In case you thought things were ever going to get less emotional on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this week punched us all in the heart. Is it possible to run out of tears? Because I think I might by the end of this storyline.
Any hope Daisy had of finding Fitz inside the cold mask of The Doctor is dashed during their encounter this week. He’s had her beaten nearly to death and yet she hasn’t changed her story at all. Neither has he. He is firmly convinced Daisy and all of her subversive friends are invaders from another world. Which… isn’t wrong, really. Except he’s also one of those people, he just doesn’t know it.
AIDA tries talking to Daisy alone. Without needing to keep up appearances she can tell Daisy how she took away each person’s greatest regret. The resulting world isn’t her fault, which is kind of hard to believe when AIDA herself is essentially running that world. Just a coincidence she’s in charge, I guess. Anyway, AIDA offers to bring back Lincoln if Daisy will just tell her where her body is in the real world. Although she’s tempted for a second, Daisy has realized that what people want isn’t always what’s good for them. What does AIDA want? Choice. Free will. And if everyone else has to lose it in the process, so be it.
Like Fitz. AIDA “fixed” his life by giving him a relationship with his father, who stops by Hydra to visit his son. While Dad isn’t a high-ranking Hydra official like his son, he’s heavily committed to the cause. When Fitz wonders if it was necessary for him to kill Agnes, his father instantly belittles his flash of weakness and reprimands him. Seems that father-son relationship was built on fear and abuse and it’s resulted in the dark, cold Doctor.
There is one good thing about Daisy’s captivity. She’s right next to Radcliffe. He tells her there is a backdoor to get out of the Framework, one AIDA can’t disable. He whispers the details to Daisy, though we don’t get to hear just yet.
Over at the Resistance, Simmons fails at convincing Mace they’re in a digital world and there’s a real version of himself somewhere else. Though he’s loyal and fighting the good fight, it’s not difficult to see why Mace would prefer believing the Framework is the real deal rather than what Simmons is saying. He believes he’s lost friends over the years who have been fighting for their cause. Plus, in the Framework he’s a legit Inhuman hero; his powers don’t come from a serum. But that serum exists. May gets a vial of it to use when she next faces Mace.
She gets her chance when Mace and Coulson infiltrate Hydra’s “enlightenment center.” Earlier, they’d hijacked a Hydra bus hoping to intercept Daisy but found only body bags. They use the bus and the bags to get into the center and rescue an important Resistance operative. Guess who’s back, y’all? It’s Trip!! Trip really does live! They spring him from his cell, along with a few others, but before they leave Coulson sees one of his former students being marched to the “quarantine” building.
When Coulson follows the student, he finds an entire classroom of teenagers being subjected to Hydra brainwashing. While Mace fights with May, and eventually wins, Coulson and Trip start getting the kids out of the building. But May receives clearance to order an airstrike on the building after she sees Mace go into it. As she runs in to confirm he’s dead, she’s shocked to find kids running out. She’s equally as stunned to find Mace propping up the building and ultimately sacrificing himself in order to save one of those kids.
In the real world, Mace flat lines. I guess the Framework is more like the Matrix than Inception. If you die in the Framework, you die in real life. Simmons has been right to be cautious and try to prevent any of the “real” people in the Framework from dying. But Mace’s sacrifice was not in vain. Everyone else escaped the building alive and May’s allegiance to Hydra was broken. She sneaks a Terrigen crystal to Daisy and gives Quake her powers.
- Radcliffe, yelling to AIDA about his plan for the Framework: “This isn’t what I meant, you sadistic witch.”
- Fitz about Daisy: “Beaten within an inch of her life. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
- When May first enters the crumbling room where Mace is saving not just a kid but everyone by holding up the building, she aims her gun at him. Coulson immediately protests because Mace is saving lives and tells May to help them. “Snap out of it, May,” he yells. And for a moment, it almost looked like she did.
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