Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: No Regrets
Original air date: April 18th, 2017
Well this was a week; after this episode I don’t know if I am more happy or sad. There were moments I felt positively giddy and others that brought tears to my eyes. I guess that means this episode was done very well. The Framework, and specifically this episode, brought up some good points and some scary points. So, let me hit on a few of those, broadly before I go into detail—maybe I am just trying to put off for a little while what I really don’t want to talk about. If can’t guess, well—I’ll get to it in a bit.
First, what is reality? I like that this question was brought up by Ward. Framework Ward seems to be much better about self-awareness and compassion. It makes me wonder how did Aida create him? Did she use the memories of the others? Ward asks Simmons how she knows that her world is the “real” world, when she can feel and sense everything going on in the Framework. This pinpointed what I like about how AoS is dealing with the Framework.
In a variety of shows we get episodes where the cast is in an alternate reality and at first no one knows it, or one person knows and the rest don’t believe it. I hate those episodes. It frustrates me and when they pose the “What is reality” question– they tend to end ambiguously—like maybe Buffy really is in an insane asylum. I feel doing something like that undermines all the other episodes. AoS isn’t doing that; the struggle lies in trying to escape the Framework. Simmons and Daisy knowing they are trapped, yet seeing how some (Mack) are kind of better off and how others are completely off their rockers (Fitz). This makes for some glorious heartbreak and brings up a question—is Aida completely wrong?
Aida/Madame Hydra says it is all about choice. She wants to choose how she will live her life: basically she wants free will. I think the end of this story arc is going to come down to everyone choosing. We everyone want to leave—and will they get a choice? If the framework is shut down, will there be some not pleased with that decision? And (I know I’ve said it before), how will this change everyone?
The idea that one little thing can alter who a person is to their core is scary. Radcliffe’s examples of one moment, one person, one sentence altering the course of a person’s life, and altering who they are, brings up a whole mess of “what if” scenarios and arguments of nature versus nurture. Madame Hydra tries to tempt Daisy with Lincoln. She says she can bring him back. I may be in the minority here—but I don’t think Lincoln was the best influence on Daisy. I know she didn’t handle his death well, but I think it was for the best. Maybe I am reading into it—but I think Daisy knows it too. Another bad influence is obviously Fitz’s dad. I blamed Madame Hydra for making Fitz go all evil, but his dad is possibly worse.
Madame Hydra says the Framework is following algorithms, that all she did was take away people’s biggest regret and then math took its course. Of course, she could have biased that course of events– it would be easy to believe so– but what makes the Framework truly terrifying is I don’t think she did. That human nature boiled down to mathematical probability is scary.
The Framework shows how easily people can be controlled by fear and how easily they can be brainwashed into compliance. In the nameless Hydra agents, in Agent May, in Fitz, there is this blind allegiance to Hydra. Fear is so good at controlling people. Something that seems to be echoed in our “real world” far too often.
Putting myself in the world of AoS (because—why not?) “Hail Hydra” strikes fear in me, not for the fear of being hunted or persecuted, but the fear that I may comply. Yes, this is fiction, but what makes this story arc so great is how much of the “real world” I see in the Framework. I can imagine how Hydra gained its power. After Bahrain, people were afraid. People started to be afraid of their neighbors– they started being afraid of anyone that looked different, and soon they bit their tongues—afraid someone might think they were different. Then before they knew it, they were “hailing” the powers that be. Scary how sometimes the real world seems only moments away from that.
Okay, Mace. I will admit, I got teary eyed (and yes, I know my attachments to fictional characters may be viewed as worrisome). But, Mace—no! I really liked Framework Mace, not that I didn’t like the real Mace. But Framework Mace was more confident, more of leader, less of a bureaucrat; but, sad as I am, I can see how his death will help unite the agents. Sort of like Coulson’s death in The Avengers—coincidence? At least this swayed May from the dark side. I loved the looks exchanged between her and Daisy when May released the Terrigen Mist. Quake is back!
Quake isn’t the only one that’s back–Trip! I did a little happy dance when he returned, but at the same time it’s like great someone else I am going to miss when they are gone, again. So, I will just enjoy Trip’s presence for as long as I can, and like with Ward, I hope there is way to keep them in recurring roles.
A little off topic but something I want to talk about is how great the cast is doing with their Framework characters. I love the nuances of their performances. Framework Coulson walks differently; there is slumping of the shoulders and hesitation in his voice. Fitz—man is Iain Caestrecker killing it. I want to smack Framework Fitz and wrinkle his suit. (That’s a compliment really, because normally I want to squish his cheeks.) And if it’s possible May—is even more May-ish. The fight scene between her and Mace—loved it.
Finally—with this whole parallel/ alternate reality—I am waiting for Radcliffe to say, “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”