Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 has been wall to wall excitement for the majority of the season but tonight’s had a different feel to it. Have you ever heard the phrase “The Calm before the Storm”? Well ‘All the Madame’s Men’ had that feeling even though we got our share of action and plenty of FEELS from not just SkyeWard but Philinda as well. Also we got the return of The Superior and a big glimpse into what Aida’s master plan is. Hint: If she gets her way, Aida and Pinocchio will have a lot in common. So let’s start our review with a good old-fashioned jail break where Daisy and May do what they do best….yep you guessed it — kick Hydra Ass!
SHAKE AND QUAKE
We start off the episode how we left off ‘No Regrets‘ with May waiting for Daisy to burst out of her Inhuman cocoon. Skye bursts out of the cocoon (her scars from the Hydra beating also gone too–the make-up department breathing a sigh of relief) just as some Hydra goons make a appearance. Much like goons, they are easily dispatched as the ladies start their path out of the Triskelion in a flurry of bullets. Waiting for them however at the elevator to freedom is Madame Hydra/Aida. Madame gives a little bit of a taunt to Daisy before Daisy’s Quake powers show up and the Madame goes flying through the window and splats several stories down. Not going to lie, I got some joy from that for all the crap she’s put the team through.
This knocks Aida back into the real world as The Superior is back waiting for her. We get here some whining from Superior about how he can’t kill anyone and boo hoo. Aida orders him to find where the real Jemma and Daisy are at as they are becoming quite the problem in the Framework world. As for Madama Hydra, somehow she survives the fall with a shattered spine. (My guess as to why she survived–simple android mind/body unlike us pesky human ones) Now here’s where Fitz SHOULD figure out something is up but his manipulation by Aida has been too much.
Instead Fitz is full steam ahead on “Project Looking Glass” aka “Make Aida into a real woman!” Yes the machine that Fitz is working on is going to let Madame Hydra go through it and come out in the real world as a flesh and blood human with her own thoughts and emotions. That is some messed-up Westworld stuff there if you think about it. Fitz is real close to having it completed with his dirt-bag father cheering him. And again I say, Fuck You Fitz’s Dad.
Pops Fitz also spends a little of the episode trying to get Radcliffe to talk and tell him what Daisy & Jemma’s plan is. Thing is, you can’t get a man who has nothing to care for to talk. Just isn’t going to happen. So instead of spilling his guts, Radcliffe spends the time telling Alistair what a worthless piece of shit he is in the real world. A failed father, a failed husband whose only accomplishments happened at the end of bottle. It’s funny how we see Ward is a good fellow thanks to the difference in a choice he made. It’s sad seeing how only one change could make Fitz become a heartless dude, how one person can influence a life for the worse.
THE BAND IS (ALMOST) BACK TOGETHER
Meanwhile, over in S.H.I.E.L.D HQ, the team is watching a old ”pal” of ours Sunil Bakshi’s Hydra propaganda news show. Just imagine a better-looking Sean Hannity on Fox News and this is basically what his show is. It’s been eerie how much the framework world is starting to parallel the world we live in right now. That is a discussion for another day though as let’s get back to the review.
Simmons and Coulson are worried about keeping S.H.I.E.L.D together in the wake of The Patriot’s death, Ward tries to figure out how to rescue Skye and Mack is trying to make his daughter Hope feel safer. When it comes to getting out of the Framework, the hardest person to get out undoubtedly will be Mack. He has his daughter back here and I just don’t see what could cause him to lose her again.
After another airing of “The Bakshi Report” shows Skye and May have escaped, Ward decided to go out there and find her. This leads to Coulson giving a talk with Ward that is so very much like the Director Phil Coulson we know. I guess in any world, Coulson is a born leader. We get Ward explaining how Victoria Hand believed in him to join S.H.I.E.L.D after a rough patch. That Skye’s love is what made him into a even better man. Once again, the framework shows how one thing changes everything. Instead of Garrett first getting his Hydra hands on Ward, here it was Victoria and SHIELD. Just that changed Ward from being a nazi criminal to a heroic man.
As for Daisy and May, they are trying to find their way back to S.H.I.E.L.D. even though their faces are plastered everywhere. Along the way, May informs Daisy of the Patriot’s death. It saddens me because I had started to see a bond form between Daisy and Mace prior to this Hydra arc starting. It sucks that we’ll never see what it could have grown to in the future. Rest In Peace Jeffrey Mace. Finally, Daisy and May are able to meet a S.H.I.E.L.D. contact and of course Hydra goons show up to ruin everything again. After a firefight, Daisy and May are trapped inside a warehouse-type place.
Simmons and Trip go on a mission to find the place where “Project Looking Glass” could be happening at. It felt really good to see this pairing again as I always loved their friendship in seasons 1 and 2. It was a fun, cool pairing. Also I’ve missed the heck out Trip and his calm in the face of anything. We get a clear example of this when Jemma tells Trip about the framework world not being real. Trip’s response to it is simple and perfect.
Sadly, their plan fails as Simmons figures out that while Fitz is designing the machine here, the real machine is back in the real world. It gets worse as according to Trip is the plans for the machine being finished were in about a week. And it has been a week since Trip heard that as we go to a shot of Fitz feverishly working on the project in his lab. WAKE UP FITZ DAMMIT.
