Cruel World - Agents of Shield

Cruel World: Agents Of SHIELD Season 4 Review: Episode 20

Season 4 of Agents of SHIELD has been their Very best season so far. In last nights Episode 20, Bye Bye Cruel World, the Team finally left the hellish Framework. Created by Dr. Radcliffe, and his Ultron-ish like robot creation gone mad AIDA, the Framework has offered fans of this show some serious pay off! There will be spoilers in this Agents of SHIELD Review. If you have not been watching this show I’m not sure what you’re waiting for.

You’ve probably seen the narrative already, that it just keeps getting better. In Bye Bye Cruel World, we see the team ‘finally escape’, sort of. That’s right, sort of because with only 2 shows left we are unsure if we’re going to lose a major team member who Chose to stay behind. That’s where we’re going to start here. We might be losing Mack y’all. I’m not too happy about that at all. I’ve still been trying to ‘keep hope alive’ (in my Jesse Jackson voice) that Tripp is an Inhuman who turned ‘invisible’ and just has been struggling to figure out how to use his ‘newfound powers’ …. this, whole, time.  Seeing Tripp show up ‘in The Framework’ along with all the other shit that’s been going on has been good.

He was always a great representation of an African American ‘hero’ in a show like this. We are used to ‘Hollywood’ killing off the black actors in their tv shows and films. So, yea, this whole time I’ve been holding out hope he’d be back. So far so good, and with what we ‘also’ saw at the end of last nights show, who knows what the future holds? By the time this season wraps up, we may have Agent Triplet back in the field.

That future though, may be one without Mack. We Hope They Don’t do that to us!

The Cruel World has actually been mostly good to him, giving him back something he lost. With no reason to ‘fight back’, he has fully accepted this reality. He has embraced it. Although he’s not okay with how the world is, and hasn’t bought into Hydra’s ‘hype’. However, he’s got his spark plug … no, not the one who is keeping her eyes on Daisy and Jemma. Not the ‘Spark Plug’ Inhuman who is hoping he makes it out of this Cruel World. He has forgotten all about that now ….

Mack’s Spark Plug – talking with her, about Hope! (Season 4, Episode 11 )

The total mind fuck of this Cruel World that is the framework, with it’s updated version that literally figured out ‘how’ to keep people from fighting the false reality absolutely gets a bravo from me.

I’m already a huge fan of The Matrix Trilogy. I think in so many ways that it’s the best story turned into a movie that’s ever been made. So many aspects of The Framework are directly mirrors to this ‘concept’ of plugging into a computer world. In this virtual world, the ‘programming’ can be so powerful that it overcomes all of your senses and you come to ‘believe’ you’re in reality.

What I love about this Season of Agents of SHIELD is how they took their sweet time getting to last night’s show.

“The best way to keep you busy was to give you something to fight” – AIDA

Season 4 started out with Ghostrider, and a storyline that loosely related to Marvel’s Doctor Strange. That movie dealt with the Dark Dimension, and we actually saw that in the early parts of Season 4. Fitz and Coulson fell into the ‘realm’, which also was referenced on Marvel’s Agent Carter. This ‘dark dimension’ is going to be part of Marvel’s upcoming tv show Cloak and Dagger as well.  So, as we (Marvel Fans) have heard for some time now … it’s all connected.

AIDA with Darkhold knowledge - Agents of Shield

A ‘book’ they came across early in the season  fell into the wrong hands. Dr. Radclif was already working on “LMD’s”, Life Model Decoys with AIDA being his prototype.  She ‘evolves’ with help of this book, and works with Dr. Radcliff to slowly replace each Agent of SHIELD; slipping them into a Computer World – that’s where the clip above comes in. With Agent May they were still figuring out how to keep everyone ‘happy’.

We got to see the early versions of this Cruel World, in which Agent May kept waking up. They showed us how the ‘darkhold’ enabled AIDA to think of things that even Dr. Radcliff’s punk evil ass could not conceive.  He ultimately does something good to redeem himself in Episode 20 of Season 4, but still … fuck that guy.

