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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Farewell, Cruel World - Review

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Farewell, Cruel World!” was written by Brent Fletcher and directed by Vincent Misiano. This was another fantastic episode in the Agents of Hydra arc. We saw most of our team brought back together, many damaged, only to be torn apart again. It’s clear that there are going to be lasting effects from the time spent in the Framework. Now we have to cross everything and hope that the show gets renewed so we can watch it play out – because this season only has two episodes left!

The episode begins with a repeat of 10 days ago when Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and Daisy (Chloe Bennet) went into the Framework. Skip ahead 10 days and the Zephyr is desperate to refuel. Yo-Yo (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), Agent Piper (Briana Venskus), Agent Davis (Maximilian Osinski), and Agent Prince (Ricardo Walker) are freezing because they’ve turned off or down all non-essential systems – like heating! – in order to conserve fuel. They can’t touch down because they don’t know who they can trust at S.H.I.E.L.D. Piper suggest turning off the cloaking, and Davis and Prince are dead set against it because it’s the only thing keeping them safe – and they’re right! Ivanov (Zach McGowan) is gunning for them. Yo-Yo tells Piper to do it anyway.

In the Framework, the members of the resistance watch the news report on the attack on the broadcast center and the declaration of martial law. Daisy remarks that Madame Hydra (Mallory Jansen) isn’t subtle, and Burrows (Patrick Cananaugh) agrees, but hilariously adds “just look at her uniform, so crazy hot.”

Daisy is reunited with Trip (BJ Britt) and is so thrilled she hugs him – and of course, he doesn’t know her. Simmons and Daisy are also reunited and catch each other up. Simmons tells Daisy about Aida’s plan to become real, and Daisy tells Simmons that Radcliffe (John Hannah) gave her the location of the backdoor.

Simmons remarks that they just need to get everyone to the backdoor, and Daisy points out that won’t be easy, considering that Mack (Henry Simmons) and May (Ming-Na Wen) have no idea what’s happening. Simmons points out that Fitz is surrounded by Hydra guards at all times, so it’s going to be difficult to get to him. Daisy tells her they can’t rescue Fitz – right now. In the Framework, he’s the Head of Hydra and wants them all dead! Simmons is quick to defend him, but Daisy insists that this is the reality they are currently living in. Daisy promises that they will get Fitz out, but they have to save the others before Aida can kill them.

Daisy sees Mack and Hope (Jordan Rivera) about to leave with their luggage – they’re going home. Daisy tells Mack they need him for a mission, and he is ready to blow it off, but Hope won’t let him. She convinces him that he can’t say no to Daisy because she helped them and she’s the biggest hero in S.H.I.E.L.D. Mack agrees, but then heartbreakingly asks Daisy to promise that he’ll be back in time to tuck Hope in. Daisy hedges and says she promises that he’ll be right where he needs to be. I have to say that I saw the writing on the wall right then…

May is helping in the infirmary, and Coulson (Clark Gregg) remarks that he sees she’s found a way to pitch in. She tells him that people have resisted Hydra before. It never ends well. Coulson tells her that this time it’s different – people are finally starting to learn the truth. May remarks that it’s a lot to process. Fake news - #alternativehistory – which sounds a lot like #alternativefacts. I love that this story arc highlights the dangers in being history deniers and tampering with a free press. It’s totally something that Hydra would do.

Coulson tells May the truth about their “reality.” Coulson insists that she has to admit that something about this reality doesn’t feel right, but May wants to chalk it up to oppressive government, not this “mind-prison.” May insists that her days of following blindly are over. Coulson will need to show, not tell. Coulson says he can work with that.

Back at Hydra, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) interrogates Radcliffe, who refuses to talk to him or tell him anything about what he discusses with Daisy. Radcliffe tells him he may not be the Fitz who is his good friend, but he wears his fear the same way. Fitz is running scared. Radcliffe taunts Fitz that Daisy and the others will escape and destroy the Framework.

