“Identity and Change” is the title to this week’s Agents of SHIELD, and both the title and the events that occur brought up some questions about what the lasting effects of the framework will be. I’m most interested in how much everyone will remember when they leave the framework, and whether any of their personalities will be permanently altered by their experiences.
Fairly one track in direction this week, the episode was a perfect example of how to feel like you’re getting a lot of forward momentum while actually doing very little. Starting off with Coulson, after having him remember Daisy last week, we see that his memory is a bit swiss cheesed. I enjoyed the whole conspiracy whacko angle they gave him. The soap stuff was a bit silly but totally worked. Also having his mind sort of fractured by multiple brain washings gave the writers a convenient way to have information delivered. Coulson’s obsessive newspaper clippings of things related to their old lives comes in handy letting them know Radcliffe is “alive” and well.
Mack’s story was also a useful tool, but instead of disseminating information it was more of an everyman’s view of this new fascist world. We also get to see the daughter that Mack lost, his Hope. Of everyone, his post framework reaction will likely be the most heartbreaking. For a character that has been struggling with every choice and turn the team has taken, this could be the straw that breaks him. I wouldn’t be shocked if Mack leaves the team once he rejoins the real world.
Hope gave us a window into the man Mack was and could have been. A loving father, a peaceful man, and instead of an axe-wielding warrior, a man ruled by fear. It was off-putting seeing him completely neutered by this world. Terrified of losing his daughter, Mack stands by as Hydra agents line people up on the street and drag off Inhuman potentials.
Then the great twist, even though you sort of see it coming. When brought in for interrogation, Daisy doesn’t question why Mack is being questioned. But in this world he’s just a dad, no Inhuman blood, no SHIELD ties. Also aside from Coulson, no one in the framework placed there by Aida has memories of their past life. So when Mack calls Skye by her Daisy name the alarm bells started going off. A brilliant trap laid by May to catch Daisy, though it’s questionable that May isn’t right outside the door waiting when she’s done. The reason being they wanted a chase scene. That bit of elevator fight seemed like a nod to The Winter Soldier though it couldn’t live up to that film’s badass pedigree.
The Aida / Fitz relationship keeps reaching new creep factor levels. Their makeout session was off-putting and they went heavy on the Star Wars empire vibe, especially the scene of them and their soldiers marching from their plane. I dare you to rewatch that part and not hum the “Imperial Theme”. Quite fitting as Coulson remarks on SHIELD’s rebel alliance feel. I still can’t tell whether Aida truly has feelings for Fitz or is just using him. I also can’t tell if she has reached true artificial intelligence. The basis Radcliffe presented when creating her was that she wouldn’t have the capacity for true free thought like Ultron, but that she merely tried to ape the actions of humans to simulate intelligence. So has she broken through that wall? Is this still just her mockingbird act? The rules don’t seem very clear anymore.
Then there is her whole Project Looking Glass thing. It sounds like Aida has convinced Fitz that the real world is a parallel one to the framework and that it is a hellish reverse of the one they live in. Supposedly this project will allow them to see into the real world and attack it. All very confusing things that will hopefully become clear soon.
It was nice to see the old SHIELD base again and get some cool super spy moments. Clandestine meetings, password phrases, I love that stuff. Coulson being a fanboy of Mace’s Patriot persona was fitting but also begs the question, do the Avengers and specifically Captain America exist in some form in this world? Though I guarantee we won’t get an answer since Marvel seems dead set on keeping the two worlds segregated.
Aside from Mack, Fitz is the character most likely to be forever changed by his time in the framework. Mack ends up joining SHIELD after his complicit acts in taking down Daisy, but Fitz shows no remorse, no redeeming qualities. Hell he even makes an on the nose “make us great again” statement. Then when push comes to shove and after finding Radcliffe shacked up with Agnes, Fitz straight up murders one of the two people whose lives are tied strictly to the framework. This move is both brilliant and a total cop out.
By murdering a complete innocent, Fitz has cemented that he is under Aida’s influence one hundred percent. Agnes not having a body likely means she is beyond any saving. But Agnes was a character we barely knew who shares a face with Aida. There was a facade of emotion tied to this murder, sold incredibly well by Gemma it should be mentioned, but in reality this death has no real impact on the team. The fallout is that Fitz may have lost his soul, he could exit this whole thing truly evil. Now that would be a great twist. If he just goes back to being good and has some weepy scenes then this was just a tease.
Another great outing from Agents of SHIELD that keeps us aching for the next Tuesday to get here soon!
What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us in the comments section below!