Season 4, Episode 18: No Regrets
Starring: Clark Gregg, Mallory Jansen, Elizabeth Henstridge, Iain De Caestecker
Last week, the stakes for the team were higher than ever and the world was at its most vulnerable. With seemingly nowhere to run, the turn-around this week was as big and as shocking as one might expect to get our heroes back on track.
Coulson and Mace team up this episode, initially in the search for Daisy, which makes for a cool team. Mace is every bit The Patriot in this universe. His powers are genuinely Inhuman, rather than serum-manufactured, and he’s as central to the Framework’s renegade SHIELD as Nick Fury was to the universe we know and love.
There’s somewhat a scrap of dramatic irony in their search however, as meanwhile we see Daisy (and a similarly captured Radcliffe) being interrogated by HYDRA. Radcliffe has a pretty expository purpose in these scenes, explaining what was already obvious to us – that singular changes in the universe timeline has changed the agents in this world – however that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t manage to humorously make himself heard when AIDA finally arrives on scene to interrogate, intimidate and bargain. Love him or hate him, Radcliffe is a hoot.
Fitz, still chilling, still evil, isn’t able to make progress with Daisy, however we do get to pick a little more at the scar that is AIDA’s brainwashing. It seems that Fitz has more awareness of events, commenting that he knows that Daisy is an invader from another universe, and that AIDA herself told him this. It’s clever really, and disturbingly familiar. To give a dependant just enough information to feel informed, to set up a dangerous “Other”, to direct a narrative of righteousness and ownership of the “correct” timeline – AIDA could run for government in any world it seems.
While on the subject of the good Doctor, bragging time now: Who else guessed that the big difference in Fitz’s Framework life was his father? The idea was being tossed around in the space between this episode and last week’s and it was hugely satisfying to see the truth of it this week. Not just because it was a payoff of a storyline we’ve seen before, but because it is a logical equation changer for Fitz. His father being in the picture was a missing piece that we already knew had a huge impact on him, so for it to be reversed is a clear and intriguing “what if?” style change. It’s interesting that Fitz’s biggest regret actually turned out to be one of his biggest saving graces, because it is his father’s influence that re-codes the Fitz we know into a hardened killer and HYDRA scientist. The parallel to May’s saving grace (also her biggest regret) is interesting. It seems trivial to comment that it’s funny how life turns out sometimes but, well, “count your blessings” seems just as trite.
For anyone who’d been wondering where May was, we might regret asking. The ending of the episode was intense as HYDRA!May makes a decision that will rock both the Framework and the real world. It was a wince-inducing showdown between May, Patriot and Coulson (who were out to rescue a familiar face in the form of Trip!) that shaped the come-back for our heroes; at a cost. The fallout of the fight might have secured May as an ally for the SHIELD resistance, but it also has devastating effects on our heroes and the real world.
The Framework is shaking and crumbling the foundations of what we know. One thing is for sure, SHIELD won’t ever be the same after this.