Confused? Well, all of this is happening within The Framework, a Matrix-like VR reality that has been embedded (perfected?) with Darkhlold magic. It is now identical to the real world but for one exception: Hydra had won and the evil LMD Aida is in charge as Madame Hydra (green hair and all)! All of the agents are prisoners jacked into the system, living their lives without their greatest regret (so Aida says). The only S.H.I.E.L.D. agent still under her thrall is Leopold Fitz, who under the guidance of his mean old father, is a dastardly Hydra scientist/second-in-command. Oh yeah. And Grant Ward is alive in this thing too. And a good guy. Go figure.
*SPOILERS? YOU BETCHA! WE GOT SPOILERS*
So, yes. Quake is back and there’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on! She escapes with May’s help (May is a badass doing backflips and shooting badguys at the same time....she’s awesome). And remember Captain America: Winter Soldier where Cap is attacked in the glass elevator and escapes by jumping out and falling hundreds of floors onto his shield? Well, Madame Hydra takes the same trip down after being hit by a Quake blast...and she doesn’t have a vibranium shield. That must have stung a little.
The next thing we see is her jumping out of the Framework (I wasn’t aware she had to jack herself in like a normal person) and in the real world she is still scheming alongside The Superior (remember him? The Watchdogs leader?), who is now an LMD and a slave to his programming. He would love to kill Coulson and the agents, but Aida programmed him not to be able to, because her plans need them alive.
Within the Framework, Madame Hydra is still alive and nobody seems to question how that is possible. Her body is crushed however, and she may never walk again (that’s all?!). She has bruises and scars on her face...which makes me hope she will have to cover her face with her hair like Ophelia Sarkissian in the comics, but her WHOLE face is damaged, not just one side. Oh well.
Fitz is livid at his “sweet baboo” being attacked and possibly disabled and his little, nerdy, evil hands are all balled up. He can’t handle it. He orders Daisy and May killed over and over until they are not living anymore. If he was having second thoughts about his reality and the things he was doing...that is all buried under his rage. The repercussions of Fitz’ feelings and actions in the Framework may be huge when he wakes up in the real world (if he does and remembers everything).
Madame Hydra then wakes up and tells him to speed along and activate Project Looking Glass as soon as possible. The nature of PLG becomes more clearer in this episode (to a degree). It definitely seems like this is some kind of technology created that will somehow reanimate Framework personas into flesh-and-blood living people in the real world!? I’m still not sure how, but it can only be with the knowledge that Aida retained from reading the Darkhold. So basically, Aida has a large Pinocchio complex and wants to be a real, live girl. Not sure why she named her project with a reference to Alice In Wonderland then. I guess Project Geppetto doesn’t sound as cool, even though it is much more logical...even the way she is puppeteering Fitz, when you think about it.
Remember Sunil Bakshi? He was a Hydra stooge and all-around scum bucket in seasons 1 and 2. In the real world he was killed by Jemma Simmons. In the Framework, his role is that of, well, Hydra stooge and political pundit in the vein of Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh. He pushes Hydra’s agenda and undermines all that is good and right in the world. We even see him offer to take a female co-worker furniture shopping...a clear dig at the current President. Some fans will definitely roll their eyes at the blatant political parody, but I think it’s all in good fun. Hail Hydra, am I right?
Jemma soon realizes that the only way they can snap out of the Framework is to break it from the inside. They plan on hijacking Bakshi’s show and reveal to the world how evil Hydra is. They have footage of the children being brainwashed and Mace (who Bakshi has been labelling a terrorist along with Daisy and May) saving them in his last heroic act and plan on broadcasting it to the masses, exposing Hydra for what it is. How exactly will this wake them up? I’m unclear on the science behind that...as well as most of the science behind the Framework and Project Looking Glass. I find the one issue this story arc has is explaining the how’s and why’s of what is happening. You can’t just say “MAGIC” and that’s the end of it. AOS should be a bit more science-based than that.
There are important questions asked by this episode. Questions like: Is the Framework real? Are the characters like Ward and Hope (Mack’s daughter) living people that have value to their lives? If no one is jacked into the Framework, does it still really exist? Ward even asks Daisy if he will get “HIS” Skye back when she leaves. It’s very interesting, because this fabricated world now exists, and even though it is not “real”, perhaps it still matters. This is pretty awesome science fiction, if you ask me. Good sci-fi creates awesome dilemmas worthy of debate like that.
Decent episode all around this week. Not a lot really happened, when you think about it. The high point was getting to see Daisy/Skye and May fight alongside each other again. That was awesome. We also got to learn more about Project Looking Glass and more character development. We even got to see that #Philenda transcends the Framework, as the two seem to have “funny feelings” about one another. Aw, even a crazy nightmare world can’t break them apart! Not sure if the same can be said about Fitz-Simmons though. And that makes me sad.
I’m also not 100% sure that Jeff Mace is dead either. Sure, in real life Aida deactivated his life support, but perhaps his consciousness is alive within the Framework, much like Agnes and Radcliffe. Hmmmm. Maybe it’s not the end of the Patriot after all! We’ll see in the coming weeks.
Well, that’s a wrap, true believers! Tune in to my next review and bleed out!