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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×18 “No Regrets”

“No Regrets,” brought with it a healthy amount of character introspection, some surprise returns, as well as a fair bit of heartbreak. The Framework claimed its second victim this week but, unlike the death of poor Agnes, the latest character to flatline died in both worlds.

Spoilers ahead!

While Fitz is busy torturing Daisy in a Hydra holding cell (and still adamantly refusing to believe her when she informs him that he too is from the other world he so despises) Mace, Coulson, and the rest of the Resistance are busy trying to figure out how to save two of their people from the octo-organization’s clutches. While Ward, Jemma, and Coulson are predominantly concerned with rescuing Daisy, the Patriot makes it clear that their mission’s focus is to save the resistance fighter currently being held in Hydra’s Enlightenment Cultivation Center.

With some quick-thinking, fake names, and a healthy dash of subterfuge, Coulson and Mace are able to successfully infiltrate the facility where they find and release… TRIP!!!!!!!

trip

Our favorite Howling Commando descendent is “alive” and well in the Framework, continuing his family’s work and fighting with the S.H.I.E.L.D. Resistance against Hydra. He’s been doing a pretty good job too because he managed to sneak some plans of the mysterious project the Doctor has been working on out of the organization and into a well-hidden memory drive. It’s all coming up roses for S.H.I.E.L.D. until Coulson spots one of his former students and decides to go all Dad-Coulson, running after him and coming face-to-face with Hydra’s, “ready to comply,” brainwashing rooms.

Elsewhere, Fitz is of course concerned and confused by the recent events that have transpired aka the whole, murdering Agnes in cold blood while a strange woman screamed his name across a field thing. Genius he may be but he can’t quite wrap his head around why Daisy/Skye is continuing to spout the same lies about his kindness, Jemma Simmons, and the evils of Aida. Lucky for him, in this world his father is still a part of his life, and is all too happy to sit down for a cup of tea to hear about his son’s worries. Rather, he’s all too happy to tell his son that he’s showing weakness by doubting his recent murder of Agnes. After all, in a hard world: we cannot afford the luxury of sympathy. Fitz thanks his father for the reality check, briefly questioning what kind of man he’d be without the older man’s guidance before heading off to do various nefarious things.

fitz

Meanwhile, May finds herself on the receiving end of a superhero cocktail meant to help take out the Patriot. After discovering that the Hydra facility has been infiltrated, roid-rage May is sent to go hand-to-hand with the Patriot himself. While this version of the Cavalry doesn’t win the fight, she gets the go-ahead from the Doctor and Madame Hydra to blow-up the building that the Patriot has just sprinted into.

The very Quarantine building that Coulson, Trip, and the numerous children taken by Hydra are currently in…

The building begins to collapse as Ward and Jemma arrive to help out their fellow agents. While they manage to get most of the kids out, the ceiling collapses atop Mace and one of Coulson’s students. Mace manages to lift the beam long enough for the gang, and new addition May (whose weakness seems to be children in danger), to pull the student to safety. Unfortunately, the Patriot makes the ultimate sacrifice holding up the rubble in order for his team to evacuate.

Rest in pieces Jeffrey Mace, you were finally the hero you always wanted to be.

Cut to the final scene, we see May enter Daisy’s cell and ask her if she really is an Inhuman. Daisy answers in the affirmative and boldly states that she has enough power to bring the entire place (Hydra) down, to which May responds, “I hope so,” as she pulls out a Terrigen crystal and throws it on the ground in front of her real-world protege.

The two share a look and matching smirks as Daisy becomes submerged in her Terrigen cocoon and OHHHHHHH SNAP. Quake is coming ya’ll. *cut to black*

“No Regrets,” was a bit of a departure from the previous Framework episodes, cutting back on the action and jaw-dropping moments while slowing down the pace to focus more on the characters.

This was an important decision because, had we not gotten those few scenes with Mace describing his life and how meaningful he believes his work is, his death wouldn’t have been nearly as impactful. Because, the fact of the matter is, he was right when he told Jemma that she had no idea who he (in either world) is. Much like the audience.

