Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Season 4, Episode 19, “All the Madame’s Men”
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s trip through Aida’s Framework continues to be a taut character study, with no small amount of pointed political commentary thrown in for good measure. Things are starting to come to a head, but there will be some real mixed emotions when the characters have to leave this HYDRA controlled world.
After learning The Framework’s fatal flaw last week, Aida’s true mission is now revealed. Under all the programming and technology, Aida is Pinocchio, and she wants nothing more than be a real, flesh and blood person.
Everything she’s done since reading the Darkhold has pointed her in this direction, culminating with the creation what is essentially a 3D printer that makes living tissue that she researched in The Framework, but is building in the real world.
Simmons discovers this fact and knows it’s now imperative that they get the team out of this digital prison. She doesn’t realize how right she is, because in the real world, Aida’s billionaire Russian henchman knows the location of the Quinjet Simmons and Daisy are operating from, and he plans on taking them out as soon as possible.
Much of the action was centered around Daisy and May’s escape from HYDRA. There’s a nice scene were Daisy uses her new/old powers to blast Madame Hydra through the same glass elevator Captain America fought a battle in during Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Once again, there was so much more to this episode than the action.
As the season is reaching is climax, characters like May and Coulson with real world bodies are coming to grips about the nature of the reality they are in. Those with nothing on the other side, like Ward and Tripp, come to realize they are in fact characters in some grand fiction, but decide that even if they world they live in is fake, the difference they can make in it is still very real. The scene between Ward and Daisy was heart-wrenching and went a long, long way toward redeeming Ward as he plans to make a last stand to keep he broadcast going.
So, as Fitz and his HYDRA goons maneuver to put Madame Hydra’s plans into motion, Coulson takes to the airwaves of Bakshi News with a message that is designed to serve as equal parts distraction and solution. Coulson’s message about standing up for what’s right and refusing to swallow the “alternative facts” the current government is trying to feed you, hits close to home. It works in the Framework world as well as regular people leave their homes to rise up against HYDRA.
This run of episodes inside The Framework has been Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at its creative peak. There’s been plenty of nods to the past throughout (a little Bill Paxton tribute, and a Victoria Hand reference this week,) as well as the return of some long lost characters. More interestingly it’s been entertaining to see the writers and actors reinterpret characters who are long established, giving them a different perspective, but still grounding them in a very familiar way. It’s been fun to watch and it will be sad to see it come to an end.