Well, that might just have been the most political episode yet. The past few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have been peppering in plenty of nods to the current situation in the US and around the world, which has been made easy thanks to the parallels between the Hydra-controlled Framework and the rise of nationalism and fascism globally. Tonight, however, much of the subtext became text thanks to the propaganda of Sunil Bakshi and the call-to-arms from Phil Coulson, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. There’s never been a guarantee that every dead character would return inside the Framework, but Bakshi played a key role for quite some time in the show. He’s also the type of character that can easily come back for a small role without distracting from the episode. Even better though, his character in the Framework tied directly back into who he was in real life.

Much of Bakshi’s work with Hydra involved him assisting Daniel Whitehall. Thanks to that, he regularly helped the Hydra leader in his brainwashing experiments. It’s fitting then that Bakshi would be twisting the minds of the masses in a similar way inside the Framework. There were also some more connections to the past with the inversion of Ward’s origin. Instead of Garrett recruiting him to SHIELD but secretly bringing him into the fold of Hydra, it was Victoria Hand who brought him on board. Not only is it a nice play on Ward killing Hand for Garrett in the real world, but it’s another example of the nature vs. nurture argument that’s been playing out with Fitz. It also brought us a nod to Garrett thanks to a little Easter egg paying tribute to John Garrett, a Hydra hero within the Framework.

Speaking of Fitz, we get even more insight into his daddy issues thanks to more time with his creepy dad Alister and his interactions with his son and Radcliffe. It further shows how much of a jerk he is in both worlds and also shows that despite Fitz being his boss, he’s still afraid of him. AIDA also provides another window into Fitz, saying he’s a romantic at heart. This not only explains why relationships like the one with his parents have such an impact on him, but indicate that both Simmons and Ophelia shaped him into the two different people we know.

The rest of the episode moves forward the plot, with some amazing action as Daisy May take on Hydra. Not only is it great to see May as an action hero again, but Quake using her full powers on Ophelia was fantastic. Honestly, it’s best to just stay away from a Triskelion elevator. We also got some more depth from May, and while I’m loathe to see her self-flaggelating again, her early days featured plenty of that and it was when she was at her best character-wise. Let’s hope we get similar results moving forward.

FINAL SCORE

4 Holo-Computers out of 5. So far, I’ve been giving all of these episodes a solid 4 out of 5 because while they’re all consistently entertaining and well-executed, nothing has blown me away yet. Still, not a bad place to be.

ONE-SHOTS

  • So why doesn’t AIDA just reset May, Coulson, and Mack like Radcliffe did with May back during her first times in the Framework?

  • Was curious why my spellcheck didn’t flag ‘triskelion’ and turns out it’s actually a word. Never thought about it but it’s a triple spiral used in ancient Grecian art a lot. Oddly, the building bears no resemblance to the symbol so not sure how it connects.

  • Man, explaining propaganda to a kid would be so challenging.

  • “Maybe she’s just racist.”

  • How amazing would it be if Looking Glass brings Ghost Rider into the Framework and he saves the day and everything all ties back together. Seems like anything is possible with the Darkhold involved.

  • Fitz’s dad is uncomfortable with PDA.

  • I feel like Bakshi’s furniture thing was a reference I don’t get. Either that or he’s just the ultimate creep.

  • Like any good nationalists, Hydra are so insecure that they have to slap their logo on everything, including the medical readout screen.

  • Alternative facts for an alternative reality.