The Matrix. The Attic. The City of Light. Now, the Framework. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. presents to us its take on the tale of the simulated world as it delves further into the LMD arc. As of now, it appears that the Framework is similar to The 100’s City of Light, a place where people can live happily and forever, even after their flesh and bones have perished. I really liked how smoothly this new thread was inserted into the story, first appearing a couple of episodes ago as Radcliffe and Aida attempted to create a nice simulation for Agent May, now being expanded as a solution to death.
But is it a solution to death?
We meet Agnes, the lovely woman dying of a brain tumor in whose image Radcliffe built Aida. She is living her final days to the fullest and wants nothing to do with Radcliffe, her past lover, but Coulson talks her into helping him to find Radcliffe and, then, May. They set a trap to Radcliffe, but when the scientist promises her he found a way to overcome her illness, she goes with her heart and leaves Coulson and Mack behind. Poor Agnes, I just wanted to give her a hug. I wish she had lived her final moments on her own terms, drawing and painting far away from S.H.I.E.L.D.’s problems. But it was not to be.
After Agnes dies, we see her on the Framework, carrying the original Degas painting Radcliffe promised her. But it’s not an original Degas because it’s not a painting at all – it’s a simulation of one. Does it make it inferior to the “real” world’s painting, though? I mean, there are those who theorize we could be living inside a simulation. If all of Agnes’ memories and personality are digital now, then isn’t the digital world her real world? Is Agnes aware? Does she know that outside of the Framework she died? I’m really enjoying all the existential questions the LMD arc has been raising and I hope they keep exploring these subjects.
I understand why Coulson wanted to use Agnes to get to Radcliffe, but he should have listened to Mack’s advice and let her be. At least he treated her with respect and paralleled her situation to May’s to get her to help him. He confesses to her it’s a personal mission. He wishes it wasn’t, but it is. Daisy, Rosalind, Melinda. Coulson, darling, it’s always personal.
While S.H.I.E.L.D.’s big boss is out searching for May, Mace, the Agency’s political leader and reluctant mascot, is searching for his role on the team. He is a bit lost after Simmons tells him he can’t have another dose of the serum – it could kill him. But when the team needs him to protect them, he takes the serum anyway and faces the enemy alone. That was a very brave move, but afterwards I thought it was also very reckless. I mean, if an electric discharge could take him out, then he should have been carrying a couple of weapons of his own.
Shockley was another character that had to find his place during this episode. He goes through Terrigenesis and, despite being an Inhuman himself, he still hates them and won’t let go of his mission to “protect humanity”. This reminded of a news I read a few years ago about an anti-LGBT politician who was outed as gay but kept his speech against the “gay agenda”. He saw his ways as sinful and declared he would not change his political views. There is something powerful about indoctrination based on hate that will put a person in a place of denial if they ever realize they are the target of that hate. Shockley is in denial during the episode, mistakenly thinking that he can still be a part of the rightful humans, incapable of accepting that he is now the “alien filth” he despises. He does enjoy his new power a lot, the ability to turn himself into a flammable gas and cause an explosion – a suicide bomber that gets to walk away alive, as Mace puts it – but that’s miles away from coming to terms with what he really is.
Now, did Senator Nadeer die at the explosion? It will be a bummer if she did because she is a great villain, Parminder Nagra is great in the role and we won’t get to see her brother confront her. Josie’s Law says we should not believe a character is dead if we haven’t seen their body, and therein lies my hope. However, if Nadeer is indeed dead, what an unexpected, unconventional twist. While I appreciate this season’s willingness to subvert our expectations, Nadeer’s hate crusade against Inhumans is a far superior storyline to Ivanov’s obsession with Coulson. I’m aware Ivanov too hates Inhumans, but he is yet to impress as a villain and the political angle on Nadeer’s story resonates a lot with the populist, conservative uprising currently happening around the globe, making it a more relevant story. I hope The Powers That Be haven’t thrown that development out the window.
Intel and Assets
- I loved Daisy using her powers to clash Shockley’s head against the other watchdog’s head.
- Aida didn’t like the news that she was based on someone else, she thought she was unique. She seemed jealous of Agnes and even took her necklace in the end. What did that mean? Is she going to try to make Radcliffe fall in love with her?
- I know Mallory Jansen is beautiful, but I commend the series costume department and the actress herself for making Agnes a strikingly beautiful woman, inside and out, as well as totally different from Aida.
- There is already an LMD detector inside S.H.I.E.L.D., built (and in need of some improvements) under Fitz' leadership. I liked that, it shows the characters aren’t dumb and already took the logical precautions.
- Fitzsimmons cornering Daisy was a lovely little moment that made me remember their friendship goes back to season one. They are totally the core Scoobies of this series, aren’t they?
- In fact, Fitzsimmons acted a lot like they used to in season one.
- Nadeer's sheer joy at Shockley, not her, being revealed as an Inhuman was delightful.
- Nitpick: Nadeer’s office didn’t look destroyed enough. I mean, Shockley exploded the containment module.
- When the Superior and the Watchdogs were approaching, Mace referred to them as “the Russians”? Really, Mace, the Russians? Cold War is over, dude.
- May appeared very briefly. There was no LMayD at sight.
- After I wrote the main part of this review, I noticed I mostly talked about the supporting characters. I’m going to say it one last time: Fitz, Simmons and Mack need more attention. And Daisy too, she has been doing a lot of cool stuff but not much character development there.
Aida: “Agent May kept finding the edges of our simulations. That’s no longer a concern, given the Earth has no edges. It’s round.”
Daisy: “If memory serves, I quaked his ass.”
Simmons: “He’s gone from an explosive gas to a fully functional..."
Three and a half out of four explosions,
P.S.:Sorry for the lateness of this review. I'm moving and this has been a very busy week.
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