‘Identity and Change’ was a great episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. if you haven’t watched it yet find a laptop and watch it posthaste. If you still haven’t seen any of Agents of Shield Season 4 (or the previous seasons for that matter, ) now is the time to course correct and watch them. We used to write episode recaps for Agents of Shield, but that isn’t very fun for us of for you, and there are plenty of other websites that do it better. If you are here for a recap, sorry go elsewhere. Instead each week we will highlight some of the best and worst moments of the week’s episode and discuss what they mean for the show. If you have further questions or issues regarding there no longer being an Agents of Shield recap on nerditherefirst.com take it up with @tanner_wj on Twitter.
“I make my own soap.”
Phil Coulson, soap maker. Framework Phil has always known Hydra was up to no good, he just thought it was the brainwashing blue soap everyone used that makes everyone believe that they are in a magical place. Aside from the references to the Tahiti project that rewrote Phil’s memories season one (Blue, Magical, etc.), this was an incredible moment, and it makes sense that a teacher who has dirty children questioning him about Hydra daily might think soap has something to with it. The references to the soap throughout the episode were funny, and although at first, it felt like they were gonna overdo the soap thing, they didn’t.
Phil Coulson served to help viewers see that the people who exist in the framework are still the same people just in a different circumstance as a result of having a regret changed. Coulson was still the nerdy fan in all of us. He still geeked out upon meeting a superhero and is thrilled by every new piece of tech he encounters. He is adorable in this episode. Perhaps the most revealing moment of this is when he exclaims to Jemma Simmons, “Did you know, in the real world, I have a robot hand!?” his face there was priceless.
“Daddy would’ve taken care of it.”
Real world Mack had a daughter who died as an infant. In the framework, his daughter, Hope, is alive and well. And the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as she is quite the tinkerer herself. She seems to have a dangerous curiosity and when the two narrowly avoid getting busted for some Hydra tech she found he reassures her he will protect her and take care of any Hydra troubles that might befall them. Mack is still the same person in the framework: Protective of his loved ones first and foremost, with his high moral code having the next greatest influence on his actions.
This look into Mack’s life is perhaps the biggest glimpse into what Dr. Radcliffe intended for the framework to be. If you remove Hydra’s presence from the picture Mack’s structure life seems blissful when compared to the lives of everyone else who was placed into the framework. It makes you wonder how evil the mastermind’s intentions were.
“I would cross the universe for you.”
When Fitz confronted Madame Hydra about Jemma Simmons having died at the academy, they have a tender yet twisted moment where Madame Hydra explains to Fitz about the “other side” where she (Aida) was a slave. After describing her fear of this “other side” Fitz reminds her that he loves her and would “cross the universe” for her. This washes away any fear Aida may have had that Fitz seeing Simmons’s picture had awoken any real memories, but what makes this more interesting is that Fitz literally crossed the universe out of his great love for Simmons in season 3. Later in the episode, while pleading with Ward not to kill the Doctor (aka evil Fitz) and expressing her love for Fitz, Jemma likewise mentions that Fitz crossed the universe to save her life. This convinces a grumpy Grant not to snipe the Hydra Head.
Madame Hydra also mentions the importance of project looking glass, during their conversation about the “other side.” Is it possible that after making the scary submariner the protector of the framework she put herself inside of it with no way out? Tickle me interested.
“Aida is an acronym.”
Madame Hydra gets to meet her maker, the real world deceased, framework alive Dr. Radcliffe. During their confrontation the manufacturer refers to her as Aida, she reminds him this is no longer her name explaining the Aida is an acronym where the “A” stands for “Artificial” implying that in the framework she is just as real as everyone else. During the encounter (the same one where Grant Ward nearly kills Fitz) Fitz kills Agnes, the woman Aida was modeled after. Since Agnes was already dead in the real world, this is the first actual casualty in the framework.
Before this encounter Dr. Radcliffe recognizes that Ward isn’t Hive which is some excellent attention to detail by the writers, Hive is the only person with that body that Radcliffe ever knew so it makes sense he would need to take a second to register that fact.
These framework episodes are proving to be a big wrap up to an intense season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It is interesting to see and recognize each of these beloved characters in their new framework roles. Everyone’s personality is recognizable, except that of Fitz. He is somewhat familiar but also seems to be a sadist, which is a side of Fitz never shown in the real world. Perhaps this is a darker side of the man that circumstance never brought to light. When our characters get out of the framework, it will be interesting to see how they interact with him, assuming they maintain their framework memories.