Agents of SHIELD Season 4 Episode 15: Self Control Recap

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Wow! This was one of the best episodes of the entire series. Such a roller coaster ride of plot and emotion. It was well-titled, with Self Control, in the sense of self-rule, being the theme of the night. Who was still in control of their very self, and who had been replaced by an LMD against their will? Who was really in charge of the submarine and the orders coming out of it? Sometimes humans are so easy to fool. Which humans could control their emotions and their bodies long enough to beat the LMDs?

The episode starts with the two sneak peaks that were released last week. Aida’s playing classic rock for her captives in order to increase their dopamine levels. She’s chosen one of Ivanov’s favorites, since he’s about to undergo a terrifying procedure involving a saw and him becoming many things.

Fitz and Simmons are panicking over the LMDs taking over the base. They’re trying to figure out a plan when the LMDs approach them for advice about Ivanov’s weapons capabilities. They intend to bring all of the inhumans to HQ, ostensibly to protect them, but really to kill them. They have a fleet of Daisybots in the basement waiting to be activated, then they’ll send them all out to greet the inhumans personally and execute each one.

LMDMay is in a pensive mood, reflecting on her own life and memories vs real May’s. LMDCoulson reveals his status to her, and she’s upset at the thought of what’s happening to real Coulson. He comforts her by telling her about the Framework. He reveals that Coulson regrets ever joining SHIELD and wishes he’d chosen a simpler life as a civilian with less loss and sacrifice. In the Framework, that wish has been fulfilled, so he and May can be together there. Their bodies don’t matter, mechanical or physical, all that matters is the Framework. This is starting to sound like a religious cult.

Fitz and Simmons move their hardware into an out of the way workshop to work on the Russian tech from the submarine base. There’s an LMD detector in the door, and it alarms. One of them is an LMD. Jemma grabs a gun and points it at Fitz. They both start yelling at each other and becoming hysterical, both denying that it’s them. Jemma blames Fitz for helping Radcliffe create the LMDs, and he accepts the blame. Jemma eventually gets Fitz to cut his arm open to see if he’s the LMD. He does, but when she comes near he flips his knife and stabs her in the leg, then knocks her out. He’s the LMD, and he’s known it all along.

Aida brings Radcliffe out of the Framework. He complains that she was ordered to bring him out after 24 hours. She says that she did exactly that, but in a stiff, defensive tone of voice that makes me wonder if it’s true. Then he asks why things changed in the Framework. She explains that she had to reset it for each new resident, and waves her hand at the SHIELD agents in the room. Radcliffe looks delighted for a moment, but then gets upset that she made the adjustments with him plugged in. His brain could have been damaged by the resets. He shows no concern for May, or any of the other captives. Aida assures him that she made sure it was fine.

They discuss her programming, which directs her to protect the Framework and Radcliffe. He asks about Ivanov. Aida says Ivanov is resting. She informs Radcliffe about the LMDs at SHIELD and he worries that people will be killed.

When Jemma wakes up, Fitz makes a speech that’s a terrible combination of sweet and loving, and frighteningly cold. He’s just trying to turn her into a robot so that she’ll be safe forever, just like they always wanted for each other. Then they can get robot married and be happy forever. Jemma drops a light fixture on him and beats him to death. It’s both an amazing and horrible scene. Both actors give it everything they’ve got. Iain switches between realFitz and evilFitz from moment to moment, and Elizabeth is grim and determined, but also slowly unraveling. She’s attempting to murder what looks like the love of her life, but has to keep thinking of more brutal methods because he’s a very advanced robot with many redundancies.

Daisy discovers the fleet of Daisybots in the basement. Mack realizes she’s discovered them, so Daisy thinks quickly and hides amongst the identical bots. She knocks Mack out, then makes a run for it. Daisy and Jemma end up hiding in the same supply closet. Daisy watches video of LMDCoulson and LMDMace discovering dead LMDFitz. They kill the agents that are with them while lamenting having to do so. Yep, they’re programmed by Aida, not Radcliffe. LMDMack arrives, and LMDCoulson orders him to fix LMDFitz. Aida built very resilient LMDs this time.

