to fix a regret they have had in their life. Daisy is dating Ward. May stands in the Triskelion as part of Hydra. Coulson is a teacher with a less than stellar view of the Inhumans. Mack lives a quiet life at home with his daughter. Fitz appears to be a millionaire, with Framework Jemma six feet under, and her death date is around the same time that ‘FZZT’ aired in the first season.
With Whedon directing, the show has never looked better. Everything under his direction came into perfect synchronicity, from the VFX, to the costume and make up and to the cinematography. When the season returns on April 4, we can expect to go psychologically deeper into the lives of the agents, who are living without their biggest regret in a ‘perfect’ world imagined by the Darkhold. There are so many wheels turning and directions the last arc can go.
We have to wait SIX weeks
Show's future is on the line