‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Recap: S4E20: “Farewell, Cruel World!”

It’s time to get out of The Framework on the latest episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Even though season four has been all over the place, it has followed specific story arcs that are all connected.  This season began giving us our first “good” adaptation of Ghost Rider as the show steered into the world of the mystical in the Ghost Rider story arc.  The show then gave us the LMD arc with the creation of Aida, the first of many Life Model Decoy robots.  Through the events of that story, we got the creation of The Framework, and now the “Agents of Hydra” story arc, where our agents are placed in a virtual reality created by Aida and she has made a world where Hydra reigns supreme, and S.H.I.E.L.D. is a “terrorist” organization.  This week marks another chance in the Agents of Hydra storyline, as our heroes finally attempt to escape The Framework.

The episode opens reminding us that there is in fact, a real world.  Showing us the secret S.H.I.E.L.D. jet that Daisy and Jemma have been on as they entered the virtual world of The Framework under the watchful eye of Yo-Yo and a few other loyal agents while they are stuck in The Framework.  The only problem is that they’ve been stuck in The Framework longer than they were expected to.  In order to keep them alive, all power has been diverted to keeping their connection to the system active, everything except the life support.  They can’t stay there forever!

Inside The Framework, evil Fitz is interrogating Radcliffe to try and find out where the back door is to ensure that Jemma, Daisy, and their confederates cannot escape the virtual world.  Fits let’s Radcliffe know that if Aida’s Darkhold machine is successful, they can create brand new bodies in the real world, ones that can live forever.  As Radcliffe is dead in the real world, the possibility of immortality is very enticing for him.  Is he going to reveal the secret location and betray our heroes?

Jemma, still holding out hope for Fitz to snap out of his dark path is trying to not only find the back door, but she also wants to figure out how it all went wrong for the man she loves in The Framework.  She finally finds out from May that in The Framework, his father never left him, and is his Hydra bestie.  Jemma realizes that if she is ever going to reach Fitz, she’s going to have to reach him through his father.  After going to his father’s house and holding him at gunpoint, she tries to get his father to lure him there.  Fitz’s father calls him, but immediately tells Fitz that he’s being held hostage and then a scuffle ensues, resulting with Jemma shooting his father to defend herself.  Of course, Fitz heard the whole thing on the phone, so now he’s hell bent on killing Jemma.

Meanwhile, everyone else is at the secret S.H.I.E.L.D location.  Although May is different in The Framework, she and Coulson start to act like their old selves and begin bonding like they always have.  In Mace’s absence, and thanks to his rousing speech against Hydra last week, Coulson is turning into the face of the resistance.  They see that many citizens in The Framework are taking to the streets and going against Hydra as their plan worked out.  Now all that remains is to find the back door and escape the Framework.  Although May and Mack do not believe the “this isn’t the correct world” theory, they agree to accompany Jemma and Daisy to escape.  Thanks to Trip being the pilot, the group is off to escape.

The back door is covered by molten steel, which requires Daisy to use her quake powers to ensure that whoever goes through it doesn’t melt.  As the team makes it to the back door, they are met by Fitz and a few of his Hydra agents.  After the firefight, Coulson is shot in the chest.  He immediacy comments on how familiar it feels, a great callback to when he was stabbed through the chest by Loki in the first Avengers film.  Coulson and May make their way through the portal and back into the real world.  May snaps back to her old self, away from the shackles or The Framework.  Coulson quickly goes to dispatch Aida (who is still connected to The Framework).  Fitz confronts Simmons over the death of his virtual father and shoots her.  Before he is able to execute her, Radcliffe reveals that he never did betray the agents, and after he subdues Fitz, he sends him through the portal as well.  The shell-shocked Fitz realizes the terrible things he was capable of, and the fact that he killed Mace in the virtual and the real world.  Daisy and Jemma awaken back on their S.H.I.E.L.D. ship, and not a moment too soon as The Superior’s forces started to shoot the plane out of the sky.  The only person who didn’t make it out of The Framework is Mack, who would rather live in a world where his virtual daughter Hope is in it.  He knows she’s not real, but she’s real to him.

Meanwhile, Aida has finally managed to use Darkhold technology to create a new body.  She confronts Fitz, Coulson, and May.  Pleading to a confused Fitz that she is now 100% human and they can continue their relationship in the real world.  Before Coulson or May can shoot her, she teleports away.  Turns out, she also made herself an Inhuman.

Net week, the threat’s not over as they face an human Aida and are under siege in “The Return.”