The Season 4 finale!
Let’s jump in!
Our episode starts with Robbie Reyes, the Ghost Rider, stealing his Hell Charger from a S.H.I.E.L.D. lockup. But is it really stealing if it’s your car and they think that you’re dead?
Aboard the S.H.I.E.LD. jet Zephyr One, Agent Melinda May briefs Director Phil Coulson and says that Agent Piper HALO-jumped out, and that they are in the air to avoid the evil-android-turned-flesh-and-blood-and-magical-superpowers-via-mystical-tome Aida (A.I.D.A. 3.0). She tells him when this is all done, he’s going to explain why he drank their bottle of Haig without her.
Elsewhere, Agent Dr. Jemma Simmons interrogates her boyfriend Agent Dr. Leo Fitz on everything he knows about his alt-universe girlfriend Aida. He explains that she extracted Inhuman DNA from experiments he performed in digital alternate universe The Framework on people such as Vijay Nadeer, Lincoln Campbell and Gordon. Simmons demands that Fitz stop feeling sorry for himself because it was an alternate universe and he is not the same man, but he says any solution he will come up with will just hurt or kill someone. She concurs and asks how to kill Aida. Fitz doesn’t know. She asks if he wants to.
Coulson and Agent Daisy “Quake” Johnson observe the vitals of Agent Alphonso “Mack” Mackenzie and Agent Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez, who are strapped into the Framework. Daisy blames herself for not pulling Mack out and letting Yo-Yo go in after her. She sent help to ensure Yo-Yo survives, but code starts disappearing line by line. Simmons runs in and tells them the Framework is imploding in on itself.
In the Framework, Yo-Yo is strapped to a gurney. A HYDRA soldier enters and aims his gun at her when he is shot. Dr. Holden Radcliffe appears and tells her that someone has been digitally bombarding him with a breadcrumb trail of yo-yos. Yo-Yo assumes it is Daisy. She asks him to help her find Mack, but he points out the room they are in is now bare: AIDA is shutting down the Framework and the world is disappearing.
As androids load items in a warehouse, one of the Life-Model Decoy (LMD) androids of Anton “The Superior” Ivanov is amused: Aida was a robot, a being of calculations, and now she is consumed with emotion. This pisses Aida off further and she threatens to kill all the androids of Ivanov and fellow Russian Sergei Mishkin. A Sergei android points out that she built them. Aida tells them that she wants to use the mystical book the Darkhold to make HYDRA in power again and make S.H.I.E.L.D. – especially Fitz – suffer. All of a sudden, Ghost Rider pulls up and demands the Darkhold. He kills several androids with his flaming chain, and burns the previously invulnerable Inhuman Aida. He notices that she is not an android now and asks what she has done. She decides to show him by electrocuting him with her new Inhuman abilities, causing him to flame on with full flaming Ghost Rider skull. He swings his chain at her and she teleports away just in time. He roars in rage.
Aboard the Zephyr, Coulson asks Simmons how long they have until the Framework disappears entirely. They have about 12 to 20 hours to rescue Mack and Yo-Yo, but there is no guarantee they will even survive until they end. Coulson gets a phone call from resident idiot General Glen Talbot. He asks Coulson what the hell is going on, and Coulson says their agents are being hunted by a vanishing banshee robot from another dimension.
He has a metal arm, he’s been to another planet. Life in S.H.I.E.L.D. is weird sometimes.
Talbot tells Coulson that they ran an autopsy on former Director Jeffrey “The Patriot” Mace and found out he wasn’t actually Inhuman, and are now wondering what other secrets S.H.I.E.L.D. is hiding. He says there is an international meeting tomorrow to discuss what to do, and orders Coulson to attend. Coulson refuses and hangs up, when Daisy arrives and tells him that the believed-dead Robbie Reyes just stole his car back.
In Aida’s warehouse, Daisy asks Robbie what’s new. He says he beat up some dudes, ended up being robots. Daisy says she didn’t think she would see Robbie again since he fell through the Hellmouth.
This show is executive produced by Joss Whedon, and that’s an A+ Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference. I’ll take it. He says that he came back for the Darkhold. Robbie tells Daisy and Coulson that Aida is made from the same energy that the book the Darkhold is made out of. He then spews some mystical nothingness about Hell and other dimensions and says that the demon inside of him wants Aida dead at any cost. May approaches with a Sergei android’s head and they leave to run a facial recognition scan.
