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Agents of SHIELD: The Return – Season 4 Episode 21

Everyone is reacting to the recent return of the SHIELD agents from the Framework, but there’s no smooth sailing. There are three immediate situations being addressed when the episode opens: The Zephyr, Ivanov’s base and … the beach.

Recap

In the base, Ivanov walks in just in time to see Aida teleport away with Fitz. Coulson and May are at a loss. Not only did they just wake up with two lifetimes worth of memories, but they just saw that Aida now has Inhuman powers. They are then immediately attacked by the robotic Ivanov, who can now kill as he wishes. He goes after Coulson, but has his face split open with Coulson’s energy shield. Moments later, Coulson and May realize that there’s an army of these new robots. They barricade themselves inside the Framework room and prepare to fight their way out. As they do, Coulson catches May up on all the craziness that’s happened starting from how the Ghost Rider incident played out. However, he does leave out some of the more awkward details but he does admit that things got weird with him and the LMD may. As they fight their way out, they end up doing a lot of damage to the base, causing it to start blow up.

 

Aida has taken Fitz to a beach. She’s reveling in all the new emotions that she’s feeling. However, Fitz is still mortified by everything that’s happened. After the initial shock wears off, he realizes that his friends are still in danger. He pleads with Aida to understand his feelings and do what’s right. With all the new emotions, Aida is struggling to understand what to do. She’s wants to help Fitz, but she’s afraid of being killed by May. Eventually, she teleports back to the ship to try to get Ivanov to call off his attack. He sums up Aida’s new behavior by saying, “Now you are like an infant, unable to process these new emotions, or the idea that you don’t always  get what you want.” Realizing that she can’t appeal to him, Aida teleports to Fitz and then Mack and brings them onto the Zephyr before Mack is killed. Once they appear, Simmons ices both Fitz and Aida as she’s afraid that they’re still who they were inside the Framework. The team lands back at the ruined base to refuel.

Fitz and Aida are left in containment where they are both left to sort through everything that’s gone on. Simmons listens in as Fitz laments how having a father figure in his life turned him into a monster, just like it did with Grant Ward. He fears that he’s thrown away his future with Simmons and that the team will never forgive him for the things that he did. Coulson and May both confirm that the lives they lived feel just like real lives, they’re more than just a dream. When Aida moves in on Fitz, he reveals that he’s still chosen Simmons over her even though he’s sure he’s ruined the relationship. This leaves her in a state of heartbreak that she isn’t emotionally mature enough to deal with. She goes berserk, lashing out at Fitz. Simmons has him extracted from the containment room but, before they can deal with that, Talbot shows up at the base with his soldiers.

Coulson tries to explain everything that’s happened but Talbot, understandably, has a hard time believing it. They are interrupted with communicators come on with soldier’s screaming that “she’s everywhere” and Fitz popping up in the containment module screaming to get the Zephyr in the air. Fitz and May both know that Aida has more than just one power, they gave her the powers from all the different Inhumans that they tested, making her almost unstoppable. After a stand-off with Daisy, Talbot’s men back off and allow the Zephyr to leave. Once they’re in the air, the team tries to take care of the next steps, except for Simmons. She walks by the containment module and just puts her hand on Fitz’s shoulder and they both start to cry. Coulson and May realize that YoYo was absent during that whole ordeal. They rush to the room where Mack is and find that YoYo has plugged herself into the Framework.

Aida has returned to Ivanov’s base where she’s learning how to deal with a broken heart. Not being used to emotions, she tries to overwhelm the feelings with alcohol and violence. Once her initial outburst is over, she and Ivanov set to work on trying to use the Darkhold to create a world that’s more amenable to her desires.

Back at the base, we see Talbots men combing over the wreckage. After they leave, the portal that Aida had built sparks to life and the Ghost Rider walks back through it.

Favorite/Other/Notable Moments

  • “She has inhuman powers now!? Can we get a break please? Can we get one break” – Coulson
  • “I’m feeling love, wonder, joy for the first time and I think my heart might burst from it” – Aida
  • “I drank the bottle of Haig” – Coulson
    “WHAT! You piece of …” – May
  • “Do you understand Irony yet? This is a good example” – Ivanov
  • “Why don’t we chop off her head like before. You need a volunteer?” – YoYo
    “Let’s take a moment and think about that, Sweeney Todd” – Coulson
  • Coulson gives an entire rundown to May of what happened since right before they fought Eli Morrow and May is pretty un-phased by the whole thing. At least, until he brings up the bottle.

Commentary

This was a really action packed episode of SHIELD. The fight with Ivanov, the race against time to save Mack, and having to deal with the U.S. government hunting the SHIELD team again. When you take a step back and look at everything that happened, it’s really impressive that they managed to cram so much into this episode. Not only was there a lot of material, they managed to present it in a very fun way. Well, most of it. Something that really helps with that is the returns of a familiar technique where one scene starts with a line or action that is a response to the previous scene. It makes everything feel very connected.

I kind of liked the trio of SHIELD agents that were flying along with YoYo on the Zephyr. It was impressive that they managed to find time for snappy banter while they’re being shot out of the sky. Too bad they didn’t survive the episode. The dogfight was bad enough, but an Inhuman Aida was too much for them.

Speaking of Aida, I absolutely loved her arc in the episode. She had been aiming for emotions and choice all this time, but now the question is what do you do with those things once you’ve obtained them. Aida has all the emotions but they’re all hitting her at once. Suddenly getting hit by every emotion would be hard enough for a normal person but adding in that Aida has no emotional maturity or coping mechanisms to help her process this makes it even more difficult. Then, just for fun, add in the fact that she’s got all these Inhuman abilities and you’ve got yourself a ticking time bomb of feelings. Fitz was able to steer those emotions in a good direction for a little while, but ultimately Aida succumbed to her more selfish emotions. It’s hard to blame her for that, but it could’ve been a really interesting situation if Fitz was actually able to keep her on the path of doing good. Especially after he introduced her to the idea of heartbreak.

This episode has some great emotional moments in it. Watching Mallory Jansen portray Aida as a being who was experiencing heartbreak for the first time was a great moment. Then, of course, there were the moments with Fitz-Simmons watching each other and trying to process everything that happened. They’re in an amazingly complex emotional situation. Fitz has essentially lived two completely different lives and his real life can’t abide the alternative one. Meanwhile Simmons has to deal with the fear that she may have lost Fitz to that alternative life or that it may have irreparably damaged him in some way. When everything comes down to it, there’s not much they can do accept cry and comfort each other.

Part of me thinks that there were a lot of emotional resolutions in this episode so that the table could be set for the season finale. There’s a very clear villain to stop now that Aida’s gone full evil. YoYo needs to save Mack from the Framework. The Ghost Rider has reappeared and will likely end up playing a role in defeating Aida. If I had a complaint about this episode, it would actually be about the Ghost Rider. Having him come back at the end of the season’s penultimate episode just felt way too convenient. Otherwise, I’m all in for the way that this season has gone, especially the 2nd half.

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