Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S04E15 Recap: 'Self Control'
There are certain things that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is unquestionably good at; moving the plot forward, crafting great, self-contained set pieces in any given episode, putting Simmons into peril she has to climb out of on her own, and, among other things, bringing Ward back, all while finding a new way to transform his character. "Self Control", the season's second midseason finale, found a way to do all those things and more, as the show prepares for another month-long hiatus, all the way to early April.
"Self Control" more or less wraps up the LMD arc in some big ways, all while putting the characters in a situation where they've thrived in the past; a bottled up sequence of action scenes. As we found out last week, four members of the team were replaced by LMDs while on a mission to find Director Mace. Mace, Coulson, Mack, and in a surprise twist, Fitz, are all robots now, but unlike the May LMD, they're well-aware of what they are and have very specific directions from Aida to make sure everyone at SHIELD is replaced, making them more dangerous, since they don't have Radcliffe's touch.
Daisy and Simmons, the two remaining humans on the team, have to realize the kind of danger that surrounds them and find a way out in order to figure out a way to find the Framework and get the team back. They recruit a few redshirts at the base, Daisy has a long, epic fight with the Mace LMD and finally they get out, realizing that they only way to find their people is to go into the Framework themselves, a dangerous proposition considering it's dangerous and that they could die in there.
Meanwhile on the submarine, Aida takes control by finally getting rid of Radcliffe when he tells her that reality is merely a perception, clearing up a paradox she created which put her need to protect Radcliffe and to protect the Framework at odds. Putting Radcliffe in the Framework and killing him solved that problem, and gives us a villain that has no compassion. By the way, she also severed the Superior's head and built him a robot body, which instantly makes a villain that started off pretty tame into something much cooler and more dangerous.
All of this to bring the show to a place where everyone can be in the Framework, doing things that make them happiest. Coulson is a teacher, Mack still has the kid he lost at childbirth, and in some cruel and unusual twists, Simmons is dead, May is running Hydra, not SHIELD, and Daisy is dating a virtual Ward. All of these things are awesome, by the way. Simmons is thrust back into a situation similar to when she wound up on an alien planet last season. She's ostensibly dead in the Framework, which means she has no business being there and will likely have to fight at every turn. May leading Hydra is an interesting way to bring them back and explore what it would have been like if Hydra ever actually won. And the show finding a way to bring Brett Dalton back as Ward is just hilarious. Daisy wakes up in the Framework thinking that she's back with Lincoln, but instead finds herself with a man she detests. Ward went from a terrible character to the most versatile this show has ever had, and I'll be glad to see how the show deals with his virtual return.
The Framework montage at the end as a whole gave me a real Pleasantville vibes, so that's going to be pretty great, especially with the third arc of the season seemingly being titled "Agents of Hydra" based on the promo for the next episode.
But it also didn't really feel like setup. The characters really got a chance to shine, between Daisy and Simmons being thrust into action roles where they can be the badass women that wind up saving the day, or the LMDs of Coulson and May in particular having the opportunity to have a heart-to-heart about their feelings, even though they aren't who we know them to be. Scenes between those two sets of characters were really great and powerful, all between some wonderful action scenes and the twists at the end.
Once again, Agents of SHIELD reinvents itself by moving forward to the next thing, leaving us excited for what's next, all while providing a tense, action and mystery filled episode. "Self Control" gets 9.5 Daisy Armies out of 10.
Notes & Quotes:
- While Fake May blew up SHIELD headquarters, you have to figure the army of Daisybots programmed to seek and destroy will come into play, somehow.
- Seriously, there are more versions of Ward than there are Harrison Wells' on The Flash at this point.
- I'm looking forward to see what kind of villain the Superior can be now that he's ostensibly a robot. His first run wasn't exactly that impressive after all that hype.
- We didn't get to see what Mace and Radcliffe were up to in the Framework, not sure if that's because they aren't main cast or if they're supposed to be surprises.
- See you April 4th!