I mean, just look at what the Cruel World, aka the Framework did to Fitz. He emerged literally unsure of himself, and now so are we!

The ‘changes’ that AIDA and Dr. Radcliff made to their framework program, took away the regrets that several agents had. With Mack, it was his daughter (Hope) who passed away in real life.  He had her back, and as far as he knew he always had her. For Agent May, the Calvary, they changed how her guilt-trip originated, and used it as a basis to create an ‘alternative universe’, where Hydra, not SHIELD runs the show. Just one change can make such a big difference.

The parallels with Hydra and the Nazi’s have always been part of Marvel Comics. With the Framework, the writers treat us all to what ‘it would be like’ to live under that kind of regime.  It has been so Timely. Several people in America feel as if that’s what’s happening right now. Are powerful people tapping into ‘dark forces’? (perhaps for another time)

Agents of Hydra, the 3rd act of Season 4 shows us a regime, where someone as brilliant as Fitz, would use his ‘powers’ for evil. All because he literally believed that he was doing good, due to how AIDA set up his ‘narrative’. Some people joked that act 2, LMD of this 4th Season reminded us of HBO’s Westworld. For anyone who followed that show, you are aware of how much changing a narrative can do! Especially within a Cruel World that is fully controlled and operated by robots!

Let’s travel back for a moent to Season 2 to look at the way that Agents of Shield ‘explained’ how May got the nickname ‘the Calvary'(season 2: episode 17 – ‘Melinda’) :::  This sequence set up so much of the Inhuman story line from that season. Everything in this ‘fight scene’ is important and relevant to Season 4.

So you see, this is what really turned May into such an ’emotionless’ soldier who stayed out of the field.

It’s also how people got the ‘wrong idea’ that she took out an entire Calvary of people in Bahrain. What ‘actually’ happened instead is the ‘little girl’ was an Inhuman who ‘fed’ off of pain.  That was her ‘power’, and so while inside several people died.  Agent May had to kill this little girl – she literally had no choice.  It broke her heart, but she also decided she couldn’t tell anyone what really happened. She pulled her self out of the field, and only went ‘back’ when this show began.  In a way, this was one of several ‘early’ mysteries the show resolved.

When AIDA and Radcliff changed the framework around, the narrative about Inhumans changed as well. Now, Inhumans could be painted as dangerous. SHIELD, as liars protecting aliens that pose a threat to humanity. Using ‘fear’, Hydra took control, ‘for the safety’ of society. So much of that reminded me of V for Vendetta, which echoes 1984.

If Hydra ran things, I’m sure it would be very much like the Cruel World that was depicted.

No one was free, and everyone was living under constant surveillance. There were random stops and checkpoints to ‘find’ Inhumans. They flipped the ‘reality’ we had been watching for 4 seasons and flipped everything on it’s head.

However, we all know this Cruel World depicted doesn’t exist because of people like Agent May, Coulson, Mack, and all of the Agents of SHIELD.  The Framework put each of these Agents into a reality where they were no longer playing those roles.  Most of the framework, ended up being built around the ‘new reality’ that was created by removing this ONE major regret from Agent May.  It’s all explained right here. Punk ass Dr. Radcliff speaks with AIDA here, from earlier in Season 4.

‘All I had to do was Change the Fight’

You see, they changed up the entire ‘narrative’ which goes to show just how important it is when people try to re-write history.

It shows how people ‘mad scientists’ really, can actually test out their dangerous schemes and ideas on unsuspecting people. These kinds of evil people exist in ‘reality’ and are constantly creating false narratives, telling alternative facts and false truths. Yet, in a world ‘like this’, if you get a chance to have someone ‘back’ who you’ve lost … would you want to leave?

What lengths will people go to, just to be happy?

Mack and Hope, Agents of Shield

Mack’s choice to stay behind, could be mostly because of ‘how’ they delivered the news to him.

