Finding Identities Changed in Agents of SHIELD’s Framework
Things continued to spiral in all different directions in this second installment of the Agents of Hydra/Framework arc. Identity and Change offered up a lot, and a lot of it was heavy, especially on the emotional side.
In the Framework, Aida, or Madame Hydra as she deems herself, discusses with Fitz Project Looking Glass. While we’re not sure what her and Fitz are exactly working on, it’s clear she wants to put an end to the real world, feeding Fitz the information that agents from the ‘other world’ are crossing over to try and kill her. Aida sure knows how to cover her bases.
Interestingly, Aida/Madame Hydra, has given herself the name Ophelia, the name is most synonymous with the Shakespearean character, who ends up drowning herself after being rejected by Hamlet. Aida didn’t have to inject herself into the Framework world, but she did and created a story for herself where she can control how the world operates. When telling Radcliffe that she let the cards fall, it doesn’t appear to be entirely true as she has already interfered with the mechanics of the alternate reality by erasing Jemma and Daisy’s exit.
The interesting part of the Framework is how relationships between the agents and those around them are parsed. While Daisy appears to acclimate to the boundaries of the Framework despite being captured, it is Jemma who continues to believe the agents in the Framework can respond like their real world counterparts. Then again, her only example at the moment is Coulson, who is half-remembering due to his Tahiti programming.
And the emotional points really dug deep. Especially with Mack and his gearhead daughter Hope. Their interactions and the pain upon realizing that in the real world Mack does not have Hope is exacerbated on so many levels throughout the episode. From the moment we are brought into their storyline, we are already met with the overhanging status of this truth. Mack and his daughter share an amazing bond, and when Daisy meets her she realizes when Mack told her that ‘Hope was lost,” in an earlier episode it was not just a reference to the failure they had experience, but to a human being who meant something very dear to him. Mack feels like he betrayed his daughter by giving in to Hydra and it is moments like these that display the nuances and vulnerabilities that the Framework and Darkhold have imagined for them.
Another deep emotional point was Jemma pleading for Ward not to shoot Fitz, despite him going on to shoot Agnes. Once again displaying the depth of work Elizabeth Henstridge is able to pull as her character struggles to convince Ward not to kill Fitz. She leverages information in the end to get her way, but it has a cost, and Agnes is the first person, though not existing anymore in the real world, to be claimed by the Framework. By Fitz, nonetheless. This moment mark will likely cause Jemma a lot of pain in the coming episodes as she grapples with what is real and what she knew about people.
This episode was seriously dark. Even the Playground, inhabited by the Resistance and seemingly actual Inhuman Mace was a mess. The show continued to have meta nods to its own history, such as with the Wall of Valor. It’s great to see Mace imbibe the role he wanted to ‘play’ so badly in the real world. He’s gritty and a hero who seems to have gotten to where he is by going through a lot of fire. His Framework self against Coulson’s is an interesting match.