Spoilers ahead for “Farewell Cruel World,” the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!
The short version: The team makes a play to escape the Framework, but not everyone makes it out, as Mack stays behind in the virtual world with his daughter. Aida awakens in her human body, and teleports away with a confused Fitz.
The good: Mack’s dilemma, Fitz’s fallout, Radcliffe, Coulson’s near-death experience
The Framework storyline finally came to a head, as the team follows Radcliffe’s directions to the exit point he designed — though Aida has covered it with molten steel in this world (which is actually pretty smart). Luckily, Daisy can quake that stuff out of the way, so the portal is open for business. But it’s not that easy. The raging war of reality came to a head with Mack — who has his deceased daughter back in this world and is trying to live a relatively quiet life with her — as he decides to stay behind in the Framework and return to his living (virtual) daughter.
It was a heartbreaking twist, though as any parent can attest, one that felt true to Mack’s character. Hope’s death has plagued him for a long time. He also had no time to adjust to this reality check (no pun intended) that he lives in the Framework, and when faced with taking a leap of faith into a world he never knew existed and leaving behind his child, or staying in what he now knows is a virtual world and seeing his little girl again, he chooses the latter. Though most of the team has escaped, the Framework is still active at this point, so Mack is still kicking around in this virtual world, alongside the digital versions of Ward and Trip. What that means for him in the longterm? We’re dying to find out.
Radcliffe tried to tell Fitz not to blame himself before tossing him back to reality, but reconciling the fact that you’ve been the murderous head of Hydra is hard to reconcile with reality. Obviously, it seems the team remembers their old lives in the real world, along with their experiences in the Framework, so that has to be messy on its own. But, everyone except for Fitz was living a life relatively similar to their old one — so there’s not that much to process. As we see from Fitz’s immediate breakdown upon escape, the poor guy is going to need some time. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. After everything Simmons did to save him, he’s still damaged. Fitz has changed more than probably any character throughout the run of this series, so it’ll be interesting to see the extended fallout as the season wraps up.
Just when it seemed like Radcliffe had turned at the promise of getting a shiny new body, he comes through to save the day. If this is the last we see of Radcliffe, it was great to give him a heroic sendoff. Not to mention Coulson’s near-death experience. Sure, we knew he’d be fine after falling into the portal, but seeing Coulson riddled with bullet holes was a bit too familiar for Avengers fans (as Coulson himself points out).
The bad: So, what’s Aida’s master plan, again? Zephyr One going down
Aida has become the de facto big bad this season, but we still don’t know a whole lot about her master plan. At this point, she’s manipulated the Framework, and built a machine to make herself a human body. Which she has now done. So … what’s next? She doesn’t seem to have an army, or anything, right? Sure, she can teleport and apparently has mastered some dark magic, but what’s her endgame, now? This is something you’d think they would’ve at least laid a little bit of groundwork for up to this point, right?
Also: We learn this episode that the Quinjet with Daisy and Simmons has been flying around in real time for 10 days, just waiting until they wake up. But, at this point, they’re almost out of fuel and need to land. That is, until they’re targeted by some jets sent by the Russian working for Aida. But, c’mon, you’re saying a Quinjet — and not just any Quinjet, but the flagship Zephyr One — can’t outrun some run-of-the-mill Russian war planes? Seriously? Even at half power, a sci-fi Quinjet should have them outgunned 10-1, right?
Lines of the night:
“Not gonna lie, I’d look pretty damn fine in that suit.” -Trip
“You did not just go and use the Bible against me.” -Mac
“This feels oddly familiar.” -Coulson
“At least you had a shotgun axe.” -Coulson
Arguably the biggest development of this episode was the introduction of a piece of tech that can build a human body for anyone within the Framework. That’s a legit game changer, right? We’ve met a version of Ward who is actually pretty great, Trip is alive, and so is Mack’s daughter. So … could they use this tech to bring one or some of these players back into the real world? It’s an interesting question, and you know how much they like having Brett Dalton on this show. If they were looking for a McGuffin to get him back in with the good guys, they don’t get much better than this.
We already know the Ghost Rider is coming back for the season finale, and judging by the fact that Aida just teleported like a straight-up sorcerer, it stands to reason he’ll be helping the team battle her new, magical abilities. Plus — since she’s human — it stands to reason she can be dragged to hell now, right? It’ll be interesting to see how that face-off plays out, and exactly where Fitz fits into it all. Because dude was still super confused by the end of this thing.