Where she teleported, Aida is mad that her arm hasn’t healed, and the Superior tells her that Ghost Rider is made from the same mystical hell energy as her. He can kill her, so she should be careful. A Sergei android and a Superior android dress up and prepare for the international meeting Talbot is attending.
In the Framework, Radcliffe takes Yo-Yo to the Playground, where Mack is helping everyone escape the rapidly vanishing world. Radcliffe warns her that in this universe, Mack won’t recognize her. Mack’s daughter Hope Mackenzie walks up to Yo-Yo and assures her her daddy is going to keep them all safe and Yo-Yo’s heart melts and breaks at the same time – Hope is dead in the real world. Agent Burrows tells Mack that everything in their armory has vanished so they decide to leave. Mack takes Hope and walks right by Yo-Yo. She asserts that next time he will remember her.
May was able to identify Sergei and discovered that he is taking Ivanov as his plus one to the international meeting. At the meeting, the androids are spewing rhetoric about how S.H.I.E.L.D. is trying to weaponize Inhumans. Talbot denies this, but the Superior takes out the Darkhold and tells them that the book contains the secret for stopping S.H.I.E.L.D. once and for all. Suddenly Daisy bursts into the room and shoots Talbot in the forehead.
Woah! Woah! Did Talbot just die? Is Talbot an LMD?
Daisy, Coulson, May and Robbie arrive at the conference to gunfire, confused.
Oh, it was one of the army of Daisy LMDs from episode 16! I forgot about those.
The Superior says that this is what S.H.I.E.L.D. wants, when the team bursts in and shoots the LMDs. They escape. Talbot’s assistant informs them that he still has a pulse (thick skull!), and May points out that the androids forgot the Darkhold. Talbot’s assistant blames Quake for this attack. Coulson tries to explain that it was an android double.
In the loading bay, Daisy finds Aida and one of the Daisy androids, and Aida remarks she wants to see her kill herself. Robbie arrives and burns the android with his hellfire. He tries to whip Aida and she teleports away again. Daisy and Robbie have a kick-ass Quake/Ghost Rider team up as they take out the androids with superpowers and power tools.
Seriously, there’s a part where Ghost Rider wraps his flaming chain around the Superior and pulls him towards him, flying through the air. He ducks and Quake disintegrates the Superior from behind Ghost Rider, mid-air. Check it out. These are some of the coolest team-up moves you will see.
This is punctuated by Coulson and May arriving to Coulson’s disappointment of missing the action.
Their Quinjet docks on the Zephyr One, and Daisy complains about Aida. Her Daisybot assassins are just because Daisy crippled her in the other world. May points out that as soon as the video of her shooting Talbot leaks, S.H.I.E.L.D. is dead and Inhumans are going to be hated. It’s the same tactic from the HYDRA rule of the Framework. Coulson asks for the Darkhold to use as bait. Robbie refuses to give it up, but Daisy says that Aida is terrified of Ghost Rider. Coulson asks if the Spirit of Vengeance is as desperate to stop Aida as they are. It absolutely is. Uh oh, Coulson has a plan. He tells them to land and let Aida find them, and asks Fitz and Simmons to work together despite their problems.
In the Framework, the S.H.I.E.L.D. resistance is stranded in a traffic jam on their commandeered HYDRA bus. Like the real world before he died, Burrows complains about not getting cell signal. Sick of not being able to talk to Mack, Yo-Yo approaches him. She introduced herself and he doesn’t recognize her, but he recognizes the name from when Daisy mentioned it. She tries to convince him to leave the Framework, but he won’t leave Hope. She tells him that they love each other and is so hurt that he won’t leave. Hope cries out for Mack and he leaves the bus to discover the road and most of the cars have vanished into a river. Hope screams, and Mack goes back on the bus. Burrows and all the refugees have vanished. Everyone is disappearing. Only Radcliffe, Yo-Yo, Mack and Hope remain. Radcliffe theorizes that Fitz is stalling their deaths from the real world. Yo-Yo watches as Mack consoles Hope.
Robbie watches Yo-Yo and Mack strapped in the Framework and Daisy says that the alternate universe he came from was probably a lot worse. Daisy explains that she is working with Fitz and Simmons to build a backdoor into the Framework, but they can’t force them to use it – that’s on Yo-Yo.
