Episode 20 – Farewell, Cruel World!
In Farewell, Cruel World, the Agents of SHIELD make a play for the backdoor out of the Framework, and while it ends up mostly successful, it yields also moments of hardship, difficulty and loss. Time is running out for both the agents stuck in the Framework and Yo-Yo and her ragtag team of agents on the Quinjet.
If there was a more succinct word for receiving repetitive gut punches, we would use it. This episode brought us from one critical emotional point. To the showdown between Fitz and Simmons, Daisy trying to explain why Trip can’t come with them, to Coulson nearly dying and, the biggest ringer, Mack choosing to stay in the Framework to be with his daughter. According to Mack, he would not want to live in a world without Hope, but, he is limited in his information. Mack’s decision was based on emotion and not logic, and it pains us all watching to see this. It hits home again when Yo-Yo asks Daisy about Mack, who can only offer her an apology.
With so many emotions boiling up, it’s difficult to pinpoint which one to navigate first. Let’s take a look at the real world Fitz waking up from the Framework. He automatically recognizes the bad things he has committed such as killing Agnes and ordering the hit that killed Mace. He immediately suffers a panic attack while Coulson tries to assuage him. This yields no power. What becomes confusing is when Fitz sees Aida and calls her Ophelia, reacting as if he was still Framework Fitz. It is left up to wonder why this happens- is it Fitz’ prior brain injury meddling with his recovery? Is it how well Aida manipulated him? We don’t find out this episode as Aida whips out the party trick of teleportation to evade May shooting her, taking Fitz along with her. The repercussions of Fitz’ actions, to his teammates and especially to Jemma, will likely reverberate throughout the rest of the series.
Speaking of Aida/Ophelia, she is now a real bonafide girl, just like Pinocchio. And like her Disney counterpart, we are left to wonder if she has a soul. The show has already announced that Ghost Rider will return in the final episode, and speculation resounds a Penance Stare saving the day. Or, will Aida’s own emotions destroy her? While she may feel happiness now, what happens, especially with the Darkhold’s strings, when she feels a negative emotion?
Interesting to note is the fact that Aida gave herself a superpower. And she may have more up her sleeve. In the Framework, Hydra was dissecting and researching Inhumans, and they had even developed Hyde’s attempt at a super soldier serum. Her teleportation power is reminiscent of Gordon’s superpower back in season two. In addition, Aida has had access to SHIELD files, and she could have likely scribbled down other powers she would want. What is Daisy has to go head to head with Aida’s arsenal, including the quake powers?
Moving out of predicatory territory, Agents of SHIELD gave Philinda shippers all the more reason to celebrate. From May rescuing Coulson and tossing him in the portal, to Coulson helping a fatigued May out of the Framework machine, the pair seem about ready to do more than share a bottle of scotch. It was great to see full-fledged Agent Coulson return, and even an incapacitated May who tried to end the Aida problem.
It was pleasing to see Radcliffe operate on doing the right thing rather than personal gain. While Framework Fitz dangled immortality in front of him, Radcliffe assessed his life and the decisions he made in it to force Fitz down the backdoor.
The show did a fantastic job on practicality this week. As it opens on the agents in the Quinjet, the idea that they are low on fuel and freezing due to turning off the heat is something television plots don’t normally address. The visual effects were also on point, showcasing some of the very best work the VFX department can churn out. From the backdoor portal to the pixelation of the Framework and to the materilization of Aida’s real body there wasn’t a moment that took us out of the story. Same goes for the score, which heightened the sadness and intensity this episode brought.
Farewell, Cruel World! more like farewell, my heart! Every actor was on point and we were really hit with a case of the feels.
Deeply emotional storytelling
Cast was on point
Also, deeply emotional storytelling