I am suddenly reminded of a scene from Fellowship of the Ring, where Elrond and Gandalf are discussing the terrible situation at hand, including Saruman’s betrayal, and he dryly comments, “Our list of allies runs thin.” It seems my weekly line-up is running a bit thin too.
Once Upon a Time: dropped.
Gotham: not yet returned from hiatus.
Arrow: skipping most of April.
The Vampire Diaries: ended.
Doctor Who: airs next week (yay!).
Which leaves us with only with the return of Agents of Shield (yay!).
So, without further ado.
4.16 “What If…”
Soooo much time going, “I can’t watch, I can’t watch, I can’t watch!” (with my eyes fixed on the screen) Great fun. 🙂
I love the title of the episode, by the way. Not only is it perfect for the episode itself, but Marvel has a whole series of “What If” comics where they depict how things would be better, or worse, or just different based on if the characters had made different choices at small, pivotal moments. They’re pretty good, for anyone familiar with the the original plot that is being altered. In similar fashion, we all know the past events of this show and the MCU, and now we see the path not taken.
The show has been going over themes like regret, pain, and humanity this season. Sometimes, as people, we wish we could go back and somehow undo all the worst regrets of out lives, that we might be spared the pain. But what if our pain has a purpose? What if the worst things we endure are actually the smaller portion, to avoid something far worse, later, that we just aren’t able to see?
What if that single moment we want to change would affect not only us, but countless other lives? When dealing with the things that Shield has always dealt with, the odds are pretty high that, more often than not, the fate of the world itself can hang on the decisions of its agents.
Radcliffe certainly believed he was doing people a favor by removing a single regret, a single source of pain, from his victims’ lives, but as Aida and the Framework ran simulations on what would have happened instead, the entire world has turned into a hellish nightmare.
When Daisy wakes up in the Framework, she finds herself answering to “Sky” again, working alongside her boyfriend, Grant Ward, as an agent of Hydra. Hydra rules the world, dominating the press, running people’s lives, running checkpoints everywhere and arresting people, entering classrooms to take children away forever without resistance, and hunting down all Inhumans, and “Sky” is part of it, under the supervision of Melinda May.
If and when they manage to get out of the Framework, May is likely the one who will benefit the most from the experience. She’s been carrying around the guilt of one little girl’s death. But if she’d spared the girl, what would have happened? According to the simulations, she would have gone nuts in a public school in Cambridge, and the death toll would have been so catastrophic that Hydra would have been able to come out of the shadows as the “protectors of humanity,” destroying Shield completely, and gaining all the power and authority they need to exterminate Inhumans, even ones who haven’t turned yet, which, surprise, surprise, happens to involve running everything in the world.
Yeah, if May makes it out, she might at least be able to finally find some peace from the horror of Bahrain.
In the meantime, though, she’s Hydra’s most brutal anti-Inhuman agent.
While Daisy is trying to figure out all the differences, adapt to the Hydra-ruled world, stay alive, find her friends, and keep it all together while taking Hydra’s orders, Simmons wakes up and digs her way out of a mass grave located very near Shield’s old academy. It seems she refused to bow to Hydra and was murdered for it. She manages to make her way to where they hid their emergency exit beacon, but Daisy doesn’t show the first time, a little too occupied with things like, say, interrogating a heroic Inhuman rebel named Veejay Nadeer. So, Simmons finds Coulson instead.
Coulson is a high school teacher, a pawn of Hydra, loyal and afraid to defy them. He’s “educating” his students about Hydra, and the evils in Inhumans, when a pair of agents comes and simply takes one of his students away “for tests.” When Simmons finds him, she can’t convince him, but notices that his brain-wiping isn’t entirely complete. He’s been wiped before, and it left an imprint. He has a collection of odd things that almost remind him of the real world, but it’s a difficult thing to break the programming that’s been forced on him.
When Daisy and Simmons finally do manage to meet up, it’s a relief to both of them, but Hydra is following Simmons’ tail and Ward is following Daisy. Luckily, it turns out that this version of Ward is as duplicitous as the real one was, but in a good way. He’s protecting Sky and he works with the Resistance. I wonder what it is in this world that managed to produce a heroic Ward instead of a villainous one.
No read on Mace as of yet, and we haven’t seen Mack this week, but May’s regret was the girl in Bahrain, and we’ve seen how that works out. Coulson has regretted joining Shield, but if he hadn’t he’d be Hydra’s little boot-licking high school teacher. As for Fitz, he seems to be a scientist that practically rules Hydra itself, and tortures Inhumans as he experiments on them. Oh, and he serves directly under the Director… Aida.
Of course. Aida rules the world within the Framework, and she has taken Fitz as her own.
She also noticed the intrusion and cut off their escape. Daisy and Simmons are trapped, with no means to communicate with the real world.
About the only good thing that happens, outside the simulation of Ward actually helping them, is when Daisy goes to see Coulson… and he finally remembers! No idea exactly how much, but he knows her name, at least.
So, we have half a dozen of our heroes scattered within the hellish world of the Framework, almost all of them turned into nightmarish versions of themselves, and their rescuers are now trapped alongside them, cut off from any help, and the artificial intelligence which rules this world is aware of them.
Uphill battle, much?