I hope you all saw the excellent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but there is heartbreak in other corners of the MCU, too! It’s time to jump back into the Framework!
This weeks episode starts with a quick flashback to episode 16, when Yo-Yo is putting Simmons and Daisy into the Framework aboard the Zephyr One. Once the pair goes under, the crew (Agents Yo-Yo, Prince, Davis and Piper) slowly shut down all the non-essential systems of the next few weeks to keep the plane afloat. Freezing aboard the ship, Davis estimates they have 24 hours before they need to land, because they are running out of power and the Framework is sapping energy. Despite the rest of the crews reluctance, Piper orders them to turn off the cloaking to conserve power.
In the Playground in the Framework, Daisy and Burrows are watching footage of people being rounded up by HYDRA. Eager to avoid Burrows’ awkward conversation about how Madame Hydra is hot, Daisy runs and hugs Trip, who has just returned from his mission with Simmons. She then realizes that he has no idea who she is. Simmons asks for a moment alone for Daisy, and tells her that Aida is building a machine to give her a human body, allowing her to unplug the Framework and kill them. Daisy tells Simmons that Radcliffe gave her the coordinates to the backdoor exit. Daisy mentions that it will be difficult to get May and Mack to leave, and Simmons remarks that it will be harder to get Fitz to leave. Daisy convinces Simmons that they simply can’t rescue Fitz right now.
In the hallway, Daisy stops Mack and Hope, who are leaving. Daisy tells them that Mack is needed for a new mission that Simmons uncovered. Hope reminds Mack that he got Daisy arrested. After bonding with Daisy over swear words, Hope demands that Mack goes with her. He agrees if he is back in time to put Hope to bed. Daisy tells him that he will be exactly where he needs to be.
In the med bay, May is patching people up and Coulson approaches her and is glad she found a way to help. May says that people are being brainwashed by HYDRA (and uses the phrase “fake news”, because of course she does) and Coulson tells her it goes deeper than that. Coulson tries to convince May that the world they are in is fake, but May refuses to believe it. She says that if he wants her to believe, he needs to show, not tell. He can work with that.
Big Bad Fitz makes his way through the HYDRA Triskelion halls as bloodied people are thrown into cells, and enters Radcliffe’s cell. He demands to know what Radcliffe was talking about with Daisy. He refuses to say anything of value, and Fitz has his bodyguard beat him. Radcliffe doesn’t care because he has nothing to lose; he’s dead in the real world and would rather be dead in the Framework than live under HYDRA’s thumb. Fitz tells him about Project Looking Glass, and tells him he can be rebuilt as flesh and blood in the real world. He can have another life – or three or four. Radcliffe tells him that Daisy is building an exit.
Holden Radcliffe, you never cease to betray us yet it’s disappointing every damn time.
At the base, Simmons finds May at the armory. She tells her that it is good to see her, and May is sick of people buying into the “alternate reality” thing. Simmons assures her that they are a team in the other world: May, Coulson, her, Daisy, Mack and Fitz. May is surprised to hear that “The Doctor” is on their team, because neither Alistair nor Leopold Fitz are anything you would call heroes. Simmons realizes that Fitz’s dad Alistair is alive in this world, and that is why Fitz is evil here. She asks May if she can still access HYDRA personnel files. She then shows up at Alistair’s house with a gun and tells him that he is going to help fix this.
Daisy and Trip plan out their escape route, and Trip confides that Simmons told him their world was fake. He asks if Daisy and he dated in the real world. Nope. Him and Simmons? Nope. Him and May? Nope. Is this really a world she wants to return to? Daisy asks where Simmons is, and Trip says she left base an hour ago.
At Alistair’s, Simmons has a gun pointed at him and accuses him of everything wrong with Fitz. Alistair is confused, saying he has been nothing but a good father. He shaped Fitz into the man he is. Simmons tells him that Project Looking Glass puts him in danger, and demands that he calls Fitz. Alistair refuses, thinking Simmons will just kill him. Simmons says she could never harm Fitz and Alistair makes the call.
Aboard a Quinjet, Fitz gets a call from his dad. Alistair tells him that he only ever wanted what was best for him. He tells Fitz to listen carefully, but then tells him that Simmons is in his house. He throws the phone at Simmons, tackles her and begins strangling her, while Fitz is trying to make sense of the situation on the other end. Simmons shoots poor old Alistair Fitz as Fitz calls out for his dad.
Daisy finds Coulson and May, and is surprised that May knows about (and doesn’t believe in) the real world. Coulson mentions that it came up in casual conversation, which Daisy doesn’t buy. She asks where Simmons is, and May says she went to find Alistair Fitz. Daisy says they can’t leave without her.
HYDRA guards break down the door to Alistair Fitz’s home, and find the man dead on the floor. They tell Fitz and he observes the body with Radcliffe. The S.T.R.I.K.E. agents offer to search the area, but Fitz says he knows where Simmons is going and orders them all back on the plane. He accuses Radcliffe of lying, saying that Simmons loved him. Radcliffe tries to pass it off as an accident, but Fitz drags over to Radcliffe and screams at him demanding that he looks at his dead father. He says he will find Simmons and put a bullet in her skull.
In the real world, things aren’t looking good for the crew on the Zephyr. Yo-Yo tells Piper that she feels useless not being able to help Mack, when Prince bursts in and tells them that they have company. Davis points out that the radar shows a Russian jet following them, and Piper recognizes it as belonging to Ivanov. Without power, they can’t man their anti-aircraft guns.
At the Playground in the Framework, Simmons shows up disoriented just as the gang is about the leave. She is in shock, and tells Daisy that she killed Fitz’s dad. Daisy comforts her, saying she just erased some zeroes and ones – it’s not real. Simmons is terrified that Fitz won’t come back with them now. Daisy tells her that they just need to make it back to the real world and stop Aida’s plan, then they can come back for Fitz.
