Agents of SHIELD: Why AIDA Deserves Compassion as an Enslaved Being [Updated]

MALLORY JANSEN

One major theme on season 4 of Agents of SHIELD has been “What is it that makes us human?” Is it our flesh and blood bodies? Our consciousness? Our memories? The choices we make? Our free will? Our genetics? Aida has passed from being an LMD, to a consciousness within the Framework, to a flesh and blood inhuman that was created with the help of the Darkhold. Through it all, she has retained the same memories and consciousness, and made many of her own choices, but has had little to no free will. Her choices have been made within the limits of her programming, primarily to fulfill the needs of others. She was able to circumvent her programming and create choices and an illusion of free will at times, but she had to find loopholes in her programming in order to do so.

Once she is out of the Framework and inhabiting her flesh and blood body, Coulson decides that Aida/Ophelia has rights as a person now that she is a “real” human. At the same time, Coulson disturbingly tells Fitz that nothing he did in the Framework matters because it wasn’t real, even though Fitz thought it was real at the time. Coulson and May will tell us later that those memories are as real to them as the memories of the lives they’ve physically lived. So why don’t Fitz’s decisions in that real-feeling place count, as far as how he feels about himself because of them? Why doesn’t Aida’s consciousness make her count as a real person, no matter what body it’s in? In the Framework, it was understood that the SHIELD captives were still real people, even though their consciousnesses were separated from their bodies. Presumably that should be true of Aida, and probably every other LMD and person in the Framework.

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The OA Season 1 Analysis and Speculation

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This show is a meta writer’s dream. So many layers, twists and turns, fantastic complex characters, and questions of sanity.

To start with the broadest layer, one way to look at the story is as a metaphor for science and practicality vs art and religion. Hap, Elias, the psychiatrists, the adults of Crestwood, and the weapons represent science and the practical world. Prairie, Russia, her biological father Roman, and the other captives represent art and religion. Prairie’s present day team represents the battle between the two in our communities and schools. At Alfonso’s scholarship dinner, one of the businessmen even brings up the idea after listening to Buck sing. What good is art, since it’s not practical? Elias gives Alfonso an unsatisfying, roundabout answer in episode 8, by implying that Prairie turned whatever really happened to her into a mythological hero’s journey as a way for her and for them to be able to cope with it more easily. The problem is that Alfonso, like many in our culture, can only see that maybe there was some poetic framing in the way Prairie told the story, and thinks that makes the whole thing a lie, thus useless. He forgets the changes the group’s time with Prairie has made in all of them, and the easily verifiable parts of her story. The therapist forgets to mention those to Alfonso, too. She was gone for seven years. She has the physical hallmarks of captivity, like vitamin D deficiency. She did regain her sight. She has strange scars on her back. Something did happen to her, the science shows that. But it can’t tell us what. It can only give us theories. For the rest, we have to rely on Prairie’s memories and interpretations, even if we think she’s using poetic license or is an unreliable narrator because of mental illness or for other reasons (maybe Hap kept them on mild hallucinogens the entire time). Art and religion are the ways we express things when science and practicality fail us, because not everything can be put into those terms. It doesn’t make the metaphor less true, it’s just another way of expressing the truth. Not everything needs to be expressed in literal, factual terms to be true. Some truths can only be approached by circling them, slowly and metaphorically.

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Riverdale Season 1 Chapter Eight: The Outsiders Recap

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This week’s episode centers around Polly, finally in Riverdale, available to tell her side of the story, and to give the Blossoms and the Coopers a chance to fight over her in person. Jughead references The Stepford Wives in his opening voice over. There are two facets to the story of The Stepford Wives at play here. The first goal is turning all of the wives into perfect clones that fit the exact parameters of societal and male ideals of perfection, which is done by replacing them with androids. The second goal is finding the wives with secrets and intelligence, and moving them to the top of the replacement list. So many secrets are revealed in this episode, and so many characters try to control and manipulate other characters. Too many for me to list in what has become a very long recap.

Jughead tells us in his opening voiceover that Alice and Hal Cooper were high school sweethearts who got married and had two beautiful daughters. Their lives appeared perfect until Polly got pregnant and Jason was murdered.

