Agents of SHIELD Season 4 Recap: “Farewell, Cruel World”

With time running out our heroes in the Framework launch their last-ditch effort to get back into the real world before anyone else dies.

It’s the last episode before the two-part finale on Agents of SHIELD. Over the course of the last couple of episodes we’ve said goodbye to all the familiar faces the Framework brought back, starting with Grant Ward. This week seemed to continue that streak, with Daisy suggesting to Tripp he should take up the Patriot mantel, to Simmons killing Fitz’s father, thereby removing AIDA’s failsafe to keep him under control.

Hope: “C’mon Dad, she’s the biggest hero in SHIELD. You have to say yes.”

And with that failsafe removed, Fitz was saved! Thrown through the portal by Radcliffe, as his last act to make up for all he had done, we were granted the sight of Fitz given the opportunity to understand everything terrible he’d done. registering that he’d killed Jeffrey Mace, realizing he had tortured and maimed and killed, all for this woman “Ophelia”…who then appeared, and stood before him, joyfully alive for the first time. The way he said her name was worrisome. Does he still feel the same way he did for her over there? How is he going to take the fact that AIDA used his father’s avatar to control him? I want to see Fitz really freak about his kidnapping and brainwashing, but sadly all we got this week was a moment.

Not that THE shortness of time was anyone’s fault. The episode worked to keep everyone on the wrong side of the portal far too long this episode as far as I was concerned. I understand this was for dramatic purposes, but in these situations, you should never feel like the show is deliberately slowing up the pacing to kill time, and with each exit (except May’s) everything felt like it was 30 seconds too slow. Yes, Coulson was shot all over the place (And that “this feels familiar” was funny.) But him getting into the portal afterwards took so long I wondered why he hadn’t bled out yet. The scene between Evil Fitz and Simmons was likewise draggy–I was so relieved when Radcliffe finally intervened and threw the boy through the portal already.

May: “Did you say crafting soap?”

And then there was that scene with Mack. The shooting of Coulson was a shock–I didn’t see that coming. But the choice for Mack not to learn Hope was a bunch of pixels until the last second was a big fat sign he wasn’t leaving with the rest–at least, not this week. Why Daisy didn’t mention YoYo or anything else baffled me. Why she didn’t clonk the big lug over the head and kick him through was beyond me. All I know is that the Simmons and Daisy were going to crash and this was taking way too long for her to get out already.

(ABC/John Fleenor)
ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE

Until of course the end of the episode, where AIDA woke up a “real girl” and proceeded to transport away with Fitz–I assume right back into the Framework. This would make sense on a bunch of levels, since the Framework is where AIDA rules–and it might give us a reason to have Mack still be there. I mean, maybe they do mean to leave Mack behind–he’s the last of the influx from Season 2, and having him make the choice to not come back, because he wants to live in a reality of his own making would be a hell of a way to give him a send off. But I highly doubt it. (Maybe Hope will be shot, so there will be no Hope for Mack in either world? Maybe YoYo will cross into the Framework and bitchslap him into reality? Whatever it takes, you guys.)

Mack: “They did not just go and use the bible against me.”

To be fair, we don’t know that’s where they went. Next week’s trailer only shows the submarine sinking fast, and mostly adventures in reality. But there’s at least one shot of Mack involved, and I would assume that having lost Fitz’s mind because he came back to the real world via the portal, and not via her methods, AIDA is going to want to keep him safe somewhere until she can get “her” Fitz back.

Of course, we may get to next week, and I’ll be wrong. And getting Mack out may be far simpler for everyone now that at least most of them are on this side of the looking-glass. There’s also the idea they can make Radcliffe a body over here if his consciousness gets out too–though personally I’m not banking on that. Like Jeffrey Mace, Radcliffe is a loose end that wants tying up. Unlike Mace, who was clearly not going to survive this season, Radcliffe’s survival from Season 3 suggested maybe he would keep holding over–but I doubt it.

Radcliffe: “You may not be the Fitz who was my good friend, the man I would step in front of a train for. But you wear your fear the same way.”

In truth, I think I’m hoping AIDA took Fitz back to the Framework because I wasn’t really done with that storyline yet. The “pod” format is useful to the SHIELD writers because it gives them a way to write the “event TV” structure in a network format. And the “less than a dozen episodes per story” means if they find themselves going down a plot thread that’s not working, they have an escape portal to jump through rather than crash and burn.

(ABC/John Fleenor)
DAVID O’HARA

But the model also means that when they hit upon a really good notion–like this return to the show’s original, simpler format, they can’t stay that long. perhaps that’s for the best–we wouldn’t want to overstay our welcome in the “Agents of Hydra” world. But I could have used a couple more one-off adventures in it.

Coulson: “Fifteen year olds are no joke.”

Next week, our Agents get caught up with the plot points that occurred while they were sleeping, hopefully the team will manage to all get themselves in the real world at that same place at the same time. Oh and somehow, Ghost Rider is going to factor into all this, at least in part two, bringing our tripod season full circle.

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