I had hoped we were done with the Framework on ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, but the storyline rears its ugly head again. In fact, this part of the season seems to be all about dredging up old stuff from the past. Perhaps we can charitably call that fan-service, but it also feels like the show’s writers have run out of new ideas.
In the latest manifestation from the fear dimension, the faceless astronaut from planet Maveth (Season 3 callback) materializes inside the S.H.I.E.L.D. base and grabs Jemma. She fights herself free and shoots it in the face.
Fitz is struggling to work the raw gravitonium recovered from the flying cargo ship into a new doodad that will seal the breach, and grows increasingly frustrated and panicked as his efforts fail. Deke, meanwhile, is very freaked out about learning that Jemma and Fitz are his grandparents. When he stops by the lab hoping to spend a little quality time with his grandpa, Fitz knocks him out cold. We quickly realize that it’s not regular Fitz, but rather Leopold (a.k.a. The Doctor), his evil persona from inside the Framework. This must be another fear dimension thing, right?
We learn that Gen. Hale reports to someone above her. As she’s driving to a meeting, Coulson and May capture her car and take her captive. During her interrogation, Coulson realizes that Hale must be a big fan of ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Skyfall’, because she allowed herself to get caught as a trap for Coulson. The driver in her car is Carl Creel, and he’s strapped with C4 explosives. Hale asks Coulson to go somewhere with her so she can show him something important. He isn’t exactly eager to do that.
A quinjet docks with Zephry One. On board is the Russian baddie known as the Superior, formerly an accomplice to the android Aida. At least, it’s another Life Model Decoy copy of him. He’s working for Hale now. She explains that she has his real head in a jar. Coulson cuts a deal to turn himself over to Hale if she’ll let the rest of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team go. May doesn’t like the sound of that and is upset that Coulson seems to have a death wish.
Fitz encounters Leopold in the lab and is terrified. Leopold insists that he’s very real, not a manifestation. He also says that he’s trying to finish what they started in the Framework, which he claims will somehow save humanity. Not about to trust him, Fitz runs away.
A robot soldier shoots Mack in the leg. When he smashes it, the robot doesn’t vanish. It’s real, not another anomaly. Fitz tells Mack, Yo-Yo and Jemma that the Doctor has appeared and must have repaired and reprogrammed one of the robots Mack captured from the Principia. Fitz is utterly paralyzed by fear.
Leopold, whose M.O. inside the Framework was to capture and experiment on Inhumans, sneaks up on Daisy and knocks her out. She wakes up strapped to a table, drugged just enough that she can’t fight back. With icy cold evil, he tells her that he’s going to cut out her inhibitor chip and restore her powers. As Daisy begs him not to (she still believes that she’ll be responsible for destroying the Earth), he explains that when he’s done, she can use her powers to compress the gravitonium and force it into the new thingamajig to seal the rift.
Fitz enters the room and argues with Leopold. Daisy repeatedly asks who he’s talking to. Jemma arrives and only sees the one Fitz. There’s no Leopold, no anomaly. It’s just him. It turns out that Fitz suffered a psychotic break that brought out the other personality. As she tries to talk him down, another robot holds Jemma at gunpoint. Fitz slowly realizes what has happened, but states, “There’s no turning back.” With Daisy begging and screaming, he slices into her neck and yanks out a tangled mass of wires. (I guess Jemma really lucked out that the chip she was implanted with wasn’t nearly so complex.) The surgery a success, he gives Daisy a shot of adrenaline to jump-start her powers and then surrenders himself.
As Leopold had promised, Daisy is able to compress the gravitonium. She squeezes it into the spherical device, which flies over to the breach and seals it closed again.
Fitz gets locked in a cell. He tells Jemma that he doesn’t want forgiveness. He has come to understand that the dark side of his psyche is a necessary part of himself, and he still believes that what he did was the right thing, no matter how unpleasant.
Jemma is heartbroken. Deke tries to console her. He tells her that he knows Fitz will come back around, because his mother told him stories about what a great man her own father was, and always talked about him with great love and affection. Jemma grasps what he’s telling her and immediately pukes.
The episode ends with Gen. Hale reporting to a mysterious shadowy figure claiming to be part of “The Confederacy.” They end their conversation with a “Hail HYDRA!” salute.
I guess we’re back to HYDRA now. I feel like that group was played out even before it was resurrected inside the Framework last season. Haven’t we seen enough of them?
The plot twist of Fitz going dark is clever, but it’s also very unsatisfying. I don’t want Fitz to be dark, especially so soon after finally finding a little happiness marrying Jemma. That’s just not what I want to see from this character.