Let me start by saying Joss’ kid brother, Jed Whedon, killed this episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Not only did he write it, but this was his directorial debut as well. Way to go Jed, you’re the man!
As I mentioned recently in my Walking Dead review, many shows fall into this pattern of strong premieres/finales with the in-between stuff being mostly filler. Since “Self Control” is our last installment until April 4th (yeah I hate hiatuses too), they left us on a high note. This was arguably one of the strongest episodes of the entire season, and my first five-star review. That said, though it was a solid way of wrapping up the slightly tired replaced agent LMD arc… the writers are clearly not moving on from the Life Model Decoys. With Aida solving her paradox by killing Radcliffe and dropping him in the framework, plus having created the perfect machine in Ivanov, the androids are moving to a whole other level.
It’s encouraging to hear Chloe Bennet (Daisy/Quake) say that the last batch of episodes this season are some of her favorite ever. Personally, I’m still holding out hope that things come full circle and Ghost Rider reappears. Perhaps Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) himself will get involved? Hey one can fantasize, right?
Anyway, on to all the cool bits I loved about this hour. Aida hacking up The Superior while he was wide awake was frakkin’ brutal. I realize knocking him out would not have been as fun, but I’m assuming she wanted the new bot to retain the man’s pain, suffering and all the other emotions she mentioned. I wasn’t clear if the new body was entirely synthetic, or if some human parts were integrated into his LMD. The revelation that his head was remotely controlling the thing was creepy. I guess The Darkhold did indeed manage to infect Aida, regardless of the fact she’s a robot. She’s got zero empathy now. It was also disturbing to see all our favorite agents jacked into The Framework.
I didn’t see the Fitz/Simmons twist coming at all. Though I can’t recall when Fitz was away from Simmons long enough to be replaced, the writers did lead us to believe Daisy was an LMD. In my review last week, I theorized that LMD Daisy’s cover would be blown when Quake was expected to do her thing. Not once did I think she might still be human. Yeah, they totally had me fooled. Which was great though, because that made the LMD Fitz reveal all the more effective. Here we were hoping Simmons would not go off with LMD Mace, and in reality LMD Fitz was keeping her company. Eeeek! The duo’s suspicious exchanges made for some of the most intense scenes this season. I always say this, but Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge are two of the most underrated actors on TV. We quickly learned that the new LMDs were self-aware, which meant Simmons’ surprise at seeing an LMD detected when she and Fitz entered the room cleared her of being a decoy. Of course she could have been faking it, as LMD Fitz was pretty damn convincing.
Again, the Fitz/Simmons fight had me at the edge of my seat. Moments like Fitz slashing his own wrists and Simmons stabbing LMD Fitz to death blew my mind. Jemma Simmons sure has come a long way from the meek lab scientist we first met. She’s one tough cookie, man. Still, you never expect to see two characters that love each other so much fight to the death… even if Fitz was just a decoy. That fight sequence was tough to watch, but masterfully choreographed.
With LMD Fitz temporarily out of commission and Daisy still human, the next question was how would Simmons and Daisy come to trust one another? Well, Daisy learning the truth about Fitz and the other LMDs before the security cam feed cut out solved half the issue. Quaking Simmons to feel her bones wasn’t something that occurred to me. I’m telling you, Jed came up with some clever ways of solving specific problems throughout the hour. Why was there a fleet of Daisy LMDs though? The fact the new decoys were self-aware, also hinted at the fact LMD May might not fall in line with the new plan. I loved learning that #Philinda was a thing inside The Framework. I’m not sure how that will play out in real life, but I’m all for it.
Though I’m not clear why the LMDs are now targeting the Inhumans, I was glad to see Yo-Yo survive the hour. If the writers kill her off, I riot! I’m assuming the robots simply want to eliminate any threat to their world domination. Evolved humans would definitely be at the top of that list. With the new Inhumans TV series coming in the fall, I wonder if the two shows are on a collision course? Is it possible the LMD threat is so great, that the Inhuman royal family gets involved? That’s probably just more wishful thinking on my part, but it would be pretty damn cool… right?
Ultimately, Aida solved her paradox by killing Radcliffe and adding his consciousness to The Framework. Chances are he will now team up with our heroes inside the
Maxtrix Framework to save mankind. It’s crazy that these mad scientist types never take a robot uprising seriously. Don’t tell me Fitz has never watched Terminator, The Matrix or Blade Runner? Stephen Hawking warns us that eventually tech will become self-aware, and we’re all screwed. Radcliffe and Fitz helping the robot apocalypse along is just not smart. Anyway, Daisy and LMD Mace had a kickass fight sequence and she later tears LMD Mack to pieces with her Quake powers. That scene has to be one of the coolest visuals on this series… ever! When Coulson mentioned May was their last line of defense, I had a feeling she was not going to fall in line. LMD May was the one wildcard, as she wasn’t aware at the start she was a robot. Blowing up the base took care of the S.H.I.E.L.D. LMDs, but Daisy and Simmons entering the framework poses a whole new set of problems. Hydra? #SkyeWard? This is gonna be fun.
Yes I complained that last week’s “The Man Behind the Shield” was overdoing it with LMDs, but “Self Control” sort of wrapped all that up. It wasn’t necessarily the bots that were getting on my nerves, more like the doppelgängers of our favorite characters. The writers have the season’s pacing down to a science though, and things are moving in a slightly different direction in the final batch of episodes. I am definitely curious to see what Aida has in store for LMD Ivanov, and our agents inside The Framework moving forward. What a shame the show is on hiatus until April 4th. It’s those long gaps between installments where viewers tend to drop off. I wish more Marvel fans were watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., because it’s evolved into a much better series that it was in Season 1.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns Tuesday, April 4 at 10/9c on ABC.