The Agents of SHIELD have a really hard time of things in “Self Control.” As we saw last episode, much of the team has been captured and replaced by LMD’s. The few real agents left at the top are going to have a hell of a job stopping the LMD’s from taking over and replacing the flesh and blood agents. There are a lot of twists and turns in this one.
Speaking of that, here’s my warning and disclaimer: I try hard to avoid spoilers in my reviews. This one is so complex and has so many surprise reveals that I don’t think I can do it this time around. So be warned, there are going to be spoilers herein.
The captured members of the team are all uploaded into the Framework, Radcliffe’s a-few-steps-beyond-virtual-reality device. It’s a bit disturbing, seeing the big smiles on some of them that aren’t known for that. Aida, meanwhile, is doing one of her own projects, which involves a Saws-All and a lack of anesthetic. Someone’s having a very bad day.
Fitz and Simmons are reeling from the shock at the end of last episode, and I don’t blame them. They’re in an impossible situation, and there’s no good way out of it. Desperately, they manage to avoid getting taken away by the LMD’s, covering each others’ backs with excuses and delays. It’s a cat and mouse game, but the LMD’s are, in part, distracted by their plans to locate and kill off all the Inumans in the SHIELD/Sokovia Accords registry.
L.May.D. reminisces with Coulson about the paradox that this is the first time she’s actually seen snow, even though she has memories of it. When Coulson talks about not having felt this good in years, L.May.D. realizes Coulson has been replaced, too. Coulson says that bodies don’t matter anymore, since Radcliffe perfected the Framework. L.May.D. is not pleased with this conversation.
Fitz and Simmons are working feverishly to come up with a plan when they get another LMD-related shock. Things are getting very Westworld-like in terms of replacements and the artificials not knowing what they are or questioning their reality. Tensions are running high as understandable paranoia begins to set in.
Radcliffe comes out of the Framework and is stunned to see so many SHIELD VIP’s wired in. He and Aida talk about what’s going on. We learn that they are working with Ivanov to protect the Framework. We learn which SHIELD agents are still the real ones, and Aida reveals some changes she’s made. Radcliffe is worried about the new guidelines for the LMD’s.
The Fitz and Simmons standoff finally comes to an end. Remember I mentioned those spoilers? Simmons is the real one and manages a few really clever tricks to beat FitzMD. It’s an ugly, bloody struggle, and shows that it’s a bad idea to underestimate a genius.
Down in the containment rooms, which they’d be using to host the Inhumans, Daisy finds herself, not in the metaphysical sense. She hides in the bouquet of Daisys and gets the drop on L.MacD. She even takes his shotgun axe. After she gets away and understandably freaks out for a bit, Daisy starts using the computers to search the base. She’s stunned to see what appears to be a dead Fitz, and the fake Mac and Coulson killing SHIELD agents. Not being stupid, the fake agents cut the security feeds so Daisy can’t use them. She does find a blood trail, and there’s another paranoid standoff between Daisy and Simmons. Who do you trust after you find out there are very good impostors running around?
Aida is making a mechanical body for Ivanov, which Radcliffe knows won’t please the Russian. Aida talks about a paradox in her programming, and Radcliffe babbles about the Framework and his new philosophy. Aida draws inspiration from this and takes some very decisive action to safeguard the Framework.
The fake Mace and Coulson brief the agents and send them after Daisy and Simmons. Those two, hiding in the base, try to come up with a new idea on what to do next. Daisy says they need to find the Framework, get inside, and wake up their friends. Simmons points out a major flaw- neither of them know how to fly the Zephyr, so getting away is going to be harder than they hoped. I kind of find it odd that with all the training Daisy’s done, she can’t pilot that ship, but she has been gone a lot lately. Daisy comes up with some reassuring things for Simmons, and they plan their next few moves.
Simmons gets really clever and they find a way to start trimming the odds. Daisy fights the fake Mace, but inexplicably mostly doesn’t use her powers. Simmons recruits a few still organic agents and gets proof of her claims when Daisy blasts an LMD to bits, said bits landing at their feet. Coulson and May have a debate about what to do next and how to handle the remaining agents. Daisy gets badly wounded on the way out, and they find an agent that can sort of fly the Zephyr. L.MayD. makes a surprising choice in her debate with Faux-Coulson. The fake Fitz is back up and mostly working, and goes to get the Daisy bouquet mobilized.
Yo Yo paces, expecting to get brought into protective custody. Instead, Daisy, Simmons, and company show up and tell her what’s actually going on. They get their plan in motion, and Daisy and Simmons get into the Framework, taking the places of their dopplegangers. We get a few glimpses of the lives the others are living there, and some of them are really surprising. One of their new lives even includes something we haven’t seen since Captain America: Winter Soldier. The episode ends with a really disturbing Ivanov/Aida scene.
What I liked: Damn near everything. This was a fantastic episode. The twists and turns about who is an LMD were done really well. Daisy was clever in her moves during the deadly hide and seek in the base. The Fitz/Simmons scene was tense and heartbreaking. The choices L.MayD. made were surprising but made sense. The Radcliffe/Aida scene was ugly but well done.
What I didn’t: Very little. I think the only bit that didn’t make sense to me was why Daisy wasn’t using her powers when fighting the ersatz Mace. Well, that and the fact that they are taking such a long break between episodes.
I’m giving this a very rare 5 out of 5. It was a phenomenal episode.