Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: No Regrets
April 19, 2017 6:35 AM - Season 4, Episode 18 - Subscribe

The truth behind Fitz’s turn could bring down all of S.H.I.E.L.D.

If you've let SHIELD slide down your viewing queue, you're missing a lot. Normally at this point in a season there's some padding episodes as they make the final stretch to the finale, but not this season of SHIELD. Energized by the Ghost Rider and LMD storylines, Agents of Hydra is proving to be a solid story with a lot of payoff for fans.

With small changes in the timeline, AIDA's set up an alternate world where all the main characters have avoided their old regrets, with significantly varied results. Jemma and Skye have quite a task convincing the others they're inside The Framework. Jemma's task is hard - in this world, Mace is a super powered hero, Ward is alive and a nice guy, and Mack has his daughter. At least with Coulson he has fragments of real memories and the prospect of a better life... until he meets up with fallen colleague (and fan favourite) Tripp.

As tough as that is, Skye's task is harder. She's opposed by AIDA/Ophelia/Madame Hydra (finally fulfilling her goal of human existence), May (who did not kill the little girl in Bahrain and seems surprisingly at home as Hydra's chief enforcer), and Fitz (the most powerful scientist and Hydra's #2), whose proud father helps him navigate difficult philosophical questions like, "was it OK to kill an unarmed, innocent woman?".

In the end, those tasks collide as May battles Mace, who wins the fight but loses his life saving a roomful of Clockwork Orange children. Seeing his sacrifice changes something in May, who returns to Skye with a Terrigen crystal that will return her Quake powers. But it's going to be too late for Mace, as outside the Framework AIDA disengages the flatlined hero.

EW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recap: 'No Regrets'

Den of Geek: An old friend returns and a hero falls as things heat up within the Framework on Agents Of SHIELD...
posted by GhostintheMachine (19 comments total)
Really interested to see how (if?) they resolve some of the philosophical issues they've raised. Could Mack really give up his daughter? How will the team react to having to let go of lost friends like Tripp and nuWard? How will the darkside characters like Fitz deal with learning how easy it was to become a fascist, and how will the others (like Jemma) view them now? There's a lot of ethical questions being raised that should have deep and lasting repercussions.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 9:45 AM on April 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

If you've let SHIELD slide down your viewing queue, you're missing a lot.

Yep. This season's great. I love the whole Matrix thing they have going on as an excuse to play What If? with the storyline.

I also like Ward addressing 'what makes this real?' Usually, a story like this has a protagonist doubting the validity of their experience. That's not liable to happen here - from Daisy and Jemma's perspective, this is all very cut and dried... but watching Ward grapple with it is absolutely fascinating. He's suddenly become the protagonist in a PKD story or something: his entire life is someone else's fever dream.

It's just neat.

Plus, yeah, the gut punch they've got coming for Mack is just absolutely brutal, and it was hard watching Mace die to save kids that didn't exist, because of course he would.

My only real nitpick with the episode is that I always have a hard time watching May lose a fistfight - she went up against Crusher Creel, went toe to toe with Centipede soldiers, etc. all with zero powers. I didn't really give Mace good odds there. Still, his regret was not kicking ass, so...

At any rate, yeah, loving this whole subplot.
posted by mordax at 10:07 AM on April 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Evil Fitz said something about Hydra making "this society great again."

As for the philosophical stuff, I guessing they're going to punt by keeping the framework running in a vault somewhere.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:41 AM on April 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Evil Fitz also had the line "nevertheless, she persisted" - which was good for a cold chill.

Meeting Fitz's dad finally revealed his Regret. May's, Mace's and Mac's are pretty clear, but I don't feel we've gotten the story on Coulsen's Regret yet.
posted by klarck at 11:07 AM on April 19, 2017 [3 favorites]

At first I thought they were playing Coulson's regret as joining Shield (and not having a normal life). But now I'm leaning towards him not having any regrets.
posted by zinon at 5:40 PM on April 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

As for the philosophical stuff, I guessing they're going to punt by keeping the framework running in a vault somewhere.

Or they'll bring the Good Guys around on these being entities with feelings and just as much right to live as any biological but Ada or some other ill force will make the choice to destroy it.

At first I thought they were playing Coulson's regret as joining Shield (and not having a normal life). But now I'm leaning towards him not having any regrets.

It's interesting because we certainly saw him with regrets over losing the cello player in the first season. So if it's not her specifically (and why not, given that Dr Jackass has his specific love and Fitz his specific dad?) then you'd think it would be along the have a family lines. I hope there's going to be a more interesting payoff than it simply would have been inconvenient to plot around Coulson having a family in this world.

