Spoilers ahead for "Self Control," the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The short version: Most of the leadership of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been replaced by programmed LMDs, and it's up to Daisy and Simmons to save the day. It's pretty awesome. They take out the LMDs and escape with a few S.H.I.E.L.D. redshirts. Then hack into Radcliffe's Framework to try to find the rest of the team.
The good: FitzSimmons, the big twist, DaisySimmons, that final scene
I've been saying it for a while now, and this episode made it explicitly clear: Fitz and Simmons are the heart of this series, and seeing the two locked in a room trying to figure out which one is an LMD made for pure tension. Elizabeth Henstridge is the MVP of this episode, fighting and taking out the Fitz LMD, then literally having to murder her lover (well, an LMD of her lover, but still). You can see it all over her face, and it just rips your heart out in such a quick moment. Producer Jed Whedon (who wrote and directed this one) does an amazing job of stringing together those moments.
Then, there's the great reveal in the first place: Daisy actually hasn't been replaced yet, and Fitz is the other LMD. It makes for not only a nice twist, but also the team-up of Simmons and Daisy — a pairing we don't get to see nearly enough on this show. They're two of the strongest female characters on television, but with guys like Mack running around with shotgun-axes, it's easy to forget that. Put simply: This was a big butt-kicking reminder that the women of S.H.I.E.L.D. are not to be trifled with. Setting these two up to save the team with nothing but a few red shirts (and Yo Yo!) backing them up has us positively psyched to see what comes next.
Speaking of which, how about that closing scene setting up life in the Framework? Let's run through it: Framework Daisy is apparently still in S.H.I.E.L.D. and living with her boyfriend Agent Grant Ward (I told you they were going to bring Brett Dalton back somehow!); Coulson is a boring teacher (though he's teaching about the evil of Inhumans); Mack is apparently a civilian with a kid; Fitz is some type of major big shot with a mystery woman on his arm; Simmons is dead (so, does she wake up in the grave when she plugged in?) and May is looking out over the S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters — wait, no. That's a HYDRA base. Yep, it seems in the Framework reality, HYDRA all but rules the world (or at least has as much or more prominence that S.H.I.E.L.D. did).
Other awesome things: Faux May finding her own path and fighting to save the real team was a great moment and a fitting sacrifice. Even as a robot, May is still May. LMD Fitz's weird, sweet motivations to try to download Simmons so they'll never be apart. Creepy, but sweet. Also, Quake's robo-bone-crushing force ball was awesome. She needs to do that, like, all the time. That was cool. Also, Daisy in general, and that hand-to-hand combat.
The bad: Radcliffe, Aida, and now we have a robo-Russian?
Radcliffe is spending more and more of his time plugged into the Framework, and Aida (seemingly influenced by the Darkhold) fears he might change his mind and try to destroy the Framework. So, she kills him and 'saves' him in the world of the Framework. Which is a real shame. Yes, the character will likely stick around another episode or two in the Framework, but watching Radcliffe slide further down this slippery slope of moral failings was one of the best stories of the season.
Now? It's a killer robot with a robo-Russian doing her bidding. Which is still pretty cool, but can we just get rid of that Russian dude now? There's still the mystery of his big boss hanging out there and now Aida has gone rogue. The Framework story looks to be a cool one but axing Radcliffe could turn out to be a mistake.
Lines of the night:
"I'm the bad guy. No matter what". - Fitz
"Okay. Don't say it out loud, because that made it sound way worse." - Daisy
Boy, there are a lot. S.H.I.E.L.D. is in total chaos (that can't look good for the newly-relaunched agency) while Daisy and Fitz are gearing up to take a deep dive into the Matrix. This season has taken some interesting turns since Ghost Rider made his exit after the first arc of the year, but dang if it's not been good. Weird, but oh so good.
Up next: Into the Matrix! ... but we have to wait until April. (No!)