Prior to this episode, Mace was just the kooky S.H.I.E.L.D. Director who could never live up to his predecessor or be taken seriously by viewers and colleagues alike. On the flipside, the Mace of the Framework was just the gruff Resistance leader who, though doing good, wasn’t a character that viewers were focused on considering those we’ve spent four years with were so drastically altered around him. But it was the little moments scattered throughout the episode, and upon reflection, the season as a whole, that made Jeffrey’s death one of significance.

His final act in the Framework was a complete mirror of his final act in the real world, proudly taking on his role as the Blocker in order to buy time for his team and ensure their safety. It was both poignant and poetic, and something that didn’t even register to me until that awful flatline reached my ears.

Speaking of pivotal character moments, let’s talk about Iain de Caestecker for a moment.

While de Caestecker always infuses an almost crippling amount of emotion into Fitz, and has yet to fail at invoking a genuine reaction in the audience, his turn in the Framework has really showcased what an extraordinary actor he truly is. Leopold Fitz is a character who has certainly had his fair share of shining moments, due moreso to de Caestecker’s abilities than the actual writing, but his immersion into the world of Hydra has finally provided the opportunity to bring the character, as well as his portrayer, to the forefront. “No Regrets,” accomplished something that four seasons of the show has yet to: giving Fitz a backstory (albeit a potentially skewed one considering the Framework setting).

Arguably, Fitz has not truly been given his own storyline prior to this arc (specifically this episode). While each episode thus far may have had a pivotal Fitz scene or exchange, we as an audience have yet to see him as the lead in the rotating door of this stellar ensemble cast. Because in this world, Fitz is Hydra, the evil world-leader responsible for all of the pain and destruction, whether it be on a minute or global scale.

Excluding Aida, Fitz is the face of Hydra, the mind behind Hydra, and the person responsible for Hydra. So, in an arc that is all about Hydra, Fitz is the key player. (Something that the promo for next week’s episode further confirms).

With only four episodes left this season, and this episode’s tag setting up some insanity for next week, it’s impossible to guess just how much sh!t is going to hit the fan. We’ve yet to have any real interaction between Jemma and Fitz and, with the way things are going, it’s likely that their reunion won’t be pleasant. Mack, though still unaware of the real world, seems to have effortlessly stepped into his typical role on base in the Framework’s  of it. Coulson, though still quirky and hilarious, is quickly picking up his real world traits a and skills. May seems to be back in the anti-Hydra camp with Daisy, nay Quake, at her side, which means the action will undoubtedly ramp up as Marvel’s real Civil War begins.

Episode Grade: B

Quote of the Week: Three-Way Tie

“Nevertheless, she persisted.” – The Doctor describing Daisy’s resilience while withstanding his sadistic torture.

“BT dubs your psycho prison sucks.” – Daisy Johnson describing the less than ideal environment that AIDA a son put her in.

“Binary ones and zeroes can’t die.” – Jemma Simmons doing her best to convince herself and Coulson that the growing number of body bags aren’t are (mostly) insignificant in the long run.

Episode Highs:

  • The scene between Aida and Daisy gave us stellar performances from both Chloe Bennet and Mallory Jansen. The android has been especially wonderful to watch in this final arc and, while I am firmly and forever in the, “GDI Aida,” camp, her desperation for normalcy and a choice was made understandable due to the manner in which Jansen has portrayed her. This scene in particular, where Aida knows how meaningful Lincoln is to Daisy but still can’t understand why she wouldn’t want to bring him back is perhaps the most meaningful look into both women’s psyche to date.
  • Jemma’s hatred for Ward will never not be funny. The rolled eyes and groans are consistently delivered to perfection. On the flip side, her shift from refusing to care about anything in the Framework to keeping Mack on the base after watching him with his daughter allowed for some thought-provoking moments about what it truly means to be real.

Episode Lows:

  • A bit on the slower side. While character arcs are important, it felt like a lot of time was spent talking about doing things. It wasn’t a bit of a, “get to the point,” episode but, if next week I shall as exciting as the promo makes it seem, the slowness will be worth it.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Who is more pissed/will bring more destruction to Hydra: May or Daisy?
  • Radcliffe has confirmed that he created a back door and told Daisy where it is. Question is… how complicated and difficult will it be to make it through?

What did you think about the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!

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Silje Falck-Pedersen

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