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REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 4×19 “All the Madame’s Men”

If you thought the past episodes spent in the Framework were intense, this week’s took things to an entirely new level. With our favorite characters still trapped in Aida’s twisted, virtual, world, we’re starting to see more cracks begin to show as people are growing more aware of their surroundings as much as themselves. On the opposite end of the spectrum however, there are the select few who not only refuse to consider the notion that this world might be fake, but are still wholeheartedly immersed in the roles they’re playing within it.

Spoilers ahead!

Picking up where last week left off, we see Daisy emerge from her Terrigen cocoon and, with the help of May, bust her way out of Hydra. She manages to quake Aida out a window during the escape which, while certainly cathartic, makes things a bit more difficult as the action puts her firmly on the terrorist watch list. It also means that Hydra is in need of a temporary head, and Fitz seems more than willing to take on the role thanks to the devil on his shoulder: his father.

Back in the real world, Aida and her new Russian-made toy are trying to figure out how they can kill the meddlesome S.H.I.E.L.D. agents mucking things up in the Framework. While none of those that Aida has in her lair can be killed by their robot hands due to the programmed parameters, Jemma and Daisy can be taken out since they’re both looking to destroy the Framework. It’s a pretty devious loophole. Since Aida’s prime directive is to protect the Framework, she can technically override her other directive of protecting the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents who are threatening the program.

So once they find Jemma and Daisy in the real world… they can kill them.

Back in the Framework, Daisy and May are on the run. Thanks to a few breaking news alerts from Hydra’s version of Fox News, and head public figure Sunil Bakshi, the women are labeled as dangerous threats that the public should report immediately. They’re essentially public enemies #1 and #2 and have to evade Hydra and the public in order to make it safely to the Resistance base. Lucky for them Coulson and Mack are ready to assist and manage to bring them back to the Framework’s version of the Playground just in time to devise a plan to save the faux world and wake up the team in the real one.

aos419Ward and Daisy

The group breaks into Bakshi’s studio and hijacks Hydra’s broadcast feed to better serve their own purposes. Taking the body cam footage from May’s tact vest during the bombing of the Hydra facility, Coulson airs it live while giving a speech to the public about the evils of Hydra’s alternative facts and the deception/corruption of the organization. It was probably the most Phil Coulson speech in the history of Phil Coulson speeches, aimed at uniting the people and encouraging the public to band together and take a stand against Hydra.

While all this is going on, Jemma and Triplet are on a QuinJet to the Baltic. After spotting the Hydra plans that Trip snuck out during his time undercover, Jemma realizes that Aida is building some sort of Quantum machine. They make their way to the base and, while it’s entirely empty, Jemma figures out that it’s not empty in the real world. She puts together the fact that the same coordinates in reality is where Aida is keeping the captured S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and building her machine… which Simmons realizes is being built, not to build quantum matter but living matter.

Because the whole reasoning for everything is that Aida wants to be human in the real world, she wants to take Leopold with her, and she’s willing to take out anyone who gets in her way.

“All the Madame’s Men,” though marginally more action heavy than last week’s episode, definitely felt like a 42-minute set-up for what’s in store next week. All of the dominos seem to be falling into place in terms of Aida’s plans as well as the show’s, and it’s clear that the final three episodes are going to be packed to the rafters with some pretty insane moments. The fact that Aida and the Russian now know where Daisy and Jemma are in the real world will raise the stakes even more and make it that much more imperative to get to the backdoor in the Framework ASAP. Hopefully everyone will make it…

Episode Grade: B

Quotes of the Week:

  • “I don’t want the public placated, I want them afraid.”
  • “To save ourselves we need to save the world.”
  • “My name is Phil Coulson, and I’m an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Episode Highs:

  • The opening fight sequence with May and Daisy vs Hydra was great, both in terms of seeing those two characters interact again as well as watching Ming-Na Wen be an utter badass with that fight choreography.
  • Coulson stepping back into role as Director/Agent extraordinaire was a delight and, based on Daisy’s reaction to it, I’m not the only one who thinks so!

Episode Lows:

  • The episode was a bit slower than I was anticipating, largely because the promo seemed to make it appear more action-heavy and plot-moving than perhaps it actually was. While the information was key, with two exposition-heavy episodes in a row, I’m getting to the, “C’mon let’s go,” point of the arc.

Additional Thoughts:

  • Aida and Fitz is creepy. That is a fact. End of story.
  • Fitz’s dad is the WORST. If his poor treatment of his son hadn’t already made it clear that Real World Fitz was better off without him, the way Framework Fitz physically recoiled in fear when his father moved towards him made it even more evident. The dude is bad news which has me all kinds  of excited to see this next week:

jemma

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!

About the author

Silje Falck-Pedersen

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