As Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. continue to ‘rise to power’ against a world ruled by Hydra, we’ve lost the Patriot. Will his sacrifice matter as Madame Hydra launches her counterattack? Can Daisy and May prevail? Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on “All the Madame’s Men.”
The Bakshi Report
In an intriguing parallel to real world politics, we open on the pseudo-news program, “The Bakshi Report, with Sunil Bakshi.” As some of you might remember, Bakshi was a Hydra leader a couple seasons back, joining returning characters like Antoine Triplett and Grant Ward in The Framework’s backwards world. He’s reporting on the death of the Patriot with a defiantly Hydra slant, definitely fake news.
I’ve said elsewhere how I feel about reality creeping into my escapism, and I’m hitting my tolerance level with this show, and I don’t mean the “O’Reilly Factor” near-parody. However it is a completist note that the crawl on “Bakshi” also talks about other Hydra notables like Daniel Whitehall, also mentioned in the last episode, the Malick family, and ‘American hero’ John Garrett, who was played by the late Bill Paxton.
May and Quake
As we saw last time, the Patriot’s sacrifice turned May to the side of the angels, and in turn, she exposed Daisy to terrigenesis, allowing her her Quake powers within The Framework. Once Daisy burst her cocoon, the two began to shoot their way out of Hydra headquarters. It’s a great sequence, females kicking ass and taking names, but not without flaw.
Yes, the Hydra Agents are simulations and not real, so no one is really dying, but it looks like they are. I miss the icers. One momentary victory comes when confronted by Madame Hydra, and Quake not only blasts her out of the Triskelion building, but out of The Framework as well. You go, girl!
A New Threat
When Aida reawakens in the real world, Anton Ivanov, The Superior, is there with her, and also under her control. Not quite himself, possibly more LMD than human, she has him guard the bodies of those in The Framework. And with Madame Hydra down in The Framework, broken as referenced in the episode title, Fitz now leads Hydra.
Meanwhile Simmons discovers that Project Looking Glass is a matter creation device, similar to what Eli Morrow had that gave him his powers. Simmons and Triplett go to investigate, and discover what the Project is really designed to do – create a flesh and blood body for Aida. The question is – how much does Fitz know about this?
Real and Unreal
The really heartbreaking part of the return of Brett Dalton as Grant Ward is that he’s playing a good guy in The Framework. We’re getting to see the reasons we loved him initially as opposed to the monster he became. The idea that he’s not real, or Antoine for that matter, is crushing to Daisy and those who want to escape and save the ‘real’ people.
There are those who want to save their world from Hydra, but confronted by the concept of The Framework, if they believe it, their lives mean nothing, hell, they don’t even exist! What a thing to rationalize. These are the questions this story arc should be asking rather than wallowing in the evil of this Secret Empire world.
There is hope. By broadcasting the death of the Patriot S.H.I.E.L.D. hopes they can turn the tide against Hydra by revealing their deception. Coulson anchoring the broadcast and talking about ‘alternative facts’ walks that reality line just as much as Mack telling his daughter about the controlled media, but at least this is a step in the right direction.
The killer is Ward volunteering to make a final stand to keep the broadcast on air. This leads to a moment with Daisy, who can’t bring herself to tell him he won’t exist after she goes home, or the extent of the monster the real Ward was. Major props to both actors here as it’s s tough scene, emotional for the characters and the viewers. Whoever thought we’d feel for Grant Ward?
Lights in the Darkness
As much as I hate this darkness and bad guys winning, there are lights in this darkness. Especially shining is the interaction between Coulson and Ward, when the former finally steps up as leader. We see the sparks which power both characters, and I couldn’t help but smirk when Coulson put his hand on Ward’s chest. Not like ripping his heart out, but close.
I love Coulson in the lead again, and when we finally get back to the real world would love to see him doing it again. Or Daisy, as long as she could still be a field agent. The same goes for Coulson, but definitely one of those two leading the team would be perfect. But as with all things in this show, nothing is ever perfect – look at FitzSimmons…
This was probably the best episode of this Agents of Hydra story arc, but even though, I can’t wait for it to end.
Next: “Farewell, Cruel World!”