Welcome back, true believers. When last we left the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Director Mace had been re-introduced in the bizarre, Hydra-led world of the “Framework,” Fitz had killed the love of Radcliffe’s life sending Simmons into a tizzy, and Skye was being tortured after being found out by Agent May with the help of a reluctant Mack. This week, little has changed for the agents, though now they’re attempting to band together once again to take the fight to Hydra and hopefully free Skye from her imprisonment. In order to do so, Coulson and Director Mace, a.k.a. the Patriot, decide to hijack a bus heading toward one of Hydra’s, creepily named, “Enlightenment Centers. While attempting to stop a bus, both Phil and Jeff have a light hearted conversation as Mace flips over a car to give the appearance of an accident. It was a nice little change of pace that fits into the overall theme of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that we’ve grown to know and love.
What really makes this episode solid is Simmons, or more appropriately, Simmons’ reaction to the Framework and her adherence to this new reality. Aside from our main cast, everyone in the computer simulated reality is a fabrication, merely created as the bi-product of Aida’s attempt at creating her own universe. With this being the case, why is there any reason for the real inhabitants to care about a bunch of code that just so happens to be designed to act as if they’re human? When Jemma is discussing this with Director Mace at one point during the episode, his reaction is shock and horror, questioning whether or not the sacrifices he made, and that the people he knew made, were even worth anything if none of this was real. It’s an interesting stance to take, though the danger remains real for those trapped in the database, and Simmons eventually manages to find hope, appropriately, in Hope and Mack, who’s bond as father and daughter remains strong.
On the other side of the pendulum, Fitz’s descent into full blown supervillain territory continues at an interesting pace. The idea that Fitz now has everything he could have ever hoped for, albeit with a nihilistic twist, is interesting to watch and see play out here. We also get a look at Leopold’s father for the first time, putting to bed the far-fetched rumors that Radcliffe would end up being his dear old dad, who expresses his pride in his progeny through the more vicious deeds he commits. There’s one scene in particular that I really enjoyed here wherein Fitz and his father are descending stairs of Hydra’s HQ, talking about the current worries on the young Hydra scientist’s head. Is he doing the right thing in committing murder for the shady organization? Are the evil acts that he’s performing really making the world a better place? Fitz’s father quickly tells his son that this perceived weakness is “from his mother” and to bury those thoughts deep down for the greater good and for the continued love of his father. This all leads to the question that if that Fitz has gotten everything he wanted in this brave new world, did he always have a desire to let loose and be a straight-up antagonist?