Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD: ‘All the Madame’s Men’ Review
“To save ourselves, we need to save the world”.
Warning: Spoilers will be discussed in this review
Turns out Aida is a high tech, evil version of Pinocchio. All of her sinister plans and her tampering with The Framework was so that she could become a real girl. Her “Project Looking Glass” idea is quite convoluted, but it’s made this “Agents of Hydra” pod very exciting.
The excitement kicked off right away when we picked up immediately where last week’s cliffhanger left off with May breaking a terrigen crystal in front of Daisy, giving her back her Quake powers. Bummer she didn’t get new powers in this alternative world, but it’s great to see her kicking ass again. Speaking of ass kicking, watching Daisy and May fight their way out of a Hydra office was awesome. Well directed gunplay, great stunt work and the girls working as a team is what made this one of the best scenes of the episode. Plus, Daisy quake pushed Madame Hydra out a high rise window, so I mean, that was cool.
With each passing episode, I seem to care more about what happens in this virtual world than I ever expected to. I, like Simmons, approached this setting as something that wasn’t real, it was all coding. I thought all that mattered was getting all of our agents out of The Framework. Yet, the events that occur in The Framework continue to carry a sense of urgency as well as intrigue. Everything our characters experience is something that can potentially affect them once they come back to the real world. So like Simmons, I become invested in what’s happening to this world and the people in it. “All the Madame’s Men” made it very clear that our SHIELD agents can’t just leave through Radcliffe’s back door. Not until they shut down Hydra in The Framework. Aida’s surrogate, Madame Hydra is using Fitz to build a machine that will turn her into a human with free will, which will replace the robotic version in the real world. They have to put a stop to that, obviously. With this plot device, it does give this Framework pod some meaning. It’s not just an excuse to feature past characters.
Speaking of which, Ward (Brett Dalton) has been exceptional in this pod. It’s become rather nice to like him as the good guy rather than loving to hate him as the villain. Although, hating him was often fun too. It’s actually going to be upsetting when we have to say goodbye to him. A lot of emotional depth was given to him through his conversation with Coulson about joining SHIELD – Nice job flipping the reality that it was Victoria Hand (whom Ward murdered in the real world) who recruited him for SHIELD and not John Garrett for Hydra – as well as his emotionally chat with Daisy. It’s a trip seeing those two interact in this alternate world, knowing Daisy is used to seeing Ward and an evil villain and Ward sees the woman he loves as someone different. Ward and Daisy’s time together in The Framework has been bittersweet. It almost feels like the show’s missed opportunity for these two. Had Ward not been evil in reality, they could have been a great couple, but the show’s integrity may have become compromised. So although their scene together in the TV studio gives us this nice “what if” feeling, I think it was always better the other way.
As for our other Framework supporting cast, Trip’s presence remains fresh and fun. I liked that despite not understanding Simmons’ “other world” explanations, he’s still more than willing to assist her by searching for Aida’s Framework hideout. It reminds us on how much of a team player Trip was. It’s certainly been fun watching Burrows take on an active role as a SHIELD agent. But I really enjoyed the performance of Simon Kassianides as he reprised his role as Sunil Bakshi. His alternate version as a Hydra propaganda spitting commentator was quite interesting, and at times comical. It’s just nice that the Framework arc serves as a second chance to present these characters who sort of got the short end of the stick when they were alive in reality.
Fitz’s story continues to grow. With Aida’s virtual body broken, he becomes Hydra’s big boss, making him a bigger threat than before. I’m really concerned on whether or not he makes it out of this evil virtual state. However, no matter how much of a big shot he becomes, he still can’t over power his daddy we came to know and hate – although I love David O’Mara’s presence as the character. Fitz flinched with he got a little too snippy with papa Fitz. We also got to see more of what made him such a monster to the real Fitz, as he gave Radcliffe a nice beatdown while trying to interrogate him. Very much a clear sign that Fitz was better off without dear ol’ dad.
We finally caught more than a glimpse into the real world where Aida and Anton were still in their submarine building the machine that will create Aida’s human body. Anton still very much wants to kill Coulson, but Aida restricted his new robotic body from doing so. Anton was useful by locating the quinjet that was carrying Simmons and Daisy while they remain hacked into The Framework. Which means, things are going to get exciting in the real world as well as The Framework, where SHIELD put out a PSA informing the public of Hydra’s wrong doings, inciting a possible rebellion. Coulson’s speech was incredible, by the way. Loved the “alternative facts” line. This pod has had some very interesting social and political commentary, that’s for sure.
The Framework portion of this season’s third pod may be coming to an end with the next episode being titled as “Farewell, Cruel World”. This episode pretty much set the stage for our agents to leave the virtual world so they can handle matters in reality. This was a very good episode with a lot of action and sinister plotting. Everybody contributed something. I’m pleased Mack has been very useful after all. The little girl who plays Hope may be the cutest child actor in years. While everything worked splendidly, “All the Madame’s Men” didn’t quite feel like a standout episode. It was standard, but in a gold standard kind of way. It served its purpose and set us up for an exciting exit out of The Framework.