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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Return

“So it’s like you woke up from a dream?”
“No. Not a dream, Simmons. A life.”

Fascinating concept. Two lives for the price of one. How very Dollhouse, again, of this season. And yet, very true to what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is and the kind of challenges the characters face.

May and Coulson’s banter continued to be a delight. I’m so happy that Coulson has retained his goofy Framework persona, Clark Gregg is really good with that kind of comedy. Poor May, she spent so much time away that she didn’t even know how it all went down with Robbie Reyes and his uncle. That was episode number eight! Coulson also had some catching up to do, and having the characters talk of some of this season’s past events brought home how many powerful turns there have been. I especially liked this exchange:

May: “My God. Who did this?”
Daisy: “You did. To stop him from coming after us.”
Coulson: “Who?”
Simmons: “You.”

It’s a small moment, but one that allows the weight of those events to sink in for the characters and for the audience as we gear up to the season’s conclusion.

Aida and Fitz were this episode’s MVP. She was experiencing human emotion for the first time and he was trying to come to terms with his Framework actions. She told him that everything he had done was part of a simulated reality, that it was conditioned behavior. However, when it came to their relationship, she clearly perceived it as real. Well, dear, that was conditioned behavior too. Rape, even. But Mallory Jansen is so good that I couldn’t help but be enthralled by Aida’s attempt to reason her past actions and make amends. Smartly, Fitz tries to reach out to her, to evoke her new ability of feeling empathy. She has a quick journey on the road of goodness, and I was happy for her when she said that saving Mack was the best moment of her life. There was a purity to the way she felt and said everything.

It’s great character work, but one that is rushed because we still need a Big Bad for the final episode and The Superior ain’t one. I can see how everything builds up to Aida losing it once Fitz rejects her, but I wish the show hadn’t played the woman scorned card so hard. By the end of "Farewell, Cruel World" there were enough villainy elements going for Aida, I’m not sure the crazy ex-girlfriend angle was needed. This is more of a rational disagreement, though. Watching the show I was impressed, because Jansen gave all of herself during Aida’s breakdown, especially when she went from drinking with Ivanov to aggressively making out with him to smashing his head on the floor.

For all the hard time I’ve been giving The Superior, I liked him just enough this episode and I think he fits in nicely as Aida’s foil. I hate his bigotry, but I liked how he kept dismissing Aida’s humanity. I’m of the opinion she is human now, no matter how that came to be, but the fact that he discredited something that was so important to her was delicious. He also had the best line of the episode, the one about irony, and it doesn’t hurt that he has several bodies now and we can see the agents defeat him multiple times.

Fitz closed the door for Aida, but what will be his relationship with Simmons now? Simmons kept it together through a really hard time, but the idea that Fitz’ feelings for Aida could still be there somewhere was too much for her to handle. Having her watch Aida and Fitz’ conversation turned out to be a great writing choice. She didn’t stop watching at the wrong moment to be left with the wrong conclusion, a TV cliché the writers were smart to avoid. When Simmons hugged Fitz, who was filled with shame and couldn’t even look at her, you felt for those two. They have gone through hell for one another, but this time hell might want to stay with them.

Finally, Daisy and Elena had an argument about Daisy leaving Mack behind. I know a lot of you Doux Reviews readers were more understanding of Daisy’s choice, but I side with Yo-Yo on this one. Knock him out, break his legs, she should’ve done whatever it took to bring him back. I was wondering if Mack would die in this episode and return through Aida’s body building portal, but that’s not what happened. Instead, Elena got into the Framework to save him. That is exciting. We will pay a final visit to the Framework as the season bows out. I’m a little worried that the finale will be overstuffed, though. This will have been a great season whether they stick the landing or not, but obviously, I hope they do.

Intel and Assets

- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was renewed for a fifth season! Yay! Thanks to fellow Doux Reviews writer Thomas Ijon Tichy for breaking the news for us.

- Ghost Rider is back, which is awesome. But also quite fan-servicey and possibly Deus ex-machina, no pun intended.

- This was a big episode for The B Team. We said goodbye to two of them, Davis and Prince. I liked them. Now there is only The B Solo, Piper. She is awesome, don’t kill her off, show. Promote her.

- There was a better explanation of why the agents didn’t land to recharge and refuel. Talbot assumed the base’s destruction had been an inside job (kind of was) and presumed the traitors were the ones that escaped.

- What a dumb idea to leave Fitz and Aida confined together.

- Coulson got to keep all his knowledge of history. That’s pretty handy.

- Awesome end tag with Elena tied to a stretcher inside the Framework.

- Aida referred to her robot self in the third person.

- Mallory Jansen has played five different roles this season and she has excelled in each one of them. Aida, Aida Two, Agnes, Madame Hydra and Ophelia, whom I stubbornly call Aida.

- That shot of Ivanov Two falling, followed by May on top of Ivanov Three and beating his head with a hammer. LOL.

- Ivanov probably took the LMD building machine and the body building portal with him.