Possibly Coulson has so many little regrets for the repercussions of the things he's done that his resulting world was one where he never did much of anything worthwhile at all. If he'd been a good teacher that wouldn't be true but he was one who taught stuff he knew was garbage and just kept his head down, never helping anyone or risking himself.
posted by phearlez at 11:30 AM on April 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by the webmistress at 12:43 PM on April 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

He may have regretted not getting married. There was a reference to an ex-wife.
posted by amtho at 6:19 PM on April 20, 2017

Given how much the writers of this show looooooove bringing Ward back to life, I will not be surprised if there's an escape from the Framework into an LMD at the end of the season. And possibly for Evil Fitz as well.
posted by Shepherd at 6:06 PM on April 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

If I have a complaint about this arc it's that I've completely and utterly forgotten who is a Real Boy in the framework and who is a figment. I mean it's obvious when it's a dead character brought back, but I honestly didn't remember that Mace was actually in there too until the scene with Aida. That lessened the blow of losing him and seems like a writing misstep.

And honestly, they can wrap this arc up real soon now, because Madame Hydra's eye makeup is something godawful. It's a traditional bad guy effect, sure, but it really puts Mallory Jansen's face down into some weird uncanny valley analogue. I do love Fitz' Hugo Boss suit, though. It's a nice change from his usual rumpled look.
posted by Kyol at 8:26 PM on April 24, 2017

If we're listing references to American politics, we would be terribly amiss to neglect Sunil's offer to help the blonde buy furniture.

While I could see framework Grant being brought back into the real world via AIDA's "new body" construction device, sadly I don't think they'll take that route. (I find myself really liking framework Ward.) I can see them using it to revive Mace (who certainly earned his heroic death, doing the thing he didn't do but took credit for in real life).

I hadn't thought about the long-term effects that Ghost in the Machine mentioned above--the doubts and moral anguish the team will be faced with when they see what they became in the framework. Until this season, I would have totally written off the possibility of the show's writers being able to pull off something so complicated and nuanced. I'd have put good money on the likelihood they'd just drop the consequence ball and go home. After watching the way this season has unfolded, however, I'm optimistic that we will see the characters grappling with the aftereffects of this experience and we'll get to watch some real character development. This show has really turned itself around and improved. I so wasn't expecting that to happen, and now, rather watching it out of a misplaced sense of Marvel-completest obligation, I'm tuning in because I'm enjoying it.
posted by sardonyx at 9:17 PM on April 26, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the Agents of Hydra storyline has been incredibly good, with different looks at the cast, which will hopefully have some affects on their real lives. C'mon, FitzSimmons can't stay happy, right?

Really love that all of this is grounded in Aida's desire to be a real person who is under no one's slave.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:58 AM on May 2, 2017

I see there's a major plot spoiler making the rounds, and it looks like it's going to be part of the upcoming marketing campaign. I accidentally caught a tease of the tease and thought, huh, I wonder if that means X, and sure enough, it meant X. Which, damn, spoils things for me heading toward the finale. I'm trying to keep this message as spoiler free as possible in case it's not common knowledge, but if you're interested in being surprised by the finale avoid the usual media sources.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 8:16 AM on May 2, 2017

avoid the usual media sources

Luckily, the entertainment media sources I follow gave up the show a couple seasons ago.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:53 AM on May 2, 2017

I'm sort of amazed anyone has managed to avoid that spoiler. Several non-tv properties I have in my FB feed have spoiled it, above the fold, complete with picture. Infuriating.
posted by phearlez at 9:43 AM on May 3, 2017

I've managed to avoid it, so please, stop talking about it, thanks!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:55 AM on May 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I really appreciate the way they writers have reversed the quality of Fitz's and Ward's characters in the Framework by reversing the presence of toxic masculinity in their parent figures from what exists in the real world.

COULSON: What was his name?
WARD: She'd laugh that you assumed it was a man.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:14 PM on May 3, 2017 [3 favorites]

When Trip appeared I started crying. I didn't realize how badly I missed him until that moment.

I would LOVE for them to find a way to bring this Ward back to the real world. Iteration #4 for Ward if we include Hive? It would be grand!
posted by rednikki at 7:45 PM on May 4, 2017 [1 favorite]

This fall, Marvel's Ward of the STATE!

Grant Ward returns from the framework in a new android body. His goofy sidekick Koenig (Patton Oswalt) is more than he seems - his task is to support and monitor Ward as they carry out missions for the super-secret organization Special Team for Advanced Tactics and Espionage while preventing the bad guys from re-implanting Ward with his original human memory engrams in order to turn him evil.

Part of ABC's "Watch... or else!" Friday.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 3:37 PM on May 9, 2017 [5 favorites]

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