Just about every other character had heard a ‘version’ of the story, that they were in a fake world.  Perhaps if he had more time to deal with the possibility that he’s in a fake ‘reality’, he would have went with the rest of the team.  Mack, simply was not ready to part with his daughter.  I could completely relate to everything he was feeling in that moment too. This is one of those things they do to us (the audience) all the time. After weeks of character development, they hit us out the blue with scenarios like these. This is NOT an easy decision that he’s suddenly faced with.

Within this ‘reality’, he has no concept of a life without Hope. Mack even says, he doesn’t want to live in a world, without Hope. This scene here …. man oh man …. this was powerful.

We are all “HOPING” that in the next 2 shows, Mack decides to let the false reality go, and wake up.

Otherwise … we’re getting ready to say bye, to another Agent of SHIELD. There’s also the ‘hope’ however, that Trip comes back as well. You see, I didn’t get to all of that but I will now. AIDA figured out a way to ‘make’ organic bodies and transfer ‘consciousness’ into them. Again, more mind-fuck level stuff, that basically is possible because of ‘dark knowledge’. Who’s to say they don’t use this to resurrect Trip?

There’s so much to unpack there alone, but I won’t right now. Using Fitz as her guinea pet, together they Ran Hydra in this Cruel World. AIDA gave Fitz what he had been missing, a relationship with his Father. That ‘influence’ pushed Fitz to do the things he was doing within the Framework, which included the torture and murder of Inhumans.  At the end of the show, after he literally shoots the love of his life Jemma in the leg, for killing his ‘father’, Fitz get’s ‘dragged’ out of the framework by, punk ass Dr. Radcliff.

Upon waking up, Fitz immediately realizes that he has, indeed been inside of a fake reality, where he has been doing incredibly evil things. Again, So Much To Say Here about environment.

Within the Framework, we saw “Good Ward”, and how all of the opportunities for him to do Good emerged ‘out of’ the new narrative. Meanwhile, this new narrative changed Fitz from one of the good guys, into one of the most evil guys one could imagine. What does that say about environment and how it shapes us?

Both real, and not real – because ‘in the real world’, Ward became one of the most evil beings of all time.

Framework Ward has no memory of this ‘reality’ or version of himself. So I can only imagine what happens in ‘weeks to come’ with Fitz, as he copes with what he did – killing off Director Mace, real AIDA (Ophelia) and so many others.  He also has to relive shooting Jemma. That’s if he ever comes ‘back’ after what we saw at the tail end of the show. Not only did AIDA build herself a real body, but it’s Inhuman too. She grabbed Fitz and teleported …. to who knows where.

Bra motha fuckin Vo ….

Like, seriously. I did not see any of that coming.

Yet, that’s what you (me and all who love it) – love about this show. You never see it coming.

We didn’t see Daisy turning into Quake, and had no idea that’s what Agents of SHIELD would be setting up. None of us knew Ward was a double agent, secretly working for Hydra, under the influence of Agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton rip).   We didn’t know Sam Jackson, as Nick Fury was gonna show up on the show either. Throughout, it’s been full of Surprises. Just before dipping into the Framework, the LMD shows were terrific! You couldn’t tell who was real, and who was a Life Model Decoy!

Above, before ‘leaving’ to plug into the framework and rescue the team, Daisy (Quake) took out fake Mack, fake Mace, and fake Coulson. But who knows what’s been happening while they’ve all been in ‘the Cruel World of the Framework’ …  There’s no telling how many versions of LMD Agents were being created by AIDA. She was building her own ‘LMD army’ before this season transitioned to the framework.  Seems like they need more than 2-3 shows to wrap this up, so even though it has not been officially renewed, there has to be a season 5!

Season 4 has been an awesome ride, paying off all the seasons that came before. Starting out with Ghostrider, while carrying over a ‘theme’ from Season 3 with AIDA they perfectly set their stage. Just as their LMD sequence perfectly set up this finale, with Agents of Hydra’s Cruel World (The Framework).   It’s safe to say we need to ‘buckle our seats’ for the season 4 Finale!  We’ve got no idea what they’ll have for us, but I’m pretty sure, it’s going to be pretty damn good! It’s also going to be something we all can relate to.

Here’s to one of the best television shows out, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD!