Synopsis of 4×20: The race to escape the Framework continues with the team having to choose between the real world and living with their regrets.

Agents of SHIELD has a cyclical feel to it. Sometimes commitment to the show and its characters ebbs and flows, where I’m not entirely certain if I care anymore. But honestly, this last half of the season has had me so emotionally invested once again.

The complexity of the character development that came along with the concept of regrets added a level of emotional connection that the first half of the season was lacking. Not to mention the reintroduction of some of the hard lost and beloved characters of the past (oh Trip…). If you haven’t been watching regularly, I at least recommend that you watch through the LMD storyline of this season, but be prepared for some feels you didn’t know you had for this show anymore.

As the episode progresses, we have the team working towards the escape from the Framework. Of course this opportunity is almost destroyed when Jemma decides to take matters into her own hands and confront Fitz’s father. She believes that only with the father can she truly convince Fitz that this world isn’t real.

Unfortunately, as any harebrained planned is wont to do, the situation goes terribly wrong when Father Fitz attacks Jemma, and she is forced to shoot him in order to stay alive, all while Fitz listens on the phone. She’s managed to take away the one thing he thinks he cares about in this virtual world.

Back with the rest of the team, Coulson tries to reach out to May and explain the truth of the matter, which is that this world is not real. She of course scoffs at the notion and confronts Daisy about it.

Jemma returns from her ill-fated mission and together, the truly living members of the team head towards what they believe will be the backdoor that Radcliffe built into the Framework. (Every computer system needs a Joshua, right?) The oddly assembled team (I mean a teacher, a Hydra agent, an Inhuman, a dead SHIELD agent, and a dad? Sounds like the beginning to a bad joke) hops aboard a ship and heads to the coordinates supplied by Radcliffe.

In the real world, Yo-Yo and the oddly attractive agents who managed to survive earlier in the season are faced with the difficultly of keeping Daisy and Jemma within the Framework, while they slowly run out of power. Eventually, they are forced to decide between cloaking and keeping Daisy and Jemma alive but are of course, quickly set upon by a ship belonging to the Russian (can anyone remember his actual name?).

In the Framework, broken Aida begins the process of creating a physical, biological form in the real world, hoping to complete the process before the team can escape the system.

Arriving at Radcliffe’s coordinates, the team realizes that Aida, aware of the exit point, has redesigned the area somewhat, masking their escape within a molten pit. However, with a little bit of luck, Daisy’s Inhuman abilities can move the lava, revealing the true portal beneath.

Ever the true believer, Coulson rises and walks towards the portal, telling May to trust him, only to be shot down by Hydra agents led by Fitz, who managed to talk Radcliffe into revealing the coordinates in exchange for a new, human body outside of the Framework.

Those bullet shots are painful, for both Coulson and the viewers. I audibly gasped as it wouldn’t be the first time that Marvel had attempted to kill off the connecting thread of the universe (#CoulsonLives).

In the arms of May, however, he rises, telling her to follow him out of the Framework. With a leap, he leaves the system behind and awakens, quickly turning to May to see if she followed. And of course she did. They share a truly “awww” moment, almost immediately followed by a kind of horrifying one wherein Coulson beheads Aida. But did he do it soon enough?

Still fighting their own way out of the Framework, Jemma comes face to face with Fitz, who attempts to kill her, only to be stopped by Radcliffe who forces him through the exit point. It seems you can have regrets in the Framework too, and this is Radcliffe making up for what he caused.

Jemma soon follows and awakens on the ship with Yo-Yo, and Fitz is faced with what he did within the Framework, and what his actions might mean about who he really is.

At this point, only Daisy and Mack remain in the Framework, but as I long suggested, Mack chooses to stay. His daughter is real to him, and that’s all he needs. Daisy exits, only to awaken and have to tell Yo-Yo that Mack didn’t follow her through.

The team may have escaped, but, unfortunately, so did Aida. She is now fully human and reveals herself to Fitz. When May attempts to shoot her, she grabs at Fitz and disappears with him. She is fully human, but also, clearly something else.

Back in the Framework, Mack walks up to Tripp, who sits quietly with a sleeping Hope. The smile on his face nearly broke my heart, because he realizes that Mack chose to stay for his daughter, and he no longer has to explain to her why she is now alone in this world. In much the same way that I felt about Inception, who’s to say dreams aren’t real?

Leave a Reply