Fitz points out that that will also kill Radcliffe, but he’d rather be dead than live in this world. Radcliffe tells Fitz that he’s already dead in the other world, thanks to Aida. And then Fitz offers Radcliffe the one thing that he’s wanted all along – immortality. Fitz tells Radcliffe they’ve found a way to transfer human consciousness to an organic body.

Simmons “introduces” herself to May, who wants to know how a little “pop-tart” like her evaded capture for a week! Because YOU trained her May! May is surprised to learn that Simmons and Fitz are a team in the other world. Simmons insists that something had to have happened to the Fitz in this reality because her Fitz is a kind, caring person who helps people. May tells Simmons that Fitz and his father, Alastair (David O’Hara), are inseparable – and Simmons immediately knows that that is what Aida changed for Fitz.

Simmons gets Alastair’s address with May’s access to Hydra and takes him hostage at gunpoint. Simmons accuses Alastair of poisoning Fitz’s mind. When Simmons says that Fitz is better than what Alastair raised him to be, he’s a good man, Alastair insists that he’s a great man. Simmons is sure that she can “fix it.” Simmons tells Alastair that Fitz is in danger – from Madame Hydra. Alastair actually immediately thinks of the machine. But when he calls Fitz at Simmons insistence, he tells Fitz that the fugitive is with him. The two fight and Alastair is killing Simmons. Fitz hears a gunshot and frantically calls for his father. Simmons has killed Alastair.

Trip and Daisy determine where the backdoor is. Trip wants to know more about her team: a Hydra Agent, a dad, and a school teacher seem pretty Bad News Bears to him. I’ve missed Trip’s pop culture references! Trip asks if it has anything to do with the other world, and Daisy is surprised that Simmons told him. I loved Trip’s smile as he says “I’m easy to confide in.” Daisy tells him that he, May, Mack and Coulson were all part of their team in the other world. Trip assumes that both Daisy and Simmons were so happy to see him because they had a “relationship” in the other world – and Daisy shuts him down. He even suggests May! Then he tells Daisy they have to wait for Simmons to get back…

Coulson is a bit freaked out that everyone at the base seems to be staring at him and May. May points out that everyone is staring at Coulson – because he went on tv and called for revolution – he’s now the face of the revolution! Coulson insists he’s more of a work in the shadows kind of guy. I love how they all do revert to their true natures!

Daisy comes to May and wants to know why she didn’t tell her that she’d told Simmons about Alastair. May insists because she doesn’t answer to Daisy there or in any other fantasy world they’ve cooked up – but I think that’s about to change back in the real world. With Mace gone, it seems inevitable that Daisy will be stepping into his role.

Daisy realizes that Coulson has told May about the real world. Coulson hedges that it came up in conversation… he’d like to think because they were bonding. I really have missed this version of Coulson from way back in the early Ironman movies! Gregg is just so good! Couslon insists it’s ok, Melinda has agreed to keep an open mind. May tells Daisy not to worry about Simmons – she knows how to stay off the radar.

It doesn’t matter in the end because Fitz already knows where they’re all going. Radcliffe tries to tell Fitz that Simmons didn’t mean to kill his father. Fitz is determined that he’s going to put a bullet through Jemma Simmons’ skull!

Back on the real Zephyr, Yo-Yo is worried about Mack and Piper reassures her that she’s doing everything she can. Prince interrupts to tell them that they have company. Ivanov has found them. They can’t use the anti-aircraft guns without power, however.

Simmons makes it back and tells Daisy that she killed Alastair. Daisy says she didn’t kill anyone, Alastair is just an avatar. However, Simmons is distraught that Fitz won’t come with them now. Daisy tells her not to worry about it for now.

Back at the Hydra base, Marilyn (Rheagan Wallace) informs Madame Hydra that Fitz’s father has been murdered, and Aida knows she’s in trouble – Alastair has been a big part in how she’s controlled Fitz all along. Aida knows immediately that it’s Simmons who killed him. Aida sends word to Fitz to abort his mission, and Fitz ignores his orders.

