The next part of the Agents of SHIELD’s adventures in the Framework continue in “Identity and Change.” It’s a dark world in there, and getting worse all the time. This is supposed to be Aida’s virtual paradise? This is one video game I don’t want to play, thanks.
In Coulson’s classroom, he summarizes what’s happened so far, and Daisy agrees with him. Rather than react like someone getting an unpleasant shock, he’s thrilled that he’s not crazy. After an amusing exchange with a student, Coulson and Daisy talk more. Coulson talks about one of Hydra’s ways of maintaining control of everyone- mind control soap. Daisy’s theory is that Coulson’s experience with the TAHITI project might be why he’s remembering bits of the real world. The TAHITI stuff scrambled Coulson’s brain pretty well. Ward tips them off that there’s a team coming their way. Daisy tells Coulson he’s going to need a sub for his class.
Mac finally turns up. He’s at home, playing with his daughter, Hope. This is the child we learned he lost a few episodes before the recent break. She’s a genius tech-head, much like Mac himself. They are having some kind of a race to build a drone faster. It’s a fun scene right up until Mac finds out Hope has been stealing bits from some crashed Hydra drones. This really scares Mac, who tells her how important it is to stay off Hydra’s radar and follow their rules. They almost get caught the next day, but get a fortunate distraction. Well, fortunate for them, not so much for a potential Inhuman.
Coulson and Daisy meet up with Simmons. Amid more jokes about Coulson making his own soap, they talk about what to do next. Simmons wants to reach out to Fitz, which Daisy says is a bad idea. Whatever he’s like back in the real world, he’s second in command of Hydra here, and he’s very dangerous. When they start talking about Radcliffe, Coulson knows the name. Here, he’s a well-known Hydra scientist who is working on a “cure” for Inhumans. No, that doesn’t sound ominous at all. Daisy decides she’s going to back to the Triskelion to get Radcliffe’s current location.
Aida, who is also Madame Hydra and Ophelia in this world, is doing her best to keep Simmons’ resurrection a secret from Fitz. We also see that they don’t have a strictly professional relationship. Ophelia finally shows Fitz, and he doesn’t seem to recognize Simmons. Ophelia rants about Simmons being there to expose her, plotting against her. Fitz says he’d do anything for Ophelia, and says he’d cross the universe for her. Of course, that’s exactly what he did for Simmons a while back. I guess Coulson isn’t the only one getting echoes of the real world. What I’m really curious about is, if Aida made all these changes, why did she make it so Fitz was in love with her?
Daisy goes ahead with her plan and shows up at the Triskelion to look for information on Radcliffe. Ward is worried about her, and he’s right to. She’s hacking in to restricted files, and, when Ward presses her, mutters the soap made her do it, which is good for an audience laugh and leaving Ward bewildered. May stops them as they try to leave, wanting Daisy to stay. Ward is willing to fight, but Daisy tells him to go and get the information to the others.
Speaking of the others, Coulson and Simmons meet up with a contact and get taken away, complete with hoods on their heads and high-tech cuffs that Coulson thinks are really cool. They meet the resistance, and the leader, Jeff Mace. Coulson fanboys over meeting the Patriot, which is entertaining .They are in the old SSR base SHIELD moved to in the real world, which apparently this world’s Billy Koenig died to get working again. There’s a lot of talk about lost agents. Simmons is struck by seeing what should be her lab turned into a refugee ward for Inhumans and potentials. Ward comes in telling them that Hydra got Skye.
Daisy/Skye asks May if this is going to take long, and looks a lot less confident on hearing that Madame Hydra asked for her specifically. The mission briefing is about capturing Simmons. Fitz warns them all not to underestimate her, and use lethal force if necessary. Somehow, that seems like a really redundant thing to say to Hydra thugs. Skye, I guess slipping as far as who knows what, asks May if she knew about this. May, in turn, looks suspicious, but that’s normal for her.
Mac and his daughter have a troubling talk about Inhumans, which doesn’t sit well with him. While that’s going on, Ward tells the SHIELD resistance about Skye getting captured. This version of Ward really does seem to care for Daisy. Simmons, tired of backhand comments from Mace, shows her SHIELD ID and talks about massacre at the Academy. They work out that Daisy’s data shows Radcliffe in the middle of the ocean, where nothing is supposed to be. SHIELD is very short-handed, so they manage to persuade Mace to send Coulson, Daisy, and Ward.
While the team gets ready to roll, and Simmons shares more tidbits about reality with Coulson, Daisy gets sent on a snatch and grab mission. She’s worried they’re going after Simmons, but gets stunned when she find their quarry is Mac and his daughter. Mac is frantic with worry about his daughter.
Ophelia, as she’s calling herself, and Fitz have a very revealing chat. She’s told Fitz at least some of the truth, which has made him into an even more loyal ally. There’s mention of Project Looking Glass, and a very interesting slant on events from Ophelia. Elsewhere in the Triskelion, May shows what a dangerous foe she can be in any reality. Let’s just say things are going badly for our heroine.
The quinjet team gets to Radcliffe’s place, and he’s very surprised to see them. He tries to justify what he’s done, and shares that Aida killed him in the real world. There’s an amusing moment when Radcliffe mistakes Ward for Hive, which is also a nice tiny bit of continuity. He does at least tell them where the real SHIELD agents are being held out in the real world.
Team Hydra arrives and Radcliffe tries to bluff Ophelia, who really doesn’t like being called Aida. Back at the Hydra base, Mac and Hope get let go. On the island, Fitz finds Agnes, and is very confused that she looks like Ophelia. Things unravel quickly, and there’s a character death and a huge bit of disappointment in one of their own, which I suspect is going to carry over to the real world when they get back there (hopefully sooner than later).
The end scenes have Mace furious with Simmons for stopping Ward from shooting Fitz when he had the chance. I get where he’s coming from, by his perspective anyway. Mac shows up, having been picked up by one of their dead drops, and tells them about Skye and his part in tricking her. He needs to make this right for Hope.
At the Triskelion, Daisy is a prisoner. Things are going really badly for her. When someone walks in to continue Daisy’s interrogation, they take a turn for the worse. It’s a nasty cliffhanger to end on, and I think the team is going to have some serious problems when they manage to Alt-Tab out of this giant MMORPG.
What I liked: Simmons’ quiet sarcasm about the real world, especially Ward, is really entertaining. Coulson being so innocent and impressed with everything is a big change of pace. We’ve finally seen Mac and Mace, so everyone is accounted for now. I can almost get to like this version of Ward. Mac and Hope are great together, and it’s going to be brutal when he has to leave her behind.
What I didn’t: Skye is a veteran by now. She shouldn’t keep slipping up about who knows about the real world vs who doesn’t. She fell for May’s trick a bit too easily in my opinion. I was shocked at how the character death happened. I think they’re going to be causing a lot of drama back in the real world. Are they really going to make the rest of the season all about the Framework?
This was a decent episode. I’ll give it a 3.5 out of 5. I really do hope they find the exit to the real world soon.