May doesn’t believe in Coulson’s plan. Coulson remarks that android May was more supportive, and May realizes that he drank the bottle of Haig with her. Coulson admits that he isn’t sure if the feelings that android May had were programmed or real, and May says they were real. Coulson says his were too. They decide to start again, taking things slow and working up to a second bottle of Haig.
At Mack’s house in the Framework, Yo-Yo is heartbroken that Mack doesn’t recognize her and that he is sacrificing it all for a lie. Radcliffe tells her that he warned her. He says that she needs to come to grips that he is willing to die for Hope, even if the real Hope died years ago. Yo-Yo starts to cry and says that she doesn’t want to lose Mack in the real world for a little girl who doesn’t even exist. Hope overhears this and is mortified.
Fitz and Simmons are working from the server room, when Aida teleports in without warning. She is still upset that Fitz chose Simmons over her. Aida says she understands why humans write so many sad songs, and Fitz tries to spin it into a way she can express herself. Aida disagrees; she much prefers killing. She begins to threaten Simmons, so Fitz agrees to go with her wherever she wants to go. Simmons stands up to Aida, and Fitz distracts her by getting her to talk about her feelings. While Aida is arguing with Fitz, Simmons grabs a screwdriver and tries to sneak up on Aida. Aida catches her and stabs the screwdriver into Simmons’ heart.
Fitz begs Aida to let her go. He will do anything. Aida tells him this is too late, and wonders why hurting Simmons makes her feel better. Simmons says it’s because she’s a psychopath, and Aida twists the screwdriver. Simmons starts begging her to stop, and Fitz says that he will get the Darkhold for Aida if she just stops. Simmons tearfully tells Fitz that this is all his fault. Fitz offers again to take Aida to Coulson, who has the Darkhold, when she electrocutes the screwdriver in Jemma’s heart, sending a current through her body. Fitz screams in horror.
No. No no no no no no no no.
Fitz tries to run to where Simmons is crumpled on the floor, when Aida smashes him into a terminal. She kisses his cheek and tells him that she is going to kill everyone he loves. She teleports away as Fitz is left alone with Simmons’ lifeless body.
NO NO NO NO NO NO.
Coulson is working on the makeshift Sling Ring portal machine with the Darkhold by his side, when Aida teleports to him. She tells him that she is taking the Darkhold – the only person who can stop her is Ghost Rider, and he isn’t here. Coulson tells her that there is a basic human concept she needs to learn: teamwork. Suddenly Aida is riddled with bullets. Standing there is Simmons with an automatic rifle.
YES YES YES YES YES.
As Fitz wipes his fake crocodile tears away and the Simmons android starts malfunctioning due to the screwdriver in it’s heart, Aida regenerates herself and tells her that the trap failed: bullets can’t kill her. The real Simmons remarks that she just really wanted to do that. Aida says that Coulson can’t stop her, but Coulson points out that “he” can. Coulson grabs her arm and his face starts to burn away to reveal a flaming skull.
COULSON IS GHOST RIDER! COUL RIDER! THIS CAN’T GET ANY COOLER!
God, Clark Gregg was probably more of a fanboy over this than I was.
Aida tries to electrocute him and teleport away, falling through traffic and in front of moving trains, but our fourth Ghost Rider won’t release his grip. They land near the server room, where Fitz and Simmons run to investigate the commotion. Aida turns to Fitz in terror and pain as Ghost Rider Coulson uses the Penance Stare and burns away her flesh with the fires of Hell.
God, that was satisfying to write.
Ghost Rider picks up Aida and throws her unrecognizable corpse, disintegrating it to ash. Simmons asks if Aida is really defeated. She really is. Too easy? Maybe. Badass? Definitely.
In Mack’s house in the Framework, a worried Hope tells her dad that Yo-Yo said that he was going to die and that she wasn’t real. Mack reassures her that this isn’t true, and Yo-Yo apologizes. She didn’t mean for her to overhear. Mack angrily chastises Yo-Yo for telling his daughter that. Yo-Yo tells him that he is going to die if he doesn’t leave, and he says he won’t live in a world without Hope. Furniture starts to disappear and a door appears. Radcliffe tells them that the door is the only way out of the Framework. Yo-Yo tearfully begs Mack to leave, but he sits on the couch hugging Hope and says that the only person he cares about is right here. Yo-Yo begins to cry and sits on the couch too. The only person she cares about it here, too.
No! Don’t do this! Bring Hope back! Use Project Looking Glass! Don’t all die for nothing!
