Agents of SHIELD All the Madame’s Men review S4 Ep. 19

Agents of SHIELD is closing in on a perfect season. But like a pitcher approaching a no-hitter, it’s best to let it play out. All the Madame’s Men was another thrilling ride in the Framework. And the only disappointing aspect of it was the arc is winding down.

The old school hits keep on coming with the return of Sunil Bakshi. Daniel Whitehall’s main man was back as Hydra’s Bill O’Reilly propaganda puppet. Sunil’s O’Reilly spoof was dead on, right down to the workplace sexual harassment. I loved the Hydra Easter Eggs like the feature news segment on John Garrett and news ticker on Whitehall’s biography.

All the Madame’s Men clearly laid out Aida’s end game — she wants Fitz to finish making her feel like an actual woman. Courtesy of Project Looking Glass that is. Like Trip, I was a little confused with the science-y logistics of that plan, but it sounded plausible enough. Mind you all this is occurring in a virtual reality simulation so anything is fair game at this point.

Agents of SHIELD All the Madame's Men - Sunil Bakish

Aida is no fool. She used Daisy and May’s escape as a means to further manipulate Fitz through Madame Hydra’s near paralysis and Alistair’s encouragement. This dynamic has been so engaging I’d really like to see Season 5 spend some time focusing on SHIELD trying to stop Evil Fitz and Aida. If for no other reason than to have a character’s personality completely be altered from their time in the Framework.

There were plenty of great moments here recalling the early Season 2 fun with the expanded team. This episode marked the first time Ward and Mack were acting as colleagues, which made for a nice ‘What If’ scenario. Even better was the segment where Coulson was back to mentoring Ward. With everything those characters have been through since Season 1 it was a lot of fun seeing Coulson as Ward’s father figure again.

Too bad Saffron Burrows couldn’t return to play Victoria Hand, but it was fitting she was the person who recruited Ward to SHIELD. And ironic since Ward killing her truly kicked off his Hydra heel turn.

Trip and Simmons had their own mission trying to track down Anton in the Framework. This mirrored what was going on in the real world as Anton was trying to locate Daisy and Simmons so he can eliminate the one threat to Aida’s plan. Mack and Coulson are starting to revert to their real world personas and led a rescue mission to retrieve May and Daisy. It is going to be very interesting to see how May reacts to the realization her actions killed Mace.

All of the CW Arrowverse writers need to watch this episode to see how romance drama is done right. These Framework episodes haven’t been bogged down with Ward’s relationship with Skye, but it clearly motivated him. It was hard not to feel sympathetic for him after realizing Daisy was leaving him. I was never a big Skyward fan, but this arc actually has me invested in a loophole to get these two crazy kids together. And this just reaffirms how passion-less the Skye/Lincoln pairing was in Season 2-3.

Agents of SHIELD All the Madame's Men - Ward and Daisy

While Daisy was focused on escaping The Framework, Coulson was still committed to helping to fix it. That meant crashing Hydra’s TV station and showing footage to expose Hydra’s ‘alt-facts.’ AOS has truly benefited from the current political climate to help present a worst case scenario of this arc.

Ward thought he was signing his death warrant staying behind to ensure the signal was broadcast, but the masses started to respond. Resist is trending and now maybe Ward has some new recruits for SHIELD? It might not matter though since Project Looking Glass is complete. That final scene with Coulson’s monologue was a high point moment for the series.

All the Madame’s Men was another terrific episode. The best part of this arc? There’s so many possible directions for the series to go next season. It’s a great time to be watching Agents of SHIELD this season.

Rating: 9.3 out of 10

Photo Credit: ABC

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