Welcome back, true believers! When last we left our heroes, Daisy and Simmons found themselves knee-deep in a simulated world created by the “Framework” that saw our Earth ruled with an iron fist by Hydra. Having just, somewhat, awoken Phil Coulson from his Framework-induced life, the Agents attempt to free their friends while also fighting a number of them who are currently agents of Hydra themselves. Adding into the mix is the current predicament of Agent Mack, who in this brave new world has a very-much-alive daughter who is using her technological acumen to create drones and get a suspicious eye pointed her way from the rulers of the new America. This third section of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s fourth season continues to take us down a dark path, for both these characters and their world.
Our episode begins with perhaps the best part of the episode itself, Agent Coulson as a conspiracy theorist. Throughout the episode, Coulson, who is now a high school teacher in the Framework, delves deep into his conspiracy-laden thoughts with Simmons, Daisy, and any other agents who will hear his tales. He rambles on almost incoherently about Hydra lying to the general populace, examines everything wistfully under the idea of becoming a force for good himself, and most humorously of all, makes his own soap as he believes mind-controlling soap is being distributed to the masses. While not exactly 100 percent back to normal, this made for a humorous take on the character while also exploring how a world taken over by the enemy would have really affected Phil’s personality were he to live through it. Coulson acts as the much-needed comic relief for an episode mired in despair, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering the circumstances of our heroes’ plight.
Meanwhile, we get our first glimpse of how Mack has settled into the world of Hydra, now having his daughter alive and kicking by his side. This was a welcome point of view, much like Simmons last episode, as it once again gives us a ground level view of how things are operating in the Framework. You can still live your normal life, but woe unto you if you happen to possibly be an Inhuman or have disobeyed one of Hydra’s rules in any way. Mack’s daughter Hope has an eye for building, managing to take spare parts from a Hydra machine to make a drone of her own. While the father and daughter are waiting for the bus stop, they are nearly interrogated as Hydra agents tell everyone there to hold steady against the wall. Ultimately, they manage to slide their way out of it thanks to another distraction, only to be later visited by other agents of Hydra in the form of Agent May and Daisy.
Perhaps the biggest change this episode is the further examination of Agent Fitz as the lapdog for Aida, a.k.a, Madame Hydra. Fitz revels here in his dastardly deeds, a restrained glee bubbling under the surface as he murders his victims and tortures his prisoners. It’s a fantastic turn for the character, and in all honesty, I wouldn’t mind if this transitioned into the real world for him, making him an antagonist to the Agents themselves. Throughout the episode, Fitz is struggling with the agents such as Simmons and Daisy, constantly reinforcing the idea that they know him. It is only until he murders Agnes, Radcliffe’s beau who was also in the Framework and was the model used to create Aida herself, that Simmons breaks down and begins realizing that maybe she didn’t know her longtime friend and lover as well as she previously had thought. It’s an interesting turn to take, and maybe things go back to normal once the pair finds their way back home, but I’m guessing that things won’t be so easy.
We were also introduced to a disheveled, bearded Jeffrey Mace, working as the head of the S.H.I.E.L.D. resistance, still wearing his Patriot gear. While it was cool to see him, along with the changes to their headquarters, it would have been nice to see him spring into action a little more than he did, but perhaps they’ll leave that to future episodes this season. While he manages to do an adequate job of assisting the folks he’s working with, he doesn’t manage to save Daisy who is now held tight in the clutches of evil Fitz.
“Identity and Change” marked another interesting episode in the latter half of this fourth season, and while not delving into a ton of new material here, the character work with folks such as Coulson and Fitz was what really shined this time around.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
Agents of M.I.S.C.E.L.L.A.N.E.A.
– I honestly wonder if Mack may become a casualty of the Framework, simply because he doesn’t want to leave his newfound daughter behind.
– Not much for Ward to do his time around, but still, I can understand that with the number of plates the show is currently spinning here.
– I’m really crossing my fingers that somehow a Hydra version of Ghost Rider shows up here. It would wrap the season in a nice bow don’t you think?
– Coulson: “So we’re both in the real world, we’re S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, we’re being held captive, and we’re currently in comas? That about sum it up??”
Coulson: “I knew I wasn’t crazy!”
– Coulson: “I make my own soap now!”
– Daisy: “You’re gonna need a substitute.”
– Coulson: “I called Hydra on you. My bad.”
– Coulson: “The whole Rebel Alliance aesthetic is working for me.”
– Fitz: “We will make society great again!”