Hope starts to cry and asks if she is going to die. She says she wants to be real. If you have any emotions at all, this hurts a lot. Mack holds her close and starts to cry too, telling her he will never let her go. He tells her he will always love her, but she’s gone.
Before he finishes the sentence, she has just… vanished.
Here come the tears.
Mack realizes that Hope has died (again) and breaks down sobbing. Yo-Yo starts crying too and grabs his hand.
In the real world, Mack and Yo-Yo are unconscious and strapped into the Framework. Mack sheds a single tear. Daisy is observing their vitals, and suddenly Mack’s disappear.
Yo-Yo wakes up and turns to Mack. She starts calling his name with increasing desperation. Mack doesn’t respond. Daisy starts to cry as Yo-Yo is getting frantic.
Suddenly, Mack wakes up. Yo-Yo begins to laugh through her tears as Mack sits in their depressed silence.
Jesus Christ, this show. It’s a goddamn emotional roller coaster. I want off! Stop the ride!
As they walk through the base, Coulson tells Robbie that being Ghost Rider was horrifying. He’s just glad it went back to Robbie. Robbie reminds Coulson that he made a deal with the devil (or Spirit of Vengeance) to become Ghost Rider. Coulson says he doesn’t plan on telling the team and asks Robbie not to either.
What’s that about?
In the hangar, Yo-Yo apologizes. She says seeing Mack with Hope, she felt so bad for trying to pull him away. He says that she has nothing to apologize for. All those years as Hope’s father are something he will never forget. He says he wants to start a life and a family here with Yo-Yo.
Robbie takes the Darkhold, and has to head back to his hell dimension as per his deal with the Spirit of Vengeance. They offer to fire up the machine, but he says he learned a few tricks. Using his flaming chain, he spins himself a Sling Ring portal and leaves through it. He tells Coulson he doesn’t envy him and the portal closes. May is confused by this.
Mack arrives and says that Talbot is in a coma, but he’s alive. The bad news is the world is out for blood and wants S.H.I.E.L.D.’s head; they’re on their way. They plan to head out, but Fitz says he’s going to stay. The LMDs, the Framework, this is all on him. He’ll take the blame alone. Daisy tells him that they are all in this together. She tried running away, taking the blame. It didn’t work. It didn’t protect the team. She just lost herself. Fitz pulled her back. Nothing is on Fitz: maybe it will take forever for Fitz to forgive himself, but he has nothing to apologize for. If there’s a price to pay, they pay it together. Good speech. Fitz wipes his eyes and Coulson offers food. If they’re gonna get locked up, might as well get a bite to eat.
In the Framework, Radcliffe pours himself a glass of whiskey as he sits on the beach alone. The world has disappeared around him. He laments that eternity has evaded him, but it would have been useless without his beloved Agnes anyway. He raises a glass as a toast and begins to quote T.S. Eliot.
“This is how the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a-“
The glass falls into the sand as Radcliffe vanishes.
What a beautiful ending to a fantastic character. Godspeed, Holden Radcliffe. We will miss you, John Hannah.
In a diner, S.H.I.E.L.D. is enjoying breakfast, last-supper style. A waitress offers them pie when the lights go out. The crew, mildly annoyed and bored, put their hands up. “Here we go.” A silhouetted man in a suit approaches Coulson, who congratulates them on the ominous power outage. The man pulls out a small device that looks like a glowing green Sonic Screwdriver and activates it. Time freezes. He tells his men to load them up: The window closes in two minutes.
Well, that was new.
In what appears to be a prison of some sort, Coulson wakes up and puts on his boots. He opens a large bay door to reveal a window: He is floating in space, and many asteroids float by. (And an R2-D2, if you look really closely!) He tells himself to get back to work and exits his cell into the space station.
Wait, does this mean Agents of S.W.O.R.D.!? Because that would be really cool. Maybe they’re going to tie in with the Inhumans series, on the moon!
This episode was another great one for the series. Aida’s destruction felt a little rushed, though the episode was paced well otherwise. There was a lot to pack in there, I feel it would have maybe been better served as a two-parter. The problem is, not a lot of filler this season to cut! Still, a great 8.5/10 and a lot of questions to be answered.
Stay tuned next week as I collect my thoughts, recap the crazy season, review my scores and turn my thoughts towards the upcoming series Inhumans.
Oh, and I made something for our real fallen agents this year.
Rest in peace Ron, Powers and Bill.