Daisy and Jemma spend a few minutes being terrified that the other is an LMD. Daisy hugs Jemma and quakes her a bit to prove she’s human, and so she can feel Jemma;s bones to prove that Jemma’s human. They both cry with relief. Jemma’s falling apart after having to kill fauxFitz.

Aida is building an LMD body for Ivanov. She tells Radcliffe that there’s a paradox in her programming, because she’s not sure she can protect both him and the Framework, if he ever becomes a danger to the Framework. Radcliffe tells her that he wholeheartedly believes in the Framework. He believes that it’s better than physical life, so he’d never be a danger to it. Aida tells him he just solved the paradox for her, and slits his wrists, while shoving him into the Framework. She can protect him forever there, if that’s the only place he’s in, and he won’t be able to harm the Framework. Radcliffe looks like this is not the solution he had in mind. Tough break for the mad scientist. Or karma.

Daisy and Jemma create a daring plan. They need to fight their way out of the base, while picking up a pilot for the Zephyr along the way, fly somewhere relatively safe, hack into the Framework, insert themselves, find the other agents, wake them up so they can figure out where they’re being kept and tell Daisy and Jemma, get out of the Framework, then find their friends and rescue them. Should be done by dinner.

Jemma is still fighting to control her emotions. She’s worried about losing Daisy, too. She doesn’t want Daisy to sacrifice herself because she’s still guilty over how Lincoln died. Daisy tells her that she’s not going to sacrifice herself because she knows that Fitz and Simmons belong with each other. She’s going to do everything in her power to get them back together.

Daisy doesn’t have her gauntlets, so this is going to be a b*tch of a fight for her, but with some creativity they make it work. They start by using the knockout gas that’s stored in the closet they’re in. Daisy fights the LMDs while Jemma uses the antidote to wake up the minor recurring agents like Davis and Piper. It’s a cool fight using lots of great camera angles, back drops, and moves. Daisy breaks out a ball of quake energy to take out both LMDMack and LMDCoulson at once, simultaneously proving to the other agents who the LMDs actually are in the base.

Coulson tells a repaired Fitz to give the Daisyfleet basic programming to seek and destroy, then wait for the signal to deploy them.

The humans split up to head for the Zephyr. Daisy and Jemma meet LMDMay at the entrance to the elevator. She’s sitting on a pile of explosives with her finger on the detonator. We don’t see their conversation, but she lets them go to the Zephyr, then has an existential discussion with LMDPhil as the Zephyr takes off. Her realMay brain scan won out in the end. She still has an innate need to keep the real Coulson safe, and LMDCoulson is a danger to him. She detonates the explosives.

The Zephyr escapes. Yo-Yo joins the team. Daisy and Jemma explain the situation. Because the Darkhold helped build the Framework, it’s a duplicate of our entire world, with all of the people replicated. They’ve located Daisy and Jemma’s avatars and are about to use them to upload themselves into the Framework. If anyone spends too long in the Framework it’s likely that their physical body will give out, so time is of the essence. What does that mean for real May?

Jemma programmed a rendezvous point that’s also a backdoor to get out. If they die in the Framework, they die in the real world. If they’re yanked out of the Framework without preparation, it will cause permanent damage to their brains. They have to come out on their own. That sounds like a set up for a bad situation.

Jemma and Daisy enter the Framework. Daisy is in the tub. She gets a text to wake up her boyfriend. She thinks it must be Lincoln, but it’s GRANT. Lincoln is a regular on another show, so he’s busy in his own alternate reality and will have to wait for the next storyline for a reunion.

