Synopsis 4×17: Daisy works within Hydra to try to reach Mack. Jemma and Coulson must find Radcliffe in the hopes of escaping the Framework.
In perhaps the only delightful turn of events in the horrid world of Hydra-Framework, Coulson decides to trust Daisy, knowing that some of his memories he has tried to suppress must actually be real… but he thinks Hydra is controlling them through soap. If conspiracy Coulson can learn to separate the truth from lie, then these agents might actually make it out alive.
We finally see Mack in this episode, living the life he wanted, with his daughter, Hope. She’s clearly the daughter of Mack – skilled with tech and willing to do anything to complete a project, even stealing parts from a Hydra drone. Unfortunately, that is a dangerous project, as Mack suggests they must “stay off Hydra’s radar.” With Inhuman roundups happening throughout the city, interacting with Hydra tech illegally is bound to wind you up in Hydra prison cells.
Hydra Fitz is perhaps the most disturbing character arc of this current storyline. He seems to have become the man he fears he could be – brilliant, ruthless, and cruel. Aida somehow has him so convinced of this world that he’s blurring the lines between Aida and Jemma, even going so far as to swear he’d “cross the universe for [her].” That’s some serious, and heartbreaking, programming.
Daisy decides to look for Radcliffe, who unbeknownst to the agents, is permanently trapped within the Framework since his physical body was killed by Aida. She hacks into some classified files to find his location, but Ward warns her of the extreme dangers of those actions. As the two go to leave the Triskelion, May stops them, asking Daisy to follow her. She turns to Ward, asking that he give Jemma the information on Radcliffe.
Jemma and Coulson arrive outside what is potentially a SHIELD drop, attempting to gain access to work with them. As far as code phrases go, “for the season, it’s been unusually rainy” “rain or shine, the man with the umbrella is always ready” sits pretty high on the list, with the likes of The Shadow‘s “the sun is shining” “but the ice is slippery.” Which the similarity shouldn’t be too surprising given that The Shadow was the beginning of Louis D’Esposito’s superhero production career.
The two meet the Patriot, who requests they only call him “Jeffrey.” And Coulson proves that he is ever the superhero fanboy, gushing over meeting the famed Patriot. Throughout the base, they realize that SHIELD is primarily functioning as an underground railroad of sorts, as they move Inhuman “potentials” through to safety.
Within Hydra, the hunt begins for Jemma, but with Aida clearly knowing more than she is letting Fitz know. He holds a meeting about finding Jemma, only to send Daisy and May to arrest Mack, the person who could potentially tie-up Daisy. When they arrest his daughter as well, May suggests that just because she is a child, doesn’t mean she’s innocent. In order to control her, Aida ended her one regret from the real world, but forced her to face a far darker reality, full of more regret than even May can handle. That’s some intense May-nipulation.
Jemma and Coulson are soon joined by Ward, where it is decided that the three will seek out Radcliffe, without Jemma disclosing the truth of the virtual world. I can only assume that this is because she fears what information Aida and the Framework might gain from that, since Ward and the Patriot are not, in fact, real.
Fitz, for all the control he seems to be trying to maintain, can’t help but question the truth about the Jemma situation. He discovers that she is actually a deceased SHIELD agent and thus questions what Aida might be keeping from him. Aida responds, “This woman isn’t real. She crossed over from the other side.” Apparently, Aida has convinced Fitz that there is in fact a virtual world, but that is the world where Jemma and Daisy came from.
While questioning Mack, Daisy unwittingly reveals the truth of her existence, that she is SHIELD. As Daisy kicks ass through the elevators of the Triskelion, she is eventually stopped by May, and brutally taken into custody.
For poor Radcliffe and Agnes, their Bermuda paradise isn’t quite all it’s cracked up to be. He didn’t know the reality that had been constructed, and tries to tell Aida such. Before Aida arrives, he tells Jemma where in the real world their bodies are all kept, but is then forced to face Aida, who angrily denies being Aida, as the “a is for artificial.”
Mack and Hope are released, revealing that Mack lied in order to save himself and his daughter.
When Aida and Fitz confront those on Radcliffe’s island, Fitz believes it to be the “other side” as Agnes looks just like Aida. Radcliffe furiously works to save poor Agnes and keep her calm through the virtual world that has turned monstrous.
Aida claims that Radcliffe held her hostage, and Fitz turns a gun on Agnes, to try to gain the truth from Radcliffe. Ward nearly kills Fitz, but Jemma must convince him that Fitz is honest and can be turned to good, trying to save his life in both the virtual world and the real one. Through tears, she expresses her love for him, and in parallel, Radcliffe expresses the love that he saw between Fitz and Jemma, and the trust he had for Fitz in the real world as well.
Aida tries to stop any discussion between the two, clearly fearing the truth, but, with a single shot, Fitz kills Agnes. This is a regret that will have repercussions throughout the rest of his life. He now truly has something to regret, something that outside the Framework, he only feared could happen. As Jemma cries out in horror, the three escape, while Radcliffe is carried away by Aida.
Returning to SHIELD headquarters, Jemma tries to explain reality, but Coulson simply tells them that she is distraught. While the tension mounts, Mack arrives, desiring to make up for what he did to Daisy.
For poor Daisy, she is left to listen to Radcliffe as Fitz tortures him, before being dragged away herself. “I guess you don’t know me at all.” Dark Fitz is perhaps the most dangerous foe the team has ever faced. For me, a truly honest and good man turned evil is far more terrifying than Ward ever was.