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Agents of SHIELD: The man behind the Shield – Season 4 Episode 14

Coulson’s team tries to recover Mace as Ivanov leaves a trail that takes Coulson down memory lane.


The episode opens with Coulson and Daisy going one-on-one in the training room. After Daisy lands a kick that sends Coulson flying, he freezes in mid-air and they are revealed to be in Fitz’s version of the framework, a training simulation. Later on, Mack lays into Fitz for having a hand in creating the technology that’s been causing a lot of problems for them over the last year. Aida and the Framework are also the products of Fitz’s labor. Fitz stands behind the process of science but, later, Simmons finds him starting to doubt himself.

SHIELD has been tracking Mace’s suit. They get a ping on it in Alaska but, when they arrive, they find an empty bunker. There’s a bunch of Ivanov’s conspiracy maps on the wall and Coulson realizes that he’s at the center of the Russian’s intentions. Ivanov purposely sends Coulson to jump through a bunch of hoops, leaving clues to go from one location to another. He paints the picture of a mission that Coulson and May had been on years ago, which is shown through flashbacks. Their job was to retrieve an item from a Russian compound. They succeeded, but the team that was tasked with securing the base was tortured and executed for their failure. Those men were Ivanov’s compatriots and that event led him to dig into SHIELD. Everywhere he dug, he found Coulson and aliens and enhanced people.

After hearing all of this, Coulson remarks “Cool origin story, bro.” He tells Ivanov that, to him, he’s just another redshirt who tried to stop him from saving the world. He barely remembers Ivanov and doesn’t give him the validation of making him important. He does, however, point out that he is important to Quake, who’s been itching to get her crack at the head watchdog. Quake enters and a one-on-one fight between her and Ivanov ensues. Quake is able to take him down, leaving him barely alive. Meanwhile, Coulson and Mack save Mace who’s been tortured and is currently being beaten to death by Ivanov’s men.

After realizing that Aida was on the base, Simmons raced off to find her, with no luck. She’s rejoined by Fitz just as Coulson and Mack return with Mace. Daisy brings up the rear soon afterwards. Given Mace’s bad shape, Coulson orders the team back to the base. After they arrive, Simmons starts to feel funny about the way everything unfolded, realizing that there were large gaps of time when members of the team weren’t in contact. When she and Fitz check the base’s logs, they find out that Daisy, Coulson, Mack and Mace have all be replaced by LMDs.

Earlier in the episode, it had been shown that Radcliffe had been spending more and more time inside the Framework, leaving Aida to work with Ivanov on his behalf. After the LMD revelation is made, Aida is shown kneeling over the barely living body of Ivanov. She acknowledges that they have replaced the head operatives of SHIELD and also tells Ivanov that he still has a part to play in their plan.

Favorite/Other/Notable Moments

  • The fight scene between Daisy and Coulson at the beginning of the episode is pretty awesome.
  • “I have what some people refer to, in certain parts of the world, as game. ” – Coulson
    “It’s cute that you think that” – May
  • “We may face strong opposition. Trap doors, sharks with lasers, who knows” – Coulson
  • “Did you really think I was going to leave your defenseless ass behind?” – May
    “Yes. Yes, I 100% did” – Coulson
  • During the flashback it’s revealed that May and Coulson had actually fooled around while on mission as husband and wife. They also talk about dating each other in the event that things don’t work out with the civilian she’s currently dating. That civilian happens to be Andrew, her now dead ex-husband.


A few episodes ago, I wondered if this new Aida still had the Darkhold knowledge in it. Either this one has read the Darkhold, or was programmed by the Aida who did read the Darkhold because she’s clearly moving towards becoming a sentient being. In the last episode, she took offense to the idea that Radcliffe made her in the image of another being and that he identified her as a thing. In this episode, she takes offense to Ivanov’s assertions about her being filth. So, just as Mack feared, we’ve got a sci-fi evil machine scenario on our hands.

It’s actually unclear how much of this is Radcliffe’s plan and how much of it is Aida’s. As Agnes pointed out in the last episode, Radcliffe has always seemed to favor the idea of helping people instead of harming them. His end game was getting the Darkhold. Now that he has it, he seems content to spend his time inside the framework. So, I can’t imagine the point of whatever Aida’s plan is. Maybe it’s like an I-Robot scenario where she’s upholding Radcliffe’s wishes by doing something he wouldn’t want her to do. Whatever it is, she seems like she’s quickly re-positioned herself as the primary antagonist of this season.

Given how this season has gone, I’m not sure that that’s such a good thing for Aida. SHIELD is running through bad-guys like water. First there was the Watchdogs, then Eli Morrow, then Senator Nadeer, then Ivanon and, now, Aida. It’s getting a bit hard to keep track of. Then, again, maybe they’re just forgoing the idea that each season has to be centered around one “big bad”.

I did love Coulson’s interaction with Ivanov in this episode. Coulson’s generally portrayed as being a bit on the softer side, but he completely dismisses this guy. He coldly tells him that he’s just another person that got in his way. If those lines had been delivered by someone else, they could’ve easily sounded sinister. From, Coulson they just sound resolute…and a littel funny. It also reminded me of something that it’s easy to forget at times: Coulson is a bad-ass when he needs to be.