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TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 4 Episode 15 "Self Control"

02.22.2017

EPISODE 15: "Self Control"

SYNOPSIS: Suspicion turns to paranoia when the team doesn’t know who can be trusted as more LMDs infiltrate S.H.I.E.L.D.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., TV Review, Marvel Studios, ABC, Superhero, Comic Book, Drama, Fantasy

REVIEW: Well, holy shit. Over the course of four seasons of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., tonight's hour ranks amongst the very best the series has produced and rivals the best stories the Marvel Cinematic Universe has told thus far. Seemingly concluding the second narrative arc of the fourth season, "Self Control" was everything that this series has wanted to be. In an episode written and directed by Jed Whedon, this episode was reminiscent of everything from John Carpenter's THE THING to THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE and even CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER. Packing in a satisfying conclusion was one thing but the setup for the third act of the season looks like it is going to be a doozy as Jemma and Daisy plunge into The Framework to try and rescue their friends from Aida's Darkhold enhanced clutches.

Taking this episode apart is going to be tough as there was a lot going on but it all hinged on the conclusion of last week's episode that found Fitz and Simmons discovering that Coulson, Mack, Daisy, and Mace were all replaced by LMDs. As Radcliffe's robots plotted to convert the final humans within S.H.I.E.L.D.'s braintrust, Fitz and Simmons were forced to question which of them was human. In one of the most tense exchanges on this show, I was truly convinced for a moment that Fitz was actually human before he revealed his robotic nature. In fact, Daisy wasn't copied either which meant LMD Coulson would have to call in LMD May for assistance. LMD Mack was ordered to bring in all of the Inhumans to kill them on sight but things went screwy when Daisy discovered a slumbering army of LMD Quakes ready for deployment. What followed was a great cat and mouse hunt between humans and LMDs on the S.H.I.E.L.D. base as Daisy and Simmons teamed up to try and get free of their captors.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., TV Review, Marvel Studios, ABC, Superhero, Comic Book, Drama, Fantasy

Right smack in the middle of this hour was a series of fights between Daisy and the LMDs of her friends that was just as impressive as any fight in the MCU. First, Daisy took down Mace before using a concentrated burst of her power to disintegrate LMD Mack and incapacitate LMD Coulson. It was a stunning shot and one that showcased why Jed Whedon should helm more episodes. But aside from the fight sequences, it was the human side of LMD May as she pondered her existence and the reality of her romance with Coulson that made this such a great hour. Ming-Na is a talented actress but it was not until she became a robot that she showed her deepest dramatic talents. The question of what it means to be human comes into question here as we see all of the other LMDs act like puppets for Aida and Radcliffe but LMD May turns on her fellow androids to allow Daisy and Simmons to escape and detonates the S.H.I.E.L.D. base and seemingly destroys all of the LMDs within.

Before we get to the conclusion of the episode, we need to talk about Aida and Radcliffe. I sensed this was coming but it was still tough to see Aida kill her creator to further the purpose behind The Framework and The Darkhold. Slitting Radcliffe's wrists and putting him back into the alternate reality he created, Aida has taken full control of her destiny. She also decapitated Ivanov and built him a robot body as she made her true goal made known: she wants to feel emotion. Much like Ultron, Aida wants to become humanity but feels she can only do so by destroying it. We also now know that The Framework will allow for our true dream realities to be made real without our regretted choices through our lives. Each of the characters replaced by LMDs are within The Framework which will house them until their human bodies disintegrate. This means Simmons and Daisy, using the support of a small crew of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and Yo-yo aboard the Zephyr, will hack into The Framework to rescue their friends. As the episode wraps, we see what this alternate reality will hold.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., TV Review, Marvel Studios, ABC, Superhero, Comic Book, Drama, Fantasy

Teasing the fates of each of our characters, The Framework looks just like our reality but with slight differences. Daisy awakens to find her boyfriend asleep in bed. She believes it to be Lincoln, but a photo on a table shows it to be none other than Grant Ward. Coulson is a teacher who writes about fearing Inhumans on the chalkboard, Fitz appears to be a rich mogul of some sort who grasps the hand of a woman but before we can see her we see a gravestone marking that Jemma Simmons is dead. Wait, if Simmons is dead...how can she plug into The Framework? We will have to wait a month to find out! We see Mack cleaning his yard and picking up his daughter's bike and we then see May standing in the Triskelion in Washington, D.C., which bears the logo of HYDRA.

Alternate realities have always been a standard trope of superhero stories and have even appeared already this year on Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow, and The Flash, but this seems to be a different way of telling this type of story. The Framework is not reality but more of a Matrix-like virtual reality. This means that the real world will still be a part of the narrative over the rest of the season but with this added layer to it in which characters can actually die. The twists shown in the world all are pretty significant with the return of Grant Ward being a nice way to bring the show back to elements from the first season. It is also cool that the HYDRA arc will see some life returned to it. All in all, if this was the end of the LMD arc, it was a nice way to send the story out. I am still left reeling at just how damn good this episode was on so many levels. The dramatic interplay between Coulson and May, Fitz and SImmons, the fights between Mace and Daisy and the final reveal of The Framework were all stellar with Aida shaping up to be a mightier foe than Ultron ever was. We have over a month to wait before we get the final round of episodes of season four but what an amazing way to head into a hiatus.

MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE REFERENCES: The Triskelion, destroyed in CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER, is shown intact.

NEXT ON MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.: New episodes resume April 4th.

Source: JoBlo.com

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