Before we proceed, another moment of silence for AOS alum Bill Paxton (John Garett). Apologies for those who follow up on our Agents of SHIELD pieces. Lots going on in the real world as what’s happening in Radcliffe’s Framework. Well, for those who haven’t caught up with the show yet, SPOILER ALERT. But for those who have, you’ll have to agree that the show just keeps getting better and more interesting. The pace is quite brisk really, but you can’t expect less from a TV series that’s an action spy thriller.
We won’t go into all the details of the previous episodes for this review, but we’ll go through some details of the two episodes we’ve missed. As a recap, here they are, courtesy of Wikipedia, and the AOS fans who contribute to it.
Episode 14: The Man Behind the Shield
Years ago, Coulson and May recovered an unknown object from a Russian outpost, besting an SVR team that included Ivanov. For the failure, the SVR agents other than Ivanov were tortured and killed. Now, Ivanov leads S.H.I.E.L.D. on a treasure hunt around the world, including to that outpost, in their search for Mace. Ivanov has been torturing Mace, disgusted at his attempts to emulate the Inhumans. The team eventually finds Ivanov, and Johnson overpowers him. Coulson and Mack save a near-death Mace while Fitz and Simmons attempt to locate any sign of the Framework in hopes of finding May. Unsuccessful, the pair reunite with the others and they return to base. Aida, whom Radcliffe has left to carry out his plans while he spends time in the Framework, finds a crippled Ivanov. At base, Fitz and Simmons are alerted by their LMD security system, learning that four agents were replaced with LMDs by Aida while Fitz and Simmons were separated from the group. This includes Coulson, as the Coulson LMD wakes the May LMD from storage.
Episode 15: Self Control
The new LMDs are aware of their nature and plan to carry out Ivanov’s goal of destroying all Inhumans. Simmons soon discovers that Mace, Mack, and Fitz are the other new LMDs, and overpowers Fitz. Johnson also discovers the subterfuge and plans with Simmons to escape the base and hack into the Framework remotely to find the others from the inside. Johnson overpowers the Mace, Mack, and Coulson LMDs, while Simmons recruits other S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. They find the May LMD waiting for them at the base entrance, tasked with detonating a large explosive to prevent their escape. The May LMD instead lets them leave and destroys the base with the LMDs inside. In the Framework, the agents find an altered reality: Johnson is in a relationship with an alive Grant Ward; Coulson is teaching about Inhumans; Mack’s child is alive; Fitz is rich; Simmons is dead; and May works for Hydra, who have replaced S.H.I.E.L.D. In the real world, Aida severs Ivanov’s head from his crippled body and builds an android body for his mind to control.
Episode 15 is quite a thriller as we see AIDA get more and more psychotic in her pursuit of happiness. She seems to be experimenting on stimuli that would help her experience genuine emotion, and there seemed to be glimmers of delight within her blank expressions when she looked at the Watchdog henchmen beat up the LMD Mace in Episode 14 and her carving up Ivanov in Episode 15. This author is starting to have a crush on Mallory Jansen for acting the way she does as AIDA.
Episode 15 was also quite thrilling for both Daisy and Simmons. Expect some more net shipping for Quake after their dramatic embrace. They both looked so terrified trying to prove themselves to each other that they’re not LMDs as duplicates of their friends continue to close in on them. Fitz and Simmons’ acting, in the beginning, was also great and Fitz being the LMD instead of Daisy was quite a twist.
What’s not great
Unfortunately, it’s not all brownie points for the show. I find The Superior’s character rather dull, as dull as Coulson said he is in episode 14. His confrontation with Coulson and later Daisy felt anti-climactic and undeserving of the codename The Superior. Even after AIDA cut him up and turned him into the Framework’s guardian, he’s still rather dull. It was a rather long buildup since the Watchdog’s first appearance in Season 3 only to end up with Ivanov. But I will try his vodka and onions someday. Guess Marvel does have a villain problem, even on TV. Perhaps if AIDA made him look like Deathlok perhaps. Deathlok should become a mainstay of the show don’t you think?
Speaking of mainstays, one of the big surprises in Episode 15 was the return of Brett Dalton as Grant Ward. Guess those fans wishing for Skyeward just got their wish. Strange that the show would go this route instead of going Daisy/Lincoln. But I just saw Lincoln in an episode of Blindspot along with alum Jaime Alexander (Lady Sif) so he’s kind of tied up. It would be interesting to see how this romance goes.
In order to save Coulson, Fitz, Mack, May and Mace, what’s left of SHIELD’s team decide to enter the Framework but end up in their own fantasy worlds. Simmons, however, ends up dead but AOS showrunner Jed Whedon said we’ll need to wait and see. It’s a weird situation he put Simmons in, but we will wait. A theory though, Simmons tombstone is in the mind of Fitz and that Simmons failed to enter the framework. Someone has to remain tied to the real world, right?
When Agents of SHIELD comes back this April, it should be an interesting one. Coulson is a teacher who seems to be teaching an anti-inhuman lesson. But even though his LMD confided to LMD May that his biggest regret was joining SHIELD, he seemed too well-rounded to be racist. Hi might just be teaching the opposite. May is another matter. She looked content to be inside the rebuilt Triskelion and working for HYDRA. Could she actually be a double agent? How did she give up her fight to escape AIDA’s looping scenario?
The show will surely be setup majority within the Matrix-like reality of The Framework where HYDRA won the events of Captain America: Winter Soldier and perhaps no Avengers and perhaps even way before since Coulson didn’t join SHIELD in the first place. It’s up to someone within the team to remember their old life and convince everyone to find a way out. If my theory is correct, Simmons will be left to deal with a psychotic AIDA and Ivanov to save her friends.
This could be the last story arc for Agents of SHIELD as there’s talk that the show could get cancelled due to low Nielsen’s ratings. Hopefully, the show gets renewed for another season or half a season for it to reach syndication status to be able to produce more. It would be a gamble for ABC since AOS is quite expensive. I think they promised a while back they’ll bring Ghost Rider back later on. There’s no denying the show got some non-fans interested because of him.
Here’s to more Agents of SHIELD. There are more fans out there than the ratings care to show and it would be a shame if such a show gets beaten by ratings and network politics.