Agents of SHIELD 4.17 – “Identity and Change”
For those who are horrified by what HYDRA Fitz did at the end of the episode, just remember he’s a corrupted string of ones and zeroes. Unfortunately, so is the world he knows, and he’ll do anything to keep it, even kill reality.
This week’s episode also revealed what happened to Mac and Jeffrey Mace in the Framework, along with a few other people.
The most important thing is that Madame HYDRAida/Ophelia (Mallory Jansen) is aware that her world where HYDRA won is fake, but it’s much better than being treated as a thing, and being kept in a closet. Choosing complete power in a virtual world over being a “living doll” in the real world is an obvious move. She also seems to have a plan where her world will destroy “the other side”, and she wants Fitz by her side when that happens. It’s interesting that she tries to hide Jemma from him, as if she’s jealous. That changes to treating Jemma as an enemy who’s out to destroy the Framework. Love, or the need to experience it, may still be part of HYDRAida’s motivations.
Then again, the Framework is awful. Look at Mac, who is living with his daughter Hope (Jordan Rivera), who died in the real world. He tries to keep out of trouble, even though Hope does things like take bits of HYDRA tech to fix a drone. However, HYDRA finds out and arrests the girl. He’s forced to help them expose Daisy/Skye as a subversive and later an Inhuman. He’s released, but becoming an informant changes his mind about keeping out of trouble. It’s touching to see him with Hope, but also sad because she’s dead in the real world.
Coulson, at least, admits he always suspected his world was fake, along with the news. He also says soap has literally brainwashed everyone, which is why he makes his own. He’s able to join the Resistance with Ward still with the good guys, and Jeffrey Mace (Jason O’Mara), who is the Patriot for SHIELD. In fact, fake Coulson is almost as big fan of the Patriot as real Coulson is a fan of Captain America. Mace talks about how an agent named Billy Koenig gave his life to revive an old base and at least one Quinjet.
With Daisy’s help, they’re able to track down Radcliffe (John Hannah), who’s hidden on an island with a Framework version of Agnes (who is also the model for Aida). He says he’s really sorry he made this world, because he didn’t expect HYDRA to take over. Jemma, naturally, doesn’t care. He does tell her where the agents are, still hibernating in Russia while thinking they are in reality. However, HYDRAida and Fitz arrive in their big plane. Radcliffe tries to tell HYDRAida that she shouldn’t have made this world, but she won’t listen. Again, she prefers absolute power over being stuck in a closet. She even finds Agnes, who can’t understand why HYDRAida looks like her. She orders Fitz to kill Agnes, which also means the real Agnes dies. Radcliffe begs Fitz not to do it.
Meanwhile, Ward is close to killing off Fitz, but Jemma tries to stop it, because the real Fitz is not a ruthless scientist and killer who’s madly in love with his boss.
Sadly, both Radcliffe and Jemma forget one thing: the Leo Fitz they see is NOT the real Fitz. This is the Framework version of Leo Fitz, a corrupted string of ones and zeros who is loyal to HYDRA. The Framework is his world, and he’s got to defend it. That’s why he kills virtual Agnes, and the real one, to prove his loyalty.
Jemma can say “this is not happening, this is a fake world” all she wants, but this is her world until she wakes up…if she can.
Even if she and Fitz do survive, some fans have speculated about how real Fitz will deal with what he did in the virtual world. He could quit everything, including Jemma, or do something even more drastic to stop Aida and her Russian ally, Ivanov.
As for Daisy, she’s now captured by HYDRA, and Framework Fitz has figured out she’s a potential Inhuman. She’s also making the mistake that this version of Fitz must realize he isn’t real, and he won’t listen, either. She’s likely going to be a guinea pig for his plans to get rid of Inhumans, and anyone from “the other side”.
By the way, anyone notice Ward didn’t kill HYDRAida or Radcliffe if he didn’t kill Fitz? Then again, he may think Fitz will take over if HYDRAida is taken out. Ward also doesn’t get that he’s in a fake world. What would happen if he does figure that out?
If the real SHIELD agents hope to make any progress, it may not happen next week, as HYDRA has some plans to deal with the Resistance.