Quick montage of the other agents in the Framework: Phil is a high school teacher with a pot belly spreading inhuman hate on his blackboard at school. Mack is picking up his daughter’s bike outside his suburban house. Fitz appears to be very rich and full of himself. He’s dressed up, getting out of a nice black car, outside of a building that looks like a castle. He reaches out to help someone out of the car, but all we see of that person is their hand. Jemma has a gravestone. Yikes. May is dressed in her head to toe black leather, standing in the glass elevator of the INTACT TRISKELION, surveying her world. The camera pulls out to reveal that the Triskelion is now a HYDRA building. We all shiver with anticipation.

No sign of Jemma, Mace, Agnes, or Radcliffe. Ivanov may have some presence in the Framework, as well, since he’s many things now.

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Ivanov wakes up in his shiny new LMD body. He accuses Aida of uploading his mind into it when he specifically told her not to, but Aida shows him his severed head, under glass and attached to wires, to prove that she didn’t. His mind is still in his head, and controlling the LMD remotely. She needs him to be as human and mobile as possible so that he can protect the Framework. He asks when he’ll be able to feel the emotions she just listed for him. Aida smiles a little, and answers, “When I am able to feel those things myself.” She also offers him the Darkhold for some light reading.


 

When Radcliffe awakens, and Aida shows him the new residents of the Framework, we only see Fitz, Coulson, May, and Mace until the very end of the sequence, when we finally see Mack and it’s revealed that Daisy is still human. Based on that, I’m still sticking with my theory that Mack was not a new LMD. He was switched out a few episodes ago, when he went to visit his ex-wife. Real Mack wouldn’t have been so cruel to Fitz.

LMDMay was as loyal and noble as real May in the end. She knew she wasn’t “real,” that everything she was and felt rightfully belonged to someone else, but she made herself real with her sacrifice. That decision belonged to her, and her alone. As she said, it wasn’t what Radcliffe programmed her to do. It was her free will, based on feelings made real based on the time she’d actually spent with Phil. She grew beyond her programming and became something more.

How big was that explosion? The bombs were created by the LMDs, so how much of the base did they want to destroy to stop Daisy and Jemma? Is LMDFitz still viable? How about the Daisyfleet, which was about to seek and destroy all of the inhumans? What about the SHIELD agents who were left behind?

I’d recognize the elevator Steve Rogers fought his way out of in The Winter Soldier anywhere, and I imagine they were counting on most of us recognizing it. It’s so good to see the Triskelion again, and HYDRA. I can’t wait to see which old members of the organization they bring back. Probably anyone I listed as potentially becoming the Superior who was also a member of HYDRA is a possibility. May probably won’t be the only SHIELD agent who’s working for HYDRA. Or it may be completely new faces.

It’s surprising that Ivanov didn’t sound more upset about the whole severed head in a jar thing, but maybe it’s because his LMD doesn’t have the full range of emotions.

LMDMace and LMDCoulson were a great team. I really love seeing Daisy’s two dads working closely together, though it would be better if the whole LMD part wasn’t involved, and they weren’t trying to kill her.

Fitz is in danger and trapped in a small vessel under water AGAIN. Is that going to become a running thing, like Jemma getting kidnapped? Please don’t leave him there for long, Jed and Maurissa. Maybe Grant can help save him, this time.

This was the women’s episode. Daisy and Jemma fought their way free from the LMDs at the base against crushing odds and saved as many of their fellow agents as they could. LMDMay was the deciding factor in the battle when she took the side of the humans instead of siding with her fellow LMDs, because she was human enough to know right from wrong, and to love someone. Aida has taken over as the villain overtly now, having killed the physical bodies of both of the men who thought they were in control of the operation. They, and all of the LMDs, work for her now. Daisy and Jemma showed continued strength and bravery by going into the belly of the beast Framework to try to save the rest of the team, while Yo-Yo stands guard with Piper and the others on the Zephyr. The men were murdered, got their *sses kicked at every turn, or took orders. That is a truly rare thing. Thanks, Jed.

This is the end of the second pod of the season. The show will be back in April to start the third pod.

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