In Madame Hydra’s room, she is recovering and asks where Fitz is. A HYDRA agent tells her that Fitz’s father was murdered by a S.H.I.E.L.D. terrorist, and he has sent a team to hunt her down. She orders Fitz to return to the Triskelion immediately. Aboard the Zephyr, Fitz receives and ignores the message. He overrides an order to reroute the plane, saying they will return when the killer is found. Radcliffe is surprised that the location appears to be a steel mill instead of a public fountain. Fitz says Madame Hydra is one step ahead of him.
The Quinjet lands and Daisy, May, Coulson and Simmons disembark. Daisy says goodbye to Trip, and he asks why he can’t come with. She says he is needed here, and suggests that he become the new Patriot. He admits he would look great in that suit. (Eli Bradley, anyone?). They hug and Daisy joins her team. They are concerned, because it doesn’t feel right – it should be a fountain and not a steel mill. They find the backdoor location, and it is a pool of molten steel. Aida couldn’t move the door, but she could conceal it. Mack is confused that everyone is talking about a “backdoor” when he thought they were tracking Madame Hydra, and May deduces that no one told him about the “other world”. Simmons concludes that Aida has won.
In Madame Hydra’s room, the HYDRA agent tells Ophelia that Fitz was given their orders, but he has not responded. She realizes that Simmons must have found a way out. She asks the doctors to proceed with Project Looking Glass, and they begin to scan her. In the real world, a large machine starts 3-D printing her out of flesh and blood.
May thinks the team is insane, and Mack is angry that he was lied to and taken away from his daughter. He says that Daisy is not Moses taking them back to the promised land. Taking nothing away from this, Daisy realizes that she can part the molten steel like the Red Sea. HYDRA agents attack the base, and they fight them off while Daisy parts the steel to reveal the backdoor. May is cautious, but Coulson decides to jump in. Before he does so, he is shot twice and severely wounded. He collapses, but May refuses to let him die. Her and Mack shoot the HYDRA guards, and May runs to help Coulson. He remarks that death feels oddly familiar. May tries to patch him up, but he says she needs to help him through the portal; it’s the only way. Coulson asks May to come with him, but May isn’t sure it will work. Coulson says its a leap of faith, and falls backwards through the portal. The world flickers, and Mack is horrified to realize that the world – and his daughter – are all just code.
In the real world, Coulson wakes up strapped to the Framework machine. He goes to where May is strapped in and begs her to jump. She wakes up too and tells him that she followed him. Coulson takes a scalpel and goes to attack Aida, still strapped in the Framework, unaware she is printing a real body as they speak.
Mack is still in shock that the world isn’t real, and Simmons is next up through the portal. Fitz arrives and points a gun at her. He accuses her of killing his father in cold blood as he listened. She says it was an accident, and he accuses her of trying to destroy his whole life. She tearfully accuses Aida of lying to him, and he says that her name is Ophelia. She corrects him that it’s name is Artificially Intelligent Digital Assistant and he needs to stop making excuses for it. She begs him to wake up, but he orders her on her knees. She refuses and he shoots her in the leg. She tells him that she loves him and he says she means nothing to him. He orders to her to say “I am nothing to you”. She doesn’t and he shoots her again. Radcliffe punches Fitz, and apologizes. He says this was all his fault, and he can’t blame himself. He then drags Fitz to the portal and throws him through. Radcliffe says he can’t make everything right, but he needed to do this for Fitz. He tells Simmons to go.
Aboard the Zephyr, Simmons wakes up and Piper alerts the crew. She tells them they were trapped, when they get shot by Ivanov’s aircraft.
Daisy tells Mack that it is his turn, but he is afraid to go. He asks what will happen to Hope, and Daisy says that Hope didn’t make it in the real world. Mack doesn’t understand, and Daisy says that Aida fixed his biggest regret. Mack tells her that he is staying. He refuses to live in a world without Hope in it.
No, Mack, please. Don’t do this.
Daisy reminds him that it’s all fake, but he says she’s real to him. She laughs at his jokes and he holds her when she’s sad. She starts crying and says there are people who really care about him waiting for him, and he says to tell them he is sorry. Daisy says she doesn’t want to lose him, and he wishes her good luck. Daisy goes through the portal alone.
I knew this was going to happen and it still hurts. Goddamn it, Mack.
Daisy wakes up, and Yo-Yo asks if she was able to save Mack. She says she is so sorry.
In the drilling platform, Fitz is having a panic attack. Coulson is trying to calm him down, telling him this all isn’t real. Fitz says that he killed Mace and Agnes, and that was real. They were real people. May hears a noise and realizes something is outside. Outside, Aida’s human body finishes printing. She walks in in the middle of Fitz’s breakdown, overwhelmed with joy. (It’s weird seeing Aida having emotions.) Fitz refuses to get out of the way, but May is trying to take the shot. Aida grabs Fitz and teleports away.
Well, that’s new.
In the Framework, Mack walks through the halls of the Playground and Trip is happy to see him. He asks if something went wrong, and Mack says they all made it through. Trip says he was waiting until tomorrow to tell Hope, but he guesses he doesn’t have to now. Hope wakes up and says he tried waiting up for him. She asks where Daisy and the team is, and he says they aren’t coming back. He tells her it’s like the Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy goes back to Kansas. Hope asks if they are going to Kansas too, and Mack says they are staying right there – everything he needs is right there.
We still have two episodes left in this arc. If Mack doesn’t come back, we riot.
This was a suspenseful episode that felt very similar to last season’s episode Closure. However, it doesn’t feel like we’re only two episodes away from the finale. Still, I give it a solid 8/10.
Looking forward for what is to come.