Agents of SHIELD – Season 4 Episodes 16 – 22 Review

AOS S4 P3

The final third of Agents of SHIELD’s fourth season is pretty much “Agents of SHIELD does The Matrix”, though with some alternate timeline stuff thrown in. Then the last few episodes wrap up things nicely, before setting up a big new plot twist for the next season. So let’s have a better look at this third “arc”, shall we?

Synopsis:

Daisy and Jemma figure out that the only way to rescue their teammates from the virtual reality of the Framework is to go into it and get them out from within, making them wake up whether they’re being kept. In the Framework, Daisy discovers that she is in a relationship with a still-alive Ward and the two of them are agents of Hydra, working under May and Fitz… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

Cast of Characters:

AOS S4 P3 1

Just like old times! … before all the betrayal and killing…

Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) – The brave leader of SHIELD is just a harmless teacher in the Framework, Coulson’s wish of having a “normal life” being wished. This causes a problem for when Daisy and Jemma needs his help…

Daisy Johnson / Quake (Chloe Bennet) – After a painful battle against Aida and her lackeys, Daisy is now inside the Framework and in a relationship with her worst nightmare (at least, that what she wants to believe), and that’s not even including being an agent of Hydra…

Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) – May has her wish of never having killed the Inhuman girl in her past in the Framework, but this caused the Framework to end up creating a world where than Inhuman girl ended up being a mass murderer, leading to Hydra to spearhead an anti-Inhuman campaign, with her as the top agent…

Leo Fitz (Ian De Caestecker) – Fitz never wanted to know his failure of a father, but for some reason the Framework crafted a story where Fitz was raised by him instead of his mother, leading to him becoming a cold, selfish and frankly near-evil as Hydra’s head scientist, and second in the chain of command…

Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) – Jemma is desperately searching the Framework for Fitz, but is appalled by what she finds…

Mack (Henry Simmons) – Mack gets to live a normal life with the daughter he never got to see grow up, making it nearly impossible to pull him away from his ideal life…

Jeffery Mace / Patriot (Jason O’Mara) – The Framework gave him his true wish: to become The Patriot proper, a super-powered hero that everyone believes in. He runs the underground resistance against Hydra…

Holden Radcliffe (John Hannah) – Having been killed shortly after being entered into the Framework, Radcliffe knows he is dead and that the Framework is merely his afterlife, but it did give him his lost love Agnes back, even if she is in the same position (though unaware of it…)

Aida (Mallory Jansen) – The rogue A.I. has inserted herself into her own Framework as the head of Hydra, or “Madame Hydra”, and is manipulating Fitz into helping her create a machine that would give her a real human body in the real world.

Plus many more!

The Good:

AOS S4 P3 3

I’d say “you  will join the darkside” if it weren’t for the fact that Ghost Rider doesn’t exactly look like he’s on the light side…

There were some dramatic moments during this story arc, particularly Mace / Patriot being killed in the Framework, and therefore real life, and Mack’s dilemma of not wanting to leave her daughter behind, even when he finds out she’s not real. In fact right up to the end I thought Mack was going to stay behind and that he would be leaving the show, it seemed like a tragic way to go, but that’s storytelling sometimes. I’m not mad he lived, mind you.

Aida the robot was always a generic emotionless machine enemy that I often found boring, but crazy psycho woman Aida who can’t control her emotions and has countless super powers? That was entertaining! The last two and a bit episodes were a great ride, with the return of Ghost Rider and the struggle to finally stop Aida and get rid of the Darkhold. Coulson “borrowing” the Ghost Rider curse to trap Aida was a good twist, and the exchange between Reyes and Coulson implying some horrible deal that had to be made to make it happen was a good tease for the future.

Although I didn’t really care for the what if? Framework stories, the impact it had of Fitz and the fact that they (thankfully) skipped the full-on break up of Fitz and Simmons was great telly. The silent scene where everyone walk past Fitz after what his Framework self did, then Jemma sitting next to him cradling him as he broke down was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Likewise the scene of Fitz wanting to take responsibility on his own and being talked around to being part of the team was nice, as was the scene where everyone was causally eating at a diner.

The cliffhanger, that being everyone being captured and Coulson (at least) waking up to what seems like a regular shift on a spaceship was interesting, and a good tease for Season 5.

The Bad:

AOS S4 P3 2

BANG! and the digitally recreated version of your mentor’s lover is gone!

Although some of the what ifs were interesting, I didn’t really enjoy the time in the Framework. I just had this sense of “come on, what’s going to happen in the real world?”, knowing that I was just seeing a computer simulation, even if the living people attached to it would die if they died in the Framework, there still seemed to be a lack of tension. It’s funny looking at it, it only last five episodes… but I guess that was five weeks for me, so it seemed a lot longer. This complaint probably will be irrelevant down the line if binge-watched…

Overall Thoughts:

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“Welcome to the party, pal!”

While I didn’t care for the what ifs of the Framework, it did lead to some satisfying character development and action scenes in the last two episodes, and given they were only just under 5 episodes, I can safely say that this chunk was good viewing, so long as you can watch the first few episodes quickly to get to a great pay-off.

4 Star Watch

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