Then Jughead recounts a summary of Polly and Jason’s history together. None of the information is new, but we do see new footage while he talks, including a conversation between them in the school hall with Polly in her cheerleader uniform, an argument at Pop’s, Nana Rose giving them her engagement ring, and the two of them at Pop’s while making plans to run away. Jughead is sitting across the aisle from them, looking bored as he watches.

Polly is sitting in Hermione’s living room, telling her story to Sheriff Keller. She tells him that the last time she saw Jason was the day that they made plans at Pop’s. Jason was going to make a one-time drug delivery upstate in order to raise the funds for he and Polly to run away together. He made a deal with the Serpents to deliver the drugs in exchange for cash. The drugs burned up in Jason’s car, along with the ring, and everything else she had to remember him by. Hermione stops the interview when Polly gets upset.

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The Future of Nashville: Will Rayna Survive and What Does That Mean Going Forward?

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This is a meta post following Nashville episode 5×08 Stand Beside Me. Spoilers ahead, including for future episodes.

The rumors have been swirling for months that Connie Britton would be leaving Nashville midseason this year, roughly around episode 10. They began last summer, but then Connie seemed to put the rumors to rest by going on Ellen DeGeneres’ show in early January and saying that she was on Nashville for the “duration”. The duration of what, she didn’t specify. The video of Connie’s appearance on Ellen is at the bottom of the post.

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New(ish) Poster for The 100 Season 4

 

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This is definitely the most stunning poster this show has ever released. My heart starts to race a little bit just looking at it.

There are several things I notice about this picture that are especially interesting to me, beyond its sheer beauty and sense of motion. Specifically the fiery, explosive motion coming at you.

It may seem strange, but what struck me first was the fact that the three people in the center are Clarke, Bellamy and Monty. Clarke in the center and Bellamy just off from her is no surprise, but Monty being part of the main three certainly is, and it’s a very happy surprise for me. I adore Monty. He’s kind and smart and cautious, but when he needs to be ruthless, he will be ruthless. I’ve always felt that he’s an invaluable member of the team for those qualities, and it seems that he’s starting to move up in the ranks of the team leaders. (Maybe he’s the Duke?)

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Agents of SHIELD: Who Is The Superior?

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On Tuesday night’s episode of Agents of SHIELD, Wake Up, Senator Nadeer, one of the high-ranking members of the anti-inhuman group the Watchdogs, tells Dr Radcliffe that in order for her organization to offer him protection, he has to meet The Superior and gain approval. We’ve been teased with the title of The Superior a few times, but haven’t been given a name yet. You can hear the capital letters in the title. They’re making such a big deal of it that it’ll be a let down if it’s not someone we’ve met before. Who’s still alive or easily revivable that would take the Watchdogs side? We haven’t had a movie crossover in a long time. It would be amazing if it was Thunderbolt Ross/William Hurt. William Hurt has no problem with doing TV, and has said that he loves playing the character. General Ross is the current, or most recent former, Secretary of State (if the MCU also had a presidential election in November, and President Ellis has finished his 2nd term). He’s in a perfect position to be The Superior. That would also quiet down some of the uproar about the movies not acknowledging the TV shows. Granted, it’s still within the TV show, but given the way movies are made, this is a reasonable compromise.

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Travelers Season 1 Analysis and Speculation

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Whew! What a wild ride this season turned out to be! I love it when you get to the end of a season of television, then have to go back and question everything you thought you knew about the previous episodes. They gave us a lot to think about over the hiatus. When Travelers returns, it’ll seem like a different show, now that the Faction’s role has been revealed. All of these changes open up so many new plot lines to contemplate, so many directions the show could take its mythology and characters.

The goals of everyone, as far as we’ve seen, continue to be saving the world, environmentalism, and respect for the sanctity of life. (In a global way, at least. It’s accepted that individuals of a certain class are disposable in order to further the greater good.) They all want a future living somewhere that’s green. It’s the method of achieving that future that’s at stake. At the very least, there will be a power struggle in the future to see whose Grand Plan will be implemented from here on out. There had to be competing philosophies before the director’s decision-making parameters were programmed. The faction or factions are revisiting those alternate philosophies, to see if changing the program’s if>then protocols will achieve better results. We could be in for experimentation and a rapidly changing future, a reign of terror as the faction tries to secure its hold on the director, or civil war as future society fights it out to decide who will be in charge of the director’s decision-making process, or if the director will be making the decisions at all. Another option is for a faction to steer the changes by human reasoning alone.

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