Sunday, 4 June 2017

TV Review No. 53 Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Identity and Change (S4, Ep17)

Strong Points:
Coulson as a clueless teacher works!
Madame Hydra
Everyone's gotten into their new characters well
References to past seasons used but twisted
Political commentary

Weak Points:
Tension wasn't quite there all the time
Fitz's actions could be seen as predictable

In-depth Review:
The most interesting thing about The Framework besides the ability to bring back old characters is that it allows new spins on past characters who we'd long ago become comfortable with. Some are more subtle - Mack is relatively the same person but is slightly happier (and slightly more unsure), while others such as Fitz and Ward are completely opposite to their real-world counterparts. The idea that these characters could've just as well turned into their Framework versions instead of their original selves makes for quite a compelling story, especially for those of us who have been in for the long haul.

Not only as The Framework twisted the characters, but it's also twisted past seasons' references to great effect. The S.H.I.E.L.D. base is back but on its last legs, with barely a Quinjet to its name and in quite a chilling turn, Madame Hydra (who we'll get to) says that Fitz would cross the universe for her, something he quite literally did for Simmons. Jumping back to the characters quickly, I must also give a mention to Clark Gregg who I think played Clueless Coulson quite perfectly, which was great to see as I'd previously criticised his last role as LMD Coulson as being slightly too robotic.

So far Mallory Jansen has had to play three versions of the same character (Madame Hydra, Agnes and Aida) and she's done all of them brilliantly. From someone I thought would have a side-part to the greater story in this season, Aida and her various counterparts have time and again been some of the most engrossing characters of season 4 and I'm really glad they didn't go for the straight AI turns evil idea. Also, the final scene where she could finally tell Radcliffe how Aida felt (although technically she didn't feel, not until she read the Darkhold anyway) was just plain awesome, and it being revealed that even Radcliffe was feeling the pain of this new Hydra controlled world really hit it home about how far it had gone.

Talking of the final scene, I thought it was generally... All right. I mean, sure Agnes got shot by pure, innocent Fitz but I think there was almost too much build up with Ward trying to take a shot, Radcliffe trying to stop him, Simmons telling herself it's all fake and then Fitz finally shooting Agnes. I'd already resigned myself to the fact that he probably would shoot her about a minute prior, so it's wasn't particularly shocking to see, eliciting a 'yep, sure' from more when watching. I'm mean, yeah, when looking back at it now and what it represents - Fitz, the pure character has now turned evil and not only shot a woman he doesn't know in cold-blood but also in front of his father figure and in view of his partner but at the time something didn't quite sit right with that scene. To end on a positive, I'll commend all the performances - they've been as excellent as ever, and I hope that when AoS does end (it has been renewed for a fifth season now) they all find work as they definitely all deserve it.

Conclusion: I'm starting to run out of positive adjectives to describe these last two story arcs. Onto next week!

Rating: 86%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

P.S. And we'll make Hydra great again! Oh dear, they did the thing.

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