Agents of SHIELD Identity and Change review S4, Ep. 17

My praise for Agents of SHIELD is getting somewhat repetitive so I’ll go one better. This might be the best season of any comic book based show period. Identity and Change continued the show’s nuclear hot streak that demands full attention every moment.

Despite the teaser last week, Coulson only partially remembers the real world. He’s still weaving through the fragments of truth from the lies Aida has spread through the Framework. That’s actually a better and more logical approach. Aida’s brainwashing has been so ingrained that it should take more than a snap encounter to break it. And this gradual removal of the veil of lies allows for some funny moments like Hipster Phil’s homemade soap.

Inspired by Daisy’s success, Simmons wanted to try and snap Fitz out of it, but he’s way deep in love with Madame Hydra. One of the really interesting concepts of Identity and Change was how Aida views life. In her identity as Madame Hydra, Aida wants to control others the way she was controlled by Radcliffe and others in the real world. This puts a more unique spin on the robot wants to overthrow its creator cliche. And the fact that she wants Fitz’s total devotion is another interesting twist. While it’s tiring to hear it on everything these days, Fitz using 45th’s slogan feels completely appropriate for the MCU Nazi group.

In the Framework, Mace is a legit hero not a fraud propaganda figurehead. Coulson swooning like he just met Captain America was a nice touch. SHIELD’s old HQ is now an Inhumans and family sanctuary and Ward is one of Mace’s top agents. That led to some terrific tension with Simmons, who just saw the face of her betrayer whenever she looked at Ward.

Agents of SHIELD Identity and Change - Simmons and Coulson

The reunion with Radcliffe was great. Pissed off Simmons was amazing here as she had no time for Radcliffe’s good intentions. And there seems little hope of returning to the real world since Radcliffe doubts Aida hasn’t already altered the back door. Not that they had time to discover it since Madame Hydra, Fitz and Hydra goons arrived. Not just to threaten Radcliffe, but Agnes as well. Just as it seemed Radcliffe was getting through to Fitz, he coldly killed Agnes. If anyone, Aida has ensured her control over Fitz is near total.

My only real complaint about last week’s sensational What If episode was the lack of Mack. Initially, that seemed like a questionable slight, but he played a pivotal role in the second chapter. Naturally Mack didn’t want to be involved with either SHIELD or Hydra — he was content being a father to his daughter Hope. And Hope was such an adorably cute prodigy she had to be a simulation. Mack kept his head down in Hydra’s new world order, which was a complete terrorist state with random stops and drone surveillance.

May used Mack and Hope as pawns to catch Daisy/Skye, which was a crushing moment. Just when it seemed Team SHIELD was getting some momentum, May stomped all over it. Daisy gave it a good fight, but she was eventually caught and beaten. But seeing the captive Daisy/Skye proved enough to get Mack off the sidelines ready to lend his expertise to SHIELD. They better hurry though as Fitz learns Daisy has the Inhumans’ gene.

The Framework seemed the least exciting arc this season, but it has been close to perfection. This mirror universe and outstanding job by the cast in embracing these new roles has really been special. Identity and Change doesn’t let up on AOS’ best arc. Bottom line. If you’ve got a friend who’s not watching Agents of SHIELD right now you’re being a terrible friend.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Photo Credit: ABC

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