It couldn’t be helped and frankly I’m surprised it took this long but we got a filler episode during the “Agents of Hydra” arc. Luckily it is one of the strongest filler episodes of television I’ve seen. “All the Madame’s Men” really doubled down on the political talk though didn’t it?
The Bakshi Report was an obvious parody of any number of Fox News shows. Also a cute way to use another dead character from the series. Plenty of commentary on the use of propaganda and intimidation. Then they went that step too far again, pulling out the phrase “alternative facts,” just a bit too clever for your own good SHIELD. I was waiting for Coulson to declare #Resist by the episode’s end. No such luck though.
It was great getting to see Daisy back to having her Quake powers and just kicking ass. That shot when she blasts Aida through the window was fantastic. I am curious what the Framework’s rules are for Aida. Does she have to reload herself in if she dies? Can she even die? She does seem to get knocked out, or logged out for a bit, giving us our first glimpse of the real world in quite some time. Not very exciting though, the Russian is still in his base waiting around and completely pissed his new robot body won’t allow him to murder Agent Coulson. Dude has become such an afterthought. I’m curious whether he will end up having any big part of the season’s end or is just a henchman now.
Aida does note, once she sees May has gone over to the good side again, everyone is drifting back into their real world roles. Our natural states seem to just be too strong for the Framework to change. This brings us to Fitz. The one team member who has stayed the most locked in to his new persona. Fitz obviously has some dark places in his soul. His father’s sway may be strong but there’s more than that going on here. His father’s scene with Radcliffe is pretty interesting as well. Radcliffe being of such an analytical mind is able to withstand brutal beatings and torture. He understands how the Framework has become his prison and how wrong he was about many of his ideas. Unfortunately from the previews it appears much of that character development will be undone.
Yes we finally get an answer as to what Project Looking Glass is. Apparently Fitz has designed a machine to build real human bodies in the real world that they can be loaded into. Aida of course wants to escape her current form to attain true free will. After all the twists and turns this became a fairly paint by numbers artificial intelligence story. Man invents machine. Machine attacks man. Machine wants free will. But Fitz asks to come with her as well. Hmm, interesting development. Now would Aida simply load his new memories into his old body? Or could she create a new body for him and have two Fitz’s running around? One with the new memories and one with the old. Curiouser and curiouser.
The action this week was not the best, and in fact one moment made me laugh out loud. When May does a cartwheel while firing her guns it was such an obvious Matrix rip off. I bet whoever thought of doing that thought they were really clever. “That film is about a virtual world, so are we!” Okay we get it. Maybe we’ll get an homage to Disclosure or Lawnmower Man next. Well … probably not.
So what did I mean when I said this was a filler episode? When you parse it down, three things of note actually happen. The machine is ready to be finished by Fitz. Daisy escapes. SHIELD takes over a television station to disseminate the truth about the Patriot’s death. Everything else is just distraction. Mack confronting May was supposed to feel tense as if they would actually have him shoot her. A whole bunch of treading water to set the stage for the final three episodes.
That station takeover did feature a strong moment from Agent Coulson. Taking up a leadership role even in this world. The idea that Ward would go down in a blaze of glory felt like another unnecessary misdirect. This version is not real and his sacrifice is sort of moot. But then to have him not even have to fight, what was the point? Oh and when Daisy is trying to hack the TV stations security, she tries to do so on the station’s switcher board. For those of you who don’t know, this would do nothing. Yes it’s a nitpick most people wouldn’t know but the way she tries to “type” on those buttons is ridiculous and I had a good laugh at it.
Oh, and how does SHIELD still have their base? Aida visited that base many times in the real world. Why doesn’t she know where it is in this virtual world? My only answer is she doesn’t see them as a real threat and is merely toying with them.
“All the Madame’s Men” is a fun episode, don’t get me wrong. It also is just dragging its feet to set up for three huge episodes in the May ratings period. This was just a touch too obvious and that is disappointing. However, we know how stellar this series can be and I am sure they are setting up one hell of an ending to this season, and who knows maybe if rumors are true and ending to the series as well.
What did you think of this week’s episode? Tell us in the comments section below!