A TALE OF TWO SHIPS
Inside, May is still distraught over what happened earlier with the detention center and her role in it. Here’s where we get a glimpse of our May, as one of two things that always trigger her emotions is children. She feels she cause the death of them even if she didn’t know they were in there. Daisy tells her that she fought back though and if she woke up , then maybe others can wake up too. This does give them the idea though of using May’s body camera footage to show the people the truth about Hydra and also help Coulson’s group find the spot to wake up at. A pretty great plan……well in theory at least.
Help comes just in time to rescue them in the form of Mack and Coulson who have very different reactions to May. Mack’s is distrust as May used him before and in his eyes, made him lose the self-respect of himself in the eyes of his daughter. Now that’s BS but that’s how Mack feels and it’s hard to change how a person feels.
Which leads to Coulson reaction to seeing May again, as he plays peacemaker for everyone. Almost immediately you can feel that spark that May and Phil have for each other. No matter what world they are in, they still care for each other even if they don’t quite realize it themselves. This is evident in their interactions in the rest of ‘All the Madame’s Men’ especially when they all get back to SHIELD HQ. There’s a cute moment when May helps Coulson with his tie in a scene very remincent of times before. PHILINDA survives even in the most toughest of circumstances.
IF YOU WANT ANGST, YOU GOT IT
As for SKYEWARD though….. if you love seeing angst by the gallon full then the Daisy/Ward scenes were for you.
It starts with Ward trying to talk to Skye and checking up on her. Daisy however is still cool to it. She still remembers Ward as the bastard he was in the real world. This Grant Ward however is hurting. He’s lost the woman he loves and now knows his world isn’t real. That’s a hard thing for anyone to take as evident by how his heartbreaks second by second talking to Daisy in the hallway. His last comment of “I’m glad you’re safe Daisy.” sounds like a little jab but I think it was more a man realizing that his world is gone. A heartbroken man. but one that still cares about doing what’s right. This is a Grant Ward who we could have had had things ended up differently.
A little later, the team goes to take over Bakshi’s tv show so they can play the footage from May’s body camera. Here is where we get another SkyeWard scene and all of our hearts break again. Daisy takes control of the control booth but realizes that Hydra will be coming to get it soon. Ward tells her that he will defend the booth while her and the rest of the team go off to find the way out of the Framework. Grant knows he can’t leave with the rest of them but he can still help them.
Emotions reach a level 11 for me as Grant tells Daisy about he doesn’t want her to think of him like the Grant Ward from her world. Grant asks if his Skye will come back and Daisy doesn’t know. She does tell him however that thanks to him, she finally understands Grant Ward and knows there was some good in there somewhere.
I won’t lie, this scene upon rewatch got me teary eyed. Brett Dalton and Chloe Bennet brought the emotional feels in this scene and A+ to them both. I just wish that instead of the Grant Ward we got in seasons 2 and 3 , we could have have had this Grant Ward instead. I liked rooting for this Ward. He was brave, heroic and most importantly not a freaking Nazi. This SkyeWard could have been a beautiful thing to see grow but alas it wasn’t meant to be. As the framework has shown us , one choice let Grant Ward not choose this life but instead one that led him down the wrong path.
The final question to ask after Ward and Daisy wishing each other “Good Luck” as they separate — Is this the last time we ever see Grant Ward? Well of course that’s partly determined by if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets a season 5 (#RENEWAGENTSOFSHIELD) . If so, then no we haven’t seen the last of Grant Ward. I mean, there is a device being made that could turn framework people into real fresh and blood people in the real world. I could see Ward coming back that way. (and Trip. Bring Back Trip always.)
END OF ALTERNATIVE FACTS
Ward plays the footage from May’s body camera as the truth is finally being shown to the people in the frameworld of what HYDRA truly is. For those wondering –Evil fucking Nazis. Coulson then takes the anchor’s chair and delivers a speech that I would definitely calling inspiring. As a montage of all the players in the Framework world — from Fitz and his pops to a bed-ridden Madame Hydra watch on, the Phil Coulson we know and love tells the people to stand up for what they believe in. I can’t do what Coulson said justice so here’s a snippet of the end of his speech.
“A wise man once told me that a person can do anything once they realize they’re a part of something bigger. It’s taken me a while to understand that. For years I was just a face in the crowd… But now I’m choosing to stand up. To become a part of something bigger. I really do believe that together we can accomplish anything. Because the truth is… My name is Phil Coulson, and I’m an Agent of SHIELD.”
Man, do I wish someone would give that type of speech right now. As the speech goes, Ward is informed that there are people outside the studio. Except they are now here to help fight back against the HYDRA machine.
So we are all set-up for a big fight as the team tries to get back to the real world. Thsi does lead to a number of questions however. Will Mack be able to leave his darling daughter Hope behind? How the heck are they going to get Fitz?? Can they get Fitz back? Also in the tag, we see that Aida and The Superior have found the location of the bodies of Jemma and Daisy onboard the SHIELD jet. Oh boy….though this does mean we get to see Yo-Yo again so that is a positive.
‘All the Madame’s Men’ feels like that quick breath of air you get before you have to do a ton of things at once. It fun that this episode could even be considered a calm episode just shows you how wild this Agents of HYDRA arc has been. The only negative of I have of this season is that there is only 3 episodes left to go.
- It was a blink and you’ll miss it moment but there was a tiny tribute to John Garrett on Bakshi’s show. Rest in Peace Bill Paxton, we miss you.
- “Although she is HYDRA.” “Well every relationship has it’s ups and downs.”
- Brett Dalton plays wounded puppy really good.
- Once again, BLEEP YOU Fitz’s Dad. I hate him so much, I’m not even going to call him by his name.