Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Asks “What If…” In Their First Episode In The Framework

Credit: Jennifer Clasen/ABC

It’s been weeks of waiting and this show is now Agents of HYDRA and that’s crazy so let’s not waste any time.

Life in the Framework is weird. Daisy wakes up looking a lot like she did as Skye in season one (she’s even known by that name), except she works for HYDRA and is dating Grant Ward. She even asked him to move in with her but he said he wasn’t ready. At HYDRA, Melinda May is in charge of ops and even more detached than in the real world. For some reason, she is keeping a very close eye on Daisy, like when Daisy and Ward are interrogating a captured Inhuman. It’s the Framework version of Vijay Nadeer, who is still an Inhuman but with no powers yet and he’s got a very good fake HYDRA ID card. In an attempt to save his life, Daisy tries to get Vijay to reveal his source within HYDRA, but Ward gets too aggressive with his questioning and knocks him out.

Things are somehow almost worse for Simmons. She wakes up in a mass grave. HYDRA exterminated her entire lab at the Academy. Once she’s crawled free, she flags down a driver but almost immediately has to bail because her only identification is a S.H.I.E.L.D. badge. There are Inhuman checkpoints everywhere and without a proper ID, Simmons will be snatched. She escapes to a diner, but is picked up by two agents. When they look up her name, they find she’s labelled deceased. That gives Simmons a chance to get the drop on them and steal their car and laptop. She goes to the rendezvous point but Daisy isn’t there so she locates Coulson instead.

Like everyone else, Coulson is not his usual morally upright self. A teacher, he tells his students HYDRA’s connection to the Nazis is a lie and lets agents take one of his students without a word. When Simmons visits, she begs him to remember her and even tries using the “it’s a magical place” phrase to wake him up. Afraid this is an elaborate trick to test his loyalty, Coulson panics. He makes her leave and then reports her.

However, alone in his office he pulls out a folder of things that clearly represents his dormant subconscious remembering the real world. There’s a Tahiti postcard, a car that looks like Lola, the words “it’s a magical place” written over and over, a picture of a cellist, and doodles of the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.

At HYDRA, we discover Vijay isn’t scared of Ward, Daisy, or even May. It’s the Doctor he fears. That would be Fitz, here a scientist who coolly experiments on Inhumans to learn about their powers. Daisy is horrified. She’s equally horrified to learn the catalyst for the Inhuman genocide is Bahrain. While in the real world May was forever haunted by having to kill a murderous little girl, in the Framework she rescued her. But then that girl was brought to the States and ended up killing a bunch of people in Cambridge, MA. It was that incident that allowed HYDRA, once they’d destroyed S.H.I.E.L.D., to pass any laws against Inhumans they wanted including testing for Inhuman DNA at any time.

Daisy hears about Coulson’s report on Simmons, confirming her friend is alive, and goes to find her. Once they’re reunited, they start to dash off before HYDRA finds them but are stopped at gunpoint by Ward. As agents converge on their location, he demands to know if Daisy is in the Resistance and when she assures she’s has nothing to do with the Resistance, he replies, “Well I do.” He fights off the agents and gets them to safety. Along the way he confesses he knows Daisy has Inhuman DNA and joined the Resistance to protect her. Vijay was his contact and vice versa. Simmons notes the irony that no matter the universe, Ward is always a double agent.

Their plan to wake up their friends completely falling apart, Daisy and Simmons decide to try a new strategy. They press the actual exit button they programmed into the Framework with them… but it doesn’t work. They’re stuck. Because that’s what the Director of HYDRA wants. Who’s that?

AIDA, of course, who is absolutely rocking her Madame HYDRA look. Fitz visits her office to express his worries about the “subversives.” He and May believe there’s a mole within the agency and he’s determined to protect what they’ve built and AIDA. She reassures him with a kiss. An entire fandom screams in horror.

And finally we’re back to poor teacher Coulson. He just wants to live his brainwashed life. But now there’s Daisy in his backseat imploring him to snap out of it because they need him. After swearing again and again he doesn’t know her, she says, “This world is scary and nothing makes sense and you’re the closest thing I have to family. I just hoped that deep down you feel it too.”

He pauses a moment, looks at her in the rearview mirror and says, “Daisy?”

Field Notes

  • I saw this episode last Saturday at WonderCon and I still screamed tonight when AIDA and Fitz kissed. This is a new kind of torture AOS.
  • I cannot BELIEVE May and Coulson don’t even know each other in the Framework. Also a new kind of torture. Although, does this mean we’re going to get to see him convince her about who she is and how much he cares for her? Because if yes, then I can forgive this pain.
  • Student: “Are HYDRA all Nazis?”
    Simmons: “Every last one of them. And don’t you let anyone forget it.”
  • Simmons to Daisy about Ward: “And this is who you woke up with? You two are together? Ugh this isn’t the Framework, this is hell.”
  • Ward: “There are things about me that you wouldn’t like if you knew.”
    Daisy: “Trust me, I know.”


Stephanie Coats
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