This has been one intense season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with one threat building into the next at a seemingly unstoppable clip. As Coulson puts it at the top of the episode upon learning the newly organic Ophelia comes equipped with Inhuman powers: “Can we get one break?”
The answer, unfortunately, is no. Coulson barely has the chance to get that line out before he and May are assaulted by the newly robotic Ivanov. Even when a quick deployment of Coulson’s wrist shield cuts off the Superior’s face, he and May find several more clones waiting for them. After barricading themselves inside the Framework room, things get awkward as May asks about what happened during her absence. Although Coulson is able to explain what happened to Ghost Rider (you know, that classic situation where a guy’s trying to become a god so you open a portal to another dimension and drag him in with your hellfire chain), he’s a little more reluctant to disclose just how hard he fell for May’s LMD replacement.
They’re not the only ones with problems. The Zephyr’s still under fire from Ivanov’s forces. Luckily, Simmons’ science and Yo-Yo’s speed are able to bring the power back just in time for the plane to shoot down a would-be kamikaze pilot. But that doesn’t mean they’re off scot-free; Yo-Yo is still furious that Daisy left the Framework without taking Mack. Since Yo-Yo is one of the few who knew about Hope’s existence at all, she’s less surprised by the revelation than Daisy was. Nevertheless, she’s determined to enter the Framework and retrieve her love. Daisy’s able to hold her off for now, since Yo-Yo’s needed here and has no conception of how dangerous the Framework is, but no one on this show has ever been able to keep Yo-Yo from getting what she wants for long.
Simmons, for her part, is worried about Fitz adjusting back to the real world. Sure enough, he’s not having the easiest time of it. While Ophelia luxuriates in her new sense of touch by dipping her toes in the water of a beach she teleported them to, Fitz feels like throwing up. Now it’s Opehlia’s turn to comfort him — she tries justifying their actions by saying they were both Radcliffe’s pawns, but Fitz isn’t having it. He calls her out for manipulating him. She says all she did was change his relationship with his father and introduce herself to him on their first day at Hydra Academy, but since that’s a move that seems cribbed from the actual FitzSimmons life story, her manipulation seems obvious. Ophelia does seem to have changed for the better, in that she expresses genuine alarm when Fitz realizes that she promised Ivanov the chance to kill the others.
Seems like Coulson and May can handle themselves — after Coulson electrocutes one Ivanov clone, May jumps on top of another and savagely beats it to death with a hammer. But there’s not a lot a hammer can do against the incoming torpedoes Ivanov just fired at the rig. As explosions tear the rig apart, Coulson opts to get an injured May to the surface. Then he wants to go back for Mack, but the elevator is soon consumed by fire.
Luckily, Mack gets out anyway thanks to a combination of Ophelia’s new teleportation powers and Fitz’s skill at developing her newfound empathy in order to save lives. Robbed of her computer brain, Ophelia is now having trouble processing complex thoughts in stressful situations, not least because she’s experiencing the full spectrum of human emotion for the first time. But luckily, Fitz is able to convince her to choose empathy, not fear. After Ivanov refuses to call off his attack, she teleports Mack out herself. She and Fitz are immediately stunned by Simmons and stuffed in a containment module, of course, but at least everyone made it out in one piece!
But now that we’re all safe and secure, it’s time to figure out what to do with Ophelia. The S.H.I.E.L.D. team agrees she needs to be contained (and this module is one of the only things capable of blocking her teleport ability) but maybe saving Mack means she’s changed? Simmons isn’t buying it, and she gets even more distressed when May explains that her memories of the Framework feel more like real life than a dream. The people who were in the Framework longer than Daisy and Simmons now have a whole extra life’s worth of memories.
That’s certainly how it feels to Fitz. Of all the characters on this show, Fitz is probably the most tragic choice to undergo this traumatic Framework experience, because he’s too smart and logical to accept comfort. He knows what he did, and when Ophelia tries saying that he was just unintentionally brainwashed by an overbearing father figure, he says that also describes Grant Ward (the traitorous real-world prick, that is, not the nice guy in the Framework).
Simmons is watching the two of them on a live feed. I’d been wondering how FitzSimmons would recuperate from the insanity of the Framework, and here we get our first real look at the future for them. Simmons tears up when Fitz states his adamant belief that she won’t forgive him. Seems like the perfect time for Ophelia to move in, and she tries… only for Fitz to reveal that he still only has room in his heart for Simmons. Awwww! It’s very sweet. But Ophelia certainly doesn’t take it that way! She completes her tour of the human emotional spectrum by landing on “heartbreak,” and boy does it sting.
Simmons moves to extricate him from the module, but unfortunately that’s exactly when General Talbot and his troops show up. Talbot has some questions after finding Mace’s mutilated bones and a destroyed base filled with melted robot bodies. Luckily Coulson is able to explain it to him, as May’s task force smuggles Fitz out of the module. That doesn’t stop Ophelia, though. The module shorts out her teleportation, but that’s not her only new power. Ophelia also has Lincoln Campbell’s electric powers, and she uses them to short out the module and escape. According to Fitz, she can’t be stopped — all of Hydra’s experiments on Inhumans inside the Framework were about getting her those powers.
For now, the team is able to get away, while Ophelia reconnects with Ivanov. This episode is jam packed with plot, though, so the final minutes give us two new revelations. First, Yo-Yo has entered the Framework to retrieve Mack. She wakes up strapped to a chair in a burning lab, so that’s going well. And then, just after Talbot’s troops decide to leave the base, having found nothing in their exhaustive search… AIDA’s original Darkhold portal roars back to life and Ghost Rider emerges. Man have I missed him. Now seems like the good guys should have a useful counterweight to Ophelia’s Sylar shtick. Who’s ready for an explosive season finale next week? Lots of threads to wrap up, but should be fiery regardless.
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