When the team arrives at the backdoor, they find Madame Hydra’s “modifications.” Daisy thanks Trip for the ride, and he offers to come with, but knows instinctively that there’s some reason he can’t. Daisy tells Trip that there’s lots that she can’t tell him, but mainly, he’s needed there. Ward can’t be the only one leading the fight – and I have to admit that I was pretty disappointed that we didn’t get any Brett Dalton in this episode! But it did seem like he’d said his goodbyes – to Daisy at least – in the last episode. She tells Trip that just because Mace is gone, it doesn’t mean that the Patriot has to be – she passes the torch to him! Daisy hugs Trip goodbye.

Daisy was expecting the backdoor to be in a public fountain – not a creepy steel mill! Coulson finds the location and it’s a vat of molten steel! Daisy insists that the backdoor is part of the Framework’s infrastructure and can’t be moved, but Simmons wonders if it can be sealed. Mack suddenly wants to know what the “backdoor” is – he thought they were there to take out Madame Hydra!

May breaks the “other world” to Mack, and Simmons thinks they are trapped – Aida’s won. Daisy insists that when they pass through the backdoor, they wake up on the other side. Mack is furious that he’s been lied to and taken away from Hope. Coulson still believes. But Mack insists that Daisy is not Moses who can part the Red Sea. But that’s exactly what Daisy thinks to do – she can quake it! And Mack is not happy that they used the Bible against him!

Madame Hydra is told the Zephyr has gone dark – Fitz isn’t responding. She realizes that Simmons has found a way out and orders her team to proceed. Back in this reality, the machined starts building Aida’s new, real body.

Hydra arrives and a firefight ensues. Daisy takes it as a sign that either it’s a trap or the back door really is there – she quakes the molten steel to reveal the backdoor. Mack can’t believe it’s real, and May suggests it could still be a trap, but Coulson insists the time for doubting is over. He’s going home!

Without much consideration, Coulson just walks out towards the backdoor – and is shot in the chest! Simmons is convinced Coulson is going to die, but May insists not on her watch. Coulson remarks that it feels “oddly familiar” and I had horrible flashbacks!

Coulson insists that there’s only one way. He asks May to come with him and she wants to know how he can be sure. He tells her he can’t: “It’s going to be a leap of faith type of thing.” May tells him it’s not that easy for her, and he insists it is. He asks her to just follow his lead – as they’ve done all along. I loved that Coulson simply let himself fall off the platform in the same position as a trust fall in theater.

The team watch as he disappears and a ripple runs through the Framework. It’s a terrific special effect, but it also proves that Daisy and Simmons were telling the truth, and Mack is devastated to learn the truth. Henry Simmons is terrific in this episode.

Coulson wakes up and waits for May, who isn’t long in joining him. It’s a terrific moment as she tells him she followed him through, and we see their real feelings for each other come through for a moment. He tells her that he’s amazed she came because he was a little “squirrelly” on the other side, and she insists he was kinda cute! May is understandably weaker than Coulson because she’s been in for so long. He apologizes for taking so long to find her.

The two are not happy to see Aida – and Coulson snarls “stinking robots.” He grabs a scalpel to take care of Aida, saying he wished he had a shotgun-ax! And of course, that’s how Mack – the real hater of robots took out the other Aida – might take a while to cut her head off with a scalpel!

Fitz shows up before Simmons can jump. Simmons instinct is to be overjoyed to be reunited with Fitz and she smiles and moves toward him. But this isn’t her Fitz. Simmons tells him that Aida took him from her and she came to rescue him, but Fitz can’t get past her killing his father. She tells him that killing Alastair was an accident, but Fitz insists that nothing she’s done has been an accident.

Simmons insists that Aida has been lying to him, and he insists that her name is Ophelia. Simmons starts to get angry, telling him that ITS name is AIDA – for Artificially Intelligent Digital Assistant! It’s just a robot and he has to stop making excuses for it. She begs him to wake up, and he tells her to get to her knees – shooting her in the leg when she won’t comply!

Simmons tells him that he doesn’t have to do it, she loves him. He insists that she means nothing to him and wants her to say it. Fitz is holding a gun to her head when we hear a gunshot – but it’s Radcliffe!