- Mace’s body was found on a beach. He was beaten to look like he had been quaked by Daisy.

- The base was blown up but the surveillance system was still working. Sure.

- The Framework’s hardware is portable and waterproof. It was developed by Shenanigans®.

- Powers Boothe, who played Gideon Malick, has passed away. May he rest in peace.

Coulson: “Can we get a break, please? Can we get one break?”

May [about Ivanov]: “Who the hell is this guy?”
Coulson: “Well, you missed a fair amount, May, but the short version is... you can go ahead and shoot him.”

Simmons: “Piper, are you up for manning the weapons?”
Piper: “I’m offended you had to ask.”

May: “Should have stayed in that damn spa.”

Coulson: “Can’t believe I’m seeing this with his own eyes.”

Coulson: “I drank the bottle of Haig.”
May: “What? You piece of-” WATER!

Ivanov: “You are as close to human as you’ll ever get, suffering from the one thing that you kept trying to remove. Regret. Do you understand irony yet? ‘Cause this is a good example.”

Coulson: “Let’s take a moment and think about that, Sweeney Todd.”

Daisy: “She’s afraid Fitz will be the same guy he was in the Framework.”
Yo-Yo: “No. She’s afraid he still loves someone else.”

Talbot: “You assume each and every one of them is a C3PO unless you hear otherwise from me.”

“The Return” was great, but it was also rushed and I’m on the fence about Aida going crazy ex-girlfriend. In any case, it’s at least three out of four stars, of course.


  1. I don't think they actually had a choice whether to do a "woman scorned" scenario or not. Mallory Jansen (I believe that's the correct spelling) was playing a Stepford Toaster for so long, she HAD to let out all those accumulated emotions. And she did. Spectacularly.

    I wonder if "Agents" creators read this blog: every time we raise some questions, they go and address them.

    I kinda expected the Ghost Rider to come back. The way his arc was wrapped up... there was no proper goodbye. It felt unfinished. Although it seems that there is a tiny chance of this Rider not being Robbie.

    I really want the last episode to be Yo-Yo's solo performance; she deserves it. That's unlikely though, they still have Fitz's crazy ex to deal with.

    Russian report: there were a few short phrases in Russian, correctly translated, although terribly mispronounced. OK, if you want to nitpick, Russian submarine officers aren't likely to say "torpedo's launched", they'd say "torpedo exited", because it's twice shorter in Russian ("zapuschena" vs "vyshla"). As I said, nitpicking.

  2. Thanks, migmit. It is Jansen. I fixed it.

    I wonder if "Agents" creators read this blog: every time we raise some questions, they go and address them.

    Yes! This shows how smart the writing has been this season.

    Considering that Yo-Yo is all by herself in the Framework to rescue Mack, I believe there will be a lot of focus on her.

  3. I was a bit peeved that some people are dismissing AIDA's 'breakdown' just as woman scorned and its all over a boy (Fitz even though that connection has been built up all season..However during the actual scene when AIDA said ''What'' i thought to myself me and men around the world are trembling in their boots right now. Fitz was in the most dangerous position a man can get himself into and Mallory Jensen brought that scene and the crazy to life like no other since Single white female.
    But seeing as that is were my mind went i can see the problem people could have with it.
    Also the Superior like many Shield Villain before him is just the grunt..

  4. Does anyone else agree that this has been the greatest season of SHIELD so far!? I mean seriously, so good!

  5. I'm very excited to see what other powers Aida might have. I'm hoping for Alisha's ability to duplicate herself.

    I'm really glad they brought back Robbie because it connects the whole season together rather than having disjointed segments. Plus I think he may be the only one powerful enough to defeat Aida so I was hoping he would come save the day.

    I was thinking the same thing regarding the Framework's waterproof hardware.

    I was thinking that putting Fitz and Aida in a room together was intentional for assessment purposes, which ended up working out because Simmons watched their conversation and saw that Fitz is basically back to his old self but with a lot of guilt.

  6. We also need to get some scenes with Radcliffe in the Framework to presumably say godbye to him while he helps Yo-yo and Mack out.

    Ghost Rider is needed to dispose not only of Ophelia but also of that damn book. I bet he can burn it out of existance with hellfire.

    I guess Aida had every known Inhuman programmed into the framework. So far we've seen Gordon's, Lincoln's and Daisy's mother's abilities. I assume she also has Yo-yo's powers (that had to be a stretcher in a Hydra facility she woke up in, probably under attack by the resistance now that Hydra lost all of it's heads) but with teleportation already they are not needed.

  7. yodudeyo100, yes. This has been the best season.

    Marianna, good point about why they put Aida and Fitz in the containment room together. I hadn’t thought of that.

  8. Another excellent episode. Every single bit with Coulson and May was a pleasure. And Iain de Caestecker again hit it out of the park with Fitz.

    And of course Yo-yo went back for Mack. I'm looking forward to seeing that in the finale.


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