Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. | Episode 18 | ‘No Regrets’ | Aired April 25th, 2017
‘All the Madame’s Men’ was a good episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (AoS) that got better as it progressed. There were a lot of big reveals made this episode so as you probably already assumed there will be spoilers beyond this word.
“They can’t betray their nature.”
The episode starts out with, the Inhuman again, Skye and Agent May fighting their way out of Hydra. They run into Madame Hydra who wonders aloud at how resilient the nature of the individuals placed into the framework seem to be regardless of the changes she made. She mentions Mack as a Protector, May as a Warrior, and Fitz as a Lover. Skye is a little offended that she doesn’t mention her and quakes the Hydra head out of the building. The drop injures but doesn’t kill the framework’s queen, but does knock Aida back into her android body for a time.
The comment about people’s nature got me thinking about the qualities of the other characters inside the framework, and I thought it would be fun to fill out the roster here. Framework Skye (not to be confused with the Daisy we’ve seen in the show) is an activist fighting for a cause she believes is valuable, that cause just happens to be Hydra. Coulson is a leader. Director Mace, may he rest in peace, is a symbol. Grant Ward is loyal to his core, in this world to S.H.I.E.L.D. and Skye as opposed to Garrett. Trip is a trusting and optimistic friend. Framework Simmons is dead, so we can’t really fill her in, but if she wasn’t, I think she would still be a scholar in the framework.
“That story is too crazy to make up.”
Agent Antoine Triplet was once the third leg of the Fitzsimmons love triangle, and that is revisited in the simplest of ways in this episode when he and Jemma go off on an adventure together to find out what Hydra is planning and what Fitz is building for them. During their adventure, Simmons discovers Madame Hydra is having a machine akin to the one made by the Ghost Rider’s uncle in the first half of the season, a machine that can create matter, but also a device that can create life. She believes this is so Aida can make herself a real body that is no longer restricted by programming.
We all know that Jemma loves thinking aloud. While doing this she confuses Trip a bit and decides she needs to be upfront with him and tell him they are in a fake world called the framework and that they need to get back to reality, despite her last couple of times confessing as much not going over very well. This time proves different because instead of thinking she is crazy Trip responds with the above quote. This is another piece of proof that we are getting here the same fantastic Trip we lost in season two.
“I didn’t understand him until I met you.”
Grant Ward has always been one of AoS’s most intriguing characters, and Brett Dalton has masterfully played the character in every season of the show. That is a big compliment when you recognize how different the character is from season to season. In season one he is Agent Ward, season two he is Hydra and renegade Ward, season three he is Hive, and now he is a better Agent Ward, and the actor is doing amazing things again. The heartache he expresses throughout the episode in regards to Skye is palpable, whether he is talking to Coulson or Daisy herself.
Perhaps the moment that best exemplifies all of this is when he is asking Daisy if after she and Simmons leave the framework will he get his Skye back. They have an exciting moment as she continues to look at him with some of her lingering disgust from knowing him as a traitor and he stares back at her with a look of unrequited love. Daisy tells him that he is dead in reality but that she didn’t understand Ward until meeting him in the framework. This was a beautiful way of showing the viewer that Daisy is finally able to see Ward as they grew to over his three seasons of life, as a complex and driven character.
“When you go, will you take me with you.”
Fitz, the lover, is distraught with Madame Hydra’s frail status throughout the episode. This allows us to continue to see him operate as the menacing doctor. He wants to prioritize hurting those who hurt his love, but Aida asks him to instead continue to work on Project Looking Glass, which he obediently does as his father attempts to hunt our heroes down.
Fitz completes the project in the framework and notifies the bedridden Madame Hydra that they only need to wait for the project to be completed on the other side. He then proceeds to share with her the beauty of the project and her vision and asks if she will take him with her. This is just another example of Fitz’s immense capability to love. Aida is visibly pleased by this and agrees, which begs the question of what that means. As we understand it projects looking glass is intended to create a real body for Aida in the real world, but for Fitz to come along does that just mean unplugging him from the framework? And if that is the case what version of Fitz would she be taking her back into reality? The one who loves her or the one who loves Simmons?
“I’m Phil Coulson, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
In this episode, we learn that the regret changed in the framework for Director Coulson was choosing not to join S.H.I.E.L.D. but that in the framework not joining is his greatest regret. It can be safely assumed that the same holds true for Agent May (she regretted having to kill the child in Bahrain, and now she regrets not killing the child). This frames an interesting question about regrets and how impossible it is to know how things would’ve been had we done things differently. Perhaps we should continually strive to make the best of our situation and not waste time wishing we had done things differently.
Agent Coulson spends the episode as worried as he watches his new teammates scramble without a leader, and he gradually fills that role as the episode progresses. Perhaps the wisest words he says in the episode as a leader are directed at a restless Daisy who is failing to convince everyone to follow her lead to break down the framework instead of confronting Hydra. Coulson tells her that perhaps to save reality they need to protect the people of the framework’s world. He then goes on to lead the team in a plan to throw Hydra into chaos sending out a news broadcast unveiling Hydra as evil and S.H.I.E.L.D. as the heroes they are. He ends his words in an emotional way for longtime fans of the MCU by saying, “I’m Phil Coulson, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
This episode felt like the beginning of the end for AoS, which makes sense considering there are only 3 episodes left. They revealed a lot of concepts, explanations, and plot points that will likely shape the conclusion of the season. Since we know now that Aida’s guard dog knows where Daisy and Skye are in the real world, I assume we won’t be in the framework much longer either. With project looking glass being brought into the show it makes me wonder what role it will play. I suspect we will see Aida get a real body before being defeated, but what else? It wouldn’t be too big of a stretch for them to use the looking glass technology to bring back the people who died within the framework. It would also be an interesting way to resurrect other characters they have encountered there like the framework versions of Agents Ward and Triplet and Mack’s daughter Hope. What is your take? How do you think the Project Looking Glass will impact the TV side of the MCU? Be sure to let us know on Twitter by tweeting us @nerditherefirst.