He’s killed the Hydra Agent and disarms Fitz. He tells Fitz that this was never his intention – it was all the Darkhold. He repeatedly begs Fitz not to blame himself, taking all the blame for himself before pushing Fitz through the backdoor. Simmons pulls Radcliffe back from falling in, and he tells Simmons that bringing Fitz was the only way he could save him. He can’t make things right in the Framework – this is the best he can do.

Simmons jumps only to wake up to a Zephyr under attack and on fire!

Daisy tells Mack that he has to jump. It’s his only chance – he’s in danger in the other world. Mack’s first instinct is to ask if Hope is in danger too, but Daisy has to tell him that Hope isn’t alive there. Daisy explains that Aida fixed Mack’s biggest regret – Hope’s death. Mack refuses to leave a world in which he has his daughter – she laughs at his jokes. Daisy insists that it’s not real. It’s just a computer program. Henry Simmons is fantastic in this scene – and so is Bennet as Daisy loses her friend. Simmons shines as he tells Daisy how he holds his daughter when she’s sad.

Daisy pleads with him. There are people on the other side who love him very much. She doesn’t want to lose him. But Mack is determined to stay, and Daisy goes without him. She lands on the Zephyr and immediately has to tell Yo-Yo that she wasn’t able to save Mack.

Coulson is there to help Fitz when he wakes up, and it was wonderful to have our Fitz back! De Caestecker is really wonderful in this scene, and we get a real indication of just how terrific his acting has been in this entire arc and now different that other Fitz was. Coulson immediately seconds what Radcliffe told Fitz – don’t blame yourself. Coulson adds that the Framework messes with everyone’s head.

Fitz is devastated by the people he had killed – and Coulson tells him it wasn’t real. But then we see Mace’s empty spot, and Fitz is even more devastated when he realizes that he ordered the airstrike that killed Director Mace! And of course, there’s a cut to May, who will also feel responsible for Mace’s death. May hears something.

The scene cuts to Aida’s finished body – and her gasping her first actual breath – before cutting back to Fitz. Coulson insists that none of what happened is his fault. But Fitz says that he “wanted to do those things. It felt natural. I think that I’m a bad person.” And then Aida walks in, and Fitz calls her Ophelia.

She asks if this is what happiness feels like – she’s so happy to see him. Fitz is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Coulson immediately realizes that she’s a real person now – we see that he has cut off her robot head – but it also means that she bleeds just like them. May is ready to take the shot, but Fitz is in the way.

Aida tells Fits to feel her heart beating and that they can make this world whatever they want. May keeps shouting at Fitz to get out of the way, and Coulson keeps shouting at May to just take the shot. But May is still reeling and won’t kill a member of their team – let alone an innocent. Fitz is also still reeling and can’t get out of the way or extricate himself from Aida’s hold on him – both mental and physical. She wraps her arms around him and bamfs out! How did she do that if she’s real?? What powers has she given herself from the Darkhold? Has she crafted herself as an Inhuman?

In the final scene, Mack returns to base where Trip is sitting with Hope asleep beside him. Trip is surprised to see him and wonders if something went wrong. Mack assures him it went fine. Trip tells him that he was waiting until morning to tell her. Mack explains that the rest of the team went to a place like Kansas at the end of the Wizard of Oz. And Hope is apparently the heart of the tin man.

So, I’m hoping we will see Mack, Trip, and Ward teaming up next week to defeat Madame Hydra and the Doctor. But if she’s taken Fitz back to the Framework like this, will he still be the Doctor? Or maybe she’s simply taken him to take over THIS world. But this Fitz isn’t the Doctor, and I’m betting he’s still going to be madly in love with Simmons regardless of how messed up he is. So how will Mack come out of the Framework? And what will Yo-Yo do when she learns the full story? Maybe we’ve also just said goodbye to Henry Simmons? With no news on a renewal or not, there’s no way to make guesses on whether people will be back next season or not…

What did you think of the episode? Theories on what’s next? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!